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6 May 2019

This easy Jamaican jerk chicken recipe is spicy and loaded with flavor. It’s a blast of the Caribbean, destined to become your favorite weeknight meal.

Here we go, my spicy food loving friends. We’re cooking up some Jamaican Jerk Chicken tonight, and without a doubt, this recipe will satisfy those taste buds of yours. Jamaican cuisine is jam packed with a huge selection of piquant spice blends and ingredients. 

As we’ve discussed many times, spicy doesn’t always mean “hot” in cooking, though with Jamaican cooking, as it is with the wonderful Caribbean, it sometimes does bring that heat so many of us crave.

This particular recipe doesn’t bring a lot of heat, though I’ll show you how you can really spice it up if you’d like to. There is heat, however, in the form of fiery scotch bonnet peppers, some of my favorites in terms of heat and flavor.

You’ll also get an excellent level of overall spiciness. I’m pretty sure it’s going to find a new place in your weeknight easy meals rotation.

We’re talking Jamaican Jerk Chicken, my friends, and it’s wonderful.

Jerk Chicken Recipe

What is “Jerk” Cooking?

“Jerk” cooking refers to the style of cooking originally done in Jamaica. It follows the process of poking meats with holes, allowing more flavors to permeate them, reaching deeper within.

This process is called “Jerking”.

Over the years, the term has become more generic for any jerk recipe, referring not only to the original cooking process, but to the familiar spicy rubs and blends, jerk marinade and jerk sauce.

Regardless, it’s delicious and satisfying.

Let’s talk about how to make this Jamaican jerk chicken recipe, shall we?

Jerk Chicken with fresh lime wedges

How to Make Jamaican Jerk Chicken

First, gather up your ingredients to make the jerk marinade. They include the following:

  • 4-6 Scotch Bonnet peppers, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 stalks scallions, ends trimmed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to your preference)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1 large orange about ¾ cup (orange juice)
  • Juice from half a lime (lime juice)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or use fresh if available
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I usually use 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper)

Add all of these ingredients to a food processor and process until nice and smooth. Like so.

Jerk Marinade processed in a food processor

Next, pierce the chicken with a knife in several places. This will let the marinade reach deeper into the meat. you can use any type of chicken for the recipe, though cooking times will vary, depending on the chicken chosen. I’m using chicken legs today.

Set the chicken into a large bowl or into a sealable baggie. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub it down. You want to completely cover the chicken with the marinade.

Jerk Chicken marinating in a bowl

Cover and refrigerate. Marinate the chicken at least 2 hours, though you’ll get more flavor penetration if you plan ahead and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. It should measure 165 degrees F internally. You can also grill your chicken over a hot charcoal grill for 12-20 minutes, until the internal temp is reached. Grilling is more traditional, but baking is easy.

Again, your cooking times will vary if you use different cuts of chicken.

Remove from heat and serve them up. I like to squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top of my chicken, though see my tips below for another serving method.

Jerk Marinade Recipe

About the Jerk Marinade

Marinating is all about building flavor and tenderizing. A good marinade adds flavor above and beyond the food you are cooking with. It’s also incredibly helpful when cooking with tougher cuts of meat, making them more tender.

Chicken is an ideal protein for marinades, as it is more of a blank canvas and absorbs a great deal of flavor. It also can be a bit dry if you accidentally cook it too long. A good marinade will help keep the moisture intact, making the recipe a bit more forgiving.

Recipe Tips

You can easily make a finishing Jamaican Jerk Sauce from the marinade. Simply make a larger batch of the marinade, then divide it in half. Use half for the marinade. Warm the other half in a small pot and pour it over the chicken once you’ve popped it out of the oven.

Jamaican Jerk Sauce Recipe

It’s a quick and simple way to get a flavorful sauce that truly compliments the meal.

Check out my Jamaican Jerk Sauce Recipe here.

Also, you can easily make large batches of this marinade and freeze it in portions, or keep it in the refrigerator in an air tight container. Plan ahead the night before and marinate your chicken overnight. It works for any cut of chicken – chicken breast (bone in or boneless), chicken thighs, chicken wings, even whole chicken that’s been separated.

It makes for a simple, quick and easy dinner that’s loaded with spicy flavor. I love quick and easy! Perfect for a slow cook like me.

Upping the Heat Factor

You’ll definitely get a lot of spice with this recipe, but not a ton of heat. The scotch bonnet peppers will bring some heat, though it won’t translate to a lot of heat in the marinade process.

If you’d like more heat, use more scotch bonnet peppers, or save some of the marinade to heat as a finishing sauce. Or, include some hotter peppers or chili powders/flakes into the marinade.

Spice it up, my friends!

Side Dish Ideas for Jerk Chicken

Try serving your jerk chicken with steamed rice, or try a more flavorful version, like this complimentary Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo or this lighter Cajun Cauliflower Rice.

It’s also great with a fresh mango salsa. I love it!

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy it!

Try Some of My Other Spicy Chicken Recipes

Jerk Chicken, ready to eat

If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #ChiliPepperMadness on Instagram so we can take a look. I always love to see all of your spicy inspirations. Thanks! — Mike H.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

This easy Jamaican jerk chicken recipe is spicy and loaded with flavor. It's a blast of the Caribbean, destined to become your favorite weeknight meal.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken legs, jamaican, recipe, spicy
Servings: 6 chicken legs
Calories: 360 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken legs
FOR THE MARINADE
  • 4-6 Scotch Bonnet peppers chopped
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves chopped
  • 4 stalks scallions ends trimmed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to your preference
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1 large orange about ¾ cup orange juice
  • Juice from half a lime lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or use fresh if available
  • Salt and pepper to taste I usually use 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. For the jerk marinade, add all of the marinade ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

  2. Next, poke some wholes in your chicken with a knife to let the marinade permeate more deeply.

  3. Set the chicken into a large bowl or into a sealable baggie. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub it down. You can to completely cover the chicken with the marinade.

  4. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate the chicken at least 2 hours, though you'll get more flavor penetration if you plan ahead and refrigerate overnight.

  5. When you're ready to cook, heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. It should measure 165 degrees F internally. You can also grill your chicken over a hot charcoal grill for 12-20 minutes, until the internal temp is reached. Grilling is more traditional, but baking is easy.

  6. Remove from heat and serve.

Recipe Notes

Heat Factor: Mild-Medium. The scotch bonnet peppers will bring some heat, though it won't translate to a lot of heat in the marinade process. If you'd like more heat, use more scotch bonnet peppers, or save some of the marinade to heat as a finishing sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 360 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 38%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 119mg 40%
Sodium 653mg 27%
Potassium 360mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 5g
Protein 22g 44%
Vitamin A 5.2%
Vitamin C 16.1%
Calcium 3.9%
Iron 8.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Also, try my Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe. You’ll love it!

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Ingredients mixing in a bowl

Jamaican Jerk Chicken - This easy Jamaican jerk chicken recipe is spicy and loaded with flavor. It's a blast of the Caribbean, destined to become your favorite weeknight meal. #JerkChicken #ChickenDinner

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