This Jamaican Curry Chicken recipe is a beloved Caribbean meal; full of rich, warm aromatic spices, herbs, veggies, potatoes, and tender chicken pieces. This easy one pot meal is simmered and cooked down in a delicious savoury curry sauce with a splash of wholesome coconut milk for the perfect touch of creamy richness! Enjoy this easy chicken dish for either lunch or dinner with a side of white rice and coleslaw!
Jamaican Curry Chicken
This is the ultimate comfort food! It doesn’t get cozier than traditional Jamaican curry chicken and potatoes. It’s bursting with bold authentic island flavour from ginger, pimento seeds, and scotch bonnet. And that bright yellow tinge means you’ve made the curry perfectly!
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Easy to Prepare – the instructions are incredibly simple so it’s great for a casual weeknight dinner.
- Delicious – the chicken is stewed in a bold curry sauce until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender. You’ll enjoy every forkful!
- Authentic – cook like a Jamaican when you make this curry chicken; from the methods to the ingredients, everything about this is the real deal!
What is Curry Powder?
Curry powder is a combination of a blend of dried spices often used in Indian cooking, however many cultures i.e. Asian, and Caribbean use curry powder in various dishes as well.
What is Jamaican Curry Powder Made Of?
Jamaican Curry Powder is a beautiful spice blend of turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, pimento, black pepper or pepper variety, star anise, garlic, and sometimes salt.
Why is Curry Popular in Jamaica?
After the abolition of slavery in Jamaica, Indian indentured servants were brought to the British colonies. It is believed that they brought spice to the island during the 17th century. Today, curry is ingrained into Jamaican culture and cuisine as a prominent spice and flavour.
What Curry Powder to Use in Jamaican Curry Chicken
You definitely want to use quality Caribbean curry powder. Each culture/region has their own unique blend of spices that make up curry powder so it is important to use a Caribbean brand.
I recommend using the Betapac Limited Curry Powder or the Montego Jamaican Style Mild or Spicy Curry Powder. Both provide a beautiful flavour and are great for seasoning not only chicken, but goat, pork, and seafood, as well as vegetables and legumes such as chickpeas.
Where to find Betapac or Montego Curry Powder?
You can find the Betapac Curry or Montego Mild or Spicy Curry Powder at your local West Indian or Caribbean grocery store. If you do not have one of these in your neighbourhood, you can order online from a retailer that services your area.
Why do you Burn/Cook Curry Powder?
Burning the curry is a Caribbean saying and method where you “cook” the curry prior to adding it to the remainder of the dish being prepared. There is actually no “burning” at all. It is not necessary, however greatly advised.
Cooking the powder helps to bring out the true deep flavour and colour. It also makes the powder less potent for those with digestive issues. After toasting the curry powder, your kitchen should fill up with a distinct spicy yet warm aroma.
How to Burn/Cook Curry Powder?
Once the butter and oil is heated over medium-high heat, add curry powder and allow to cook for about a minute or so; stirring quickly to prevent burning too quickly.
What’s Needed to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)
- Large Skillet – to cook the curry powder and simmer the chicken.
- Cooking Spoon – toss ingredients to mix and prevent from burning.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Chicken Thighs – dark meat works best for this Jamaican curry chicken recipe. If you use white meat, it may dry because it has less fat. However, the thighs will stay moist and juicy. The chicken should be skinless but can be boneless or bone-in. Each thigh should be chopped into 3 pieces.
- Olive Oil
- Curry Powder – Betapac or Montego brand curry is recommended.
- All Purpose Seasoning – or seasoned salt.
- Black Pepper –
- Pimento Seeds allspice berries – crushed.
- Garlic – crushed.
- Onion – finely chopped.
- Ginger – fresh, pounded.
- Escallion green onion – crushed and roughly chopped
- Thyme – fresh.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – for a kick of heat I used one.
- Caribbean Green Seasoning – optional
- Carrot – peeled and sliced.
- Potato – this makes for a heartier meal. You can use yellow or russet just be sure to dice them.
- Coconut Milk – for a dairy-free way to make a creamy sauce. It also helps to cool down the dish so the spice isn’t overwhelming.
How to Make Jamaican Curry 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 and set aside.
2. Marinate Chicken
Add olive oil to chicken, and season well with curry powder, all purpose seasoning, black pepper, pimento seeds, garlic, onion, ginger, escallion, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight in fridge if possible.
3. “Burn” the Curry
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp of curry. Cook the curry for about 2 to 3 minutes, taking care not to burn the curry. Add the seasoned chicken to the skillet and let the chicken cook until lightly browned on all sides.
Stir in the potatoes and carrot (green seasoning if using) and add 2 cups of water or enough to cover the chicken and added vegetables.
Cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then pour in the coconut milk and allow to continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid reduced to a gravy.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
- Chicken – You can use a whole chicken or just dark meat. Legs would taste just as good as thighs.
- Vegetarian – To make this dish meatless, leave out the chicken and add chickpeas and more potatoes. Alternatives include jackfruit or sweet potatoes.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
The classic sides for Jamaican curry chicken are white rice and coleslaw. Fluffy rice will absorb the curry sauce. But here are some other tasty additions:
- Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice
- Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Mashed Potatoes
- Roti or Paratha
- Quinoa or Couscous
- Steamed Vegetables
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Marinate – Jamaican curry chicken needs time to marinate so don’t skip this step.
- Stick to Dark Meat – it has more flavour but if you do opt for white meat, keep the bone in.
- Measure Accurately – too much water results in a bland curry dish.
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.
Store leftover Jamaican curry chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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)
I don’t recommend freezing this because the potatoes will be mushy once thawed. But curry without coconut milk (or potatoes) can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Use full-fat coconut milk when preparing curry chicken. If the consistency is too thick, add more potatoes or carrots.
Indian and Thai curries are hotter than Jamaican curry, which tends to have more turmeric and less spice. Other curries are reddish brown and Caribbean curry is a bright yellow.
Curry chicken is spicy but this recipe is relatively mild. If you prefer a spicier chicken curry, I suggest adding an additional scotch bonnet pepper and a little cayenne.
Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!
- Gungo Peas Soup
- Ackee and Saltfish
- Brown Stew Fish
- Jamaican Oxtail Recipe
- Jerk Chicken Sandwich
- How to Soak Fruit for Christmas Cake
- Easy Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice
- Jamaican Pickled Vegetables (Escovitch Sauce)
- Jamaican Curry Shrimp (Seafood)
- Quick & Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Jamaican Rasta Pasta
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Jamaican Curry Chicken
- Large Skillet
- Cooking Spoon
- 2 1/2 pounds Chicken Thighs skinless, boneless or bone-in, each chopped into 3 pieces
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Curry Powder betapac or montego brand curry recommended
- 1 tbsp All Purpose Seasoning or seasoned salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 6 whole Pimento Seeds allspice berries, crushed
- 3 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 med Onion finely chopped
- 1 2-in Ginger fresh, pounded
- 1 stalk Escallion green onion, crushed and roughly chopped
- 4 sprigs Thyme fresh
- 1 whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
- 1 tbsp Caribbean Green Seasoning optional
- 1 large Carrot peeled, sliced
- 1 large Potato yellow or russet, diced
- 2 cup Water
- 1 cup Coconut Milk optional
Prep and Season 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 and set aside.
- Add olive oil to chicken, and season well with curry powder, all purpose seasoning, black pepper, pimento seeds, garlic, onion, ginger, escallion, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight in fridge if possible.
Jamaican Curry Chicken
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp of curry. Cook the curry for about 2 to 3 minutes, taking care not to burn the curry. Add the seasoned chicken to the skillet and let the chicken cook until lightly browned on all sides.
- Stir in the potatoes and carrot (green seasoning if using) and add 2 cups of water or enough to cover the chicken and added vegetables. Cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then pour in the coconut milk and allow to continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid reduced to a gravy.
Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.