Jerk Chicken

How to make jerk chicken! Chicken breasts are marinated in a spicy pepper-filled marinade then grilled to tender, juicy perfection!

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Jerk chicken doesn’t have to only be restaurant food; you can make spicy, dark, and rich-tasting jerk chicken at home really easily, with the spice level adjusted to your liking.

For more great chicken recipes, why not make this recipe for Lemon Garlic Chicken? Or learn How to Spatchcock a Chicken instead?

jerk chicken on a plate

Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken is one of those recipes that has a massive list of ingredients, but is in fact SO easy to make! All of those ingredients go into a food processor (excepting the chicken) and then you marinate your chicken in it, then cook.

For a more complex and authentic Jerk chicken, make sure to check out Imma at African Bites, she has an amazing recipe that uses jerk chicken seasoning and pineapple juice in her marinade, which sounds amazing!

Here in Canada it can be REALLY hard to find the authentic peppers needed for this recipe, (never mind the grocery supply issues in 2020 and 2021) so we have to substitute as needed. I love jalapenos in everything and they work well in this recipe.

ingredients for jerk chicken

Jerk Chicken Ingredients

Make sure you look at the recipe card at the very bottom for the exact amounts so that you know exactly what to buy for this recipe.

• Green onions

• Onion

• Habanero or jalapeno peppers

• Soy sauce

• Distilled white vinegar

• Vegetable oil

• Brown sugar

• Fresh thyme

• ground cloves

• nutmeg

• Allspice

• Cinnamon

• Lime juice

• Minced garlic

• Chicken breasts (skinless & boneless)

jerk chicken marinade ingredients in a food processor

How To Make Jerk Chicken

• In a food processor or blender, combine the green onions, onion, Habanero or jalapeno pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, vegetable oil, lime juice, brown sugar, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, and Allspice. Mix for about 15 seconds.

• Place the chicken in a medium bowl and coat with the marinade

• Refrigerate for 4 hours, or up to overnight

• Preheat your grill or BBQ, lightly oil the grate and cook until the chicken registers at least 160 Fahrenheit

jerk chicken marinating

How To Control The Heat Level Of Your Jerk Chicken

If there is one thing that everyone knows about jerk chicken, it’s that it should be really spicy.

The spice in jerk chicken primarily comes from the intensity of Scotch bonnet peppers. These fiery, exceedingly spicy chilies can range all the way up to 350000 Scoville units,  and they have a really distinctive fruity flavor to them.

However, as they are a little bit harder to find in the rest of the world outside of the Caribbean, they are very similar to Habanero peppers and thus can be substituted quite well.

If you find yourself struggling with the heat intensity of the chilies in this recipe, feel free to dial it back a little bit, or even swap to some milder chilies like Jalapeno instead, though that will definitely have a bit of a different flavor.

There is also a slightly different “spiciness” in this recipe that doesn’t come from the chilies: the piquancy of the different spice blends.

The use of Allspice and nutmeg together, alongside some ground cloves, actually does create a slightly spicy tingle that is almost reminiscent of the spice from chilies peppers, so definitely do not skip them in this recipe.

jerk chicken breast on a platter with limes

How To Keep Your Chicken Juicy

Everyone knows that trying to keep chicken juicy while cooking can feel like an absolutely impossible task. It is just so easy to accidentally overcook it without realizing it.

The trick to keep your jerk chicken juicy is to carefully watch the temperature as you cook using an instant-read thermometer.

You want to pull your chicken breast off of the grill once the internal temperature registers 160 Fahrenheit. 165 is the actual temperature that is typically safe for consumption, but the carry-over heat will take the chicken the rest of the way. Pulling it nice and early will keep it at a perfectly juicy and tender, as well as completely safe, 165 Fahrenheit.

You could also not use chicken breasts at all and instead use some chicken thighs or drumsticks instead! If you do this, feel free to keep cooking it even longer, taking the meat all the way to at least 185 Fahrenheit.

This will let the tougher thigh and leg meat break down and turn into that delicious barbeque pulled pork-esque deliciousness that goes really well with jerk seasonings.

Looking for more delicious Chicken recipes? Try these out:

Chicken Paprikash

Basic Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

Shredded Chicken Tacos




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How to make jerk chicken! Chicken breasts are marinated in a spicy pepper-filled marinade then grilled to tender, juicy perfection!

Jerk Chicken

How to make jerk chicken! Chicken breasts are marinated in a spicy pepper-filled marinade then grilled to tender, juicy perfection!
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Main Course
Karlynn Johnston


  • 4 large chicken breasts skinless, boneless
  • 1 lime cut into edges


  • 6 green onions chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3-4 habanero peppers (or jalapeno if desired) seeds and membranes removed
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic


  • In a food processor or blender, combine the marinade ingredients. Pulse in the food processor until it is a chunky marinade. Reserve 1/2 cup aside and place in the fridge.
  • Place the chicken breasts in a medium bowl and pour the marinade over top. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight for the best results.
  • Lightly oil the grill grate on your grill or BBQ. Preheat to a high temperature. Place the chicken on the grill and cook until it reaches an internal temperature or 165°F for chicken breast or 185°F for dark meat.
  • While grilling, brush with the extra marinade for extra flavor, cooking the chunks of peppers etc on top of the chicken like shown. Remove, plate, and serve with lime wedges.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 1349kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 214g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 579mg, Sodium: 10799mg, Potassium: 4203mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 34g, Vitamin A: 1018IU, Vitamin C: 44mg, Calcium: 228mg, Iron: 9mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Gina DeMarco says

    This looks good, but I don’t have a grill or bbq (I live in an apartment complex who doesn’t allow it). Can this be made in the oven? If so, what temperature and how long do you cook it for?5 stars

    • Tom says

      use the broiler to simulate the grill. get close

      it should be fine

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