Pollo en Leche de Coco – Guatemalan Chicken in Coconut Milk


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus a little more if necessary
  • about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small bite-sized pieces (use thighs if you prefer)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon annatto seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric & 1/4 teaspoon paprika)
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 2 to 4 jalapenos, seeded and cut into a fine dice
  • 1/2 to 1 habanero, finely minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips, then into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 213.5oz. cans coconut milk; may use less for a thicker stew
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro or parsley for garnish, optional


Working in batches, if necessary, in a heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat one tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken and cook turning as necessary, until chicken is golden brown. Remove to a plate and tent to keep warm.

Turn heat down to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon oil. Add annatto, stirring for a minute. Remove the annatto. Add the onion and peppers and cook several minutes until the onion is translucent and the peppers are softening. Add garlic and spices (including the turmeric and paprika if you didn’t use the annatto) and cook, stirring for about a minute.

Return chicken to the pot and stir to coat chicken. Add coconut milk, anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 cans according to your preference. Simmer about 10 minutes to blend flavors. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with parsley or cilantro and serve with rice.

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