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Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

Try this Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe for a deliciously simple version of Caribbean style roast chicken. This super tender, flavorful jerk chicken will quickly become a family favorite. Perfect for meal prep dinners.

jamaican jerk chicken in a baking dish.
This Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is robust in flavor and so easy to make in your oven.

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

What is Jamaican Jerk Chicken?

Here’s a fun fact: the word jerk refers to a way of cooking that’s popular in Jamaica. All varieties of meats and even vegetables are traditionally marinated in a paste or rub that includes allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Then it’s slow smoked over long sticks of pimento wood.

Nowadays, you can get authentic Jamaican jerk eats from delicious smelling jerk huts on their island stomping grounds. So if you’re lucky enough travel to Jamaica, send me some tasty pics and I’ll live vicariously through you for a moment.

Since most of us aren’t going to soak our chicken overnight in Scotch bonnet peppers and then slow-smoke it over long sticks of pimento wood, I’m here to share this simplified way of making delicious jerk chicken – lazy but 110% incredibly tasty.

How This Recipe Stands Out

  • Your family will come running when the aroma of Jamaican style, smoky chicken fills the air.
  • It’s baked in the oven, which means a super hands-off dinner for you. We love oven-baked dinners.
  • This dish is extremely tender and juicy; never dry.
  • The jerk seasonings can be mixed weeks ahead of time and stored for later use.
  • This jerk chicken is fabulous for meal prep; make a big batch and serve it throughout the week.
  • You can also freeze marinated chicken to bake later. Freezer meals are a busy cook’s best friend.

Key Recipe Ingredients

jerk chicken dry rub ingredients
  • Chicken: to make this recipe as simple as possible, we use chicken legs instead of cut-up whole chicken pieces. Chicken legs are easy to prep and cook up faster.
  • Oil: use healthy olive oil for binding the seasonings to the meat and for flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: brown sugar adds a molasses-like sweetness to balance out the spices.
  • Thyme: plenty of thyme provides an earthy herb essence to this dish. Be sure herbs are fresh, as older herbs have lost most of their flavor.
  • Spices: a fragrant mixture of allspice, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cayenne lend incredible depth and flavor to the chicken. If you can use smoked paprika, the flavors will be even more complex.
  • Seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper are essential for the aromatics and savory aspects of this recipe.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Prepare Ahead: The spice mixture can be prepared days ahead of time. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, sugar, thyme, cayenne, allspice, onion, garlic, and smoked paprika can all be combined in advance.
  2. Dry and Poke: Thoroughly dry chicken pieces with clean paper towels and use a fork to poke holes throughout all the pieces.
  1. Season: Rub all that aromatic goodness onto and under the chicken skin. That’s always my secret to well-seasoned poultry: get that rub under the skin – wear gloves if you’d like, but absolutely work the seasonings on top and underneath the skin throughout.
  2. Bake: Place chicken on large rimmed/foil-lined baking sheet, with space in between each piece. For smaller-sized chicken legs, bake about 40 minutes; for larger-sized chicken legs, bake about 50 minutes or until nicely browned.

How to Prepare in Advance

  • Marinate in advance: You can opt to marinade raw chicken for several hours, up to overnight, if you’d like to have it ready to bake after work the next day.
  • Freezer option: You can also fully prepare the chicken up until baking, and place raw chicken in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to several weeks. Thaw in fridge 2 nights prior to baking.
  • Seasonings: You can combine all the dry spices together in an airtight container and keep it in the pantry for several weeks prior to using.
  • Meal Prep: Make a large batch of jerk chicken and place in airtight meal-prep containers to keep in fridge or freezer.
jamaican jerk chicken in a baking dish.
This baked jerk chicken is perfect for meal prep, as it reheats beautifully.

What to Serve with Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Rice and Grains

  • We 100% recommend and love this Rice and Beans  recipe that’s both easy and tasty; it’s great with almost any meal. Even eaters who don’t think they’d like rice and beans surprise themselves by going back for seconds!
  • This Coconut Rice is aromatic and delicious with chicken. We love it with any stir fry, vegetable, or protein dish.
  • Quinoa with Black Beans has a Tex-Mex flair, but is so delicious with any chicken dish.

Vegetables

  • Mango Black Bean Salsa Dip. Good enough to eat with a spoon all by itself, but really refreshing next to jerk chicken.
  • Plantains are a delicious side option for jerk chicken! Their easygoing crispness offer the texture you crave.
  • Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash has the same cinnamon flavor profile and is the perfect pairing.

Drinks

  • Can’t resist including this island Mai Tai  cocktail; so good…in fact, it’s kind of always a good thing when this tropical cocktail shows up with your meal.
  • Big Batch Pineapple Margaritas Recipe – this fruity sweet cocktail pairs perfectly with the spicy kick of jerk chicken.


Commonly Asked Questions

What is jerk chicken in Jamaica?

Common throughout the Caribbean, jerk chicken often refers to a spicy grilled chicken dish. Our recipe can be used for grilling or baking.

What does Jamaican jerk chicken taste like?

With spices such as allspice and cumin, the flavor profile tends to be earthy, exotic, and slightly sweet with a bit of sugar in the mixture.

Is Jamaican jerk chicken healthy?

This dish is definitely on the healthy side, especially if you don’t eat the chicken skin. Because it’s grilled or baked and not fried, it doesn’t absorb much oil (plus, we use olive oil for the paste.)

Is jerk chicken good for meal prep and reheating?

Yes, this is a great recipe for meal prep. Make a large batch at the beginning of the week, along with easy rice and beans, to enjoy for several days.

What should I serve with Jamaican Jerk Chicken?

As mentioned above, we highly recommend rice and beans OR coconut rice, plantains, and this make-ahead mai tai!

Can I free this dish?

Though we don’t recommend freezing cooked jerk chicken, it’s definitely okay to freeze marinated raw chicken. Simply defrost in the fridge 2 nights prior to baking.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

jamaican jerk chicken in a baking dish.

Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

4.94 from 348 ratings
Try this Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe for a deliciously simple version of Caribbean style roast chicken. This super tender, flavorful jerk chicken will quickly become a dinner favorite. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F with rack on lower middle position.
    In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients to form a spice rub/paste mixture. Set aside.
  • Use paper towels to thoroughly dry chicken legs of excess moisture. Use fork to poke holes on all sides of chicken legs. Evenly spread the rub mixture underneath the skin of chicken legs – use clean hands to really push the mixture as far underneath skin as you can – as well as on top of skin.
  • Place chicken on large rimmed/foil-lined baking sheet, with space in between each piece. For smaller-sized chicken legs, bake about 40 minutes; for larger-sized chicken legs, bake about 50 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve immediately, with drippings from baking pan.

Notes

  • Jamaican jerk seasoning classically contains ground cinnamon. However, if you’re sensitive to cinnamon, feel free to start with 1/4 tsp the first time making this dish. 
  • This jerk chicken is delicious served alongside of this easy, super tasty Rice and Beans Recipe or you can make fluffy Jasmine Rice.
  • If you like this recipe, be sure to make extra dry spice rub to keep in pantry for easy future use – just add the olive oil only when you’re ready to use. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ❤️

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1g | Calories: 232kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 654mg | Potassium: 338mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 324IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: chicken, Main
Cuisine: Carribean, Jamaican
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose
Method: Bake, roast

More to Cook and Eat

  • Orange Chicken Recipe (How to Get it Crispy!) – our family and friends’ favorite crispy orange chicken is just SO much better when it’s homemade.
  • Chicken Shawarma Recipe – when our local shawarma restaurant closed down, we sought to recreate the chicken shawarma we loved; this recipe hits it out of the park!
  • Instant Pot Whole Chicken – never fear the whole chicken, as this simply cannot be easier! You’ll be rewarded with tender, juicy chicken that’s even better than store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  • Rogan Josh – the flavors of this rogan josh are spot on. Feel free to use lamb, beef, or chicken in this popular curry.

63 comments

    • Clea Carty
    • 5 stars

    This recipe was great but I felt it was missing something when I sampled the paste mixture. A tsp of garlic powder did the trick! It reminds me of the stew chicken I make every now and then. I think it’s the brown sugar because that is what is used to make stew chicken in the islands. I am from Trinidad.

        • chewoutloud

        That’s awesome, Clea! 🙂

        • Nyasha
        • 5 stars

        Nice recipe and great instructions! Jerk chicken instead of doing it by the outside grill.

            • chewoutloud

            Glad you like it, Nyasha!

            • Sam
            • 5 stars

            Very good! I did it with spatchcock chicken and made the suggested Rice and Beans. Cooked chicken @375 for 1 hr 25 min. Delicious!

                • chewoutloud

                Yay!!

                • Keith
                • 5 stars

                I love this recipe. I have made it countless times and everyone I’ve made it for is now making it regularly as well. Usually make it with beans and rice but trying a savory mashed sweet potato recipe today. Thank you for my new seat favorite recipe!

                    • chewoutloud

                    SO happy your eaters love this, Keith! 🙂 Your sweet potato pairing sounds great!

                    • Sarah
                    • 4 stars

                    This is good but really really spicy! We enjoy spicy food but wow! I will make this again just with a quarter of the cayenne pepper.

                        • chewoutloud

                        Thank you, Sarah! 🙂

                        • Theresa McDonald
                        • 5 stars

                        This is by far my favorite Jamaican jerk chicken recipe that I have ever made. It has just enough spice and sweetness and my entire family loves it. The only fair warning is that the cinnamon does come off strong if anyone out there is a cinnamon hater. I tend to burn the seasoning often in the oven or when i pang fry it. As an alternative I often use chicken thighs and boil them or sautee them to 90% cooked before throwing the marinade on the chicken and sticking it in the oven or quickly pan frying it.

                            • chewoutloud

                            Thank you so much, Theresa! 🙂

                            • Brenda
                            • 5 stars

                            This recipe is absolutely delicious! I have made it several times now and it’s super easy and comes out perfect every time. I use skinless boneless chicken thighs-no bones to contend with. I have a Jamaican friend and he tasted it and thought it was pretty darn good! Not as good as his Mom’s but he gave it a thumbs up.

                                • chewoutloud

                                So happy you loved this, Brenda! 🙂

                                • chef freya
                                • 5 stars

                                OMG!!! i was sooo impressed by this recipe! i am a certified chef… our culinary school had a LOT of jamaicans attending, who made some amazing- scrumptious dishes… but since my food allergy to MSG had gotten far more sensitive with age, i can no long eat hardly anything containing it… all of the other recipes i’ve tried just didn’t taste right… people kept telling me the taste i was missing in the dishes was the MSG- i argued that this wasn’t the case, because MSG was actually a rather difficult thing to come by on the island unless you ordered it, since it was banned years ago due to health risks it causes to children and elderly. LOL!… ANYWAY!… didn’t mean to babble!… my point is- after over 20 years, i’ve been able to sit down and enjoy a TRUE jerk chicken meal that tastes like it was cooked by one of my old friends and with NO migraine!!! YAY!!!!
                                i am so very impressed and can’t thank you enough for sharing this dish- your my hero!
                                cheers!!!

                                    • chewoutloud

                                    Aww, that is amazing, Freya!! I’m super happy you found and made and loved this dish 🙂 🙂 I totally relate to the msg thing… I can’t have even a little bit of it. Thanks for coming over to let us know you enjoyed this ♡

                                    • Jasmine M
                                    • 5 stars

                                    I have been wanting to make some Jamaican Jerk chicken for awhile. I am definitely going to be using this recipe soon and trying it out. I know it is going to be delicious!

                                        • chewoutloud

                                        Hope you love it, Jasmine!

                                        • kumamonjeng
                                        • 5 stars

                                        I am a meat eater and drumsticks seem cool to have! I am going to try this out during Chinese New year, I need to start practising few times before the party.

                                          • Heather
                                          • 5 stars

                                          I haven’t had Jamaican jerk chicken in years! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

                                            • Sue-Tanya Mchorgh
                                            • 5 stars

                                            Guess who’s from Jamaica? Me! I definitely approve of this recipe. It looks so yummy and full of flavour. Just the way I like it.

                                                • chewoutloud

                                                Yay, so happy you liked it! 🙂

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