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Jamaican Curry Chicken is a different twist on your typical curry chicken recipes. The heat is fruity and sweet, the spices are warm and inviting, and a coconut milk broth makes it comforting. Give it a try and find a new curry to love!

Jamaican chicken curry in a bowl with rice

It’s more than a longing for a Caribbean vacation that will have this Jamaican curry chicken hitting the spot.

Whenever I’m not sure what to cook and need an easy meal (soooo almost every night), curry is one of my defaults: Thai Chicken Curry, Slow Cooker Chicken Curry, and Coconut Curry are three frequent menu items.

This Jamaican curry chicken is unique.

  • While it has some of the usual curry ingredients like coconut milk and spices, the heat has a subtle sweetness to it and the spices are more warm than other curries.
  • The sauce is thick and rich, so this curry is comforting on a chilly evening if that’s when you are craving it, but the spices also work surprisingly well on even the hottest summer day. I suspect that’s why curry is so popular in countries known for their warm climates, like India and the Caribbean.
A bowl of Jamaican curry chicken and rice

About Jamaican Curry Chicken

Traditional Jamaican curry is made with scotch bonnet peppers and Jamaican curry powder.

  • It’s a bold, flavorful dish that’s cooked slowly over low heat, allowing time for the spices to develop.
  • It contains pieces of juicy chicken (usually thighs), along with carrots and potatoes. The potatoes break down a little and help thicken the broth.
  • Its bright yellow color comes from Jamaican curry powder.
  • Scotch bonnet peppers give it a sweet, fruity heat.

It’s believed that the dish (and its corresponding spices) came to Jamaica in the 17th century when workers from East India were brought to the British colony.

How to Make Jamaican Curry Chicken

This is an adapted, easy-ingredient version of traditional Jamaican curry chicken.

As with any culturally inspired recipe, from my Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala to this Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, I’ll never ask you to go from store to store hunting for specialty ingredients.

If you want authentic flavor (like in this Peruvian Chicken), made over to be healthy and done with ingredients you can find at the average American supermarket, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s how I substituted Jamaican curry powder and scotch bonnet peppers for my at-home version.

Jamaican curry spices in a bowl

How to Substitute Jamaican Curry Powder

  • Like all curry powders, Jamaican curry powder is a blend of different spices. There’s no one single recipe for it, though most blends contain cumin, coriander, mustard, anise, fenugreek, allspice, and turmeric.
  • Jamaican curry powder is different than curry powder you’ll typically find in the average U.S. supermarkets because it contains more turmeric (which is why Jamaican dishes are often yellow) and more allspice in comparison to the other spices.

To substitute Jamaican curry powder, I started with regular curry powder (which contains most of the same spices), then added extra turmeric and allspice. This allowed me to use ingredients that were easy for me to find, AND I didn’t have to toast and grind the spices myself.

It might not be a perfect, 100% authentic option, but it is a delicious one that gave me excellent results.

A red bell pepper and jalapenos

Substituting Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Scotch bonnet peppers are the other Jamaican ingredient I couldn’t find easily. They are very spicy but also a little sweet and fruity.

  • To substitute scotch bonnet peppers, dice a red bell pepper VERY finely. This mimics the sweetness of scotch bonnets.
  • Add a spicy pepper you *can* find. Jalapeno is a good option.
  • Up the spice level. Scotch bonnets are spicier than jalapenos. A pinch of cayenne pepper and extra hot sauce are a good way to increase the heat.

Jamaican Curry Chicken From Scratch – Recipe Overview

Here’s what you’ll need to make Jamaican curry chicken with coconut milk. It’s a fresh way to liven up your dinner routine.

The Ingredients

  • Chicken. Lean, boneless, skinless chicken breasts become perfectly tender and moist as they slowly cook in the sauce. The protein-rich chicken helps make this curry hearty and satisfying. You can also use chicken thighs.
  • Red Bell Pepper + Jalapeno. My easy swaps that mimic the flavors of the traditional scotch bonnet peppers. Both red peppers and jalapenos are rich in Vitamin-A and Vitamin-C, making them healthy additions to this curry (see more health benefits of jalapenos here and red peppers here).
  • Garlic + Ginger. Essential flavor additions to curry dishes.
  • Spices. The flavor powerhouse! A mix of curry powder, turmeric, and allspice make this curry warm, cozy, and deeply satisfying.
  • Potatoes. I used Yukon gold potatoes because they have a deliciously buttery flavor, and their texture holds up nicely. Regular russet potatoes would work too. For an extra veggie, you could make this Jamaican curry chicken with potatoes and carrots, swapping out one of the potatoes for two medium carrots.
  • Coconut Milk. Making Jamaican curry chicken with coconut milk thickens the sauce and also helps tame the heat. I found light coconut milk resulted in a sauce that was still plenty thick and satisfying, but if you’d like to make it even richer, you can use full fat coconut milk.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. Adds a touch of savory, umami flavor to the curry.
  • White Wine Vinegar. Brightens up all the flavors and adds a touch of acidity.
  • Cayenne + Hot Sauce. To achieve that signature Jamaican curry heat, I used cayenne and hot sauce. Use a little or a lot of each to reach your desired level of spice.
  • Cilantro. For freshness and beautiful color.

The Directions

  1. Salt the chicken, then saute the onions.
    Diced vegetables in a Dutch oven
  2. Add the bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and ginger.
    Chicken and vegetables in a Dutch oven
  3. Stir in the spices.
    Jamaican chicken curry and vegetables in a Dutch oven
  4. Saute until the chicken is golden.
    Chicken and vegetables in a Dutch oven with spices
  5. Add the potatoes.
    Easy Jamaican chicken curry in a Dutch oven
  6. Pour in the remaining ingredients, stirring before bringing everything to a simmer. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with cilantro and rice. DIG IN!

Is Jamaican Curry Chicken Spicy?

  • Yes, this recipe is spicy, at least compared to most of the other curries on this website. I’d put it at a 3 or 4 out of 5, with “1” being mild and “5” having you mopping your brow.
  • If you are sensitive to spice, I suggest dialing back the cayenne and hot sauce to start.
  • If you adore spicy food, you’ll go gaga for this. You might want to even add MORE hot sauce.

How to Store and Reheat Curry Chicken

  • To Store. Leftover chicken curry can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also rewarm this dish in the microwave.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this dish, as the potatoes may become mealy once thawed.

What to Serve with Jamaican Curry Chicken

  • Rice. This curry was made to be served over rice. White rice, brown rice, or cauliflower rice (for a low-carb option) would all work well. Make this a Jamaican curry chicken with rice and beans by also adding red beans to the rice.
  • Salad. For a healthy, simple side dish, pair this curry with Arugula Salad.
  • Veggies. Add more vegetables to your meal by serving a side of Tahini Roasted Carrots.

More Delicious Curry Recipes

Two bowls of Jamaican chicken curry and rice

Jamaican curry chicken saved us from our dinner rut—at least until it became the only thing either of us wants to eat! I hope it becomes a habit for you too.

If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a comment below and let me know how it turned out for you. I’d especially love to know how you feel about the spice level. Do we want more curry? Let’s discuss!

Jamaican Curry Chicken

4.84 from 75 votes
A Jamaican curry chicken recipe made with coconut milk, potatoes, and everyday spices you can find at any grocery store. Authentic flavor and easy prep!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes

Servings: 4 servings (about 7 cups)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 breasts)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper very finely chopped*
  • 2 jalapeno peppers very finely chopped*
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus additional to taste*
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced
  • 1 15-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce plus additional to taste*
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Prepared brown rice quinoa, or cauliflower rice, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Set aside.
  • In a Dutch oven or similar deep, sturdy pot, heat the oil over medium. Once it is hot, add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the red bell pepper, jalapeños, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  • Add curry powder, turmeric, allspice, and cayenne. Cooking, stirring constantly, until spices turn deep gold and become ultra fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the chicken and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. It should look golden on the outside but does not need to be completely cooked through.
  • Add the potatoes. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk, Worcestershire, vinegar, and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer, reducing the heat to low as needed, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, the potatoes are tender, and sauce has slightly reduced, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir every few minutes to keep the sauce from sticking.
  • Taste and season with additional salt or hot sauce as desired. Serve hot over rice, with a big sprinkle of cilantro.

Video

Notes

  • *Scotch bonnet peppers are the most traditional for Jamaican dishes, so if you can find one (or if you can find habanero peppers which are the closest substitute), use it here and omit the cayenne and red bell pepper and scale the hot sauce back to 1/2 teaspoon to start. Our store doesn’t regularly carry either of these peppers, which is why I adapted the recipe to use a jalapeno pepper, combined with a red bell pepper and cayenne to mimic the fruitiness and heat of scotch bonnet/habanero peppers.
  • TO STORE: Leftover chicken curry can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also rewarm this dish in the microwave. 
  • I don’t recommend freezing this dish, as the potatoes may become mealy once thawed. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 428kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 33gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 91mgPotassium: 1139mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1153IUVitamin C: 69mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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Recipe Rating




210 Comments

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    1. Hi Shelly! I’m thinking you would keep the same amount, but I can’t say for sure since I didn’t test the recipe with that specific powder. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to know how it goes!

  1. I made the jamaican chicken and had it a second time by adding pieces of fresh pineapple and it made it even better because of the sweetness of pineapple and heat from the spices….5 stars

    1. Hi Denise! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and feedback on adding pineapple!

  2. I tried this recipe and it turned out real good
    I cooked it in my cast iron pot that was hand down from my grandmother.
    Thanks a lot5 stars

    1. I made this for meal prep this week. It is so good. I happened to have found Jamaican Curry and a habanero ( no scotch bonnet though). It is so spicy but not just heat. It’s amazing. A def keeper in our rotation. No notes.5 stars

  3. Delicious! Received compliments from friends. The flavor of the spices and the coconut milk made this a new favorite dish!5 stars

  4. I made this delicious recipe and it was great. It was so great. My family wanted me to make it again thank you so much for this recipe.5 stars

  5. My husband and I loved this recipe! We felt it needed salt and more curry. Other than that it is a keeper!5 stars

  6. The BEST Curry Chicken recipe I have ever tried, hands down!! After reading over the ingredients and cooking instruction, I had a feeling it was going to be good, so I decided to follow the recipe to the T and boy was I right!! It was ABSOLUTELY delicious!!!!! Thanks you for such an awesome recipe. I can’t wait to make it again for my family.5 stars

  7. Dearest Erin,
    This looks so amazing but I’m a mom of 3 with a newborn cooking above the stove will kill me right now untill I can recover !! Do you think this recipe will work in a crock pot? Help how would I adapt so I can set it and leave it to cook all day

    1. Hi Laura! I haven’t tried this particular recipe in the slow cooker but I have something similar that might help: https://www.wellplated.com/slow-cooker-chicken-curry/ Congrats!

    1. Hi Tina! I’ve used this recipe before to bake mine: https://www.wellplated.com/thai-chicken-curry/ Hope this helps!

  8. Delicious! One of the best non-indian curries I’ve made. I used a heavier coconut milk so I had to cut back 25% on it. This recipe feels quite versatile.5 stars

  9. Made 4 servings for meal prep for the week. My roommate was using our only big pot so I did the whole thing in a large heavy cast iron and only used 1/2 the coconut milk called for. Also subbed in chicken thighs for the breasts, added a touch of sugar and MSG. Came out amazing, seems really versatile and still was great with all the little changes I made. highly recommend this recipe5 stars

  10. I served this recipe to my friends from Kingston, Jamaica and they could not believe how delicious it was. I did make some edits:

    1) Instead of Coconut Milk I used Heavy Cream. This was a game changer to the recipe. It made it luxurious and so smooth.
    2) I used Red Curry from McCormick. This particular curry is phenomenal and has less of an earthy flavor to it. The aroma is wonderful.
    3) I added fresh cut carrots.
    4) I only used one jalapeno.
    5) I used skinless boneless chicken thighs
    6) I added two Tablespoons of powdered chicken broth for more flavor. Another game changer!

    My edits, by no means take away from the deliciousness of the originator of this recipe. I’m not sure what made me click on Erin’s curry recipe but I’m sure glad that I did. Thanks for publishing it.5 stars

  11. We visited the BVI about a month ago and wanted to make something Carribean style for our fellow travelers. We made your recipe and loved it! Easy to follow and very rich and tasty. I was able to find a scotch bonnet pepper and used it instead of the jalapeno/bell pepper substitution. I didn’t use cayenne or hot sauce, and the heat was perfect. Our guests loved it as well and asked for the recipe.5 stars

  12. I’ve been making curry for so long and finally found a recipe that doesn’t turn out too soupy. Didn’t have full fat coconut cream, so I used evaporated milk. (The coconut will add that extra depth of flavor, so next time, for sure!) Added broccoli and carrots too. And don’t cover da pot, lest you want soup.5 stars

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