Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken is an Instant Pot for a quick twist on a rich and delicious Caribbean classic dish. The rich, complex flavors blow away any other stewed chicken.
I’ve been making brown stew chicken for years using the traditional method of long slow stew on the stovetop. I was asked to make a chicken instant pot recipe, so figured I’d try to convert my brown stew chicken recipe.
What is brown stew chicken?
Brown stew chicken is a common dish found throughout the Caribbean, most notably Jamaica. It’s essentially caramelized chicken pieces that are stewed in a flavorful brown sauce made from burnt sugar. It is the sauce that gives the dish its name and during cooking renders that delicious dark brown gravy.
I cheated in this version. Rather than making a burnt sugar based brown sauce in my instant pot, I substituted a recent jerk bbq sauce recipe I created ate. Though it’s lacking in those burnt sugar nodes, it packs mucho gobs of flavor and maintains that dark brown color.
What types of chicken should I use?
Traditional stewed chicken recipes call for whole parts of chicken, but for this recipe I chose to use thighs and legs. I prefer darker pieces for the flavor and you don’t have to worry about them drying out.
Should I marinate the chicken?
You can definitely marinate the chicken if you have time, but honestly with the instant pot, it’s not necessary. Between the pressure cooker and the sauce you’ll get plenty of flavor despite so few ingredients and steps; pressure cooking will drive the sauce flavors deep into the chicken for all types of wonderful goodness.
Is brown stew chicken spicy?
Yes, it can be but doesn’t have to be. It really depends on your preference. Many traditional recipes use scotch bonnet peppers, as does mine. My trick is to use a whole pepper and just add slits, such that the chilis heat minimally infuses the dish. I don’t recommend for instant pot though as the pressure will break down the pepper and leave the seeds in the dish making for a blazing hot dish. The jerk bbq sauce has some mild heat and is sufficient. If you like the super hot version, then just add your favorite hot sauce.
How to thicken brown stew chicken?
The instant pot doesn’t produce as thick of a sauce as traditional cooking, but there is a simple remedy for this if you prefer the more traditional brown gravy. The saute function is the MVP of the instant pot. After you’ve removed the chicken, simply make a quick corn starch slurry (mix a little corn starch and some cold water in a bowl) then add it to the sauce and sauce in the instant pot. The sauce should thicken up in minutes. If you could care less about the consistency, then just go for it.
What to serve with brown stew chicken?
Jamaican brown stew chicken is normally eaten with rice and peas. I prefer a nice bowl of coconut rice topped with chicken, peppers, and gravy. For my keto friends cauliflower, rice will do the trick.
Instant Pot Brown Stew Chicken Cooking Tips
- The chicken will stick to the instant pot pan during the saute step. Don’t worry you’ll be okay as long as you don’t let it cook too long. I used tongs and moved the chicken around some as I wanted to brown the chicken as well as get that good caramelization.
- Deglaze the pan with the sauce before pressure cooking. Those brown bits of chicken skin will add great flavor to the dish.
- Don’t fret if you don’t have an instant pot, this recipe easily works in a slow cooker. Just be sure to brown the chicken and saute the vegetables in a pan first
- The sauce is well seasoned, so no need to add any additional salt, otherwise, this dish will be too salty.
- Coconut oil gives the dish an extra Caribbean element, but don’t buy any just for this recipe. Canola or olive oil works just fine
- Don’t crowd the pan when browning the chicken initially. Brown in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding which makes caramelization nearly impossible and robs you of additional flavor.
Making Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
If you make this comforting and flavorful brown stew chicken recipe please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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- instant pot
- 2 chicken drumsticks
- 2 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 cups jerk bbq sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper making sure to rub the seasonings into the skin well.
- Set the instant pot to saute setting and add the coconut oil
- Add the chicken pieces skin side down and saute 2-3 minutes. Move the chicken around with tongs to prevent too much sticking. Flip the chicken and brown for another 2 minutes
- Remove the chicken and add the onions and garlic using additional oil if necessary. Cook for two minutes and then add the peppers for another minute of cooking.
- Add the bbq sauce and chicken stock, then stir to mix the sauce as well as deglaze the pot.
- Add all the chicken pieces back to the pot.
- Seal the Instant Pot according to manufacturers instructions.
- Set the Instant Pot to Manual, High pressure, for 20 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the sauce before pressure cooking. Those brown bits of chicken skin will add great flavor to the dish.
Don't fret if you don't have an instant pot, this recipe easily works in a slow cooker. Just be sure to brown the chicken and saute the vegetables in a pan first
The sauce is well seasoned, so no need to add any additional salt, otherwise this dish will be too salty.
Coconut oil gives the dish an extra Caribbean element, but don't buy any just for this recipe. Canola or olive oil works just fine
Don't crowd the pan when browning the chicken initially. Brown in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding which makes caramelization nearly impossible and robs you of additional flavor.