Authentic Jamaican Curry Chicken: A Flavorful Island Delight

Authentic Jamaican Curry Chicken Recipe for Flavorful Home Cooking

Transport your taste buds to the Caribbean with this mouthwatering Jamaican Curry Chicken recipe. Bursting with aromatic spices and creamy coconut milk, this dish offers a perfect balance of heat and flavor that will leave you craving more.

Jamaican Curry Chicken is a beloved staple that reflects the island’s rich cultural heritage. Introduced by East Indian laborers in the 19th century, this dish has evolved to become a quintessential part of Jamaican cuisine. Whether served at family gatherings, local cookshops, or as a comforting weeknight meal, this curry never fails to satisfy.

The secret to this recipe’s success lies in its traditional marination process. By rubbing the chicken with lime and a blend of spices, you’ll infuse it with an irresistible depth of flavor. The addition of coconut milk creates a luscious gravy that’s perfect for soaking into fluffy rice or mopping up with roti.

Get ready to embark on a culinary journey that will fill your kitchen with enticing aromas and your plate with a taste of Jamaican sunshine!

Jamaican Curry Chicken


  • For the Marinated Chicken:
  • 3 1/2 pounds (1.6kg) bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (see notes)
  • 1 lime or lemon, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small Scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves
  • For the Curry:
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) canola or other neutral oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed, optional (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, optional (see notes)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces; 237g), diced
  • 2 medium carrots (about 8 ounces; 237g total), peeled and diced (optional; see notes)
  • 1 small Yukon Gold potato (5 ounces; 142g), diced (optional; see notes)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 small Scotch bonnet pepper, whole
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1/2 cup (113ml) coconut milk from one 13.5-ounce (400ml) can, plus more if needed (see notes)
  • Serving suggestions: jasmine or basmati rice, mango or papaya chutney, fried plantains, and sliced avocado


  1. For the Marinated Chicken: Begin by giving your chicken a zesty spa treatment! Rub it all over with lime (or lemon), then generously season with salt and pepper. This step not only adds flavor but also helps tenderize the meat.
  2. Create a vibrant spice marinade by combining turmeric, garlic, minced Scotch bonnet, curry powder, ground allspice, ginger, and thyme leaves in a medium bowl. Massage this aromatic mixture all over the chicken, including under the skin, for maximum flavor infusion. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 12 hours for an even more intense flavor.
  3. For the Curry: Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the marinated chicken pieces in batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding. Brown the chicken lightly on both sides for about 5 minutes, being careful not to let it darken too much. Transfer the browned chicken to a platter and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) of oil to the pot. Toss in the curry powder, ginger, cumin, coriander seeds, and garam masala (if using). Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices become fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 minute. This step is crucial for developing deep, complex flavors in your curry.
  5. Introduce the onion, carrots, and potato (if using) to the aromatic spice mixture. Cook until the vegetables just start to soften, about 5 minutes, creating a flavorful base for your curry.
  6. Reunite the chicken with the pot, along with any accumulated juices, and stir to coat with the fragrant aromatics and spices. Pour in 1 cup (227ml) of hot water, add the thyme sprigs, whole Scotch bonnet, and allspice berries. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and let it simmer for 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the chicken to cook through.
  7. Uncover the pot and introduce 1/2 cup (113ml) of creamy coconut milk. Continue to simmer uncovered until the sauce transforms into a rich, gravy-like consistency, about 15 minutes. If needed, adjust the consistency by adding more water and/or coconut milk. Season to perfection with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve your Jamaican Curry Chicken with fluffy jasmine or basmati rice, tangy mango or papaya chutney, crispy fried ripe plantains, and creamy sliced avocado for a truly authentic Caribbean feast!


Choose your chicken wisely: Use any combination of breasts and/or legs, or a whole chicken cut into pieces. For an authentic Jamaican touch, chop the chicken pieces through the bone into smaller pieces. At minimum, separate drumsticks and thighs at the joint and divide the breast in two, with one piece having the wing attached and the other being the tapered end.

Spice it up: While not traditional, we love adding ground cumin, coriander seed, and garam masala to the Jamaican curry powder for an extra flavor boost. Feel free to omit these if you prefer a more traditional taste.

Veggie options: Some Jamaican cooks add potatoes and carrots to their curry chicken, while others don’t. We’ve left them as optional ingredients, so you can customize your curry to your liking.

Coconut milk magic: Though not found in all Jamaican curry chicken recipes, we swear by adding coconut milk. It creates a luxuriously creamy gravy with incredible depth of flavor.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This Jamaican Curry Chicken tastes even better the next day! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or coconut milk if needed to restore the creamy consistency.

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