Home Feature A taste of the Tropics: Caribbean “Jerk” Chicken

A taste of the Tropics: Caribbean “Jerk” Chicken

by Sofia Navarro
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Experience a culinary journey that encapsulates the vibrant spirit of the Caribbean islands with a mouthwatering recipe for Jerk Chicken. This iconic dish brings together a symphony of bold spices, fiery heat, and tender meat, creating a tantalizing explosion of flavors that transport your taste buds to sun-soaked shores and tropical breezes.

Jerk cuisine, deeply rooted in Caribbean culinary traditions, originated in Jamaica and has since become a beloved dish celebrated throughout the Caribbean and beyond. The name “jerk” is believed to have derived from the Spanish term “charqui,” referring to dried meat, or “jerky.” The indigenous Taino people and African slaves contributed to the development of this distinctive cooking style, which centers around a unique marinade and cooking technique.

At the heart of Jerk Chicken is the marinade, a robust blend of spices and ingredients that infuse the meat with its signature taste. The marinade typically includes a combination of scallions, thyme, allspice (pimento), Scotch bonnet peppers, ginger, garlic, and a variety of other aromatic seasonings. The key to achieving the authentic Jerk flavor is the balance between these ingredients, where the smoky sweetness of allspice and the fiery heat of Scotch bonnet peppers harmonize with the earthy undertones of thyme and the freshness of scallions.


  • 4-6 chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks, or a combination)
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (green onions)
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers (seeds removed for less heat)
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (white or apple cider)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a food processor, combine scallions, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, soy sauce, vegetable oil, vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Blend until a smooth marinade forms.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring each piece is thoroughly coated. For the best results, let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Preheat your grill or barbecue to medium-high heat.
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off.
  6. Grill the chicken for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) and the chicken is cooked through with a nicely charred exterior.
  7. Serve your succulent Jerk Chicken with traditional sides like rice and peas, fried plantains, or a fresh tropical salad.

Whether enjoyed with friends and family at a beachside cookout or savored in the comfort of your own home, Jerk Chicken is an experience that leaves an indelible mark on your palate and your heart.

TYT Newsroom

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