The Best Jerk Recipe

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - March 4, 2016

How do you make jerk chicken?

There are few dishes in the Caribbean that really define an island, define a country like jerk chicken.

With its peppery, tangy flavor, Jamaica’s often spiciest dish is a bit like the island itself: bold, brash and full of vibrance.

It’s a staple of Jamaican life, whether you’re eating at a top jerk eatery like Scotchie’s in Montego Bay or sampling ultra-local fare at a streetside smoker. And the best jerk recipe is always a closely-guarded secret, handed down for generations and kept confidential among a chosen few.

But you don’t have to be in Jamaica to try it. And you don’t have to know a secret recipe to make it.

So how do you prepare it? It’s not as hard as you might think, and we’re here to help.

Here is the best jerk recipe for an easy-to-make Jamaican signature.

Jerk recipe

This way of cooking has invaded restaurants and cafés worldwide, adding a hint of Jamaica to cocktail parties and backyard cookouts. It’s a faster, easier way to make terrific jerk chicken, a recipe for a moment of Jamaica.

Just about any meat can be “jerked,” but the real secret is in the marinade, a truly Jamaican blend of spices and seasonings.


One dash of ground nutmeg

One dash of mace

One pinch of salt

One pinch of black pepper

Two teaspoons of ground Jamaican pimento

Two cups of chopped green onions

Two onions

Two hot Scotch Bonnet peppers

Two tbsp vegetable oil


Finely chop onions, peppers, and green onions. Blend all ingredients (preferably in a blender or food processor), pour mixture on chicken, pork, fish or beef and let marinate overnight (or at least for two hours).

Grill meat slowly over hot coals (although of course smoking over pimento wood is the ideal way if possible) until cooked.

This jerk chicken recipe yields 12 servings.

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