My Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe has a nice balance between the fiery hot scotch bonnet peppers and the fragrant seasonings that Jerk Chicken is so famous for. Scotch Bonnets are some of the hottest peppers on the planet. Finding a good balance between heat and flavor is like walking a tightrope. Some Jerk Chicken is so intensely hot that unless you were born and raised in Jamaica that flavor is lost on you.
I equate this recipe to ordering Thai food where you’re given a scale of 1 to 5 stars. 1-star having little spice and 5-stars has a blistering hot spice level. My Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade recipe is about a 3-star heat level, spicy enough to break a little bit of a sweat but not so hot as to cover the great flavor. However, if you love it hot you can always add more scotch bonnets to the recipe. Whew, I’m sweating already!!!
Jerk Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken: I like to use the thighs and drumsticks for jerk chicken. I think the dark meat chicken is juicier and has more flavor, perfect for grilling.
- Scotch Bonnet or Habanero Peppers: These little peppers have intense heat and great flavor. I use 1-pepper for every 2-pounds of chicken. However, if you like it really spicy you can use 1-Scotch Bonnet for every pound, but that’s too hot for me!
- Garlic, Ginger, Thyme, and Green Onions: These aromatics and herbs bring a freshness and incredible aroma to this jerk chicken marinade recipe.
- Dry Spices: Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The spices in jerk chicken will have your mouth watering long before dinners ready. These spices fill your home and make you think you’re in Jamaica.
- Lime Juice, Dark Rum, and Molasses: Jerk chicken marinade has a sweet, citrusy flavor with a little kick from the rum.
- Salt and Soy Sauce: I typically like a ratio of 1:1, 1-teaspoon of salt to 1-pound of chicken. However, the soy sauce has sodium so I’ve adjusted my ratio a little to account for this.
Here is my Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe:
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
- Charcoal Grill
- 4 Pounds Chicken Thighs and drumsticks
- 2 Scotch Bonnets 4 for extra hot
- 10 Scallions Chopped, white and green parts
- 2 Teaspoons Garlic Crushed
- 2 Inch Ginger Peeled and chopped
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Thyme Woody stems removed
- 2 Limes Zest and juice
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Allspice
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 3 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
- 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Malt Vinegar or White Vinegar
- 2 Ounces Dark Rum
- 1 Tablespoon Molasses or Brown Sugar
- Place chicken in a large zip-type bag
- Place all ingredients except oil and soy sauce in a food processor, process until smooth, about 3-4 minutes. With the food processor running, slowly add the oil and soy sauce until emulsified
- Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken, let marinate in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours
- Light the charcoal or gas grill, let the temperature get to a medium-hot grill. You want the grill divided, one side for direct heat and the other for indirect heat.
- Once the grill is hot, clean the grill grate with a wire brush. Then lightly brush with vegetable oil on the grate so the skin doesn’t stick to it.
- Place the chicken skin side down, away from the direct heat, for about 20 minutes, cover the grill
- Gently try to turn the chicken so you don’t damage the skin
- Cover and roast the chicken, leaving the skin side up until an instant-read thermometer reads 165F (74C)