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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

    • Clea Carty

    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! 🙂

        • Shalome

        I’m all about pushing the easy button for cooking, but some things just take time. Jerk chicken is one of those things.

        I totally applaud the effort in creating a quck version of this iconic food, but it just didn’t smell or taste like jerk chicken, for several reasons. The seasoning is off, the chicken comes out too wet, and the clove was way over powering. In my opinion, take the time to marinate in fresh herbs and aromatics to get the right flavors for Jerk chicken, and put it on the grill. I think any aromatic wood (probably pecan) would do, since pimento doesn’t grow everywhere and isn’t something I can run to the store to pick up.

        This wasn’t bad, it just is NOT Jerk Chicken.

            • chewoutloud

            Sorry this didn’t work out for you, but hopefully you will find another recipe here that you love! 🙂

            • Nyasha

            Nice recipe and great instructions! Jerk chicken took me time to do and instead of doing it by the outside grill, I found a secret way to do it in the oven. You can read it and comment here: http://nyamwithny.com/nyam-recipes-jerk-chicken/
            Can’t believe it took so long hahaha! I’ll definitely try your recipe next!

                • chewoutloud

                Glad you like it, Nyasha!

                • Sam

                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

                    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

                        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

                            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! 🙂

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