Home > food, Latin American, meat, travels > Belizean Chicken Stew & Coconut Rice

Belizean Chicken Stew & Coconut Rice

IMG_4729Belize – April 2008

These are my girls; I know I can always count on them. Although the four of us haven’t lived in the same city since college, we get together as often as life allows. Once in a while, we find the time to take an always memorable trip together. In 2008, we went to Belize to celebrate our 30th birthdays.

IMG_4586 My first meal in Belize: chicken stew w/coleslaw and coconut rice & beans

Prior to arriving in Belize, I had spent a week traveling through Costa Rica. While the nature was fantastic, I was severely disappointed by the food. I avoided the ubiquitous American fare; everything else was fried, bland or required copious amounts of hot sauce to choke down. After my first meal in Belize, a chicken stew over coconut rice and beans, I knew I would be happy eating in this country. This chicken stew is served everywhere (with a cold beer) and I never got tired of it during the week we spent there.

Belizean Chicken Stew & Coconut RiceBelizean chicken stew over brown coconut rice

I have never forgotten this chicken stew but have had a hard time tracking down a recipe. I also couldn’t find any recado until a recent trip to downtown LA’s Grand Central Market. The red brick of recado resulted in an extra inspection at airport security but was totally worth it. I scoured the internet for recipes and realized that this is the Belizean version of adobo–everyone has a slightly different recipe.

Here’s what I decided on:

Belizean Stewed Chicken & Coconut Rice

For the Stewed Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken or 4 leg quarters (4 thighs, 4 drumsticks)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 pointer finger-sized sliver of recado
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1.5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Put the recado in a gallon-sized ziploc or small plastic bag and mash it up with a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil. It’ll be hard to mash up but it beats having your hands stained red. Its okay if you still have large chunks–it’ll still smear on the chicken just fine.
  2. Separate the legs from the thighs if they’re still attached
  3. Put one piece of chicken at a time into the bag to coat with the recado mixture and set aside; season onions with recado mixture as well
  4. Season chicken with salt & pepper
  5. Brown chicken in hot oil and set aside
  6. Pour off excess fat. Add vinegar, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar to pan and bring to a boil, deglazing the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon
  7. Add sliced onion to the pot until they cook down a little
  8. Add chicken to the pot and simmer until the chicken is to your liking, making sure to rotate the chicken once in a while so each side gets equally saucy

For the Rice:

Traditionally, it should be rice and beans but beans don’t always agree with me so I tossed the beans and made everything in a rice cooker (also used brown rice)

  • 2 cups rice (brown or white)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic


  1. Sautee the onions and garlic with a dab of butter or oil until translucent
  2. Mix rice, coconut milk, water and onions & garlic into rice cooker
  3. Let it rip

Achiote Paste for Belizean Chicken StewAchiote paste

Belizean Chicken StewMarinated chicken legs

Belizean Chicken StewChicken stewing…wish you could smell it!

  1. Tom
    April 5, 2011 at 7:04 am

    great post, thanks for sharing :thumbsup:

  2. September 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for dropping by to see how I used your awesome coconut rice recipe. It was perfect and tasted just like I remember!

  3. January 11, 2012 at 9:18 am

    So glad I found this! We were recently in Belize city and purchased a plate of this from a street vendor. It was so delicious and my teens couldn’t get enough of it! I’m making it tonight with some fried plantains. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  4. Charles
    September 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

    I loved everything tabout that recipe even the use of the word ubiquitous

  5. M. Dodgion
    April 16, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Is there anywhere I can order recado like what is used in your recipe? I cannot find it locally.

    • Lan
      April 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Hi there- You can order recado from Amazon.

  6. Ashley
    April 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Hi! I was wondering about how many does this recipe feed? I am hosting a travel themed baby shower and I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to try this, it sounds so delicious!

    • Lan
      April 16, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      I would guess 4-6?

  7. PeteM
    May 2, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Just got back from a week in Placencia, Belize. Enjoyed coconut rice every day with seafood and the last night with stewed chicken! The best! Panades for lunch too! Hopefully going back soon!

  1. April 10, 2011 at 9:08 am
  2. September 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

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