Join us for an adventure in flavor!

    Jamaican Jerk Chicken

    This Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is dedicated to all of my fellow spice lovers. The Jerk marinade is packed with awesome ingredients, making it a real flavor explosion with just the right amount of kick.

    It’s like bringing a taste of the tropics right to your table, whether you choose to grill it up or bake it. So, it’s not just for summer cookouts—it’s a dish for any time of the year.

    If you’re craving big flavors, you need to make my version of jerk chicken tonight!

    This authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is marinated and cooked to perfection. It’s a total flavor bomb with customizable level of kick.

    Jamaican food is one of my favorites, with its big, bold flavors. If you’ve tried our Jamaican Curry Chicken or Jamaican Pepper Steak, you know what I’m talking about.

    And then there’s jerk chicken. This one is iconic, and often the first thing to come to mind when thinking about Jamaican cuisine.

    Growing up, I never imagined that I’d have the chance to taste Jamaican Jerk Chicken without hopping on a plane. But here I am, living in a town where Jamaican restaurants are plentiful.

    One day, a friend recommended a local Jamaican spot known for their authentic jerk chicken. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try. As soon as I stepped inside, the delicious smell and the sight of a buffet filled with all sorts of island food, I knew I was in for some feast.

    I ordered the jerk chicken, and when it arrived, I was blown away by the aroma and bold taste. With my first bite, I was hooked. The blend of spices, the smokiness from the grill, and the tenderness of the chicken, I was an instant fan.

    Since then, I’ve been eating Jamaican Jerk Chicken a lot and today decided to cook it for GypsyPlate.

    What is “Jerk”?

    This authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is marinated and cooked to perfection. It’s a total flavor bomb with customizable level of kick.

    Jerk is a Jamaican style of cooking. This rustic, traditional home cooking method, with its unique seasoning, is the Caribbean way to barbecue.

    The term “jerk” is thought to be derived from an English translation of the Spanish word “Charqui”, which means dried preserved strips of meat, like modern day jerky. The technique of jerk suggests it may have started out as a way to preserve wild boar, salting and smoking the meat.

    Jerk also refers to the action of poking meat with holes so the marinate penetrate deep into it.

    Jerked food can be pork, chicken, beef, goat, or fish that has been marinated overnight, even up to 48 hours

    Traditionally it is grilled over pimento wood fires. Today we’re sharing both grilling and baking instructions.

    Recipe Tips

    This authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is marinated and cooked to perfection. It’s a total flavor bomb with customizable level of kick.
    • Customize the heat: I use 1 habanero for mild, 2 for medium hot, and 3 for extra hot.
    • Don’t rush the marination: I start marinating in the morning, or better yet, overnight.
    • Watch for flareups: Fat dripping from the chicken skin can catch fire. You want some char, but not totally burnt. I keep a spray bottle of water handy.
    • Use a meat thermometer: Chicken is safe to eat at 165°F. Stop right there for white meat, as it will quickly become dried out if cooked more. For dark meat, I cook to 185-190°F for fall off the bone tender meat.
    • Let the chicken rest 5 minutes after cooking: This allows the juices to reabsorb back into the meat.

    Ingredients Needed

    recipe ingredients
    • Chicken – Bone in, skin on dark meat, please.
    • Marinade base – Olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice.
    • Aromatics – Onion, scallions, garlic, ginger.
    • Herbs and spices – Fresh thyme, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pepper.
    • Brown sugar

    How to Make Jerk Chicken

    1. Make the marinade: I start by putting big pieces like chopped onion, scallion, ginger, garlic, thyme, and habanero peppers into the blender. Then, I blend them until they’re all mixed together well. After that, I add the rest of the ingredients and blend everything until it becomes like a thick paste.

    For more details, check out my Jerk Marinade recipe.

    bowl of jerk marinade

    2. Marinate the chicken: I use a fork or knife to poke holes in the chicken, which helps the marinade soak in better. Then, I place the chicken in a big bowl and pour the marinade over it. I massage the marinade all over the chicken, making sure to get some under the skin too. Since the marinade has habanero pepper, I always use gloves when doing this step. That’s a story for another time!

    I cover the bowl with cling wrap and put it in the fridge. For the best flavor, I like to let it marinate overnight, but if I’m short on time, I can start marinating in the morning and cook the jerk chicken in the evening. About 30 minutes before cooking, I take the chicken out of the fridge to let it come to room temperature.

    3. Cook the chicken:

    • Grilling method: I preheat the grill to medium-high heat, around 425-450°F. Then, I grill the chicken for about 8-10 minutes on each side. I make sure to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 185-190°F for thighs and drumsticks (or 165°F for chicken breast).
    • Baking method: First, I preheat the oven to 400°F. Then, I place the chicken on a lightly oiled sheet pan or baking dish and bake it for about 1 hour. This allows the chicken to cook through evenly and develop a deliciously crispy exterior.
    This authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is marinated and cooked to perfection. It’s a total flavor bomb with customizable level of kick.

    Serving Suggestions

    The best side dish for jerk chicken is Jamaican Rice and Peas, which is creamy and coconutty, a perfect contrast to the fiery and bold jerk.

    If it’s mango season, my Mango Salsa is also a great side dish contender.

    A nice chilled Red Stripe is always good too!

    For more inspirations, check out our roundup of the best Sides for Jerk Chicken.

    This authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is marinated and cooked to perfection. It’s a total flavor bomb with customizable level of kick.

    Take your taste buds on a tropical adventure, and make this amazing jerk chicken. It may be our favorite grilled chicken recipe of all, and is surely the most flavor packed.

    GypsyPlate is all about helping you experience the different cuisines of the world. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, and join us on this culinary adventure. See you soon…

    Jerk Chicken, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    jerk chicken on the Gypsy Plate

    Try these chicken dishes from around the world!
    Indian Chicken Curry
    Harissa Chicken
    Pollo Asado
    Chicken Jollof Rice
    Chicken Masala
    Pollo Guisado
    Chicken Puttanesca

    featured image for jerk chicken recipe post

    Jamaican Jerk Chicken

    Yield: 8-10 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 30 minutes

    This Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is marinated in an amazing concoction of ingredients. It’s a total flavor bomb with a customizable level of kick.


    • 8-10 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
    • 1-3 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers (see note 1)
    • 5 scallions, roughly chopped
    • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
    • 7-8 sprigs of thyme
    • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 inch ginger, roughly chopped
    • 2 tsp allspice pimento berries or powder
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ¼ cup soy sauce
    • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • ¼ cup vinegar
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp black pepper


    Make the marinade: 

    1. Put bigger chunks like chopped onion, scallion, ginger, garlic, thyme and habanero peppers in the blender and blend well.
    2. Add remaining ingredients, then blend to a paste-like consistency.

    Marinate the chicken:

    1. Poke holes in the chicken with a fork or knife, to allow the marinade to penetrate more deeply. Place the chicken in a large bowl, then pour in the marinade. Massage it all over the chicken, making sure to push some up under the skin.
    2. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, then place in the refrigerator. Marinate overnight, or start marinating in the morning, then cook in the evening. Remove from refrigerator 30 minute prior to cooking.

    Cook the chicken:

    • Grilling method: Preheat grill over medium high heat to 425-450°F. Grill the chicken 8-10 minute per side, or until desired doneness. (see note 2)
    • Baking method: Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake chicken on a lightly oiled sheet pan or baking dish for about 1 hour, or until desired doneness. (see note 2)


      1. 1 pepper for mild, 2 for medium hot and 3 for extra hot
      2. Chicken is safe to eat at 165°F. This is also the ideal doneness for chicken breast. For chicken thighs or legs, use the following guidelines:
        - 165°F chicken is done, but is still chewy and sticks to the bone.
        - 175-180°F for chicken that is tender, but sticks to the bone.
        - 185-190°F for chicken that is tender and falls off the bone.
      3. Leftovers: You can refrigerate the leftover jerk chicken in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It also freezes well. Place cooled chicken in a freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze 2-3 months.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 10 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 358Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 166mgSodium 814mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 2gSugar 5gProtein 32g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

    Get griddling! Try these Blackstone Recipes!

    Never miss a recipe!

    Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      Search by Cuisine

      Travel a word of flavors with GypsyPlate. Sort our recpes by regions:

      GypsyPlate logo.
      Skip to Recipe