This Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken is a spicy and flavorful dish that will transport you directly to the Caribbean. Made with a blend of spices and a juicy marinade, this iconic cultural dish is grilled to perfection for a delicious meal.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken is a classic island dish that is packed with flavor. With bold flavors and a warming level of heat, this dinner idea is super fun to make and tastes even better.
Warm spices are definitely my favorite to use when seasoning chicken, so this cultural recipe is a great one to try if you haven’t already. Caribbean cooking is known for its blend of multicultural flavors, including African, European, Indian, Asian, and more.
So, it’s no surprise that this dish is spicy, smoky, and aromatic. It’s also Jamaica’s most well-known dish.
This grilled version offers an easy way to bring the flavors of the island to your home. All you have to do is coat your chicken in the seasoning mixture, let it marinate, and then get it on the grill.
In this recipe, I’m using a whole chicken so you’ll have some delicious Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken on hand for days. Of course, you can always choose to go with a cut of your choice – thighs, drumsticks, chicken breasts, etc. – and either grill it the same as this recipe or even oven-roast it.
The key is to get a slightly charred and crispy cook on your chicken to get that signature smokiness. Paired with some fresh corn or a fresh garden recipe like my Garden Fresh Roasted Tomato Topper, Greek Couscous Salad with Homemade Dressing, or Quick & Easy Garden Cucumber Salad, this is an out-of-this-world meal to enjoy.
If you’re not a huge fan of chicken, I still urge you to try this recipe. It might just change your mind! However, this method of cooking can be applied to pretty much any meat, including pork and shrimp.
What is jerk chicken?
With such an iconic cultural dish, it’s worth noting the origins and history! The term “jerk” actually refers to the spice blend used to marinate and flavor the chicken before grilling or roasting it.
Jerk seasoning is traditionally made with a combination of spices such as allspice, thyme, chili pepper, garlic, ginger, and others. These spices give it that unique flavor profile that pairs perfectly with the smokiness that comes from the way it is cooked.
This classic dish has its roots in Africa and was originally developed by the indigenous Taíno people of Jamaica. Later, slaves that were brought to the island by colonial powers adopted the cooking method and further developed the chicken dish into the spicy, iconic meal that it is today.
In Jamaica, Jerk Chicken is paired with a variety of sides such as rice cooked with red kidney beans, roasted or grilled vegetables, fried plantains, and a cooling dipping sauce. Today, you can find that people often enjoy this dish at outdoor barbecues and family gatherings, which is the perfect occasion to make this recipe in your own home – no matter where you are.
How to Make the Best Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
To make the best Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken, let the chicken marinate overnight. You want your seasoning mix to have time to really soak into the meat.
I’ve listed all the spices I chose to use in the recipe below, but you can also easily find pre-made spice blends for Jamaican Jerk Seasonings in specialty grocery stores. If you find that you’re a fan of this recipe, you’ll definitely want to keep that on hand.