Jerk Chicken

The enticing aroma of jerk chicken is synonymous with the vibrant island of Jamaica. This iconic dish is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the island, with its origins dating back to the indigenous Taino people who first developed the slow-cooking technique over an open flame. The arrival of enslaved Africans in the 17th century introduced new ingredients and spices, which evolved into the unique jerk seasoning we know today. The heart of jerk chicken lies in its spice blend, featuring allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, garlic, ginger, scallions, onions, and a mix of ground spices, which not only adds bold flavors but also tenderizes the meat.

The magic of jerk chicken comes from its traditional cooking method, using a grill made from oil drums and green pimento wood to impart a distinct smoky flavor. While this authentic method is challenging to replicate at home, cooking the chicken over indirect heat on a regular grill can still yield delicious results. Enjoy jerk chicken with classic Jamaican side dishes like rice and peas, fried plantains, or festivals for a harmonious and satisfying meal that embodies the rich flavors and history of Jamaica.

Jerk Chicken

Recipe by rorichCourse: Uncategorized


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  • 1 cup chopped scallion (green onion)

  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion

  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4-6 Scotch bonnet peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped (adjust to your heat preference)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice (pimento)

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger


  • Prepare the jerk marinade: In a blender or food processor, combine all the marinade ingredients (scallions, white onion, garlic, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme leaves, ground allspice, ground black pepper, brown sugar, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, soy sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil, vinegar, and grated ginger). Blend until you achieve a smooth and thick paste.
  • Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl or a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the jerk marinade over the chicken, making sure each piece is well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight for the best flavor.
  • Prepare the grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 350°F (180°C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect grilling by placing the hot coals to one side of the grill, leaving the other side without direct heat. If using a gas grill, turn off the burners on one side for indirect grilling.
  • Grill the chicken: Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Lightly oil the grill grates with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place the chicken pieces on the grill, bone-side down, over indirect heat. Cover the grill and cook for about 30 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken pieces and baste them with any remaining marinade. Continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C) when measured with a meat thermometer.
  • If desired, you can finish the chicken by briefly searing it directly over high heat for a minute or two on each side to achieve a crispier skin and more charred flavor.
  • Remove the jerk chicken from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your authentic jerk chicken with rice and peas, fried plantains, or your favorite Jamaican side dishes.

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