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Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken Recipe

You will love this authentic Jamaican brown stew chicken recipe if you love chicken. The chicken braised in a nice savoury sauce, which you can pour over your rice or whatever you serve with this dish. There is no time like the present to have one of Jamaica’s favourite dishes.

Jamaican brown stew chicken

Jamaican brown stew chicken

Brown stew chicken is a popular Jamaican dish usually eaten on Sundays along with rice and peas. The chicken is seasoned with traditional Jamaican herbs and spices and then “brown”, a term Jamaicans use to describe slightly frying the chicken so that it gains colour on the outside but is soft and juicy on the inside. The crisp brown chicken is then simmered in a sauce you made in the same pot you brown the chicken in. The method is the same as cooking brown stew fish.

Why does my brown stew chicken taste bitter

Your brown stew chicken will taste bitter using too much browning sauce, and you burnt the chicken at the “browning” stage. The browning sauce caramelised sugar, and too much makes your cooking taste bitter. If you used brown sugar instead of the browning sauce, you probably burnt the sugar too much.

Brown stew chicken

Brown stew chicken without browning

Browning sauce helps to give the chicken its dark brown colour, but you can cook brown stew chicken without using the browning sauce. Instead of browning sauce, you use brown sugar. Browning sauce is caramelised brown sugar, so you’re making your own. Add a small amount of brown sugar to “brown” the chicken when heating the oil. As the oil gets hot, the sugar will start to darken and melt but don’t burn the sugar, as this will make the chicken bitter. If you wish to avoid using sugar, you could use thick soy or oyster sauce, but your brown stew chicken won’t have that authentic Jamaican taste.

Brown stew chicken ingredients

Here are the ingredients required for Jamaican brown stew chicken:

brown stew chicken ingredients
  • Chicken: In Jamaican, we use the whole chicken when making brown stew chicken, which means the chicken back and breast is in the finished dish. As the chicken is cooked for more than 30 minutes, the breast may be a little chewy for some. If you don’t want this, use chicken pieces. Also, skin-less chicken works better for this dish.
  • Powder seasoning: Use chicken, poultry or all-purpose seasoning..
  • Jamaican flavour: Scallion, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper add that “Jamaican” flavour. It does matter if you use fresh or dry thyme, as you will still get the Jamaican taste.
  • Bell pepper, onion, tomato, garlic: You may not see them, but they are cooked down in the sauce. They are cooked so soft you can barely see them when the stew is finished.
  • Oops! I missed some: Missing from the image above is pimento (allspice), ginger, and chicken stock/broth. I used Knorr stock pot chicken.

How to cook Jamaican brown stew chicken

In a nutshell, brown stew chicken is made by browning chicken pieces, then simmering them in a savoury sauce with vegetables thickened with ketchup.

How to cook Jamaican brown stew chicken
  1. Remove skin: After washing the chicken with lime and vinegar, remove the skin. This dish is best with skin-less chicken. 
  2. Season well: Season with salt, chicken/all-purpose seasoning and browning sauce. Add the scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, scallion, thyme, pimento berries or use a blended green seasoning. The green seasoning is easy to make, the chicken absorbs more flavour when you use it, and you won’t have to won’t have to separate it from the chicken before cooking.
  3. Marinate: For maximum flavour, leave to marinate for at least an hour.
  4. Prepare to cook: Once you are ready to cook, separate the marinade (skip if you use the green seasoning) from the chicken but do not worry about trying to get this perfect. Just divide the larger pieces of onion, scallion, thyme etc.
Cooking brown stew chicken instructions
  1. Brown chicken: Heat enough oil over medium-high heat in a large pot with a lid. In batches, cook the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side until nice and golden.
  2. Prepare the sauce: Add water, bell pepper, tomato, chicken stock, salt, ketchup and the marinade you separated earlier. Once the liquid is hot and starts boiling, add the chicken.
  3. Let it simmer: Cover the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Brown stew chicken recipe

What to serve it with

 Chicken goes with anything, whether it is fried or brown stew. Sunday dinner in Jamaica, brown stew chicken goes with rice and peas. On any other day, serve it with any other rice dish or hard food

brown stew chicken without browning
brown stew chicken without browning

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

If you love chicken, you'll love the delicious taste of this Jamaican brown stew chicken.
4.20 from 137 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Jamaican brown stew chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 3 Servings
Calories: 232kcal
Author: Lesa

Ingredients 

  • 771 g (1.7 lb) Chicken
  • 1 Small yellow onion chopped
  • 2 Stalk scallion chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves crushed
  • ¼ (55 g) Green bell pepper sliced
  • ¼ Red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 Small tomato diced
  • ¼ Scotch Bonnet Pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 4 g Grated ginger
  • 4 Sprigs thyme
  • 5 Pimento berries (allspice)
  • 1 ½ tbsp All purpose/chicken seasoning Salt free (see notes)
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Browning sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup (optional)
  • Chicken cube stock
  • 3-4 tbsp Cooking oil
  • 355 ml (1.5 cups) Water

Instructions

  • Dissect and clean the chicken (remove skin and fat) and wash it in water with vinegar and lime/lemon juice. Drain away as much excess water from the chicken, dry and chop into small pieces.
  • Season the chicken with the chicken/all-purpose seasoning, ½ tsp of salt and the browning sauce. Add the onion, garlic, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, pimento berries, and ginger, or use one ½ tbsp of green seasoning (see note). Rubbing all the ingredients into the chicken ensures all pieces are well coated. (For maximum flavour, leave to marinate for at least an hour).
  • Separate the onion, thyme, scallion, garlic and pimento from the chicken, which may be painstaking, so don't try to separate every piece. If you are using the green season, you bypass this step.
  • Heat oil in a large enough pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken brown on all sides. Turn the heat down if needed so the chicken cooks before all sides are brown.
  • Pour away the oil leaving about a tablespoon. Add the water, onion, scallion, garlic, thyme, pimento, scotch bonnet (ingredients you separated earlier), bell pepper, tomato, salt, chicken cube stock and ketchup if you use it. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. (At this point, taste the sauce if flavoured to your liking).
  • Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Notes

  1.  Use more scotch bonnet if you like your food spicy.
  2. The all-purpose seasoning I use is salt-free. Consider using less if yours have salt.
  3. The use of ketchup in this recipe is to help thicken the brown stew sauce and add a hint of sweetness. If you prefer not to use ketchup, use a small amount of cornstarch to help thicken the sauce and a tiny bit of brown sugar or honey for the sweet taste. 
  4. If you want to avoid the painstaking task of separating the onion, scallion, garlic, thyme etc., from the chicken after you marinate it, use a blended green season, which I have a complete recipe for. But you will still need chopped onion, garlic etc. when making the brown stew sauce.  
  5. Instead of water, you could use chicken broth; this way, you don’t have to use chicken cube stock. Jamaicans usually use maggie cube stock. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
Serving Size
 
300 g
Amount per Serving
Calories
232
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
42
g
65
%
Saturated Fat
 
8
g
50
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
27
g
Cholesterol
 
56
mg
19
%
Sodium
 
1158
mg
50
%
Potassium
 
202
mg
6
%
Carbohydrates
 
12
g
4
%
Fiber
 
0.3
g
1
%
Sugar
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
14
g
28
%
Vitamin A
 
199
IU
4
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
19
mg
2
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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40 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Love the recipe. My family and I love brown stew chicken. Good job, thanks!

    • Thanks for sharing that. I hope you enjoyed the recipe nonetheless.

    • 5 stars
      I folliwed your recipe exactly and my came dish came out perfect. My family loved it. Thanks

      • Brand new to Jamaican cookin and would love to try this. I have ground all spice thougb and not the berries, how much would i use? Please

        • Hi Kirsten, thanks for stopping by. I have never used store bought ground allspice in my chicken but I know when I grind the pimento berries the powder flavour is so potent I have to use it in very small potions. For this recipe I would use about 1/8 tsp.

        • 5 stars
          I grew up on Jamaican brown stew chicken. I have tried many recipes and so far none captures that authenic Caribbean/Jamaican flavors
          so beautifully! Thanks for sharing this is a keeper!

    • Antonia Reid

      2 stars
      Hmmm needed more heavy handed seasoning. I needed to add more of everything to draw more flavor out of it all. Sadly this was not for me but thanks for a base to start with.

    • Love this recipe I mak it it my mum an sister’s every other weekend and other recipes from this site on the other bring the family together on them days as I work a lot and don’t get to say them so thank you 😊

  2. Shea Harrison

    5 stars
    Loved my brown stew chicken. Thanks for the recipe

  3. Thank you! I had a hankering and finding this recipe made me so happy!

    • Hiya am making this tomorrow want to do chicken tonight and leave overnight to marinate. Could you please tell me which you prefer chicken or all purpose seasoning I have both. Thank you

  4. 5 stars
    I made the curry chicken and it was a big hit! Thank you so much and look forward to trying the other recipes.

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe was brilliant! Went down very well with my family, tasted great.

  6. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing! Clear instructions and I’m sure it will turn out great. I think “kitchen” at the end might be a typo for “ketchup”… gonna try this tonight!

  7. Amy Fitzpatrick

    5 stars
    Amazing recipes, thank you so much for sharing and teaching me how to cook I love everyone of them

  8. 4 stars
    Uses half a tsp of salt to marinate chicken. What happens with other half tsp?

  9. 5 stars
    Seasoned this up last night, followed your recipe, weve just literally finished eating it and ohhhh my.. it came absolutely beautiful, so so tasty. I added about half a teaspoon of dark brown sugar for the sweetness. So sending a massive thank you for sharing this delicious dish with us 🥰 I’m trying your curry goat next can’t wait!

  10. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious, I was looking for a new recipe for brown stew chicken, and this one just hit the spot, this is going to be a family keeper for sure.
    Thanks

  11. 4 stars
    Have tried this recipe once but I was wondering in the list if ingredients it says 1 cup of water however in the instructions it says 2 1/2 cups of water. Which is correct has there is a huge difference. 🤔

  12. My sisters has been trying to make Brown Stew Chicken and missing the mark so I’ve been sharing this recipe with them and they’re just loving it. Finally they’ve succeeded in making this tasty Jamaican dish. Thank you.

  13. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Have made this twice, once with a tablespoon of brown sugar for a sweeter stew and once without for a more savoury taste. I also add a tablespoon of curry powder to give it more flavour then leave the chicken to season overnight. Such an easy to follow recipe and definitely a keeper. Went down well with the whole family.

  14. 5 stars
    Does the olive oil that you used to brown the chicken stay in the pot or are you getting rid of that?

  15. 5 stars
    just made my brown stew chicken using your recipe it is FABULOUS paring it with rice & peas, callaloo and plantain. Thank you for this wonderful recipe

  16. Currently making this for the first time and wondering how it would be if I were to put it all into my slow cooker once I’ve cooked the chicken…?! The smell is delicious- cannot wait to try it!!

  17. 5 stars
    I practice making this dish a week before Christmas my family loved it my son took some to work for his lunch his supervisor ask to taste his now I’m cooking a huge pot for their Christmas party on Saturday plus my family want this dish added to the table with our Christmas dinner my kids says this brown stew chicken is a most plus I’m making a pot of oxtails for Christmas along with jerk chicken beans and rice with our traditional Christmas turkey dinner thank so much for sharing your recipes

  18. Christian Tuggle

    Where can I find browning sauce? I tried Walmart and Publix with no luck

    • I found it at Publix yestereday on the aisle with bbq sauce, ketchup etc… The brand is Kitchen Bouquet

  19. 5 stars
    Hi Lesa, this is my go to website when I need some guidance for Jamaican recipes.
    They’re just like my mum’s cooking.
    Just wondering if you have a YouTube channel with your recipes?

  20. Made this for my wife potluck for work, it was gone less than a hour.

  21. 5 stars
    I made this tonight. My son, who loves brown stew chicken said it was delicious. Thanks for taking the time to share your recipe.

    • Hey JJ, I’m please to hear that. Thanks for stopping by, trying the recipe and sharing your experience. Big up to your son too!

    • 5 stars
      Perfect! I am German, my sister is married to a Jamaican. Because I love Jamaican food, I was looking for a recipe for Brown stewed chicken. My sister has no recipe, she learned it from her husband.
      I already cooked it a couple of times and made the Browning Sauce by myself with your instructions.
      I love it – thanks for sharing this!

  22. 4 stars
    I wanted to make this after trying it from mu local takeaway in the UK. It came out really well, but I think the seasoning needs to be adjusted, as in pimento and all purpose. Next time I’ll add more red and green bell peppers too, as I like extra veg.

  23. Kieran wilson

    5 stars
    Love this recipe I make it it my mum an sister’s every other weekend and other recipes from this site on the other bring the family together on them days as I work a lot and don’t get to say them so thank you 😊

  24. Gwen Sky Hamelberg Moore

    5 stars
    This recipe was amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing now I can make stew chicken for my family more often. They loved it very much.

    • Hi Gwen, glad to hear that your family love the the recipe. Thanks for stopping by, trying the recipe and sharing your experience.

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