Jerk Chicken

JamaicanLow CarbChickenJerk

Caribbean jerk chicken full of flavor and and a good amount of heat, using habaneros (or scotch bonnet chili peppers) and allspice. Make jerk chicken in oven or grill.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

What is Jerk Chicken?

Do you like heat? As in chili heat? If you do, then jerk chicken is made for you.

Jerk chicken seasoning is based on two main ingredients—Scotch Bonnet chili peppers (or habaneros) and allspice, and is how they like to cook chicken in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

Jerk Chicken Tip

Scotch bonnet and habanero chili peppers are HOT. As in be-really-careful hot, and as for goodness sake do not touch your eyes or anything sensitive after handling them hot.

how to make jerk chicken in oven or grill

The following jerk chicken recipe isn’t blazing hot, but it is still plenty spicy, and great the next day in a chicken salad. Serve it with black beans and rice (to spread out the heat) and a very large glass of cold beer. You can choose to make jerk chicken in the oven, or make grilled jerk chicken.

Do you have a favorite jerk seasoning recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Jerk Chicken Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

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

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup malt vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum
  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers (or habaneros), with seeds, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 green onion tops, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme or 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 (5 or 6 pound) roasting chicken, cut in half, lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

Method

1 Make jerk marinade: Put the vinegar, rum, hot peppers, onion, green onion tops, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses into a blender. Pulse until mostly smooth.

2 Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken in a large freezer bag, or in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Pour lime juice over the chicken and coat well.

Rub the jerk paste over the chicken pieces and coat well (it helps to use gloves!). Seal the bag or cover the chicken in the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

3 Remove chicken, simmer marinade: When you are ready to cook the chicken, remove chicken from the marinade bag or pan. Put the remaining marinade into a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to use as a basting sauce for the chicken.

If you want you can reserve a little of the marinade (once boiled for 10 minutes since it has been in contact with raw chicken) to serve with the chicken or to mix with some ketchup and a dash of soy sauce for a serving sauce.

4a Grilling Method
Preheat grill to medium high. Sprinkle chicken halves with salt and pepper. Place chicken halves, skin side down on the grill grates. Cover. Cook for about 40-50 minutes, keeping the internal grill temperature between 350°F and 400°F, turning the chickens occasionally and basting with marinade, until the chicken halves are cooked through.

The chicken is done when the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, about 165°F for the breast and 170°F for the thigh when checked with a meat thermometer.

Transfer chicken to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm and let stand 15 minutes.

4b Oven Method
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken halves in a rimmed baking pan, skin side up. Roast until chicken halves are cooked through, about 40-50 minutes.

The chicken is done when the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, or a meat thermometer reads about 165°F for the breast and 170°F for the thigh.

Transfer chicken to platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep warm and let stand 15 minutes.

Cut chicken into pieces. Serve with black beans and rice.

Recipe adapted from several sources, including Bon Appetit magazine.

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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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21 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Jacqui

    Less vinegar, upped the lime. Added 1tsp sugar. Stopped the bitterness .Perfect, served with rice and peas .

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • rome

    I don’t know what I did wrong, but my Jerk Chicken did not come out as I expected, I followed the exact recipe to the tee, the only thing I didnt do was use fresh lime juice, I used bottled instead…..but I don’t see how it would make the chicken sour/bitter/and spicy. I also didn’t grill it, I put it in the oven.

  • Princezz

    In the DC area there are a few great restaurants or “hole in the wall” joints that have great jerk chicken. A few years ago I worked with a woman from Jamaica who made jerk chicken,she turned me on to a great substitue when you do not have the time, patience or skill to prepare authentic jerk. Her recommendation was “WalkersWood Traditional Jerk Seasoning” you can find it in authentic markets and some of the main grocers that have Caribbean or Jamican food sections (in a jar in both mild and spicy).
    Directions:
    Rinse the chicken and clean with vinegar or lemons, season chicken with Adobo seasoning or onion, garlic powder, salt and/or pepper as you wish. Spoon and rub the desired amonut of jerk seasoning. Then add 1/2 cup of diced onions and 1 tbs chopped garlic. To lessen the heat and add some sweetness add a few tablespoons of honey or brown sugar. I suggest letting it marinate the fridge in a covered container overnight or for 4 hours before cooking. I prefer to prepare it in a crockpot on high for 4 hours or until the meat falls off the bone. When I have less time I cook it for about an hour or more in a covered pan on the stove or the oven and serve with beans and rice. Note: Add 1 to 2 tbls of oil to the pan with a clove of garlic and 1/4c of diced onions.

    Great on top of a grean salad.

  • Steve

    Forgot to add, if you’re going to use a shop bought paste then buy Walkerswood. It was recommended to me by my hotels Jerk chef (Yup, thats all he did, all day long!) and is very good. Not as good as this recipe though! Thanks again Elise.

  • Steve

    Haven’t had Jerk this good since I was in Jamaica. Great recipe, thank you for the upload.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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