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. 

This recipe is a part of a holiday recipe roundup collaboration hosted by me, Natasha of @asiliglamcooks. For this week we are focusing on the best fall stews. I’m kicking it off with my delicious and comforting chicken pelau.

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

Brown Sugar


Fresh thyme



Kosher salt

Black pepper

All-purpose seasoning 



Tools you’ll need:

Skillet with glass cover

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
  • 1 cup parboiled rice
  • 1 cup of pigeon peas
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of Greedygirlcooks pepper jelly or 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
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp green seasoning
  • For burnt sugar:
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil or any neutral cooking oil that can be cooked at a high heat


  1. Prepare chicken by chopping drumsticks into 2-3 pieces (you can keep the skin on or remove) 
  2. Once the chicken is chopped, rinse chicken with water and pat dry with paper towel
  3. In a bowl, season chicken with salt, pepper, all-purpose seasoning, turmeric, paprika, and green seasoning 
  4. Set chicken aside and to a skillet on medium heat, add oil. Once the oil is hot, add brown sugar and stir until dissolved
  5. Add chicken to the burnt sugar and allow it to sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown
  6. Once the chicken is brown, remove any excess oil and add onions and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  7. While onions cook down, rinse your rice and beans with fresh water 
  8. Once rinsed, add your rice and beans to the chicken with the onions and garlic 
  9. Stir to combine and then add your coconut milk and water
  10. Add in your pepper jelly 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
  11. Lastly, add fresh thyme on top of the chicken and rice and cover with a tight-fitting lid
  12. Reduce heat to a medium/ medium-low and cook for 25-30 minutes allowing the liquid to absorb from the rice (do not remove the lid to check rice)
  13. During the last 5 minutes of cooking add butter and turn the heat all the way to low and continue to steam for 5 more minutes
  14. Chicken pelau is done when all the water has evaporated and the chicken is pulling apart from the bone 
  15. Serve hot and enjoy 


Traditionally this recipe has carrots, you can add 2 large carrots if desired

Tune in tomorrow for our next submission for our best fall stew collaboration hosted by @asiliglamcooks and friends. 

P.S. Check out my last recipe here.

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    • 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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