Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe: A Flavorful Taste of the Caribbean

Jamaican jerk chicken is a culinary masterpiece that has taken the world by storm with its bold flavors and exotic spices. This dish, originating from the beautiful island of Jamaica, embodies the spirit of the Caribbean, with its vibrant and spicy profile.

Jamaican Jerk chicken

In this article, we will explore the secrets behind creating an authentic Jamaican jerk chicken recipe that will transport your taste buds to the sunny shores of Jamaica. So, grab your apron and let’s embark on a culinary journey together.

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What is Jamaican Jerk Chicken?

Before we dive into the details of creating this delicious dish, it’s important to understand what Jamaican jerk chicken is and where it comes from.

Jamaican jerk chicken is a traditional Jamaican dish that involves marinating chicken in a unique blend of herbs and spices, then grilling or roasting it to perfection. The term “jerk” refers to the method of preparation and the seasoning mixture used. The origins of jerk chicken can be traced back to the indigenous Arawak people and the African slaves brought to Jamaica during the colonial era. This flavorful dish has evolved over the centuries and has become an integral part of Jamaican culture.

Jamaican Jerk chicken

The key to authentic Jamaican jerk chicken lies in the complex and aromatic seasoning, which includes a variety of spices and ingredients that create a harmonious balance of heat, sweetness, and smokiness. The result is a mouthwatering, spicy, and fragrant chicken dish that tantalizes the taste buds.

CARIBBEAN Jerk Seasoning

CARIBBEAN Jerk Seasoning

Ingredients for Jamaican Jerk Chicken

To create a truly authentic Jamaican jerk chicken recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. Chicken: You can use various cuts, such as drumsticks, thighs, or even a whole chicken. The choice is yours, depending on your preference.
  2. Jerk Seasoning: The heart and soul of this dish, jerk seasoning is a blend of aromatic spices. You can purchase pre-made jerk seasoning, or make your own from scratch (we’ll cover that later in this article).
  3. Fresh Thyme: Fresh thyme leaves provide a fragrant and earthy element to the marinade.
  4. Scotch Bonnet Peppers: These fiery peppers add a significant amount of heat to the dish. You can adjust the quantity according to your spice tolerance.
  5. Allspice (Pimento) Berries: Allspice is a key ingredient in jerk seasoning and imparts a warm and slightly sweet flavor.
  6. Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves add a pungent and savory element to the marinade.
  7. Scallions (Green Onions): Scallions provide a mild onion flavor and a subtle crunch.
  8. Soy Sauce: Soy sauce contributes to the depth of flavor and adds a savory, umami quality to the marinade.
  9. Brown Sugar: A touch of brown sugar adds sweetness and helps balance the heat from the Scotch Bonnet peppers.
  10. Ground Cinnamon and Nutmeg: These warm spices enhance the overall flavor profile of the marinade.
  11. Olive Oil: Olive oil serves as the base for the marinade, helping to bind all the flavors together.
  12. Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice provides acidity, which helps tenderize the chicken and brighten the flavors.

Preparing Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade

The heart of any great Jamaican jerk chicken recipe is the flavorful marinade. You can buy pre-made jerk seasoning, but making your own from scratch allows you to customize the flavors to your liking. Here’s a simple recipe for creating a homemade jerk seasoning:

Homemade Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Recipe by arwynnCourse: Uncategorized


  • 6-8 Scotch Bonnet peppers (adjust for desired heat)

  • 4-6 garlic cloves

  • 6-8 scallions (green onions)

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice (pimento)

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Juice of 2 limes


  • Begin by wearing gloves to handle the Scotch Bonnet peppers. These peppers are extremely hot and can cause irritation if they come into contact with your skin. Remove the seeds and membrane for a milder flavor.
  • In a food processor, combine the Scotch Bonnet peppers, garlic cloves, scallions, fresh thyme leaves, ground allspice, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice.
  • Blend until you have a smooth paste. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl a few times to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Taste the jerk seasoning and adjust the heat, sweetness, or saltiness to your preference. You can add more Scotch Bonnet peppers for heat, sugar for sweetness, or soy sauce for saltiness.
  • Your homemade jerk seasoning is now ready to use in the marinade for your Jamaican jerk chicken.

Marinating the Chicken

Once you’ve prepared the jerk seasoning, it’s time to marinate the chicken. Here’s how to do it:


  • 4-6 pounds of chicken (cut into desired pieces)
  • 1 batch of homemade jerk seasoning


  1. Place the chicken pieces in a large, resealable plastic bag or a non-reactive container like a glass dish.
  2. Pour the jerk seasoning over the chicken, ensuring that each piece is thoroughly coated. Massage the seasoning into the chicken for even distribution.
  3. Seal the bag or cover the container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, ideally, overnight. The longer you marinate the chicken, the more intense the flavors will be.

Grilling or Roasting Jamaican Jerk Chicken

After marinating, it’s time to cook your Jamaican jerk chicken to perfection. You have two main options for cooking: grilling or roasting. Here are the instructions for both methods:

Grilling Jamaican Jerk Chicken:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (350-400°F or 175-200°C).
  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and allow any excess marinade to drip off.
  3. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down. Grill for about 10-15 minutes per side, or until the chicken is fully cooked, with no pink meat and an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  4. Baste the chicken with any remaining marinade or additional jerk seasoning during the grilling process for an extra burst of flavor.
  5. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the grill, and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Roasting Jamaican Jerk Chicken:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Place the chicken pieces on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet or a roasting pan. This allows the excess marinade to drip off while cooking.
  3. Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Turn the chicken pieces over halfway through the cooking time for even browning.
  4. If you desire extra flavor, you can brush the chicken with additional jerk seasoning or the leftover marinade while roasting.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Serving Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican jerk chicken is typically served with traditional Caribbean side dishes to complete the meal. Here are some delicious accompaniments:

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
  1. Rice and Peas: A classic Jamaican side dish made with rice, kidney beans, coconut milk, and various spices.
  2. Fried Plantains: Ripe plantains are sliced and fried until golden brown for a sweet and starchy side.
  3. Coleslaw: A refreshing and tangy coleslaw pairs wonderfully with the spiciness of the jerk chicken.
  4. Festival: Sweet and savory fried dumplings that are a favorite in Jamaican cuisine.
  5. Jamaican Jerk Sauce: For those who can’t get enough of the jerk flavor, serve the chicken with a side of extra jerk sauce for dipping.

People says:

Sarah absolutely love Jamaican Jerk Chicken! The combination of smoky, spicy, and sweet flavors is just incredible. It’s a perfect balance of heat and seasoning, and the charred edges add a wonderful crunch. It’s a culinary adventure in every bite.

JohnJamaican Jerk Chicken is a taste of the Caribbean that’s hard to beat. The marinade’s mixture of scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and thyme creates a unique and unforgettable flavor. It’s the ideal dish for anyone who appreciates bold, zesty flavors.

AishaJerk Chicken is an absolute favorite in our family. We love the way the spices and seasonings penetrate the meat, creating a mouthwatering, flavorful experience. It’s a delightful departure from the ordinary.


Creating an authentic Jamaican jerk chicken recipe is not only a culinary experience but also a journey into the rich and vibrant culture of Jamaica. The complexity of flavors in this dish, from the heat of Scotch Bonnet peppers to the sweetness of brown sugar and the warmth of allspice, is a testament to the fusion of traditions and ingredients that make Caribbean cuisine so special.

Whether you choose to grill or roast your Jamaican jerk chicken, the result is a mouthwatering, spicy, and aromatic masterpiece that will delight your taste buds and transport you to the sunny shores of Jamaica. So, gather your ingredients, prepare the jerk seasoning, marinate your chicken, and get ready to savor the flavors of the Caribbean in your very own kitchen. Enjoy your Jamaican jerk chicken, and don’t be surprised if it becomes a staple in your household, bringing the taste of Jamaica to your dining table.

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