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This easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken is spicy, slightly sweet, and irresistibly aromatic thanks to that signature jerk marinade with thyme, nutmeg, and allspice. Whether you grill it or bake it in the oven, you’re going to flip for this tender, juicy chicken and its warm island vibes.

jamaican jerk chicken on a sheet pan

Why You’ll Love This Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe

  • Jerk Chicken for Every Palate. To make this Jamaican jerk chicken recipe more accessible, I’ve swapped the usual Scotch bonnet peppers for jalapeños, a swap I also made in this Jamaican Curry Chicken recipe. Jalapeños are easier to find and they’re milder than Scotch bonnets, while still packing some punch. You can easily adapt this recipe by using a hotter pepper or even using less jalapeño for a milder jerk chicken.
  • Two Cooking Options. When it’s warm outside, fire up your grill and make grilled jerk chicken. For the rest of the year, make baked jerk chicken in the oven. Like my BBQ Chicken Marinade, both options are easy and delicious!
  • Tender, Juicy Chicken. The Jamaican jerk chicken marinade practically guarantees that your chicken will turn out supremely tender and juicy. No dry chicken here! (When you’re not in the mood for something spicy, try my Chicken Thigh Marinade or traditional Chicken Marinade.)
  • So Versatile. There are endless ways to serve this easy jerk chicken recipe, from tucking it into tortillas for tacos (hello, Jerk Chicken Tacos!) or slicing it up and adding it to a salad.
authentic Jamaican jerk chicken topped with green onions

How to Make Jamaican Jerk Chicken

The Ingredients

  • Chicken. You can use bone-in, skin on chicken pieces or boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Feel free to use wings or legs, too—use the cooking instructions from my Baked Chicken Legs and Oven Baked Chicken Wings.
  • Green Onions. Some are pureed into the marinade and the rest is used for garnish.
  • Garlic. Always essential.
  • Jalapeño Peppers. Use more, use less, or swap in Scotch bonnet peppers for authentic Jamaican jerk chicken—feel free to customize to your own tastes.
  • Lime Juice. Fresh lime juice hasn’t had the chance to oxidize, so it has a much more vibrant flavor than bottled. Which is to say: use juice from fresh limes!
  • Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Brown sugar for sweetness, then dried thyme, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground ginger, and black pepper for warmth, earthiness, and that signature jerk flavor.

The Directions

  1. Prepare the Chicken. Poke holes in the chicken to allow maximum marinade penetration.
Jamaican jerk marinade ingredients in food processor
  1. Make the Marinade. Blend the ingredients in a food processor.
Jamaican jerk marinade in food processor bowl
  1. Blend. Process the marinade until it’s mostly smooth (a little bit of texture is fine).
chicken with jerk marinade in plastic bag
  1. Marinate. Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. 
Jamaican jerk chicken on pan before baking
  1. Remove from Fridge. When ready to cook, let the chicken come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Thermometer inserted into Jamaican jerk chicken
  1. Cook. Follow the instructions for grilling or baking and cook until the chicken registers 155 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
baked Jamaican jerk chicken on pan
  1. Rest and Serve. Let the Jamaican jerk chicken rest for at least 5 minutes, then garnish with the green onions and ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover Jamaican jerk chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm chicken in the oven at 350 degrees F, or heat in the microwave. To keep the chicken moist in the oven, you can cover it with foil in a baking dish and add a splash of broth or water.
  • To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.

Meal Prep Tip

You can make the jerk chicken marinade up to 2 days in advance. Another option is to double or triple the marinade and store the extra in the freezer. Thaw it and use it whenever you want to make jerk chicken for dinner!

Leftover Ideas

Serve leftovers over grits (use the recipe from my Shrimp and Grits), in a meal bowl, or in a salad. It would be fantastic in this BBQ Chicken Salad instead of the barbecue chicken!

What to Serve with Jamaican Jerk Chicken

best Jamaican jerk chicken on pan

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t Over-Marinate the Chicken. More is not better! There is a certain point where the marinade goes from making the chicken tender to breaking down the proteins and making it mushy. If your plans change and you can’t cook the chicken after marinating it overnight, you can freeze it for up to 2 months.
  • Use Gloves to Handle the Peppers. YES jalapeños are mild and you don’t always need gloves to cut them, but once in a while you get an especially hot one. For those times, you’ll be glad you wore gloves! Sometimes you don’t realize you have capsaicin on your hands until you rub your eye later. (Ask me how I know.)
  • Invest in a Meat Thermometer. Game! Changer! It really is the best way to know precisely when your chicken is done cooking. I use it for everything from Thanksgiving Turkey to Smoked Salmon, but it’s especially useful with chicken breasts, which go rubbery and dry when overcooked.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

5 from 6 votes
This easy Jamaican jerk chicken is full of authentic flavor! Tender and juicy thanks to that signature marinade, you can grill it or bake it!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 5 hours

Servings: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 5 to 6 pounds bone-in, skin on chicken pieces or 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 4 green onions
  • 6 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers seeded and cut into a few big pieces
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • If using bone-in pieces, with a sharp knife poke a few holes in the chicken so the marinade can better penetrate. If using boneless, pound any chicken breasts into an even thickness; with the tines of a fork poke holes in the chicken. Pat the chicken dry, then place in a ziptop bag, a large bowl, or a baking dish sized to hold the chicken snugly.
  • Cut off half of the dark parts of the green onion, finely chop, and set aside for serving (I put them in a small bowl or ziptop baggie in the refrigerator). Chop the remaining white and dark green parts into 1-inch pieces, then place in a mini food processor or high speed blender.
  • To the food processor, add the garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, oil, brown sugar, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt, and black pepper. Blitz to combine (it’s OK if the mixture isn’t perfectly smooth).
  • Pour the mixture over the chicken, then turn the chicken to coat it evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, let the chicken come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  • TO GRILL THE CHICKEN. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat (350°F to 375°F). Clean and oil the grates. Grill the chicken pieces skin-side down (for bone-in) or smooth/presentation side down (for boneless) for 25 to 35 minutes (for bone-in) or 8 to 12 minutes (for boneless), turning halfway through. Chicken is considered done at 165°F. I like to remove chicken from the grill at 155-160°F and allow it to finish cooking while resting. Discard the excess marinade.
  • TO BAKE THE CHICKEN. Heat your oven to 375°F. Bake the chicken for 25 to 45 minutes (for bone-in—note the time varies a lot depending upon the size of your pieces) or 15 to 25 minutes (for boneless), or until the chicken is cooked through (it should register 155°F on an instant read thermometer; the temperature will rise as it rests). Discard the excess marinade.
  • Place the chicken on a plate and let rest for at least 5 minutes (resting is mandatory!). Sprinkle with the reserved green onions and enjoy hot.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover Jamaican jerk chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm chicken in the oven at 350 degrees F, or heat in the microwave. To keep the chicken moist in the oven, you can cover it with foil in a baking dish and add a splash of broth or water.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 612kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 64gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 194mgPotassium: 756mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 408IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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8 Comments

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    1. Hi Traci, you can use more, use less, or swap in Scotch bonnet peppers for authentic Jamaican jerk chicken—feel free to customize to your own tastes. Enjoy!

  1. WOW! I love this recipe. It has just enough spice and sweetness and my entire family loves it. Usually I make it with beans and rice but I’m trying a savory mashed sweet potato recipe today.5 stars

  2. This is absolutely amazing! I was afraid of the heat but it wasn’t bad at all, just a nice kick. The only adjustment that I made was I added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar instead of 1 and followed the rest as you stated. Served it over steam rice and side veggies. YUM!5 stars

  3. Fantastic flavor with just the right spice/heat! Marinated in a bag with chicken breasts and cooked on a grill low and slow. Can’t wait to make it again and want to try extra firm tofu for my vegetarian friends!5 stars