Jamaican Jerk 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.

  • Yield: Makes 6 burgers.


  • 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
  • 1/2 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 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 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. 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.)

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

4 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.

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

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  • Charlie Caruso

    You are so right about the gloves.

  • kate

    we made these tonight and they were super yummy but i’d ditch the nutmeg because thats all we could taste. the peppers are a nice kick but they get you out of nowhere. making this again, with no nutmeg.

  • 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~


  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • CJ McD

    We, too love theme burgers, jerk, grilling and tried this yesterday.

    Can I say? It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

    Thanks for the GREAT burger recipe Elise.
    Happy Memorial Day!

  • Christine

    What type of cabbage is best to use?

    Regular cabbage, purple or green. ~Elise

  • Vanessa

    I tried this recipe when I had some friends over and it was wonderful. I’m going to be trying it again tonight, but I am definitely upping the amount of habanero peppers. My husband and I could taste them, but we couldn’t feel the heat!

  • Gerry


    This burger looks delicious!
    Could anyone tell me if the used scotch bonnet pepper is the same as the “Madame Jeannette” pepper as used in the Surinam kitchen?
    These look almost the same and are also insanely hot, but the best to make a killer-jerky or sambal as we call it in the Netherlands.


    I have actually tried this. There’s way to much nutmeg suggested, in fact, I’d leave it out all together, it doesn’t work. I won’t be doing this recipe again as whilst I was eating it I’d wished that I had cooked a regular burger and spiced it up at the end with chopped chillies. Sorry!

    Hi Andre, I’ve adjusted the nutmeg amount, if you are using freshly ground it is easy to overdo it. ~Elise

  • Paul

    We love these burgers so much we just planted our own habenero pepper plant to ensure constant supply!

    Instead of the coleslaw, we make a sauce with 1 cup mayo, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, and 1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles.

  • James

    Why is there pumpkin pie spice in your jerk seasoning?

    Hi James, you could also ask, why are there parts of jerk seasoning in pumpkin pie? These are just spices that work well in a jerk seasoning. ~Elise

  • Kinsey

    Ever since visiting Virgin Gorda 3 years ago, my husband and I have been big fans of authentic jerk flavor. We discovered that they key really is the allspice. Even if we don’t feel “fancy” we always at least put teriyaki, jerk or cajun seasoning and allspice in our burger before grilling.
    Try also grilling pineapple rings to top these spicy burgers

  • CJ


    We are fans of making flavor themed burgers. So when I read this recipe I couldn’t wait to try it.

    I love jerk and burgers. This recipe is fantastic!

    I admit I did add some chopped orange to the coleslaw for extra color and juice bursts.

    But wow– the jerk seasoning in the burgers was absolutely delicious. That teaspoon of molasses really adds a wonderful mellowness that accentuates the spices.

    Thanks! We will be making these again and again.