Brown Stew Chicken is a traditional flavourful Jamaican stew made with marinated chicken, aromatic spices, and vegetables that is braised down in one pot until tender, creating boast worthy island taste! This chicken recipe is one you’ll want to add in your weekly rotation of meals!
Looking for more flavourful and delicious Jamaican main dishes? Check out my Jamaican Curry Chicken, Jamaican Curry Goat or my Jamaican Oxtail Recipe! But, if you want to stick to the brown stew theme, definitely try my easy Brown Stew Fish recipe!
Brown Stew Chicken
Just like Jamaican Curry Chicken, this brown stew chicken makes a very regular appearance on Caribbean household dinner tables, weekly. This is true for all the right reasons, it’s quick and easy, full of flavour and goes well with a variety of side dishes.
It’s as simply of prepping ahead by seasoning your chicken and allowing to marinate for a few hours to overnight. Then you braise your chicken to lock in the flavour and allow to simmer until tender and perfect. It’s a fool-proof way to have an enjoyable dinner and lunch the next day!
Here’s Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Quick and Easy — this is the perfect weeknight recipe, or for those with busy schedules because it comes together with minimal effort in no time!
- Flavourful — it’s marinated in a delicious, flavourful blend of herbs and spices for a few hours to overnight and this provides maximum flavour!
- Versatile — one of the best parts of this dish is, it pairs up so well with a variety of side dishes. Whether rice, ground provision, greens, pasta etc.
What is Brown Stew Chicken?
Jamaican brown stew chicken is a flavoursome and comforting stew dish common in Jamaican cuisine and throughout the Caribbean. Chicken is marinated then braised and simmered in a rich and aromatic sauce until the chicken is tender and infused with the flavourful herbs and spices.
A key component in some of these dishes are the use of either soy sauce, browning, fish and meat sauce etc. that also contributes to the rich brown colour of the gravy.
Can I Use Boneless Chicken for Brown Stew Chicken?
Yes, you most certainly can use boneless chicken for brown stew chicken although traditionally bone-in chicken in used. By using boneless chicken the preparation and cooking process time is greatly reduced. However, it is recommended to use bone-in chicken.
Here’s why you should use bone-in chicken for brown stew chicken:
- Maximum Flavour: the bones in chicken add depth of flavour to the stew as the gelatin and marrow is released during the simmering process. This gives a more flavoursome and robust taste and feel to the dish.
- Nutrients: chicken bones are a great source of nutrients such as calcium and magnesium.
- Cost Effective: bone-in chicken is often more affordable than boneless, skinless cuts.
- Texture: as the bone-in chicken simmers, the collagen in the bones break down and thicken as well as enhance the stew by giving a more velvety texture.
Can I Use Other Meats instead of Chicken?
Yes! Brown stew is a very versatile dish that can be adapted for all kinds of protein.
Here are some alternative protein options you can consider:
- Fish: Brown Stew Fish is a common and popular alternative to brown stew chicken. If opting for fish, use a firm bodied fish like snapper (red, lane and yellow tail), cod and tilapia
- Pork: this is a great option for brown stew, opt for the pork shoulder, loin, or more meaty cuts.
- Beef: use stewing beef or chuck roast and brown the pieces prior (if possible) for maximum flavour.
- Turkey: using turkey offers a leaner alternative to chicken. It is common for turkey wings and legs to be used.
- Goat or Lamb: this meat has a slightly different flavour profile and distinctive taste that can offer a pleasurable twist to this common stew.
A Key Ingredient: Browning
A key ingredient that some use in this dish is the browning. This dark, savoury sauce adds colour and a depth of flavour to Caribbean stews, gravy, meat dishes, and desserts.
It is a natural food colouring sourced from a simply burnt brown sugar or a blend of caramel, vegetable concentrates and seasonings. It’s commonly used in Caribbean households. This sauce is often used to deepen the flavour and colour of this dish.
What is a Jamaican Dutch Pot?
The cooking vessel often used to prepare brown stew chicken is called a “Dutch Pot” or “Dutchie”. It’s a staple in the Caribbean culinary culture, and found in many kitchens whether living in the Caribbean or abroad.
It is a thick iron cooking pot with a tight heavy lid and some believe, the secret behind great-tasting, authentic, Jamaican dishes.
These kinds of pots are extremely loud, and some use them as noisemakers during times of celebration! Unfortunately, this also means there’s no sneaking into the pot without everyone in the house knowing!
What You Need to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)
- Non-Stick Skillet – use a non-stick skillet for easy, minimal clean-up or use a traditional dutch pot if you have one on hand!
- Wooden Spoon/Spatula – for turning and mixing ingredients in the pan.
Ingredient List and Ingredient Notes
* INGREDIENTS, MEASUREMENTS AND INSTRUCTIONS ARE LISTED IN THE RECIPE CARD AT BOTTOM OF PAGE *
- Whole Chicken – use a whole chicken broken down, or use a combination of your favourite parts of the chicken. Typically it’s recommended the chicken has bones for additional flavour!
- Onion – you can choose between chopped or sliced and use sweet or yellow cooking onions.
- Garlic – this adds a beautiful aroma and great flavour to this dish. Use fresh garlic, minced or grated for a more pungent taste.
- Escallion – also known as green onion or scallion, finely chopped.
- Fresh Thyme – this fresh aromatic and flavourful herb is essential in many jamaican dishes, and definitely great in this one as well.
- Bay Leaves – this is optional, leave it out if you don’t have any on hand. It is an aromatic leaf commonly used in Caribbean cooking.
- Browning – it’s a natural food colouring made from burnt dark brown sugar. However, it can be made from a blend of caramel, vegetable concentrates, and seasonings. For more information check out my recipe for homemade browning sauce.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – finely chopped, optional, as desired. This packs a good spicy punch, and flavour to the . chicken. Alternatively, you can use habanero peppers or your favourite variety of pepper.
- Salt and Black Pepper – add as desired, used for enhancing the flavour of the dish.
- Homemade Seasoning Salt/ All Purpose Seasoning and Paprika – use these dry seasonings or use what you have on hand for an added kick of flavour.
- Pimento Seeds – also referred to as allspice berries, add them crushed or whole.
- Dark Brown Sugar – this is the perfect ingredient to round of the flavours of this dish and add a hint of sweetness.
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
- Low Sodium Chicken Stock – this is used to deglaze the pot, after browning the chicken as well as provide enough liquid for the chicken to simmer and to make the gravy.
- Red and Green Bell Pepper – you can use any colour you have on hand, julienned or dice.
- Ketchup – used for taste and to flavour and thicken the gravy.
- Soya Sauce –
- Salt – more or less to taste.
- Olive Oil – use a drizzle of this oil to brown the chicken, any kind of neutral cooking oil such as avocado oil, canola or peanut oil will work as well.
How to Make Brown Stew Chicken
1. Prep Chicken
Remove skin from chicken and trim any excess fat, then wash chicken with vinegar and/or lemon or lime and rinse with water. Pat chicken dry with paper towel, chop into smaller pieces and set aside.
2. Marinate Chicken
In a large mixing bowl or plastic storage bag, combine chicken, onions, green onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, browning, brown sugar, all spice berries (pimento seeds), paprika, salt, black pepper and scotch bonnet. Season the chicken ensuring it is well coated, and allow to marinate for an hour to overnight if possible.
3. Brown Chicken
Over medium high heat, heat oil in a large dutch oven or skillet. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve marinade – leave the vegetables and seasonings in the mixing bowl), and braise each side until browned, about 5-10 minutes.
4. Add Stock and Reserved Marinade
Once the chicken pieces are browned on all sides, stir in the stock and reserved marinade. Cover pot and bring all the ingredients to a boil. After about 20 minutes, remove the lid, add ketchup and reduce the heat to medium-low.
5. Let Simmer and Serve
Cover and let simmer until the chicken is very tender and the sauce has reduced by half, about 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves, scotch bonnet pepper, green onion stalks, and thyme sprigs. Serve hot and enjoy!
Recipe Substitutions and Variations
- Veggies – try adding more veggies such as carrots and/or tomatoes, a very popular addition to this dish.
- Chicken – you can essentially use any part of the chicken for this recipe whether boneless of bone-in. However, it of often recommended to use bone-in for maximum flavour.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – if you’re not able to get your hands on this pepper, you can substitute with habanero pepper or your preferred pepper of choice.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
Here are some other tasty additions:
- Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice
- Coco Bread
- Jamaican Festival Recipe
- Jamaican Fried Dumpling
- Mashed Potatoes
- Roti or Paratha
- Quinoa or Couscous
- Steamed Vegetables
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Marinate Your Chicken – Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and ensure you massage it well into your chicken so the flavours can meld together and penetrate.
- Braise Your Chicken – Before allowing your chicken to slowly simmer in the liquids, you want to braise all sides of your meat until browned. It creates a lovely texture on the outside while ensuring the inside remains moist and tender.
- Make It a Meal – Add in pieces of potatoes and carrots to turn this dish into a one-pot meal.
- Stick to Dark Meat – it has more flavour but if you do opt for white meat, keep the bone in.
- Season to Taste – taste test your pot after the chicken has thoroughly cooked and adjust if needed.
- Use low Sodium Stock – this will prevent the chances of this dish coming out too salty. If using regular stock, ad half water, half stock if needed or omit using added salt.
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
Yes. The flavours actually intensifies the longer it sits. Allow the dish to cool completely before placing it in the refrigerator.
Allow brown stew chicken to completely cool then store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or store in freezer safe container or bags for up to 2-3 months.
When you are ready to reheat, warm it up on a stovetop on medium-low heat until it is evenly heated. Alternatively, you can microwave it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It is recommended to cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure any harmful bacteria present in the chicken is destroyed and it is safe to eat.
Brown the chicken first to seal in the natural juices, and flavour, maintain a gentle simmer, low and slow is the name of the game.
“Brown stew chicken” and “stew chicken” are often used interchangeably, however the distinction between the two is sometimes based on cooking technique and region. Brown stew chicken is first marinated and then browned (seared) in a skillet whereas stew chicken often gets its distinct colour from adding browning sauce. The two terms also vary depending on the region or country.
Curry chicken and brown stew chicken are two very popular and common dishes however vary greatly in their ingredients, preparation and taste. Curry chicken is made using curry powder and brown stew chicken made often with browning.
Add a spoonful of brown sugar or butter to mellow the bitter taste.
This often occurs when too much browning sauce is used or you’ve burnt the chicken during the browning or “searing” stage.
Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!
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Brown Stew Chicken
- Non-stick skillet or dutch pot
- Wooden Spoon/Spatula
- 1 whole Chicken or chicken pieces, chopped into smaller chunks
- 1 sm Onion chopped
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 stalk Green Onion escaliion/sprig onion, crushed or chopped
- 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 whole Bay Leaves
- 1 tsp Browning
- 1 whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper or chopped, as desired
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 5 whole Pimento Seeds allspice berries, whole or crushed
- 2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar packed
- pc. Fresh Ginger small, optional
Brown Stew Chicken
- 2 cups Chicken Stock low sodium
- 1/2 sm Red Bell Pepper julienned or chopped
- 1/2 sm Green Bell Pepper julienned or chopped
- 1 tbsp Ketchup
- 1 tbsp Soya Sauce optional
- 1/2 tsp Salt more or less to taste
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Remove skin from chicken and trim any excess fat, then wash chicken with vinegar and/or lemon or lime and rinse with water. Pat chicken dry with paper towel, chop into smaller pieces and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or plastic storage bag, combine chicken, onions, green onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, browning, brown sugar, all spice berries (pimento seeds), paprika, salt, black pepper and scotch bonnet. Season the chicken ensuring it is well coated, and allow to marinate for an hour to overnight if possible.
- Over medium high heat, heat oil in a large dutch oven or skillet. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve marinade – leave the vegetables and seasonings in the mixing bowl), and braise each side until browned, about 5-10 minutes.
- Once the chicken pieces are browned on all sides, stir in the stock and reserved marinade. Cover pot and bring all the ingredients to a boil. After about 20 minutes, remove the lid, add ketchup and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cover and let simmer until the chicken is very tender and the sauce has reduced by half, about 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves, scotch bonnet pepper, green onion stalks, and thyme sprigs. Serve hot and enjoy!
Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.