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Costa Rican Caribbean Chicken

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This traditional Caribbean chicken recipe from Costa Rica uses chicken thighs flavored with coconut milk, lime and cane sugar for a delightful and unique flavor.

About Costa Rican Caribbean Chicken

This Caribbean chicken is popular in the Costa Rican province of Limon, which site on the southeastern side of the country. Popular tourist destinations in this area include Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, and Cahuita National Park, and to the far north, Tortuguero. The weather in this region tends to be very different from the

The cuisine on the Caribbean has different influences, and this results in more use of yellow curry powder combined with Salsa Lizano, and an increased use of coconut milk.

This chicken can be served as part of a Costa Rican casado, or with the traditional “rice and beans” recipe which is almost like a spicy sweet gallo pinto.

Related post: Costa Rican Rice and Beans

Jamaican Influence on Caribbean Chicken

Caribbean chicken has a decidedly Jamaican influence- which isn’t surprising given the geographic proximity of Jamaica and Costa Rica.

There is Jamaican influence in Caribbean chicken in Costa Rica given the surge of Jamaicans arriving in Costa Rican in in the early 19th Century to help build the new interprovince railroad.

Costa Rican Caribbean Chicken

(printable recipe below)

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the Chicken

6 large chicken thighs

1 lime or 2 tablespoons lime juice

5 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tablespoons mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon “sazón completo” (see notes)

1 teaspoon yellow curry powder

pinch of cumin

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon Salsa Lizano

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons brown sugar

For the Sauce

1 stick celery

1/2 yellowed onion – julienned

1/2 sweet red pepper -julienned

2 small tomatoes, diced

pinch of each salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder

1 1/2 cup of coconut milk (see notes)

1/4 cup fresh thyme (can substitute 1 tablespoon ground)

Pinch of cumin

Salsa Lizano to taste

1/2 to 1 habanero peppers, seeded

1 cup water

3 tablespoons ketchup

Notes: You can omit the sazón completo. I usually have it on hand because it’s easy to get on most Hispanic grocery stores and on Amazon, and it is used to give extra flavor to Costa Rican dishes, much like Salsa Lizano.

You can also leave the chicken marinating overnight for extra flavor.

Because of easy access to coconuts, Costa Ricans will generally make their own coconut milk. A great recipe can be found here. Full disclosure- I use coconut milk from the can.

Instructions

Chicken

Remove fat and excess skin from the chicken thighs. Place thighs with skin and fat removed in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the chicken and mix. Wash the chicken.

Finely dice or press the garlic. Place in bowl with chicken. Add mustard, black pepper, sazon, curry, cumin and salt to the chicken and mix well, preferably coating the thighs with your hands.

Add Salsa Lizano to the chicken and continue mixing.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable oil and the 2 tablespoons of sugar to the pan. Allow the sugar to brown while swirling the pan so that it doesn’t burn. You want a rich caramel color. If the sugar burns, throw it out and try again- otherwise your chicken will taste well, gross.

Using tongs, carefully place the chicken into the pan. It should sizzle nicely. Move the chicken around so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook the chicken and then turn over after a few minutes so both sides brown nicely and the chicken is cooked through.

Sauce

While the chicken is cooking, cut the vegetables and place them on top of the chicken. Pour coconut milk over the chicken and add 1/2 cup water. Add salt, pepper and curry.

Mix ketchup with a bit of water and add to the pan. Add the rest of the spices and cover for 10 minutes, bring to a boil or low boil. Serve with Costa Rican rice and beans.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve this chicken with Costa Rican rice and beans, or Costa Rican white rice and Costa Rican black beans.

Substitions

You can serve this recipe without the chicken to make it a great gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dish.

Traditionally we use chicken thighs but you can substitute chicken breasts or chicken wings.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 8 servings

Caribbean Chicken - Pollo Caribeno

Caribbean Chicken - Pollo Caribeno

This traditional Caribbean chicken recipe from Costa Rica uses chicken thighs flavored with coconut milk, lime and cane sugar for a delightful and unique flavor.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken
  • 6 large chicken thighs
  • 1 lime or 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Sazon Completa (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Salsa Lizano
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • For the Sauce
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1/2 yellowed onion - julienned
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper -julienned
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • pinch of each salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cup of coconut milk (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme (can substitute 1 tablespoon ground)
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Salsa Lizano to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 habanero peppers, whole
  • 1 Cup water
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Notes

Chicken

Remove fat and excess skin from the chicken thighs. Place thighs with skin and fat removed in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the chicken and mix. Wash the chicken.

Finely dice or press the garlic. Place in bowl with chicken. Add mustard, black pepper, sazon, curry, cumin and salt to the chicken and mix well, preferably coating the thighs with your hands.

Add Salsa Lizano to the chicken and continue mixing.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable oil and the 2 tablespoons of sugar to the pan. Allow the sugar to brown while swirling the pan so that it doesn't burn. You want a rich caramel color. If the sugar burns, throw it out and try again- otherwise your chicken will taste well, gross.

Using tongs, carefully place the chicken into the pan. It should sizzle nicely. Move the chicken around so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook the chicken and then turn over after a few minutes so both sides brown nicely and the chicken is cooked through.

Sauce

While the chicken is cooking, cut the vegetables and place them on top of the chicken. Pour coconut milk over the chicken and add 1/2 cup water. Add spices.

Mix ketchup with a bit of water and add to the pan. Add the rest of the spices and cover for 10 minutes, bring to a boil or low boil. Serve with Costa Rican rice and beans.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 86Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 151mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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