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Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

June 1, 2022
This Jamaican stew is a classic for a reason. It's full of flavor and comfort.

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Make the best Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with real island flavor from fresh herbs, veggies, browning seasoning and a few must-have seasonings. This rich stew is sure to become a family favorite dinner. 

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

When I think of my Jamaican heritage, food is always at the center. From hearty curries to spicy chicken dishes, there’s a lot to love about authentic Jamaican food. Growing up, brown stew chicken was a staple food including brown stew snapper fish, oxtails, curry chicken, pigtails, and so many others.

My Mother-in-Law actually makes my favorite stew chicken, which she makes a “darker” color by adding more browning, however, I wanted to pay more homage to the traditional way of making Brown stew chicken—–one of my top faves!

So I had to make a traditional Jamaican recipe for Brown Stew Chicken. The ingredients in this dish are central to Jamaican cuisine and together make an intensely flavorful stew that will warm you from the inside out. 

What is Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken?

This dish is sometimes called stew chicken. It’s a go-to dinner recipe in Jamaican and the surrounding islands. The name comes from the color of the sauce and the chicken, which gets nice and browned from searing in brown sugar, for a caramelized flavor and look.

Traditional versions are also made with veggies like carrots, garlic, onions, and potatoes—-plus herbs + seasonings like thyme, scallion, pimento seeds, etc. In addition, I grew up watching my parents marinate the chicken with all of the seasonings about 1-2 days prior and refrigerating everything so that the flavors could “settle” in the chicken and cooking the sauce with ketchup as opposed to tomato sauce, which I prefer.

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Ingredients for Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

The ingredients for this stew are important for developing the right flavor notes. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken. You can use a mixture of thighs and drumsticks, just remove the skin first. 
  • Browning seasoning. You can find this at specialty markets or online at Amazon. 
  • Carrots. For a hint of sweetness.
  • Tomato sauce. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, use ketchup. 
  • Brown sugar. I like to use organic sugar.
  • Red onion. In a pinch, a yellow onion or shallots will work. 
  • Garlic and scallions. Don’t skimp on these!
  • Thyme. I recommend fresh, but if you only have dried, use a half teaspoon. 
  • Flavo Rice. This is optional for Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, but it adds to the signature Jamaican flavor. You can also substitute with all-purpose seasoning. 
  • Spices. The other seasonings in this dish come from smoked paprika, fresh ginger, allspice, bay leaves. 
  • Scotch bonnet. If you don’t like spice, use less of the peppers. 
  • Chicken stock. Make your own or use low-sodium store-bought stock.

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

How to Make Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Cooking Jamaican brown stew chicken is generally an easy process—in total about 35-40 minutes. You first start by cleaning and washing your chicken pieces to ensure that they are clean and ready to be seasoned. I like to wash my chicken with both vinegar and lemon to help keep things clean and sanitized. 

Once your chicken is clean, then it’s seasoning time! I’m all about seasoning every “layer” of my food, therefore, the chicken gets direct seasoning and so does the sauce. Let everything marinate for 5-10 minutes or overnight tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for the best results.

In a deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and once fully heated, add the chopped onions and garlic, sautéing until fragrant and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
 
Add the marinated chicken and cook on each side until seared, about 3-4 minutes each side. Once brown on each side, add in the carrots, brown sugar, tomato sauce, and chicken stock, stirring everything together until combined.
 
Let the mixture boil for a minute or so before adding in the thyme sprigs, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers, bay leaves, and reduce heat to simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat once done.

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

How to Serve Jamaican Brown Chicken

You can serve this stew as-is. I like to add a veggie side and some rice to sop up all of the rich brown stew flavors. It would pair great with white rice, yellow rice, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad. 

Storage Suggestions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat servings in the microwave or on the stove to serve. 

You can also freeze leftover chicken for up to six months. Then defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat to enjoy. 

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with Coconut Milk

This specific recipe doesn’t ask for coconut milk, however, much like my Authentic Jamaican Curry Chickenyou can always use 1 (14oz.) can of full-fat coconut milk  as a part of the sauce and reduce the chicken stock to about 1-2 cups. Adding coconut milk definitely creates a creamier sauce, which is a win, win for stew chicken.

Is Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken Spicy?

Because I love spicy flavors and whenever making anything Jamaican, I’m always inclined to add scotch bonnet peppers—–this specific brown stew chicken is spicy. However, you can feel free to remove the scotch bonnet peppers entirely and create a much milder dish. It’s all about preference, not necessity. 

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

More Jamaican Recipes to Try

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you make this Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your photos @orchidsandsweettea!

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Serves: 4 servings
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Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs. organic chicken, skin removed (Drumsticks + Thigh pieces work great!)
  • 2-3 Tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsps browning (See Notes!)
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled + chopped
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce (You can also use Ketchup instead)
  • 1 Tbsp organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped (a.k.a. green onions)
  • handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Flavo Rice, optional  (You can substitute with all-purpose seasoning!)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger (You can also use 1/4 tsp ground ginger instead)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-3 scotch bonnet peppers, minced or whole (You can also use habanero peppers)
  • 3 cups organic chicken stock

Instructions

MARINATE THE CHICKEN:

  • In a large bowl, add your freshly cleaned + rinsed chicken along with browning, salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, Flavo Rice (or all-purpose seasoning), ginger, and allspice, mixing everything together until chicken is fully coated. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

COOK THE CHICKEN:

  • In a deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and once fully heated, add the chopped onions and garlic, sautéing until fragrant and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the marinated chicken and cook on each side until seared, about 3-4 minutes each side. Once brown on each side, add in the carrots, brown sugar, tomato sauce, and chicken stock, stirring everything together until combined.
  • Let the mixture boil for a minute or so before adding in the thyme sprigs, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers, bay leaves, and reduce heat to simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat once done.
  • To serve, enjoy the brown stew chicken with your favorite side (i.e. rice, veggies, etc.). Garnish with a bit of dried parsley, if desired.
  • Bon Appétit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
  • JAMAICAN SEASONINGS: If authentic Jamaican seasonings (i.e. browning, curry powder, Flavo Rice, etc.) aren't readily available near you, they are available for purchase on Amazon. Otherwise, substitute with your favorite brand. 
  • AUTHENTIC JAMAICAN PROCESS: Please see info in this post for more on this. I elaborate on the actual ingredients used, important steps, etc.

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken.

Shanika

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    • Hi Pat! Thanks so much for your feedback! While I do understand—-I do talk about the exact way to make as “authentic” as most Jamaicans make it in the actual post! 🙂

  1. The color of the chicken is amazing! It looks and sounds like such a wonderfully flavor-packed and comforting meal. I look forward to enjoying soon!

  2. This is the most flavorful stew I’ve ever had! Will definitely be making it again, and I’m OBSESSED with the beautiful photography!