Jamaican Jerk Burgers


Spice up your hamburger with the feisty flavors of Jamaican jerk, habanero, allspice, cinnamon and ginger. Served with a citrus coleslaw.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Looking for a way to spice up a summer barbecue?

Try these hamburger patties, seasoned with a homemade Jamaican jerk spice mixture of Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, green onions, and garlic!

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Scotch bonnets, or their habanero cousins, are insanely hot, so you don’t really need much, half a 1 1/2-inch long pepper, seeds removed.

Some people substitute jalapeños, but the flavor really is different, so I would stick to Scotch bonnets or habaneros if you can get them.

Cool off the chili heat with a citrus, mayo-based coleslaw. The oil in the mayo helps to absorb the spicy chili, to take the edge of the heat.

Jamaican Jerk Burgers Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Patti Chilling time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6 burgers

Scotch Bonnet and Habanero chile peppers are very hot and can cause extreme pain if they come in contact with your eyes. We strongly recommend wearing protective gloves while handling the chilies and the jerk mixture.


  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chili pepper, seeds removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion, including greens
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, at least 16% fat


  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • Pinch of chopped thyme
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp of orange juice or lime juice (if using lime juice add a teaspoon of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange or lime zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Make the jerk mixture: In a food processor, put the vinegar, water, chili, green onion, garlic, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, molasses, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped.

If you do not have a food processor, finely mince the chili, garlic, and green onion. Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

2 Make the patties: Using your hands, gently mix the jerk mixture in with the ground beef in a large bowl until just incorporated. Do not over-mix.

Shape into patties, about 1/2 inch thick and wider than the diameter of your hamburger bun.

3 Chill the patties: Chill about 30 minutes or until you are ready to cook. (Remember to wear gloves while handling jerk seasoning or thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after handling.)

4 Make the coleslaw: In a medium bowl, gently mix the cabbage, red onion, thyme, mayonnaise, citrus juice, zest, salt and pepper.

5 Grill the jerk burgers: Prepare gas or charcoal grill for cooking over high direct heat. Place the patties on the clean, well-oiled grill grate. Grill the burgers for about 5 minutes per side. Do not press down on the burgers while cooking. If you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a cast iron frying pan.

6 Serve: Serve burgers topped with coleslaw, with or without hamburger buns.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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14 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Charlie Caruso

    You are so right about the gloves.

  2. foodcritique

    Great recipe! We made it today, inspired by leftover habanero and green onion not to be wasted! Like some of the other posts, we skipped the slaw. The burgers were delish – next time we’ll even double the habanero! Thanks for the great share~


  3. Anne

    We looked at the thawing ground meat on the counter and we all said…blah. I googled “interesting hamburger recipies” and found this one. Man-o-man…this has to be one of the best burgers I’ve ever made. What a delicious and interesting flavor…which is perfectly set off with the coleslaw. A keeper!!!Many thanks…I’ll be back on your site soon to try some of your other dishes.


  4. Jen

    Thanks so much for this recipe! My husband LOVES it. I liked it a lot, too, but would increase the habanero. Also, I forgot that dried thyme does not equal fresh thyme in the amounts, so it was a bit too thyme-y. But still – awesome!


  5. cabinkat

    We had this burger for Memorial Day and it was delicious. I made the coleslaw part for myself and my BH made a yogurt/rum sauce. I could get a hint of cayenne every now and again, but it wasn’t overpowering. I didn’t have a habenero. I think next time I would like the green onions to be sautéd a bit with the garlic, think this will enhance the flavor. Otherwise, very good.

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