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Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

June 1, 2022
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

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Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken is a classic favorite that's all about Caribbean flavors and comforting goodness, cooked to perfection until fall-off-the-bone tender in heaps of aromatics + spices.

Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

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

Wooden plate of Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with a side of grains and vegetables

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, Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with white rice was a staple food including brown stew snapper fish, stew peas, oxtails, curry chicken, pigtails, and so many others that I enjoyed on a daily basis and for good reason.

I absolutely love Caribbean food—it's part of my roots and brings such warmth and comfort. Imagine tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a delicious stew gravy that's just bursting with flavor. This dish is loaded with aromatics and special touches that make it truly unique. Brown Stew Chicken takes a bit more effort than your average stew, but it's totally worth it. Both kids and grown-ups can't get enough of it!

If you're a lover of traditional Jamaican dishes, you have to try this Authentic Jamaican Curry Chicken, Jamaican Rum Cream, Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge, and Creamy Jamaican Rasta Pasta next!

Jump to:

What is Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken?

This dish is sometimes called stew chicken. It's a go-to dinner recipe in Jamaica 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.

What is the Difference Between Brown Stew Chicken and Stew Chicken?

In case you were wondering if there was a difference---yes there is! With brown stew chicken, the cooking time takes a bit longer and the process for making it is slightly different (i.e. marinating it preferably overnight, the seasoning required, etc.).

Ingredients for Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken including tomatoes, peppers, green onions, and carrots

Ingredients for 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. You can also "brown" your chicken the traditional way by burning brown sugar and frying the chicken in that first instead.
  • 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.

SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR BAKING, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS CHICKEN DISH!

Here, I’ve curated a list of baking + cooking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite dishes, especially with this Brown Stew Chicken. Everything from my fave loaf pan, wooden spoons, parchment paper, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Wooden bowl of green onions, peppers, tomatoes, and thyme

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.
Overhead shot of a pan of Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

What is Brown Stew Sauce Made of?

In this recipe, I love using browning sauce to make the sauce darker in color, which is traditionally used in many recipes. In addition, the browning sauce helps to deepen the flavors in this dish.

What is Jamaican Browning Sauce? How to Make Browning Sauce?

Jamaican browning sauce combines brown sugar and hot boiling water to form a syrup-like sauce and it's used to enhance the flavors of many dishes like stews, gravy, cakes, etc. In addition, it give a rich color to your dish.

How to Serve 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, brown rice, traditional rice & peas, yellow rice, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, fried dumplings or a fresh salad.

Wooden spoon in a pan of 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.

Common Q + A's for Brown Stew Chicken

Why is my Brown Stew Bitter?

OK, so if you find that your brown stew chicken has a more bitter taste, this is more than likely due to using too much browning sauce. No worries---you can fix this! Simply break up the bitter taste with a bit of ketchup, brown sugar, and additional stock. This should help!

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.

How to Make Stew Sauce Thicker?

If you find that your sauce isn't thick enough, I definitely recommend covering the pot and allowing it to simmer a bit more. Usually, with a slow simmer over time, the sauce will automatically thicken. However, if it's truly not doing that, add 1 tablespoon of flour with 3-4 Tbsps warm water to a small cup or bowl, stir until smooth and "milky" and add to the sauce to help aide it.

How to Store Leftovers?

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.

What does browning sauce taste like?

Basically, this sauce has a rich, deep smoky and slightly sweet flavor. It can be added to both savory and sweet dishes, however, I recommend not adding too much because it can taste pretty bitter.

Overhead shot of Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

More Delicious Jamaican Recipes to Try!

Do you love Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken and want to try more Jamaican cuisine? Here are some reader faves!

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. And don't forget to tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram  and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea! I love hearing from you!

Overhead shot of a pan of Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Easy Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

June 1, 2022
4.50 from 26 votes
Make the best Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken with real Caribbean and island flavors from fresh herbs, veggies, browning seasoning and a few must-have seasonings. This rich stew is sure to become a family favorite dinner during the week. Gluten-free.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 4 servings

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
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce (You can also use Ketchup instead)
  • 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped (a.k.a. green onions)
  • handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Flavo Rice, optional  (You can substitute with all-purpose seasoning!)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger (You can also use ¼ teaspoon ground ginger instead)
  • ½ teaspoon 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 602kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 244mg | Sodium: 1222mg | Potassium: 1245mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 5777IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 5mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Script text: Xx, Shanika

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  1. This was so good! I meal prepped this for the last two weeks. The second week I added a little jerk marinade….chefs kiss♥️

    • Hi Annette! Wow! I'm so happy to hear that you found this recipe great as a meal prep and that you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for giving it a try! 🙂

  2. This. recipe. was. delicious. I highly recommend making this seasoning was top tier definitely adding this into my rotation of family meals! I definitely see myself making this again. I forgot to grab the scotch bonnet which was definitely needed the spice was definitely needed for this which I missed but the second time I WILL NOT forget.

    • Hi Shawn! Yesss! I'm SO happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! It's definitely a family staple in our house! And I can't wait to see what you think once you get scotch bonnet next time! 🙂

    • 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! 🙂

  3. This chicken looks so rich and delicious! I am making this at the weekend as my family love spicy chicken dishes.

  4. 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!

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

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