jamaican curry chicken

Jamaican curry chicken with potatoes is a little taste of the Caribbean no matter where you are. Jamaican curry powder, scallions, fresh thyme and habanero or scotch bonnet. All the Jamaican flavours you love in one dish.

This is probably the third most famous Jamaican dish. Jerk chicken is number one. Jamaican patties probably number two. And then Jamaican curry. Chicken curry. Goat curry. Fish curry. So good.

Caribbean is not Indian

You could be forgiven for thinking this is like Indian food. It’s called curry. And it tastes like curry. But not like Indian curry.

If you’ve never had Jamaican curry chicken it’s time to fix that. It’s tasty stuff. Not so intensely flavoured as Indian. Not as complex. But those aren’t bad things. Not at all.

You can get Jamaican curry powder at specialty shops. Don’t substitute Indian or generic “curry powder”. It’s not the same.

Jamaican curry powder has ingredients you won’t see in Indian. Like allspice. And corn flour. That’s what thickens the curry. You need Jamaican curry powder.

I use Montego Jamaican style hot curry powder. Not because I love it. But because it’s what I can get where I live. You can use a different brand. It may not be exactly the same but it should still be good.

Jamaican curry chicken is loaded with big Caribbean flavours.

Simple. Straightforward. Not a lot of ingredients.  Pure. Delicious. This recipe is back to basics. Easy.

Habaneros don’t have to mean crazy hot

Don’t be scared of habaneros. Or scotch bonnets if you can get them. They can be hot. Really hot. But most of the fire is in the membranes inside the chilies. In the seeds as well.

The walls aren’t anywhere near as hot. Get rid of the membranes and the seeds and you have a much tamer chili. All the taste is still there though. That wonderful fruity habanero flavour shines without the burning heat.

Still some zing in the walls though. Don’t think you can add 20 and not melt the pot. One is a good number unless you want real fire.

It’s not hard to cut out the membranes and seeds. Chop the top off. Cut the remaining chili in half lengthwise. Cut out the membranes and seeds. Done.

But please wear gloves. Those plastic gloves at bulk food stores work well. The last thing you want is capsaicin on your hands. Touch your eyes and off to the hospital you go. You do not want that. You won’t get to eat your wonderful Jamaican curry chicken…

Jamaican curry chicken with rice and peas from above.

Choice of chicken matters for Jamaican curry chicken

There are a lot of recipes out there for braised dishes that start with “cut up a whole chicken”. That’s a recipe for a mediocre braise. Unless you are a master chef.

The problem with mixing white and dark meat is cooking time. Think about your holiday turkey. How hard you fight to keep the breast moist while the dark meat cooks.

Same idea. Not as dramatic but same idea. Mix white and dark in a braise. Overdone white meat. Underdone dark meat. Pretty much guaranteed.

Use dark meat for this recipe. On the bone. Whole pieces. You need the time to cook the potatoes. Small pieces of boneless chicken will be dry as dust by the time the potatoes cook.

Dark meat on the bone is forgiving. There is margin for error. And it’s way tastier. Good reasons to use thighs when you make Jamaican curry chicken. Or any braised chicken dish.

Jamaican curry chicken served with rice and peas.

Jamaican curry chicken is dinner tonight

This isn’t a hard recipe. It takes a bit of time but most of it is simmering unattended. This is totally doable during the week. Maybe 20 minutes of work. The rest of the time it’s on auto-pilot. And in the end you get something special. How can you not want that?

Serve Jamaican curry chicken with rice. Or even better with rice and peas. Jamaican curry chicken with rice and peas. That is a killer combination. One that’s sure to please.

Bowl of Jamaican curry chicken from above.
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4.71 from 17 votes

jamaican curry chicken

Jamaican curry chicken is a simple, straightforward and seriously delicious curry. 
Course Main
Cuisine Jamaican
Keyword curry, jamaican curry chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 244kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


Jamaican curry chicken

  • 8-10 pieces bone-in, skinless chicken dark meat please
  • 3 tbsp neutral oil - vegetable or canola etc.
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2-1 seeded habanero chili with internal membrane removed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 2 floury potatoes - cut in 3/4 inch dice. Russet or Yukon gold work.

Spice mix

  • 3 tbsp Jamaican curry powder - available at specialty markets
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
  • pinch allspice powder
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste at the end


  • Combine all the spice mix ingredients. Set aside
  • Heat the oil in a 5 or 6 quart dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil shimmers test a bit of chicken. Just touch it to the oil. If it sputters, you are good to go.
  • Put half the chicken into the pot and fry to lightly brown. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Set the second batch of chicken aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the onions and cook until translucent. This takes 3-4 minutes. 
  • Add the spice mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30-45 seconds to bloom the spices. Take a page out of Indian cooking here. It makes a difference.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and scape up any browned bits on the bottom. Return the chicken to the pot along with the potatoes, thyme, habanero and green onion. 
  • Add the remaining cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes.
  • Taste. You may need a bit more salt. Garnish with some more thyme leaves and sliced green onions. Serve with rice or Jamaican rice and peas. 


Habaneros are seriously hot chilies. If you want the flavour and not all the heat cut the top off the chili. Cut it in half and peel out the membrane and the seeds. A lot of the fire is in the membranes. In this Jamaican curry chicken, one habanero without the membranes and seeds is medium spicy. One whole habanero is seriously hot. Wear cloves when you do this. The last thing you want to do is touch habaneros and then touch your eye. Ouch!


Serving: 4servings | Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 722mg | Potassium: 676mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 185IU | Vitamin C: 13.7mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2.9mg

29 thoughts on “jamaican curry chicken”

  1. 5 stars
    This is a superb recipe! I have started to double it every time for our family of 5 so it lasts till the next day. If I don’t have scotch bonnets I use jerk marinade, and can leave out green onions if I don’t have those ~ overall an easy and forgiving recipe that tastes wonderful every time. I only use chicken bone-in thighs/legs. Love the tip about blooming the spices. Thanks so much!

    • I’m so happy to hear that. I will try jerk marinade next time I’m running short of chilies. Sounds delicious.

  2. 5 stars
    Exquisite! I’ve been trying to find a good Jamaican curry recipe. This was fantastic (I used more habanero than recommended– I love spicy). I used chicken legs and had the grocery store chop them in half. Next time I may try chopped chicken thighs or a combo with chopped legs. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Great to hear. Thank you! I love the flavour habanero brings so if you can handle the heat it’s a great idea.

  3. Thank you very much, the recipe was easy to follow and so tasty, because I didn’t have any chicken stock the sauce was quite funny so I used a table spoon of plain flour to thicken. I also used Madras curry because that’s what I had , the chicken was so tasty. I think I will wait until after the quarantine is finished here in the UK to buy the all the ingredients that you have recommended

    • I’m glad you liked it and I hope you stay safe! I suspect the reason the sauce was so runny is there is corn flour in commercial Jamaican curry powder. Madras curry powder doesn’t have corn flour so you were absolutely right to thicken it a bit with regular flour.

  4. Also I don’t care for legs or thighs. I like breast meat can you tell me how to tweak this so that it still comes out right.

    Thank You!!

    • I don’t ever braise white meat so I really don’t know. I would fall back to an instant read thermometer to try to nail it if I tried. Shoot for 160F internal temp on the breast. Guessing times is too risky with white meat. I can’t give you a better answer. Sorry about that.

  5. Trying this tomorrow question can I marinate it tonight with the spices or should I just wait and cook it with the chicken tomorrow without letting it sit overnight?

  6. Hi, I’m going to test this, do a lot of Indian Currys and I need a change. I’ve got hold of some Mr Brown’s all purpose seasoning, is this the right blend of spices for this dish? Thanks

    • I use Montego Jamaican style hot curry powder. I looked up Mr. Browns and the ingredient list looks quite different. Montego lists – in order – turmeric, corn flour, coriander, fenugreek, salt, cumin, allspice, pepper and garlic.

      Could still be very good with Mr. Browns but it will be different. I really have no idea as I have never tried it.

      Mr. Browns does not have the corn flour (thickening agent) and does include something called flavour enhancer e621 which seems to be a code name for MSG. MSG will probably not make much of a difference but the lack of corn flour will change the texture/mouthfeel I expect.

    • It was great, cooking again tonight for friends, tbsp of corn flour after cooking thickened the sauce nicely. I think I’ll try it with different curry powder just to see the difference. Thanks for a great recipe ?

  7. 5 stars
    Omgoodness! This sounds amazing. I have to try it, and the read is so simple (and funny). Lol – thank you for this. I’ll update how it turns out. Yumminess, here I come! ?

  8. 5 stars
    Thank you! Came out tasting awesome and I did use the Indian curry because I did not have access to Jamaican curry. Also if your cooking in a Dutch oven medium as a-pose to medium high is better, to not burn it and less time. Maybe 30 minutes.

  9. Hey I’m having some trouble what specialty stores can you find Jamaican curry powder I’ve tried Central Market, Sprouts, Whole Foods, World Market Trader Joe’s, even Walmart, and Target . Still no luck.

  10. Thank you for explaining the difference between the curries, and I’m hoping to utilize this knowledge to surprise my Jamaican relatives with a dish that may taste more like “Nana’s”. Unfortunately she passed on without any of her children learning her recipes. I was stunned when I found out.

    Your explanations about recipes, including the choice of chicken pieces, are priceless. I’m a big fan.

    • What a wonderful, bittersweet comment. I hope this recipe works out well for you and your Jamaican relatives but I cannot imagine I can come close to Nana.

4.71 from 17 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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