Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: September 10, 2023

I was first introduced to jerk chicken a few years ago by a Jamaican friend. I was blown away by this delicacy and decided to perfect my own recipe.

I spent a year trying out different recipes and experimenting with spice blends, marinating techniques, and grilling methods until I achieved a mouthwatering smoky flavor and tender texture.

Here’s my step-by-step Jamaican jerk chicken recipe so you can easily make it at home.

Recipe Overview

Jerk Chicken
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes + marinade overnight
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes, plus overnight marinade
  • Number of Servings: 6 to 8


  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • 4 to 6 Scotch Bonnet peppers, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Jerk Chicken in a plate
  1. Spatchcock the chicken.
  2. Take out the food processor and combine onion, garlic, allspice powder, pepper, thyme, nutmeg, brown sugar, and salt. Process until you have a thick paste. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and lime juice while the food processor is on.
  3. Once the marinade is ready, pour it into a large dish and add the chicken. Coat the chicken completely, cover it, and place it in the fridge overnight.
  4. Take out the chicken two hours before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
  5. Preheat your grill and grill the chicken on a medium-hot fire. Turn the chicken occasionally so it’s browned and cooked through. The cooking time is around 40 minutes. Keep the grill covered between turns to get a smokier flavor.
  6. Remove the Jamaican jerk chicken from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

“Jerk is all about distinct flavors, so make sure each quarter of the meat is thoroughly seasoned.”

- Racquel’s Caribbean Cuisine, YouTube Channel

Recipe Notes

Jerk Chicken in a board

Here are some tips and tricks for the best Jamaican jerk chicken:

  • Scotch Bonnet peppers are extremely hot, so start with a small amount. Taste the seasoning and add more if needed.
  • Use gloves when handling the peppers.
  • Marinade the chicken for 24 to 48 hours for tender meat. The marinade adds flavor, and chicken can be dry without it.
  • Spatchcock the chicken using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
  • You can use chicken thighs or chicken breasts instead of the whole bird.
  • Make a Jamaican jerk sauce by making a large batch of marinade and dividing it in half. Use the first half for the jerk marinade and the remaining marinade for the sauce. Warm it in a pot, and pour over the Jamaican jerk chicken before serving.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The Jamaican jerk chicken is cooked when the temperature reaches 165 degrees [1].
  • Don’t let the grill flames get too aggressive, or you’ll have burnt chicken.
  • If you want char on your chicken, turn it to the front side at the end of cooking.
  • Spatchcock the chicken by cutting down on the back of either side of the backbone to remove it. After this is done, flip the chicken and press the legs to open, or butterfly the chicken. This ensures the jerk chicken is tender and moist on the inside, and you get crispy skin on the outside.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 799
  • Total Carbs: 50g
  • Protein: 64g
  • Fat: 35g
  • Fiber: 5g

Adjusting the Spiciness of Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

You can adjust the Jamaican jerk chicken spiciness in several ways:

  • Don’t use peppers. However, keep in mind the chicken won’t be as flavorful.
  • Use the Scotch Bonnet peppers, but don’t use any veins and seeds.
  • Use more sweetness to fight the heat. For example, you can try orange and pineapple juice, honey, and ketchup.
  • Replace the Scotch Bonnet peppers with jalapeno, habanero peppers, or another pepper that isn’t as hot and spicy. This will still create a spicy Jamaican jerk chicken, but it’ll be milder.

Also Read: How Long to Marinate Chicken

How to Store Jerk Chicken Leftovers

Jerk Chicken in a container

Store jerk chicken leftovers in a sealed container or wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil in the fridge for up to five days.

Make sure the jerk chicken has cooled first. You can also freeze the chicken in vacuum-sealed bags and keep it in the freezer for three months.

Pro tip: When freezing, label it with the date and freeze it in individual portions for easier reheating.

You can reheat the jerk chicken in the oven, microwave, and on the stove.

Here’s how:

  • Oven - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place leftover jerk chicken on a baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil so it retains moisture. Reheat for 20 minutes.
  • Microwave - Place the leftover chicken in a microwave-safe dish and heat on medium power in short intervals until it warms thoroughly.
  • Stove - Use a skillet or a non-stick pan and warm on medium heat.

Also Read: How to Maintain Meat Fresh


Is the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Spicy?

Yes, the Jamaican jerk chicken recipe is spicy. It contains several peppers, some of which are very hot. However, you can use fewer peppers or substitute for milder ones if you don’t like a lot of spice.

Why Is Jerk Chicken Healthy?

Jerk chicken is healthy because of the jerk seasoning ingredients. For example, nutmeg helps digestion, pepper reduces blood pressure, garlic boosts the immune system, and lime juice has Vitamin C.

What Does Jamaican Jerk Chicken Taste Like?

Jamaican jerk chicken has a bold taste that combines a blend of spicy, smoky, sweet, and savory elements.

Have You Tried This Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe?

The key to the Jamaican jerk chicken is the jerk chicken marinade and seasonings. It’s up to you how many peppers you want to use, as well as which ones.

You can adjust the heat level by controlling the amount and type of peppers you add.

Don’t forget to marinate the chicken for an adequate amount of time to allow the flavors to penetrate deeply.


  1. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2022/10/03/cooking-meat-it-done-yet
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