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Overhead image of grilled jerk chicken on a white plate with Jamaican rice and peas.
4.87 from 15 votes

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken is a fragrant, flavorful, and delicious grilled chicken recipe representative of Jamaica and the Caribbean islands. Quick and easy to prepare, this Jerk marinade includes all the classic flavors of true Jamaican Jerk cooking including scallions, ground allspice berries, and hot chiles (Scotch Bonnet peppers).
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Marinate4 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 531kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tablespoon Allspice berries - coarsely ground
  • 1 large yellow onion - peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 scallions - chopped
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet Chiles (or 3 habanero peppers) - chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoon oil - olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1.5 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 (4 pound) chickens - quartered
  • Fresh lime juice - for serving

Instructions

  • Grind the allspice berries. Use a small food processor of spice grinder to coarsely grind the allspice berries (see notes). Transfer to the bowl of a large food processor.
  • Prepare the marinade. Add the onion, scallions, Scotch Bonnet Chiles (or Habaneros), garlic, Chinese five-spice, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, salt, and sugar to the bowl of your food processor with the ground allspice berries. Pulse and process until everything is coarsely chopped and combined. With your food processor running, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the soy sauce to the marinade. Remove lid and double check that all the ingredients have been fully processed. Set aside.
  • Marinate the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a large baking tray, mixing bowl, or heavy-duty ziplock bag. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the chicken, mixing and turning well to coat the entire surface of the chicken with marinade. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours to overnight.
  • Prepare the grill. Remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Clean grill grates and preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Grill the chicken. When ready to cook, transfer chicken pieces to your grill. Discard marinade. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes undisturbed before flipping and cooking the other side for an additional 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover your grill. Allow chicken to cook low and slow, checking every 3-5 minutes for hot spots, and flipping as needed, until internal temperature of chicken reaches approximately 157-160 degrees F. as read with a digital thermometer. Immediately remove from the grill to a clean baking sheet or pan and cover with foil for 3-5 minutes to allow chicken to rest and finish cooking. Serve warm with Jamaican Rice and Peas, fresh lime wedges, or other favorite sides. Enjoy!

Notes

  • The allspice berries are essential to the overall flavor of this Jerk Chicken Marinade. I do not recommend skipping them.
  • You will need to grind the allspice berries before processing them with the remaining Jerk marinade ingredients. To do this, you will need to use a small food processor or spice grinder as a large food processor will be too large.
  • Scotch Bonnet peppers are the traditional pepper used in Jamaican Jerk Chicken. Extremely hard to track down, habanero peppers make an excellent substitute.
  • Jerk chicken is spicy and this recipe is no exception. To make a more mild marinade reduce the number of Scotch Bonner peppers (or habanero peppers) used, or don't use any at all.
  • I asked my local butcher to quarter two 4-pound whole chickens for me. They turned out moist, juicy, and perfect. However, feel free to use your favorite chicken pieces (chicken breasts, chicken thighs, chicken legs, boneless, skinless, etc), just note that cooking times may vary.
  • Always use a digital meat thermometer when grilling chicken. You want the internal temperature at the thickest point to reach between 160-165 degrees F.
  • To make this recipe gluten-free, swap regular soy sauce for a gluten-free version, coconut aminos, and Tamari.

Nutrition

Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 190mg | Sodium: 571mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1924IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 4mg
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