“A from-scratch, bold and flavorful Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken made with fresh ingredients and homemade browning sauce”


Visual Learner? Watch me make this Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken from start to finish!

Welcome to the very first village recipe!! I’ve been teasing about village recipes for over a year now, and the very first one is here!! Wondering what the heck is a village recipe? You can find out (and join in on the fun) about village recipes here.

Today it’s all about this BOMB Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken!!!

Anytime I go to a Jamaican restaurant, I always get either jerk chicken or brown stew chicken. However, I’ve only tasted a few brown stew chicken dishes that were full of layers of bold flavor. I’m talking about where you can taste the smokiness from the browning sauce, the lingering heat from the scotch bonnet pepper, and the essence of that fresh thyme. Ahhhhh, amazing.

This brown chicken recipe has it! Thanks to yall!

jamaican brown stew chicken

As stated on Instagram,  I’ve been playing around with this recipe for a while now. I’ve used tips and tricks from “the village,” aka you guys, and this is by far my favorite brown stew chicken ever tasted! I’m not just saying that to flatter you guys, either!

You. Must. Make. It.

How to make Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken: The INGREDIENTS

Add the following items to your grocery list to make a pot of brown stew chicken. Although this looks like many items, you may have many of them already at home! Follow the recipe at the bottom of this post.


  • 3.5 lbs chicken pieces bone-in (washed and dried) *see note*


  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  •  1/2 cup hot water
  •  1 teaspoon seasoning salt optional
  •  1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon. I used Better Than Bouillon brand


  •  1- 2 tablespoons olive oil for coating chicken
  •  1 tablespoon smoked salt
  •  2 teaspoons black pepper
  •  1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  •  4 cloves garlic chopped, divided
  • 1 small white onion chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped, divided
  •  1 red bell pepper chopped, divided
  •  1 yellow bell pepper chopped, divided
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper sliced in half
  • 1 pimento cut in half (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger grated (can add more if desired)
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  •  2 1/2 -3 cups chicken stock
  •  1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped
  • Additional seasonings to taste: salt ginger, allspice, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Make Your Own Browning Sauce, Like For Real!

To start this recipe we’ll make a homemade browning sauce (burnt sugar). I LOVE the idea of using coconut palm sugar (thanks for this, Charla) for this recipe. You can certainly use brown sugar, which I usually use when making Southern dishes that require a browning sauce. The coconut palm sugar made so much sense with this recipe though. Yes, you can cheat and buy browning sauce if you don’t feel like smoking up your kitchen (because man, it gets smokey) but promise me you’ll only get one with all-natural ingredients. Most store-bought kinds can taste weird and chemically.

Rinse The Chicken In Lime Juice!

I’ve heard several times that I MUST rinse the chicken in water AND fresh lime juice before starting because that’s what happens in most Jamaican households. I usually rinse my chicken in salt water or vinegar, so using fresh lime was lovely, and the chicken seemed to enjoy their spa bath. They looked clean and smelled so fresh afterward, lol. I think I’ll start using fresh lime from now on.

That Chicken Marinade!

This step is super important because it adds flavor to the chicken. Season it well!! You don’t have to use the blend listed; you can use your favorite all-purpose seasoning. I went with brown sugar, smoked salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Nothing too fancy yet delicious! I halved my vegetables and added half of them to the seasoned chicken along with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Refrigerate overnight. I do 24 hours if I have time in order to let the fresh peppers and spices season the meat. This ALWAYS creates a delicious brown stew chicken.  Use your favorite bone-in chicken. Chicken breast, chicken thighs, and chicken drumsticks work great!

Brown the Chicken

Searing the chicken creates nice crispiness to the skin. Searingavoids the skins having that rubbery texture that stew chicken skin can sometimes get. You could also remove the skins, but I like them! Don’t cook the chicken thoroughly when browning it, though! Just get that pan crazy hot and quickly brown the skins. I accidentally burned the skins on a few chicken pieces and found that I liked the texture once the brown stew chicken was finished! Ha! Whodathunkit!

Creating A BOLD Sauce

The final part is creating that rich, flavorful sauce for those browned chicken pieces! We’ll do that by first sauteing the remaining fresh veggies (not the ones in the marinade). Chicken broth replaces the water, ketchup, more browning, fresh herbs, and the other half of scotch bonnet pepper simmers to create a fresh, bold sauce. The key here is to play it up to your taste buds once you have the basic recipe down. Feel free to add tomatoes, allspice, bay leaf, scallions, or whatever kind of spice you like on brown stew chicken.

To Thicken the Sauce or Not

I discovered I didn’t like having a thick, gravy-like sauce, so I chose not to thicken it. The texture was perfect for me after it had a chance to simmer. You can cook in some flour, cornstarch, or even breadcrumbs to get the sauce to your desired thickness. Totally depends on how you prefer your brown stew chicken sauce.

Now Just Enjoy!

After your chicken has simmered away in that delicious sauce, it’s probably falling-off-the-bone tender. Use more salt (you HAVE to stir in more salt to bring out all the flavors of the sauce!), garlic powder, and a pinch of ginger to awaken all of those fresh ingredients we used. Add more fresh herbs as a garnish if desired. You can serve it with your favorite Caribbean side dishes. I served this brown stew chicken with cabbage with w/mixed vegetables, coconut rice & beans (rice and peas), and mini cornbread muffins. Oh, and a glass of Southern sweet tea on the side ha! Hey, you can take a girl out of the South but can’t take the South out of the girl!

The Great Debate: Real Authentic Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken Recipe

As with any traditional dish, you will ALWAYS have different variations. I mean, here in the South, everyone claims to have the best and most authentic fried chicken recipe and buttermilk biscuits. After viewing so many comments about Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken I can see that same passion is alive and well with this dish and I LOVE IT! Some folks say use ketchup; others say don’t! Many swear by thickening the gravy while many say just leave it be!  Some folks say to use only scotch bonnet and pimento peppers; some say use a variety of bell peppers or habanero pepper! Ha! I can already tell I’m going to enjoy the village recipe series!!

Brown Stew Chicken FAQs:

Can I add carrots? Sure, carrots add a nice sweetness, so add them if you like them.

Can I skip the browning sauce? The browning sauce is essential to this brown stew chicken recipe. If you don’t want to make homemade browning sauce you can purchase it in the grocery store. Kitchen Bouquet makes a popular browning sauce that’s readily available. Do not replace it with soy sauce as these are two different ingredients.

Can I cook this in my dutch oven? Yes, that is perfect!

Thank you so much for helping me create our first village recipe! It’s a hit! I’ll be announcing the next village on the village recipe page!

Jamaican brown Stew Chicken

Thank you all so much for helping me create our very first village recipe! It’s a hit! I’ll be announcing the next village on the village recipe page!

jamaican brown stew chicken

Get the Recipe: Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

4.27 from 23 ratings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 serves


  • lbs chicken pieces, bone-in (washed and dried) *see note*


  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon, (I used the Better Than Bouillon brand)


  • 1- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for coating chicken
  • 1 tablespoon smoked salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon browning sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 1 small white onion, chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped, divided
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped, divided
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped, divided
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, sliced in half
  • 1 pimento, sliced in half (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (can add more if desired)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ½ -3 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Additional seasonings: salt, ginger &, garlic powder.


  • Add coconut palm sugar to a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir until the sugar begins to melt and has the texture of melted chocolate.
  • Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture is dark brown. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SCORCH! The mixture will be very smokey. Reduce heat if needed.
  • Turn off heat and slowly add in very hot water, a little at a time, while stirring.
  • Remove from heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.
  • Stir in vegetable bouillon and salt.
  • Pour into a bottle once cooled. It's now ready to use. Set aside.
  • Coat chicken lightly in olive oil
  • In a bowl combine smoked salt, black pepper, garlic powder, brown sugar, and smoked paprika.
  • Sprinkle seasoning mixture over chicken and massage into the chicken.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of browning sauce over the chicken and massage it into the chicken.
  • Place chicken in a large ziplock bag.
  • Add in HALF of the fresh garlic, onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, pimento (if using) and all of the fresh ginger.
  • Toss so that everything is evenly distributed.
  • Add half of the fresh thyme sprigs (Leave the sprigs whole)
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove chicken from the bag (discarding vegetables) and let the chicken come to room temperature. Dry the chicken off a bit if needed before searing.
  • Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large, deep steel or cast iron skillet until skillet is very hot and starting to smoke.
  • Sear chicken on both sides just until the skin is crisp and slightly golden (only a few minutes per side) Do not cook the chicken all the way through.
  • Remove chicken and let drain on paper towels.
  • Clean the skillet and melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add the other half of the fresh onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper.
  • Cook until tender and then add remaining garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant.
  • Stir in chicken stock and ketchup.
  • Stir 1-2 tablespoons of browning.
  • Add in the remaining fresh thyme leaves, fresh rosemary, the other half of scotch bonnet pepper, and another half of pimento (if using).
  • Simmer sauce for about 10-15 minutes, reduce heat if needed.
  • Add chicken to skillet.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes covered and then uncover and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • When chicken is done, taste the sauce and season with salt, garlic powder, and a pinch of ginger. You can add other spices if desired.
  • If desired, you may thicken the sauce with cornstarch or breadcrumbs or let it continue simmering until it is reduced.



1.) I prefer legs and thighs for this recipe. Rinse the chicken in cool water and fresh lime juice. Then dry it off completely
2.) Before making the browning sauce, be sure your kitchen is WELL ventilated. It gets really smoky and if you have a  smoke detector, it WILL go off.
3.) Use a stainless steel or large cast iron skillet to brown the chicken in. Using a non-stick skillet will not create a crisp skin.
4.) If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can add cornstarch or breadcrumbs.
Cuisine: Jamaican
Course: Main, Main Course
Author: Divas Can Cook
Serving: 0g, Calories: 0kcal, Carbohydrates: 0g, Protein: 0g, Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 0mg, Potassium: 0mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 0g, Vitamin A: 0IU, Vitamin C: 0mg, Calcium: 0mg, Iron: 0mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @divascancook on Instagram or tag #divascancook.