Chicken Pelau

This one-pot chicken pelau stew is flavor-packed with coconut milk, fresh thyme, tender chicken, pigeon peas, and rice. It’s the perfect stew for a quick and satisfying weeknight meal the entire family will love. 

Chicken pelau is a traditional Caribbean dish that has gained popularity among many West Indian islands, especially in Trinidad and Tobago. There are many similarities in chicken pelau with other one-pot chicken and rice dishes across different cultures but a few key components make up chicken pelau that cannot be missed including rice, chicken, pigeon peas, coconut milk, and burnt sugar. Carrots are a big part of traditional pelau as well but I’m not always the biggest carrot fan and decided that for my recipe I would omit it. I recommend adding carrots if that’s a flavor you enjoy with your chicken and rice dish. 

Ingredients you’ll need for my chicken pelau:

Chicken drumsticks 

Parboiled rice

Pigeon peas 

Coconut milk


Fresh thyme




Kosher salt

Black pepper

All-purpose seasoning 


Common questions:

Do I have to use the burnt sugar method?

No, you can either use browning on your meat or simply sear your meat until nicely browned. The burnt sugar does add a nice caramelization to the meat but it can be achieved with other methods as well. 

Can I use another type of beans?

Pelau is most traditionally made with pigeon peas but you can get creative with other beans that are to your liking for a little switch up. 

Can I use a different part of the meat? 

Yes, you can use other parts of the meat but you want to try and stick with dark meat since it’s less likely to dry out while cooking in the rice. The dish is meant to have the chicken in smaller pieces chopped up, which also cuts down on cooking time.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Chicken Pelau

Chicken Pelau

This one-pot chicken pelau stew is flavor-packed with coconut milk, fresh thyme, tender chicken, pigeon peas and rice. It’s the perfect stew for a quick and satisfying weeknight meal the entire family will love. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 lb chicken drumsticks, chopped into 2-3 pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ a white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 springs fresh green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup parboiled rice
  • 1 cup of pigeon peas
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • For seasoning chicken
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp all purpose seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp all spice seasoning
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp green seasoning *optional
  • 4 pimento seeds *optional
  • For burnt sugar method if desired:
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil or any neutral cooking oil that can be cooked at a high heat


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare chicken by chopping drumsticks into 2-3 pieces (you can keep the skin on or remove) You can also choose to keep the drumsticks whole
  3. Once the chicken is chopped, rinse chicken with water and pat dry with paper towel
  4. In a bowl, season chicken with seasoning blend and mix well ensuring to get seasoning under the skin of the chicken as well
  5. Set chicken aside and to a skillet on medium heat, add oil. Once the oil is hot, add brown sugar and stir until dissolved
  6. Add chicken to the burnt sugar and allow it to sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown
  7. Once the chicken is brown, remove any excess oil and add onions and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  8. While onions cook down, rinse your rice and beans with fresh water 
  9. Once rinsed, add your rice and beans to the chicken with the onions and garlic 
  10. Stir to combine and then add your coconut milk and water
  11. Add in your scotch bonnet pepper, fresh thyme and pimento seeds and taste the liquid for seasoning, you can add additional salt if needed at this point. Be sure to taste the liquid for seasoning as this is the last time you can adjust
  12. Lastly, cover with a tight-fitting lid and put in the oven and cook for 30-25 minutes or until rice is cooked and chicken is tender and the liquid has evaporated
  13. Chicken pelau is done when all the water has evaporated and the chicken is pulling apart from the bone, add butter at the end and fluff rice
  14. Serve hot and enjoy 



    • natasha
      January 21, 2022 / 3:55 pm

      Hey Laura, yes, I am.

  1. May 2, 2022 / 10:45 pm

    I found this recipe via pinterest (the tiktok version you shared) and it looked so amazing. I’m so glad that you linked to your site because I’ve saved probably 17 other recipes on here I’m dying to make! I LOVE experiencing foods from different cultures so I ran out to get everything immediately to make for dinner tonight. Probably the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. My husband thought so too – he told me to keep it in the rotation! I worry when a recipe says to let rice just go without opening the lid cuz I worry so much that it’ll stick, but this was so perfectly cooked and fluffy. OMG I can’t WAIT to make more of your recipes now!!!

    • natasha
      May 2, 2022 / 11:54 pm

      Easily my favorite comment ever on my blog! Thanks so much, Torrey! Can’t wait to hear what you think of other recipes!

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