Jerk Chicken

May 25, 2019  ·  Published May 29, 2019

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The best Jamaican Jerk Chicken including oven and grilling instructions! It’s incredibly flavorful thanks to hours of marinating in a vibrant and deliciously seasoned marinade. And who can resist that light char and crave-able spicy kick? A must try recipe!

Pair it with coconut rice and fresh pineapple to create a tasty and simple Caribbean meal!

10 pieces of jerk chicken, combination of thighs and legs, on a white oval platter set over a grey surface.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

This is one of the best marinade recipes you’ll ever try! It’s brimming with fresh flavor and it may seem like a strange combination of ingredients but together they create incredible, well balanced flavor. And it all compliments chicken perfectly.

Jerk Chicken Video

 

It’s a great recipe to make for a summer cookout yet it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Just prep the marinade the night before or morning of, add the chicken and let it soak while you’re at work, then when you get home pop it in the oven or throw it on the grill (simmer the rice while the chicken is cooking) and you’ve got a dinner that’s sure to satisfy!

Jerk Chicken ingredients shown here including chicken pieces, green onions, thyme, limes, soy sauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic, and fresh ginger.

Chicken and Marinade Ingredients

  • Chicken pieces (bone-in skin-on) – I recommend using 5 thighs and 5 legs
  • Green onions – 1/2 small red onion could be substituted.
  • Garlic – only use fresh garlic.
  • Ginger – this adds so much flavor, only use fresh.
  • Habanero peppers – scotch bonnet peppers will work too if you can find them. The amount used can be adjusted to taste, these are spicy!
  • Lime juice – in a pinch lemon juice will work too. Don’t use bottled.
  • Soy sauce – if you have low sodium on hand that will work, just add a little salt to the marinade.
  • Brown sugar – honey could be substituted.
  • Thyme leaves – preferably use fresh, in a pinch 1 tsp dried will work.
  • Allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg – these may seem strange with chicken but they’re key ingredients, don’t omit them!
  • Black pepper – it’s a hassle to grind it but it does make a difference.

Making jerk chicken marinade. Adding ingredients to food processor including green onions, spices, pepepr, ginger, brown sugar, garlic and thyme.

How to Make Jerk Chicken

  • Place chicken pieces in a gallon size resealable bag.
  • Make marinade: add green onions, garlic, ginger, habaneros, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, thyme, and spices to a food processor and plus to chop (it should be slightly coarse not pureed).

Jerk chicken marinade after pureeing in food processor.

  • Pour marinade over chicken: pour mixture over chicken in bag, seal bag while pressing out excess air then rub marinade over chicken.
  • Allow marinating time: rest in refrigerator 3 – 24 hours.

Soaking chicken pieces in a resealable bag with marinade.

How to Bake Jerk Chicken – Oven Method

  • Heat oven and prepare baking sheet: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Arrange marinated chicken on sheet: remove chicken from marinade and arrange pieces on baking sheet leaving space between them.
  • Bake to 165 degrees in center: bake in preheated oven until cooked through, about 45 – 50 minutes, while broiling during the last few minutes for better browning.

Raw marinated chicken pieces on a foil lined baking sheet.

How to Grill Jerk Chicken

Heat grill, clean and oil grates: preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees.) Clean grill grates and rub lightly with oil using tongs and an oiled paper towel.

Cook through to 165 degrees: grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally (and reducing burning temperature slightly if it’s browning too quickly) about 30 minutes.

Can I Use Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs?

Yes. I’ve also made this with boneless skinless chicken breasts as well if grilling. If doing so don’t marinate longer than 6 hours.

Grill over medium high heat (425 – 450) about 4 – 5 minutes per side keep a close eye on it because if it goes past 165 degrees in center it will start to dry out. Baking isn’t recommend for breasts as you won’t get any browning.

Boneless skinless thighs should work fine here too – for grilling or oven roasting. If doing so marinate up to 12 hours. Grill over medium-high heat (425 – 450) about 5 – 7 minutes per side. If baking cook in preheated 400 degree oven on an oiled baking sheet until cooked through about 30 – 35 minutes, broil during last few minute to help brown as needed.

Jerk chicken pieces on a serving platter.

Can I Make the Marinade in Advance?

Yes, the marinade can be made up to 4 days in advance. Store in refrigerator.

Tips for the Best Jerk Chicken

  • Only use fresh ingredients for best flavor (no dried powders). You’ll notice most everything is fresh in the recipe that’s what makes this chicken so good!
  • Allow enough time to marinate so those flavors can really soak into the chicken, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • Skip the chicken breasts and go for thighs for the most flavorful and tender end result.
  • Want to maximize the flavor? Rub some of the marinade underneath the chicken skin (just be careful not to tear it off).
  • If grilling, remember every grill cooks a little differently so just keep an eye on it. You want some char but not overly charred chicken so reduce the temperature slightly as needed.

Single piece of jerk chicken with a side of coconut rice and avocado.

What Sides to Serve with Jerk Chicken?

More Tropical Dinners You’ll Love:

Jerk Chicken

5 from 28 votes

The best Jamaican Jerk Chicken including oven and grilling instructions! It's incredibly flavorful thanks to hours of marinating in a vibrant and deliciously seasoned marinade. And who can resist that light char and crave-able spicy kick? A must try recipe!

Pair it with coconut rice and fresh pineapple to create a tasty and simple Caribbean meal!

Servings: 10
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Marinating Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 bone-in skin on chicken pieces, thighs and legs (about 3 lbs), trim excess fat and skin
  • 6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces*
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 habanero peppers (or scotch bonnet), stem removed**
  • 1 1/2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Place chicken pieces in a gallon size resealable bag.

  2. Add remaining ingredients to a food processor and plus several times to chop (it should be somewhat coarse). Pour mixture over chicken in bag, seal bag while pressing out excess air then rub marinade over chicken. Let rest in refrigerator 3 - 24 hours.

  3. Oven instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

  4. Remove chicken from marinade. Arrange pieces on baking sheet leaving space between them. Bake in preheated oven until cooked through, about 45 - 50 minutes, while broiling during the last few minutes for better browning.

  5. Or grill instructions: preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees.) Clean grill grates and rub lightly with oil using tongs and an oiled paper towel.

  6. Grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally (and reducing burning temperature slightly if it's browning too quickly) about 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

*Can substitute with 1/2 small red onion.

**Adjust to taste, these are spicy! If you want a milder version try it with 1 jalapeno. Use gloves when working with peppers.

Nutrition Facts
Jerk Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 265 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 87mg29%
Sodium 385mg17%
Potassium 271mg8%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 22g44%
Vitamin A 285IU6%
Vitamin C 8.9mg11%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: Jerk Chicken
Author: Jaclyn

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62 Comments

  • Christina

    I’ve been wanting to make some jerk chicken- had some last week that we got from a nearby restaurant but the jerk flavor was lacking… and it definitely was not spicy. My question tho, if I were to use scotch bonnet peppers( as I think whats traditionally used), how spicy would this dish be from the scale of 1-10? I can handle mild to med spicy but my boyfriend loves spicy food, that’s why he was so disappointed on the jerk chicken he ordered coz it was lacking the jerk seasoning flavor and heat. I would be making this dish tomorrow and can’t wait! Thank you

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Spice level is all relevant to each individual, I would say this a medium heat level (5) while others might say it’s incredibly spicy, or mild. My kids are able to eat it as is and they don’t like incredibly spicy food.
      And yes scotch bonnets are what is traditionally used they are just much harder to find but heat level is very similar to habanero.
      I hope you both enjoy this!

      • Christina

        I was not able to find scotch bonnet pepper at any of my local store (as to be expected) but we have habañero peppers growing in our garden. I made this today- was only able to marinade for about 4.30 hrs rather than overnight since I had to grab the rest of the ingredients this morning. And OMG THE FLAVOR IS TO DIE FOR! It’s so good. I braved up and put 3 whole habañero and was still in the mild spice and i didn’t explode from the heat 😂. My boyfriend loved it as well. Will definitely make it again soon and by then I’ll have the ingredients on hand and can marinate overnight for even awesome flavor! Thanks so much!

        Christina

  • Danielle

    I doubled the habaneros and used powdered ginger. The recipe was fantastic. My husband loved it as well. Made with coconut rice, black beans and a mango salsa. Will definitely be making again!

  • Rebecca

    Delicious thanks! I keep coming back to this recipe and forgetting to thank you for it.

  • Dawn

    Hubby LOVES LOVES LOVES this just as is. Well, he doesn’t like ginger so I took that out. But it is AMAZING. Thank you for this. He wants me to make it every weekend. I have been making it for about 6 months, two times a month and he never tires of it. :) As soon as I stick it into the oven, the whole house smells like awesome. I like it as well….but he eats almost all of it before I can get leftovers! Shared with friends and they use that marinade with all kinds of meats and keep telling me how everyone loves it. I made sure to give you credit. :) Thanks again!

  • Hope Kurtz

    We tried this recipe this past weekend because I was given scotch bonnet peppers. Followed it to a T using chicken thighs. It was really amazing! Even with using 2 peppers, the heat wasn’t over powering at all and next time, I think I will add one more. We had black beans with collard greens and mango salsa on a bed of rice. Fantastic!

  • Tash

    What can I use as a substitute for nutmeg? I have cinnamon and all spice and allspice berries.