This grilled jerk chicken is marinated overnight in a flavorful blend of spices and grilled for a taste of the Caribbean in your own backyard.
What is Jerk Chicken?
Jerk chicken is a dish originating in the Caribbean islands and is most often associated with Jamaica. The marinade is a blend of of spices and chilis and is most often served on chicken and pork that is marinated overnight and grilled.
Why This Recipe Works
This jerk chicken recipe is loaded with flavor from the homemade jerk marinade. And grilling the chicken over charcoal gives it the characteristic smokey char. The overnight marinade also makes it a great option for summer cookouts since you can prep it the night before.
The most prominent ingredients in authentic jerk chicken are allspice and chilis. Traditionally scotch bonnet peppers are used, but habanero can be substituted. Both are extremely hot, so be careful not to touch your face or eyes and thoroughly wash your hands, cutting board, and knife after preparing them.
How to Make Jerk Chicken Marinade
- Add all of the marinade ingredients but the vegetable oil to a food processor and blend for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Continue blending and slowly pour in the vegetable oil through the feed tube.
- Blend to a fairly smooth, loose paste.
- The marinade can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.
Marinate the Chicken
- Add the chicken to a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over top. Seal the bag and toss until all of the chicken is well coated. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Clean your grill grates and wipe them with vegetable oil. Then set up your grill for two-zone cooking with one side of high heat and one side of low heat. Place the chicken on the low heat side and cover the grill.
- Cook for around 15 minutes, then move the chicken to the high-heat side of the grill. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. I recommend using an instant-read digital thermometer to monitor the temperature during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
What to Serve With Grilled Jerk Chicken
Recipe Tips and FAQs
If you like more heat, you can easily increase the spice level by leaving the seeds in the peppers and increasing the amount of them. Use 2-3 for medium heat and 4-6 if you like it hot.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through. Smaller portions can be reheated in the microwave, but the skin tends to get chewy.
You can also bake jerk chicken in the oven. Heat your oven to 350ºF and place the chicken skin side up on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for around 30 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
Grilled Jerk Chicken Recipe
- 3 pounds Chicken leg quarters
- 4 green onions, chopped
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tablespoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Combine all marinade ingredients except the oil in a food processor and blend for 10 to 15 seconds. Continue blending for another 10 seconds and slowly pour in the oil through the feed tube until a smooth, loose paste forms.
- Add the chicken to a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over top, then seal the bag. Toss until the chicken is well coated and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Clean and oil your grill grates, then set up for two zone cooking. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill and close the lid. Cook for around 15 minutes.
- Move the chicken to the hot side of the grill and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. Allow the chicken to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.