Perfect Caribbean Chicken Recipe From Costa Rica

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About Costa Rican Caribbean Chicken

This Caribbean chicken is popular in the Costa Rican province of Limon, which sits 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 cuisine in 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.

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 in 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 a bowl with chicken. Add mustard, black pepper, sazon completo, 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 it 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.

Substitutions

Traditionally we use chicken thighs but you can substitute chicken breasts or chicken wings. This is a gluten-free Costa Rican dish.

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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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.

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Christa Jimenez

Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by

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6 Comments

  1. I made this tonight in Canada and it turned out delicious. I thought I may have overdone it with the mustard but the flavours all came together perfectly in the end! I’ll make thus recipe again.

    1. We recently made this while in our second home in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It was even better than at our favorite Soda! So much fun to cook at home and so easy to make. We did marinate overnight and added a few habañeros while cooking. Back in the US and now making it for the family. Thank you!

  2. This may be a silly question but is the 1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard “wet”mustard or dry (like the spice)? Looking forward to trying this as we just moved to Costa Rica and I am struggling to navigate the supers and cook for my family!