Cooking Nook Logo
Forks with food on them

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

Jerk Chicken and Marinade

Jerk chicken is a spicy marinated meat recipe that originated in Jamaica in the West Indies.

It’s a staple dish in that country and for all of the Jamaican expats around the world. And like most delicious ethnic recipes, the world has caught on to the jerk tradition.

Like most ethnic cooking, every family has it’s own wonderful recipe that differs just a little from their neighbors. Some recipes offer more heat, others may add cloves or more garlic. Everyone is just a bit different.

One thing is certain: there will be Scotch bonnet (read “very hot”) peppers in every jerk marinade recipe. Jamaicans love their Scotch bonnet peppers. They are a little too hot for me so I use them sparingly. For example in the recipe below, I would cut the amount of peppers in half.

Jerk marinade has a lot of uses we’ll talk about below, but most people think of it as jerk chicken or pork.

Once you learn how easy it is to make that unique wonderful jerk flavor at home, you’ll be making it on a regular basis.

So, first of all, let’s talk about what it is. What is jerk?

What is Jerk?

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. (1)

The term jerk spice (also commonly known as Jamaican jerk spice) refers to a spice rub. The word jerk refers to the spice rub, wet marinade, and to the particular cooking technique. (1)

We use a wet marinade in our recipe below. Jerk marinade was originally used on chicken and pork, but today’s creative cooks use it to flavor anything from the traditional chicken or pork to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, lamb, goat, or vegetables.

Jerk cooking is very popular in Caribbean and West Indian communities throughout North America and Western Europe. Jerk restaurants are popping up all over.

Here is how to make this delicious marinade:

How To Make Jerk Chicken Marinade

Jerk seasoning recipes always contain allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Scotch bonnet peppers are super hot so even using a bit of Scotch bonnet makes this marinade quite spicy.

As I said, my recipe for jerk chicken uses a wet marinade. Most of the jerk chicken I have eaten is wet marinated. Lime juice is the main liquid in this jerk recipe. It brings that wonderful sweet tart taste to the marinade.

We also have a bit of soy sauce for that distinct salty taste. Use light or dark soy sauce, whatever you have on hand. You can use low sodium if you want, but there is no other salt in this recipe, so I use regular soy sauce.

This jerk chicken marinade recipe has wonderful warm spices and herbs. Of course allspice. I think allspice is in just about any Jamaican recipe I know of.

Thyme is another herb that is in this recipe and is used in most Jamaican recipes. Plus nutmeg, coriander and black pepper. Add in some green onions, garlic and chopped ginger root and you have a wonderful spicy marinade that will pair beautifully with just about anything you choose to use it on.

Jerk marinade

I often use it on chicken. I love it on a mix of fresh vegetables too. Just bake them in the oven or in a pan over a grill and they are wonderful. Cooking instructions are below. This is what it will look like when you are done.

Now let’s get to the full recipe. Enjoy.

Use the comment section below the recipe to let me know how it worked out for you. Did you do the recipe as stated or make your own adjustments?

Jerk Chicken and Marinade

Jerk Chicken Recipe

Jerk chicken is a spicy marinated meat recipe that originated in Jamaica.
Prep Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean
Servings 4
Calories 351 kcal


  • 2 pounds chicken pieces, or pork, shrimp or vegetables

For the Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers, or 3
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ginger root, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  • In a food processor, make a paste of all the ingredients (except the chicken). This is your jerk marinade.
  • Use the marinade to marinate 2 pounds of chicken pieces or 2 pounds of pork (or whatever else you choose to use this great marinade on).
  • Marinate the meat in a non-metallic container for 2 to 3 hours before cooking.
  • The meat can be cooked on the grill or baked.
  • Cooking time for the chicken pieces is about 20 minutes. Make sure that any juices from the chicken run clear before you eat it.
  • Discard the left over marinade.
  • Serves 4 to 6 people.


Calories: 351kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 30gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 494mgPotassium: 390mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 416IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


If you love the taste of jerk chicken, try our jerk chicken burgers too.

Browse all of our amazing chicken recipes here.

Want to be the first to know about new recipes and articles on Sign up here for site updates and never miss a great recipe.

If you like this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you share it on social media and add a comment below. Thanks.

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.