The most flavorful and tender jerk chicken made with tons of fragrant spices. Slightly sweet, sour, spicy and amazingly delicious. Serve it with rice and beans, sautéed cabbage or fried plantains!
What is Jerk Chicken?
Jerk chicken is a popular Jamaican and Caribbean dish. Jerk is a style of cooking where meat is coated in spices and grilled slowly over a fire.
I love using our charcoal grill for smoky flavor and recommend brushing the chicken with extra marinade while grilling. The result is juicy tender meat with the perfect amount of spicy kick and char.
I also love roasting the chicken in the oven and recommend using a baking dish big enough to lay the chicken out in a single layer so the chicken can brown evenly and cook in the marinade.
The benefit of roasting is you can spoon the extra sauce over the chicken and rice. SO GOOD.
Jerk Chicken Ingredients
This recipe has a lot of ingredients, mostly spices, but I promise your taste buds will thank you and it will be worth it!
- Chicken thighs and drumsticks
- Onion- yellow or white
- Ginger- fresh, powder can be substituted
- Habanero or scotch bonnet peppers- jalapeño can be used
- Soy sauce
- Salt & pepper
- Brown sugar
- Thyme- fresh or use 1 teaspoon dried
- Five spice powder, allspice and nutmeg
- Lime juice- vinegar can be substituted
Jerk chicken is usually made with scotch bonnet peppers but they are hard to find. Habanero peppers are a close second. In this recipe I used one habanero for medium spice but if you love spicy food, use two or three.
Jalapeño peppers can also be used but you will need more to achieve the same spice level.
To Marinate or Not to Marinate?
The traditional way of making jerk chicken to marinate the chicken overnight. If you have the time, I highly recommend it. BUT I tried this recipe one day without marinating and wow it tasted just as good!
Tips for the Best Jerk Chicken
- Use bone in skin on chicken thighs and/or legs for maximum flavor and tender chicken.
- Use gloves to rub the marinade into the chicken to keep the oils from the peppers from sticking to your hands.
- When grilling, keep the temperature medium-low to cook the chicken evenly without burning. Brush extra marinade on the chicken while grilling.
- After oven roasting, skim off the excess fat and drizzle extra sauce on the chicken and rice when serving!
Sides to serve with Jerk Chicken
- Coconut rice
- Rice and beans
- Fried plantains
- Mango salsa
- 3-4 pounds bone in skin on chicken thighs and legs
- 3 scallions
- ½ onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon five spice powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teapoon nutmeg
- 1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken in a baking dish skin side up and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients into a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. Coat the chicken in the marinade. Optional: Marinate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Bake for 45 minutes then broil for a few minutes to brown the chicken. Skim off the fat and drizzle extra sauce over the chicken.
- Grilled Jerk Chicken: Preheat grill to 400°F and grill the chicken for 30-40 minutes until cooked through. Turn the chicken every 5-10 minutes and brush with marinade while grilling.
- Use gloves to rub marinade into the chicken.
- One habanero provides a medium level of spice. Use two for extra heat.