Basic Trinidad stewed chicken recipe

25.7.22 | Recipe by Renz

If you looking for a delicious dinner option, this Trinidad stewed chicken is a perfect option. This comforting chicken stew is cooked in a caramelized gravy made from sugar with spices and fresh herbs.

A picture of a large pot of trinidad stew chicken with

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There are some dishes that you learn to cook because they are the staple meals in your household. Stewed chicken is one of those dishes.

If it's one thing you need to know to cook if you are from the Caribbean is how to stew meat. You don't want to know how many times I've heard people say "I hope you can at least stew chicken".

The process of stewing is important because it is the basis of so many other dishes we eat. This is the main reason why knowing how to stew not just chicken, but any other meat, is important.

And once you get this stewed chicken down pact, then you can take the next step to make some Trinidad chicken pelau.


What is "stewing" in Caribbean terms?

The process called stewing takes on different techniques depending on where you are in the world. In Trinidad and Tobago and some of the other islands, it's popularly the concept of browning sugar in a pot and then adding meat to it.

Well unless it's when we do stew meats like stew saltfish which is really cooking in tomatoes.

A lot of people are afraid of browning meat because, though the process is easy, it can be easily messed up resulting in a very bitter base.

This is different from making Jamaican brown stew chicken. As they do not burn the sugar in the pot.

How do you burn sugar for browning?

Making browning or burning sugar is easy but can also be easily messed up.

In this recipe, we are making our browning in the pot and then adding the pieces of chicken to other caramelized sugar. We also make big batches of browning and have it saved in a bottle.

The process is basically taking sugar and heating it until it's caramelized, bubbling, and a nice dark brown color. This will give the meat a nice brown color.

Ingredients for stewed chicken

This dish is a layering of flavors that requires a few things to build those layers. Though there are a lot of fresh herbs and spices, the process of actually cooking this dish is pretty easy.

A picture of all the ingredients needed to make Trinidad stew chicken.

Main ingredients:

  • Chicken - you can use a whole chicken and cut it up into small pieces for stewing. You can cut them up yourself or ask your butcher to cut the chicken up into stew pieces.
  • Caribbean green seasoning.
  • Scallion/Green onion.
  • Vegetable oil (Optional).
  • Large tomato
  • Brown sugar - I use dark brown sugar. You can also use granulated sugar, it will just take a longer time to get burnt. 
  • Water.
  • Black pepper.
  • Salt.

Then there are some optional ingredients that you can add in to really take the flavor of your stew over the top. I have made my chicken numerous times with just the basic ingredients and we have still gobbled it done.

Optional ingredients:

  • Vegetables: Bell peppers, onions, garlic,
  • Fresh herbs/spices: Chives, fresh thyme, pimento pepper, culantro, hot pepper like scotch bonnet pepper
  • Sauces: Worcestershire sauce, Tomato paste, soy sauce


Heavy bottomed pan

How to make Trini stew chicken

There is some prep work needed before cooking. I do suggest chopping up all the ingredients as needed prior to starting to burn the sugar.

Also, you can season the chicken and leave it to sit for a few hours, overnight, or leave it in the fridge for up to two days.

Preparation of chicken (Season chicken)

Wash off your chicken pieces with water and some vinegar (or you can use lemon juice). Clean chicken pieces by removing any fat, excess skin, and slimy texture of chicken that might have stuck around. Rinse it off.

In a large bowl, soak the chicken in some water and vinegar for about 10 - 15 minutes. I also add some hot pepper sauce to my water. It gives it a nice flavor and also helps to remove the fresh smell.

Rinse out that water from the chicken, then season it up with the seasonings (basic): green seasoning salt, black pepper, and scallion. And if you want to do the extras you can add in onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and pimento peppers.

You can also do the basic seasoning and keep the extra seasonings to add to the pot later.

Cooking stew chicken

The first step is, on medium-high heat in your large heavy bottom pot, to heat up your oil if using. You want just enough oil to help the sugar bubble and not butt.

When the oil is heated (if the oil is smoking it is too hot), proceed to add your sugar to the hot oil (or just to the heated pan). Let the sugar bubble, stretch out, and get dark to a deep brown color. We do not want it to get very black and start smoking.

Once nice and golden, add the chicken from the bowl to the pot and let that cook. If there is a lot of excess water in your bowl, do not add that liquid to the pot. Move the chicken around in the sugar so that all the pieces get coated. Turn up the heat and continue stirring. Keep coating and stirring every now and then.

Do this for about 5 minutes so the chicken will get that golden brown color. The liquid will start to look gooey a bit. That's okay. We want to make sure that the chicken continues to get coated in this thickened sugar liquid.

Chicken coated in caramelized sugar that is considered browning.

Now that the chicken is brown, add in hot water (You can use any leftover liquid from the bowl that had the seasoned chicken along with whatever seasonings were left in the bowl).

Also now include the tomatoes/tomato paste, chadon beni, ketchup, etc, and lower the heat to medium.

Stew chicken trini style being cooked down with additional seasonings.

Cover pot and cook for about 20 minutes until chicken is fork-tender. Keep stirring occasionally.

And check for liquid levels. Depending on how tough the chicken is, you might have to add more water and continue to simmer.

Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

What to serve with stew chicken

Personally, I can eat stew chicken anytime. Breakfast, lunch, as a snack. You can pair it with just about anything yes. It all depends on the mood you are in.

Make it a complete meal with casseroles like macaroni pie, cornpie, or coo coo.

Continue to make your plate a Sunday lunch with dishes with some gravy-like stew pigeon peas, callaloo, or stew lentils.

And don't forget some rice dishes like plain white rice, black eye peas, and rice, brown rice, or even some split peas and rice.

If you want to make it less formal or a quick meal, pair it with some dumplings: plain flour dumplings or cassava dumplings. And throw in some ground provisions like sweet potato and boiled plantain.

Or you can just eat it with some bread. I love this option for breakfast.
A bowl of Trinidad style stew chicken, cooked down and ready to serve.

How to store stewed chicken

This chicken can last up to a week in the fridge. Once it's in an air-tight container to keep out moisture.

It is also great to freeze. Just place it in a freezer container or freezer bag. This can last up to 4 months once properly sealed.

How to reheat stew chicken

This can be reheated either on the stovetop or the microwave.

For the stovetop, add the meat to the pot and a little water and have it simmer on medium heat until heated through.

For the microwave, you can easily just put it in a microwaveable bowl and heat it through. You might want to heat it a bit, then add a little water and continue to heat. This would allow you to get a bit more gravy.
Stewed chicken trini style, in a large bowl being served with a side of white rice.


There are a few other things you can add to add more body to your stew chicken.

Potatoes - Having stew chicken with potatoes is also a common option. I like to do that when I'm planning to eat it with white rice. Peel and cut up the potatoes (not too small) and add in later when the chicken has already started to get tender.

Pigeon peas - Stew chicken with pigeon peas is a great combo. Add in your washed pigeon peas and cook them down as the chicken is getting tender. You can also use dried peas, but you must make sure you soak them and get them tender.

Carrots - Carrots can be added too.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my stew chicken bitter?

This happens if the sugar has burnt too much when it is browning. It's important to not let that step get to where the sugar is black and billowing smoke.

If you happen to walk away/get distracted and that happens, DO NOT add your chicken. Take the pot off the heat, let it cool down, and start over.

Why does my chicken not have any color?

When you add the chicken to the caramelized sugar and you add too much water immediately it "washes off" the color from the chicken. Try to add the chicken to the browned sugar with as little liquid as possible in the early stages.

We just want to add the chicken and get it nicely coated in that browned sugar to give it the golden color that we want to get. Then we add water a little later down.

If you add water and find the chicken is white, you can add a little browning sauce to the liquid as the water is going down. Do not add too much, it can make the taste bitter. You can also add some ketchup to help offset the bitterness.

A large bowl of stew chicken close up with fresh herbs.

Can I only use chicken parts?

You can stew any part of the chicken you want. If you only have chicken thighs, legs, or even wings. The same process would be used for liver and gizzards.

How do you make chicken stew with coconut milk?

Sometimes we want to add an even deeper flavor to our stew chicken. And you can add some coconut milk to do that. If you want to try a version with coconut milk, then check out my stew chicken wings recipe


An overhead shot of stew chicken in a bowl with fresh herbs and spices.

So if you're looking for a quick and easy recipe for chicken stew, then look no further than this one. It's so easy to prepare and tastes amazing. And if you have tried out this recipe, please leave me a rating in the recipe card below. 

Here are some other meat dishes: