We deserve a Caribbean vacation. The inbox is too full, the weekend too short, and the winter too long. The only reasonable remedy is to toss our bikinis and blenders into a duffle bag and make like a (palm) tree for the land of steel drums and rum. Or just make a big batch of these Pineapple Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Tacos!
I realize I have small cause for complaint, since I still have (faint) tan lines from our trip to Kauai (follow my instagram feed for sunshine-soaked pics), but I’m longing for warm sands and island eats just the same. Since, jumping on the next plane to Jamaica isn’t in the realm of immediate possibility, I’m satiating my taste for the tropics with today’s Caribbean-inspired recipe for pineapple slow cooker jerk chicken tacos.
Variations on Jerk Chicken Recipes
Aromatic, spicy, and super juicy, traditional Jamaican jerk chicken is time-consuming and involves whole-spice grinding and wood-fire roasting. Because we need a beach escape—and dinner—ASAP, I’ve taken its essential flavors and adapted them to create an accessible, slow cooker jerk chicken recipe that’s perfect for weeknight dinner.
While working to develop this slow cooker jerk chicken, I found a large variation in traditional jerk chicken recipes. Almost all of them, however, had a few key ingredients in common:
- allspice berries
- Scotch bonnet peppers
- green onions, and
- fresh ginger.
To keep today’s crock pot jerk chicken recipe as approachable as possible, I swapped out the whole spices for ground and traded the Scotch bonnet peppers for jalapenos, which are a bit milder and easier to find, too.
The canned pineapple chunks are this cook’s exercise of her kitchen liberty. Pineapple (and anything canned) isn’t traditional to jerk chicken, but I love the way its sweet flavor contrasts with the warm spices, as well as its tropical flair. Plus, the pineapple juice doubles as a cooking liquid for the chicken.
To make the crock pot jerk chicken recipe, I simply placed chicken thighs in my slower cooker, gave them a massage with the spice mix, then scattered the other ingredients over the top. I picked chicken thighs over breasts, as they have more inherent flavor and can withstand hours in the slow cooker without becoming dry. No precooking of any ingredient is required—the slow cooker does all the work. This is weeknight dinner at its finest.
Serving Suggestions for Jerk Chicken
I served the jerk chicken with pineapple as a taco filling, topped with a bit of shredded red cabbage, lime juice, and scandalously non-traditional but unquestionably scrumptious feta cheese. The leftovers we enjoyed with beans and rice. I bet this slow cooker jerk chicken would be stellar served with Amy’s pineapple and coconut rice.
More Slow Cooker Recipes for Tacos
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Slow Cooker Asian Pulled Pork Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
- Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Pulled Pork Tacos
Cue the drums, fire up the blender, and let’s take a mini vacation with pineapple jerk chicken tacos. Bikini is optional. Rum and reggae are encouraged.
Pineapple Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Tacos
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds skinless chicken thighs boneless, trimmed of excess fat
- 4 green onions chopped, white and green parts separated
- 6 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 jalapeño peppers with seeds, diced
- 20 ounces pineapple chunks unsweetened, in their juices
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- corn tortillas
- red cabbage Shredded
- crumbled feta cheese
- lime wedges
- Prepare the rub: In a small bowl, stir together the thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, black pepper, and salt. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, then mix to form a paste.
- Place the chicken thighs in a 6-quart slow cooker. Rub the spice paste over the top of each. Sprinkle in the white parts of the green onions (reserve the green tops for serving), garlic, and jalapeños. Pour the diced pineapple in its juice evenly over the top, then the white vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and shred. Remove the pineapple chunks with slotted spoon and set aside. Transfer the remaining cooking liquid to a wide saucepan and heat over medium high, stirring often, until thickened and reduced by half, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken and reserved pineapple, coating with the reduced glaze. Serve the filling as tacos, topped with reserved green onion tops, red cabbage, feta, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
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