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!
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Salt the chicken, then saute the onions.
- Add the bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and ginger.
- Stir in the spices.
- Saute until the chicken is golden.
- Add the potatoes.
- Pour in the remaining ingredients, stirring before bringing everything to a simmer. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
- 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
- Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes
- Instant Pot Lentil Curry
- Chickpea Curry
- Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry
- Easy Tofu Curry
Recommended Tools to Make Jamaican Chicken Curry
- Dutch Oven. This is an investment piece, but it will last you a lifetime.
- Measuring Spoons. Easy to store, and perfect for measuring the spices in this recipe.
- Extra Large Cutting Board. The extra space is great for recipes like this one.
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
- 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
- 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.
- *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.
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Saw a friend had made this last night which made me want curry, he sent me the recipe and I’ve made it straight away! Absolute delicious! Chicken is tender, it’s not too hot has a lovely flavour. Will definitely be making it again 👌
Hi Erin! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Gorgeous curry – doubled everything except curry powder also added chicken stock cube and all purpose seasoning together with a tin of butter beans – family licked their lips
Hi Laidbackvan! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Although the flavours are pretty good, the potatoes are just not cooking! It’s been cooking for almost 60 minutes, and they are still hard. So. I don’t think I will be bothering with this recipe in the future.
Hi Sylvie, I would encourage you to try this again but maybe cut your potatoes smaller. They should never take 60 minutes when diced, that’s the normal time when baking a potato so peeling and dicing them will definitely take less time. Glad you were still able to enjoy the flavor.
This recipe is delicious!!
I just came back from Jamaica & I enjoyed the food so much while I was out there that I wanted to try to make it for myself. This was the very first recipe I’ve ever made from scratch & I’m proud to say that it came out perfectly. The spice sneaked up on me a little bit but it was well worth the taste. Thank You for sharing Erin.
Hi Lodisha! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This is by far the best curry receipe ever!!
Hi Rebecca! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Not feeling this dish. It’s not the traditional Jamaican dish. Lacking flavors. You should not substitute the scotch bonnet at all. And definitely does not need worchestersire sauce.
I ‘m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the recipe, Gary. I know it’s frustrating to try a new recipe and not have it turn out. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed them, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too!
I’ve been thinking of a chicken/rice/carrot curry and these seasonings were perfect! Powdered coconut milk, cayenne and cilantro really boost the flavors!
BTW, since I use my own canned ingredients I made it in about 5 min. Everything is already cooked down. Canned chicken has the fat boiled out leaving a pulled pork effect. I use the stock too .
Hi Michael! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I never write recipe reviews on blogs but this recipe was perfect and the dish turned out amazing that I felt compelled to!!! Thank you!!
Hi Jill! So glad you enjoy the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Excellent recipe. I let it rest a bit after the cooking and it absorbed the flavours beautifully. Thank you for this recipe
Hi! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Can I use bone in chicken things? And how would I modify the recipe to accommodate that?
Hi Jennifer! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so I don’t have any specific advice on how to modify it. Although I am thinking that you could use bone in, but you would definitely need to adjust the cook time. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!
My favorite recipe 😋 Thanks so much!
Hi Mimi! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Absolutely stunning, definitely a keeper!
Hi Nigel! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Turned out perfectly! My picky 9 year old could not get enough.
Hi L! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Great recipe!!!!! I made a big pot of it for my family!! That spicy chicken curry was good. I added tomatoes.
Hi Erica! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I made this last night and it was a HUGE hit. My Husband did not like Curry until a couple of years ago as I forced it down his throat! He was drinking the broth like it was soup! My family will not eat dark meat and I had cut chicken tenderloins in half and browned them in a separate frying pan with olive oil and the white meat was AMAZINGLY tender and juicy! I even used the Badia Curry powder which was not too hot or salty so could season to taste. Will definitely make this again and share this recipe. Tasted better than our local Caribbean Restaurant! My family wants me to make this next time with Shrimp.
Hi Laurie! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
This was really good. To the person that said it was dry, add a little more oil when you add the dry spices. Important to let spices bloom. If it is too runny after adding coconut milk, let it cook longer. The potatoes will thicken it up.
I would use less curry powder next time. Maybe half and add as needed. Also I skipped the tsp hot sauce, cause I put in extra jalapeños.
Excellent recipe. I will make it again.
Thank you so much Ben!
If I could give this recipe more stars 🌟 I would! Absolutely amazing awesome . So flavourful and easy to follow the recipe. I can’t wait to try other recipes. Thank you 😊
Hi Debbie! So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for this kind review!
Recipe is absolutely amazing and the steps are laid out clearly and succinctly. Definitely a repeat dish for me!
Hi Trisha! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Thank you so much for the in depth instructions. I appreciate how you so often offer up modifications. I love seeing your emails in my inbox!
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