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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 dinner favorite. Perfect for meal prep.

Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Here’s a fun bit of jerk history: 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. [Aka, lazy but totally tasty.]

This easy jerk chicken recipe will result in extremely tender, tasty, smoky-ish chicken that can be made any busy weeknight. The jerk spice rub can be made weeks ahead of time and stored in your pantry for anytime use.

If that resonates with you, read on…

jamaican jerk chicken recipe
Boldly flavorful flavors – be sure your spices are fresh.

How to make jamaican jerk chicken [Prep Ahead]

We’re keeping things simple for all the crazy busy home cooks who need an easy way to liven up their same-o chicken routine. I’m talking about myself, but feel free to join the club.

All you’ll need here are dry spices and fresh chicken legs. Do be sure your dry/ground spice are fresh (always throw out older spices that have lost some aroma and flavor.)

Prepare Ahead: the spice mixture can be prepared days ahead of time: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, sugar, thyme, cayenne, allspice, onion, garlic, and smoked paprika. You can get away with regular paprika, but smoked paprika is easy to find at many grocery stores these days, and it provides that smoky flavor you’d otherwise miss.

Once you’ve combined the dry rub spices together, simply 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.

Option to marinate in advance: at this point, you can opt to marinade the chicken for several hours, up to overnight, if you’d like to have it ready to bake after work the next day. Otherwise, no marinade time is needed with this dish. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastically tasty and tender chicken dinner that’s amazing with this  Rice and Beans Recipe.

jamaican jerk chicken recipe
This baked jerk chicken is perfect for meal prep

What to serve with jamaican jerk chicken

  • We 100% recommend and love this Rice and Beans  recipe that’s both easy and tasty; it’s great with almost any meal.
  • This Coconut Rice is aromatic and delicious with chicken.
  • Mango Black Bean Salsa Dip. Good enough to eat with a spoon all by itself.
  • Plantains are a delicious side option.
  • Can’t resist including this island Mai Tai  cocktail; so good!

Common Questions and Answers:

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.

The recipe in action:

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Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

4.6 from 11 reviews

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
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 10 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 10 chicken legs
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 TB light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 heaping TB dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/41/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare: Preheat oven to 425F with rack on lower middle position. Use paper towels to thoroughly dry chicken legs of excess moisture. Use fork to poke holes on all sides of chicken legs. Set aside.
  2. Mix: In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients to form a spice rub/paste mixture. Evenly rub mixture underneath the skin of chicken legs (easiest to use clean hands to really push the mixture as far underneath skin as you can) as well as on top.
  3. Bake: Place chicken on large rimmed/foil-lined baking sheet, with space in between each piece. Bake about 40 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve immediately.

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 If you like this recipe, be sure to make extra dry spice rub to keep in pantry for easy future use (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

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 71
  • Sugar: 0.7 g
  • Sodium: 466.6 mg
  • Fat: 7.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.7 g
  • Fiber: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Category: main, chicken
  • Method: roast, bake
  • Cuisine: Jamaican, Carribean
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Caribbean Chicken

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Did you make this?

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68 comments

    • Brenda

    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

        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 ♡

            • Myrah Duque

            It sounds like a great recipe! I loved eating Jerk chicken when I visited Jamaica. But I don’t remember it having Cinnamon. Sounds good anyway! Thanks for sharing.

                • chewoutloud

                You’re welcome! 🙂

                • Jasmine M

                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

                    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

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

                        • Sue-Tanya Mchorgh

                        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! 🙂

                            • Ashley R

                            I am always looking for new ways to prepare chicken. This looks delicious.

                              • Eileen M Loya

                              My husband says I make the best chicken dinners, but the funny thing is, I don’t eat chicken! I might surprise him with your Jamaican Jerk Chicken. I am positive he’ll go nuts over it.

                                  • chewoutloud

                                  So funny, Eileen! Hope he loves this one!

                                  • Dan “Jay” Reyes

                                  This post makes me hungry! I’m salivating now 🙂 Thank you for sharing your recipe and cooking talent.

                                    • Kara Guppy

                                    I love jerk chicken although have never tried to make it myself. Looks easier than I thought

                                      • NT

                                      This turn out to be pretty good. But I would definitely not add cinnamon spice in this. It’s making it feel very off flavouring. But otherwise, it’s quite nice. I do find it a tad sweet, so I would reduce the sugar next time.

                                          • chewoutloud

                                          Thanks, NT! 🙂

                                          • Randi Gayewski

                                          This recipe calls for 1 tsp. ginger cinnamon and then 1 tsp. ginger. Did you mean 1 tsp. cinnamon and then 1 tsp. ginger? Thanks.

                                              • chewoutloud

                                              Yes, Randi! Updated, thank you 🙂

                                              • Lynette Copeland

                                              So it’s ginger,spice and ginger spice? What is ginger spice? Ive never heard of that before???

                                                  • chewoutloud

                                                  Updated. Thanks, Lynette!

                                                  • Rebecca Hill

                                                  This recipe was really good but I was confused when to add the olive oil. It was never mentioned in the directions althought it was in the ingredients. I am thinking I was supposed to mix it with the spices. Anyway i drizzled it over the chicken. I will definitely make this again!

                                                      • chewoutloud

                                                      Rebecca, you did it right 🙂 Yes, add the oil with the spices to form the spice paste mixture. Sooo happy you liked it! 🙂

                                                      • Suzette

                                                      This recipe is not Jamaican jerk chicken!!! First off the ingredients is not right plus it missing too many other key ingredients and Jamaicans DO NOT PUT CINNAMON ON JERK CHICKEN!!!
                                                      Sound more like a regular oven bake chicken…

                                                        • Jacqueline Lee

                                                        This was delicious! I accidentally read the ingredients wrong and added 2 TBS of All Spice and Smoked Paprika. I dug some out. It still came out awesome. I just added seasoned salt. I sprinkled it over the chicken before I rubbed the paste in. My kids loved it and we’ll definitely add it to our rotation since it was an easy meal. We paired it with rice and peas and it was a spicy, savory dinner. Thanks for this!

                                                          • Trinidad Durazo

                                                          Cooking it tonight, hopefully it turns out well on my smoker. Would love to know what kind of domestic wood compliments the recipe, giving hickory a shot.
                                                          Thank you for the great share, the rub smells amazing.

                                                              • Triston mason

                                                              Hickory will

                                                              • Amanda

                                                              I am cooking this as I type. I ended up ising day brown sugar instead because I didn’t see the light part lol

                                                                  • chewoutloud

                                                                  I think it’ll still turn out yummy! 🙂

                                                                  • NAMRASTAN

                                                                  Mmm, this looks good! I love spices and am glad that this recipe is simplified – that means that I might be able to make it too! Thanks!

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