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Jamaican Curry Chicken

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This authentic and traditional Jamaican Curry Chicken Recipe is the perfect combination of rich flavors in one plate. This is the Caribbean dish to make when you want a taste of the islands. 

The finished chicken curry in a blue dutch oven.

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Curry chicken was a weeknight meal for us growing up and my mom makes some of the best curry chicken I’ve ever had. Getting the recipe from her was a chore as she measures nothing in the kitchen.

But after asking many questions and watching her like a hawk, I was able to get a recipe and note the most important things when it comes to making a traditional Jamaican Curry.

  1. Rinse the chicken with water and vinegar.
  2. Use the right curry powder and seasonings – Jamaican Curry Powder is a combination of spices. The spices used and the amounts vary from country to country and brand to brand. For Jamaican curry, you need to use good curry powder. I use a combination of Hot Blue Mountain Country Curry Powder and Betapac Curry Powder. I also add a little Jamaican all-purpose seasoning.
  3. Use a whole chicken or just dark meat chicken, cut into pieces with skin removed – Curry chicken, like brown stew chicken, is a stew and you want to make sure your chicken doesn’t dry out. I opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs as they stay juicy and tender. 
  4. Only use a little bit of water – Curry is known to “sprout its own water.” I only add ¼ cup of water to this recipe when I start cooking and I end up without about 1 ½ cup gravy once it’s done. Adding too much water can make your stew bland.

How to make Jamaican Curry Chicken

Add chicken thighs, all-purpose seasoning, 1 Tbsp of curry powder, onion, green onions, green pepper, garlic cloves, scotch bonnet pepper (if using), and thyme to a large bowl and combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

raw chicken seasoned with curry powder and spices

Once the chicken is done marinating, remove the onions, peppers, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper (if using), and garlic cloves from chicken and set aside.

Marinated chicken in one bowl and onions, peppers and garlic in another.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add remaining curry powder and stir, cooking for about 20-30 seconds.

This step is known as “burning the curry” and it’s a way to release the flavors of the spices. You don’t actually burn anything.

Curry powder and oil in a pot.
  • Add onions, green pepper, scotch bonnet peppers (if using), garlic cloves, and thyme to the pot and stir until the onions have softened, about 3-5 minutes. If your onions and peppers are looking dry, add about 1 Tbsp of water.
Vegetables added to the pot.

Add chicken pieces and ¼ cup of water to the pot. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 minutes.

chicken added to the pot.

When there are about 15 minutes remaining, stir in the potato and continue to cook covered.

potatoes added to the pot.

Once the chicken is cooked and potatoes are softened, remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Jamaican chicken curry in a pot.

What is the best cut of chicken to use?

I like to use boneless and skinless thighs for this Jamaican Curry Chicken. You can use bone-in chicken if you prefer, just cut it into pieces and remove the skin. I don’t recommend using only chicken breast in this recipe, it contains less fat and it can easily dry out during cooking.

Can you make it ahead of time?

This curry is delicious served as soon as it’s made, but the leftovers the next day are delicious as the flavors have even more time to develop. Let the curry cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days and can be frozen for three months.

The curry can be reheated on the stovetop on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. Take care to only reheat the chicken once.

What do you serve with it?

This curry is great to serve on a bed of rice. You can serve it with boiled jasmine or basmati rice, or try it with one of these recipes:

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • The kind of curry you use is important to this dish. I used 1.5 Tbsp Blue Mountain Curry and ½ Tbsp Betapac. Your stew will taste like whichever curry you choose to use.
  • The scotch bonnet pepper is optional in this dish. Since I use a spicy curry when making this dish, I usually leave it out.
  • Curry “sprouts” its own gravy. Do not add more than the ¼ cup as listed in the recipe or you’ll have curry soup instead.
  • Feel free to add carrots and potatoes to this dish. The potato will thicken the gravy in this curry chicken.

More Jamaican Recipes

jamaican curry chicken in blue pot with a wooden spoon on the side
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4.75 from 4 votes

Jamaican Curry Chicken

This authentic and traditional Jamaican Curry Chicken is the perfect combination of rich flavors in one dish. It’s the perfect dish to make when you want a taste of the islands.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jamaican
Keyword easy chicken curry, how to make chicken curry, Jamaican curry recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 servings
Calories 441kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 2.5 Tbsp curry powder separated (see note)
  • 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • ½ green pepper chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 scotch bonner pepper chopped, seeds removed (optional)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme stems removed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large russet potato chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Add chicken thighs, all-purpose seasoning, 1 Tbsp of curry powder, onion, green onions, green pepper, garlic cloves, scotch bonnet pepper (if using), and thyme to a large bowl and combine, making sure all chicken pieces are covered with the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  • One the chicken is done marinating, remove onions, peppers, and garlic cloves from chicken and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add remaining curry powder and stir, cooking for about 20-30 seconds. Add onions, green pepper, garlic cloves, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper (if using) to pot and stir until onions have softened, about 3-5 minutes. If your onions and peppers are looking dry, add about 1 Tbsp of water.
  • Add chicken and ¼ cup of water to the pot. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 minutes.
  • When there is about 15 minutes remaining, stir in potato and continue to cook covered.
  • Once chicken is cooked and potatoes are softened, remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Notes

  • You can use bone-in chicken if you prefer, just cook until the meat is fall off the bone tender. I don’t recommend using chicken breast in this recipe as it can dry out.
  • The kind of curry you use is important to this dish. I used 2 Tbsp Blue Mountain Country Curry and ½ Tbsp Betapac. Your stew will taste like whichever curry you choose to use.
  • Scotch bonnet pepper is optional in this recipe. Feel free to chop it up and remove the seeds or place it in the pot whole, while cooking, to flavor the chicken.
  • Curry “sprouts” its own gravy. Do not add more than the ¼ cup as listed in the recipe or you’ll have curry soup instead.
  • The potato will thicken the gravy.

Nutrition

Calories: 441kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 956mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 293IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




Amy

Monday 15th of February 2021

Hi do you ever use Grace curry powder? If so do you use 2 tablespoons? Thank you

Tanya

Monday 15th of February 2021

Hi Amy, I haven't used Grace curry powder. If you were to substitute with another brand I would recommend that you still use about 2 Tbsp.

Bob Roberts

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Finally got everything I needed to make it. Wow! Really came out tasty and the cut up chicken thighs were so tender and moist. A must keep recipe.

Tanya

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Thank you Bob! So glad you liked the recipe :)

Jessica

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Ill be trying this recipe tonight, just wondering your opinion on how it will turn out with just the betapac curry, i only managed to find that brand at the moment. Ive tried your oxtail recipe which was amazing so thats and why i came back here and looked for curry chicken recipe.

Tanya

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Hi Jessica, using Betapac by itself is fine. The only thing with that curry is don't use too much of it. 2 Tbsp of Betapac by itself is enough.

Peter

Thursday 28th of January 2021

I very often make a variation of your curry but use Red curry paste with a few added extras. My point is the using my electric pressure cooker makes these curries so quick an hands off easy. Set and forget and 25 minutes later a perfect curry. My favourite Kitchen appliances the Electric Pressure Cooker and my two Air Fryers. Thanks for ideas.

Bob Roberts

Thursday 28th of January 2021

I’m a little confused. In the recipe you call for 2 1/2 Tbsp curry powder. In the notes you say 1 1/2 Tbsp Blue Mountain Curry and 1/2 Tbsp Betapac. That is 2 Tbsp total. Also, does the Betapac make a lot of difference in the recipe and, I guess, it’s the Curry one and not the Chicken spice one. Thanks, can’t wait to make it.

Tanya

Thursday 28th of January 2021

Hi Bob, My apologies, I updated the recipe card to reflect it's 2 Tbsp of Blue Mountain and 1/2 tbsp of Betapac that I use. You can skip the Betapac and just use the Blue mountain and still make some amazing curry. It's the brand I grew up with. Betapac curry powder is a more recent addition and it does make a tiny difference but it can be left out. I hope you enjoy the recipe :)