Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
This Grilled Jerk Chicken recipe is fiery, smoky, hot, and incredibly fragrant, and a simple take on a classic Jamaican dish.
Ok, so I can’t promise that this is 100% authentic Grandma-style jerk chicken, but I still think it is pretty darn tasty! I grew up in a tiny town of 5,000 people is estearn Quebec, so Carribean, let alone international, cuisine was not aplenty when I was a kid. It was not until I went away to university that I really began to open my culinary palette trying everything from Greek to Thai to Indian and Carribean food. To this day I still remember my first time visiting a Carribean restaurant and eating jerk chicken. I had (clearly) never tried it before but it was love at first bite; the blend of fragrant, fiery and smoky flavours made me an instant fan of jerk chicken.
The term jerk refers to a spice rub made of two primary ingredients; all spice berries and scotch bonnet peppers. Jerk is a dish that is common in many areas of the Carribean but is best known for its roots in Jamaican cuisine. Classic jerk chicken is grilled over pimento wood, which comes from the tree that also produces allspice berries, and calls for bone-in, skin-on cuts of chicken as they provide the deepest and richest flavours. Contrary to popular belief, these fattier and richer cuts of meat are actually incredibly nutritious, not to be feared, and should be eaten more frequently. Cuts such as legs, thighs, and wings, are rich in fat-soluble vitamins, and more nutrient dense than the leaner chicken breast, and arguably better tasting too. To ensure your chicken is nutrient dense opt for the best quality chicken you can find. I source of a lot my chicken from local farms, or TruLocal.ca for 100% local, free run, antibiotic free and hormone free meats. (Be sure to use the promo code redeats for 10% off your first order!)
This Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken is a really fun BBQ recipe, or a tasty meal prep idea that you can use for lunches and dinners alike.
Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken
I used a mixture of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and drumsticks, but full legs would work just as well. If you like things spicy be sure to add 2 scotch bonnets or habaneros, if you are unsure or like things a little milder, just start with one and work your way up.
Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
- 8 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 2.5lbs)
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 scallions, ends removed and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 scotch bonnets or habanero peppers*, stem and seeds removed
- 1 1/2 tsp. all spice, ground
- 1/2 tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 lime, juiced
- Olive oil, for the grill
- Scallions and limes to serve
- Combine all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in a blender or food processor and blend on high until a thick marinade forms.
- Place chicken pieces into a large bowl or plastic bag, cover with marinade and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1-2 hours, preferably overnight. (The longer you leave the chicken to marinade, the more it will take on the flavours.)
- When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking. (Bringing it to room temperature helps for an even cooking process.)
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat, and lightly brush with oil to help chicken from sticking to the grill.
- Place the chicken, skin-side down, on the grill over a medium heat and cook for 25 to 35 minutes, turning often, until cooked through (internal temperature of 165°F).
- Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.
- Dress chicken with scallions and extra lime wedges to serve.
*Note: Scotch bonnet peppers are incredibly hot, so handle them with care, and be sure to wash your hands after working with them.