Spice Up Your Dinner with This Mouthwatering Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

Hey there, food lovers! Are you tired of cooking the same old chicken dishes for dinner? Let me introduce you to a tantalizing recipe that will surely spice up your mealtime. Say hello to Jamaican jerk chicken – a flavorful and aromatic dish that will transport your taste buds straight to the Caribbean.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “isn’t jerk chicken just a fancy name for spicy chicken?” But let me tell you, this dish is so much more than just heat. Jamaican jerk chicken is a well-balanced combination of sweet, savory, tangy, and spicy flavors that work together in perfect harmony. The secret behind its unique taste lies in the jerk marinade, which is made by blending a variety of herbs and spices – including scallions, thyme, allspice, and Scotch bonnet peppers – with soy sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar.

Jerk Chicken Recipe

What Is Jerk Chicken?

Jerk chicken is a spicy and flavorful dish that originated in Jamaica. The dish is known for its bold and intense flavor, which is achieved by using a blend of traditional Jamaican spices. The term “jerk” refers to the technique of marinating meat in a spicy and fragrant paste, which is then cooked over an open flame. The result is tender and juicy chicken with a bold, smoky flavor. Jerk chicken is a popular dish in Caribbean, African, and Afro-Caribbean cuisine, and is now enjoyed all over the world.

Ingredients You Will Need

To make jerk chicken, you will need the following ingredients:

– 2 pounds of chicken (preferably drumsticks or thighs)
– 1 onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 scallions, chopped
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
– 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon of jerk seasoning
– Salt and pepper to taste

For the jerk seasoning, you can either use a store-bought blend or make your own by combining cumin, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, white vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and jerk seasoning until combined.

2. Place the chicken in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, and pour the marinade over it. Rub the marinade over the chicken until it is well coated, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours for maximum flavor.

3. Preheat your grill or broiler to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and discard any excess marinade.

4. Grill or broil the chicken for about 10-12 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crispy and caramelized.

5. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onion, garlic, and scallions.

6. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

7. Add the scallions and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.

8. Serve the jerk chicken hot, with the onion, garlic, and scallion mixture on top.

There you have it, a delicious and flavorful Jamaican jerk chicken recipe that is sure to be a hit with your friends and family.

Variations of Jerk Chicken

When it comes to jerk chicken, there are plenty of ways to mix up this delicious dish to suit your individual tastes. Here are some of the most popular variations of jerk chicken to consider the next time you cook up this spicy, flavorful classic.

Classic vs Fusion

Traditional jerk chicken is marinated in a spicy blend of herbs and spices including thyme, allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, and cloves, then grilled over an open flame. However, modern fusion takes on jerk chicken include variations that may not include all of these ingredients, and may add additional spices or flavors to the mix. Classic jerk chicken is perfect if you want to stick to the original recipe, while fusion variations offer a chance to get creative and add your own twist.

Meat Substitution Options

While jerk chicken is traditionally made with chicken, there are other meat options that can be used to make this dish. Pork, shrimp, and fish are all popular alternatives to chicken, and can be seasoned with the same jerk marinade for a unique flavor experience. Additionally, vegetarians can substitute tofu or other plant-based proteins to create a meatless version of the dish.

When using meat substitutes, it is important to remember to adjust cooking times and temperatures accordingly to ensure that the meat is cooked through. For example, shrimp only takes a few minutes to cook on the grill, whereas pork will take considerably longer.

Vegetarian/Vegan Jerk Chicken

To make a vegetarian or vegan version of jerk chicken, tofu or tempeh can be substituted for the meat. The same jerk marinade can be used to make the dish just as flavorful, and the tofu or tempeh will absorb the spices and herbs beautifully.

To prepare vegetarian or vegan jerk chicken, first slice the tofu or tempeh into thin squares or strips. Then, marinate the tofu or tempeh in jerk marinade for at least 30 minutes. Grill the tofu or tempeh on medium-high heat until browned and slightly charred. Serve with traditional sides such as rice and peas, plantains, or grilled vegetables for a delicious and satisfying vegetarian or vegan meal.

In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to mix up jerk chicken and make it your own. Whether you prefer the classic version or want to add your own twist with meat substitutions or vegetarian options, jerk chicken is a versatile and delicious dish that is sure to impress your taste buds.

Common Sides to Serve with Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken is a bold and flavorful dish that is loaded with Caribbean spices and flavors. It is a dish that has its roots in Jamaica, but it has become popular all around the world. In Jamaica, it is often served with traditional side dishes that help to balance and enhance the flavors of the chicken. Here are some of the most common sides that are served with jerk chicken:

Rice and Peas

Rice and peas is a classic Jamaican dish that is often served alongside jerk chicken. Contrary to the name, the rice and peas dish is made with kidney beans rather than peas. The dish is typically seasoned with coconut milk, onions, garlic, and thyme, and sometimes with scallions and scotch bonnet peppers. The combination of the savory rice, the creamy beans, and the flavorful spices makes it the perfect accompaniment to the bold flavors of jerk chicken.

Here is a recipe to make classic Jamaican rice and peas:

  1. Gather ingredients: 2 cups long-grain rice, 1 can of kidney beans with liquid, 1 can of coconut milk, 4 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1/2 onion (finely chopped), 1 sprig of thyme, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, salt and pepper to taste
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute garlic and onions until onions are tender.
  3. Add rice and stir well until rice is coated with oil and onions.
  4. Add coconut milk, kidney beans with liquid, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower heat to a simmer and cover pot. Cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed (about 25 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and serve hot.

Fried Plantains

Fried plantains are another popular side dish that are often served alongside jerk chicken. Plantains are a type of banana that is larger and starchier than the sweet, dessert bananas that most people are used to. Fried plantains are typically sliced and fried until they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are slightly sweet and pair well with the spiciness of the jerk chicken.

Here is a simple recipe to make fried plantains:

  1. Gather ingredients: 2 ripe plantains, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, salt to taste
  2. Peel the plantains and slice them diagonally into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the sliced plantains to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).
  5. Remove the fried plantains from the pan and place them on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
  6. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve hot.

Caribbean Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a crunchy and refreshing side dish that is often served with jerk chicken. However, to make it more in line with the Caribbean flavors, we can add some extra ingredients that make it more unique. Adding tropical fruits like pineapple and mango make the slaw sweet and tangy, and adding some spices like cumin, allspice, and ginger make it more aromatic and flavorful.

Here is a recipe to make Caribbean coleslaw:

  1. Gather ingredients: 4 cups chopped cabbage, 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced), 1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple, 1/2 cup chopped fresh mango, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground allspice, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, ground cumin, ground allspice, ground ginger, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chopped cabbage, thinly sliced red onion, chopped fresh pineapple, chopped fresh mango, and chopped cilantro.
  4. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw and toss to coat evenly.
  5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
  6. Remove from fridge and serve cold.

These are just a few of the most common sides that are served with jerk chicken. Experimenting with different side dishes can make your meal more interesting and enjoyable.

Tips for Perfecting Your Jerk Chicken

Marinating Time

Marinating is one of the most important steps in making flavorful jerk chicken. It allows the meat to absorb the marinade and tenderize the chicken while making it juicy and delicious. Ideally, you should marinate the chicken for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight to achieve maximum flavors.

To make the perfect marinade, combine ingredients like soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, scallions, and thyme in a blender or food processor until it forms a smooth paste. Then, pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure every piece is coated, and place it in the fridge. Remember to turn the chicken over at least once during the marinating process to ensure even flavor.

Cooking Equipment

Cooking jerk chicken requires the right equipment to get the perfect char flavor and texture. A grill is the best option, giving it the distinct smoky flavor that is often associated with jerk chicken. If you don’t have a grill, an oven or stovetop can also do the job.

If grilling, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates to prevent sticking. For oven cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F and place the marinated chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil. Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

If you decide to cook the chicken on a stovetop, use a heavy skillet or cast-iron pan on medium-high heat. Preheat the pan and then add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through.

Serve with Spicy Sauce

One of the best ways to enjoy jerk chicken is with a spicy dipping sauce. A spicy sauce adds extra flavor and cuts through the richness of the chicken.

You can make your dipping sauce by combining scallions, garlic, thyme, salt, black pepper, jalapeno, and hot sauce. Blend the ingredients, and slowly add olive oil to emulsify the mixture. The result will be a smooth, creamy, and flavorful spicy sauce that is the perfect complement to your jerk chicken.

In conclusion, perfecting jerk chicken may take time, but it’s worth it. Remember to marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours or overnight, use a grill for the smoky flavor, and add a spicy sauce for the perfect finishing touch. With this recipe, you’re guaranteed to have a delicious and memorable meal that is perfect for any occasion.

Thank You for Trying Our Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe!

We hope that our recipe has added some flavor to your dinner table and brought you to the sunny beaches of Jamaica. Don’t hesitate to try it again and make it your own by adding some personal touches. If you found this recipe enjoyable, feel free to share it with your friends and family and spread the joy of Jamaican cuisine.
Remember, there are countless Jamaican recipes out there waiting for you to try, so keep exploring and discover more mouthwatering dishes. Thank you for reading and we hope to see you back here soon!


What is Jerk Chicken?

Jerk Chicken is a traditional Jamaican dish where chicken is rubbed with a mixture of spices and cooked over hot coals or a grill. The mixture consists of a variety of ingredients, including allspice, cloves, cinnamon, scallions, thyme, garlic, and Scotch Bonnet peppers.

Can I Use Different Meats for Jerk Seasoning?

Yes, you can use any protein you prefer, including pork, beef, shrimp, and tofu.

How Can I Make Jerk Chicken Less Spicy?

You can reduce the amount of Scotch Bonnet peppers or remove them altogether. You can also substitute them with milder peppers like jalapenos or bell peppers.

Can I Make Jerk Chicken without a Grill?

Yes, you can use an oven or stovetop to cook your Jerk Chicken. However, the smoky flavor that comes with grilling might be lacking.

How Long Can I Marinate Jerk Chicken?

It’s best to marinate Jerk Chicken for at least 1-2 hours, but you can marinate it for up to 24 hours for a more intense flavor.

Do I Have to Use Fresh Spices?

While fresh ingredients will give you the best results, you can use powdered or dried spices if that’s all you have on hand.

What Can I Serve Jerk Chicken With?

Jerk Chicken is often served with rice and peas, plantains, or roasted vegetables. However, you can serve it with any side dish you prefer.

Can I Store Leftover Jerk Chicken?

Yes, you can store leftover Jerk Chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

What Other Jamaican Dishes Should I Try?

Jamaica has a wide range of delicious dishes, including Ackee and Saltfish, Escovitch Fish, and Jamaican Patty. Explore and try as many as you can!

How Can I Make My Own Jerk Seasoning?

You can make your own Jerk Seasoning by blending together allspice, cloves, cinnamon, scallions, thyme, garlic, and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Adjust the amount of each ingredient to your liking.