Abstract A numerical investigation is performed for heat transfer enhancement in a parallel-plate channel. Porous blocks are inserted to partially fill the channel, which is crossed by a power-law fluid. The modified Brinkman–Forchheimer extended Darcy model for power-law fluids is used in the porous layer while the Navier–Stokes equation are employed in the clear region of the channel. Results are reported for two cases: (1) a channel with a single porous block and (2) a channel with two porous blocks mounted alternatively at the bottom and top walls of the channel. The combined effects of both the porous blocks and the non-Newtonian fluid properties on the hydrodynamic and thermal characteristics of the flow are analyzed. To this end, computations are performed to highlight the effect of parameters such as the Darcy number, the Reynolds number, and the power-law index. For the case of the single porous block, the heat transfer is enhanced and maximized at low permeability. In the second configuration as well, heat transfer improvement can also be obtained, even if the thermal conductivity ratio is equal to 1. This enhancement is maximized for particular values of the Darcy number that depend on the flow pattern and the power-law index. Concerning the rheological aspect, it is found that pseudo plastic fluids exhibit the highest Nusselt number and the lowest pressure loss. The presence of the porous inserts causes a significant increase in pressure drop, which is found to be more important with dilatant fluids.