Chicken just got upgraded to first class.
It’s all juicy, fiery, and spiced up with the most incredible homemade jerk sauce you’ve ever tasted.
What makes this the quintessential jerk chicken recipe is a combination of potent, fresh spices coupled with crisp-skinned chicken quarters. It’s bold, flavorful and a breath of fresh summer air.
And, did I mention, dead simple to make? You can just as easily bake the chicken or barbecue if you want to impart some smoky flavor. If I were going camping, I’d definitely bring a bag of this along and throw it over some live fire.
About this Recipe
We are using whole spices to make this jerk chicken fabulous. When you grind spices yourself, you are rewarded tenfold with bolder, more potent flavor. With a spice grinder (I use a dedicated coffee grinder for spices only), you can create powerful spice blends in minutes.
DIY Jamaican Jerk Sauce & Spice Blend
Jerk sauce is a combination of earthy, fruity, spicy flavors coming together beautifully with aromatics like green onion and garlic. It’s traditional to include a scotch bonnet chile or two and soy sauce.
For the spice blend, you will need: dried thyme, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, and Chinese Five Spice powder, and I’m going to suggest you try coconut aminos instead of soy sauce because the flavor is naturally sweet-n-salty and complimentary to the Caribbean vibe this chicken has goin on.
Whole allspice berries are essential. It’s a pretty potent spice that imparts a woodsy, pine-like flavor that is of the earth.
Nutmeg, too. Buy your nutmeg whole. Once ground, nutmeg becomes blander than a piece of cardboard within months. On the other hand, whole nutmeg will last for years!
Ingredient Tip: Use a microplane over a sheet of wax paper to easily transfer grated nutmeg.
Chinese 5-spice, freshly ground black pepper, and dried thyme round out the experience that makes this jerk chicken such a treat.
Make Ahead Tip: Double the amount of each spice and set half aside for later to season shrimp, beef, or even vegetables! Just be sure to use within 1-2 weeks for best results.
Make Ahead and Storage
You can store the chicken with the marinade for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Once the chicken is cooked, it makes for convenient leftovers (that you actually look forward to eating). Leftover chicken can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator and reheated in the microwave.
If you can find chicken quarters, they are a great size for individual serving, but you could use any bone-in, skin-on part of the chicken. If using smaller pieces of the chicken, I recommend using an internal thermometer to gauge when the chicken is done, rather than timing everything to the 1 hour mark.
Since chicken breasts are prone to drying out, I’d love to use those in the slow cooker for shredded jerk chicken sandwiches. Stay tuned for that recipe.
When baking the chicken, you’ll note that the pan is positively brimming with fond (the yum yums) which is why I love the idea of a side of rice or beans. You can totally pour those pan juices over a pot of beans.
Jerk Chicken Sides:
- Fresh or Grilled Pineapple
- Coconut Rice
- Black or Red Beans
- Roasted Garlic Potatoes
- Fried Plantains
- Mango Salsa
Are your taste buds ready for a wild ride of sweet and spicy deliciousness? Yes. I thought so.
Fiery and Juicy Jerk Chicken
- 1 medium white onion roughly chopped
- 3 medium scallions roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1-2 Scotch bonnet chiles, de-stemmed and chopped or substitute habenero, jalapeno, or serrano pepper*
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tbsp allspice berries freshly ground
- 1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup coconut aminos or substitute tamari or shoyu
- 10 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken quarters or thighs and drumsticks mixed
- 2 tbsp olive oil for coating the baking trays
- In a food processor, place the onion, scallions, peppers, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and salt. Process on high while adding the coconut aminos in a steady stream to form a thick, mostly smooth puree.
- Place the chicken in a large bag or bowl and coat with the puree. Cover and marinade for 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven or grill to 400°F. Coat 2 sheet trays with olive oil. Spread the chicken with the marinade onto the trays, skin-side face up. If using chicken quarters, bake for 1 hour or until an internal thermometer registers 165°F in the center of the meat. Finish under the broiler for extra crispy, golden brown skin, about 5 minutes.
- Serve the chicken while hot and season with salt to taste. Reserve the pan drippings as a sauce to spoon over rice, yes please.
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