Jerk spice is a spicy hot mixture that is most commonly thought of as native to Jamaica – but there are nearly as many variations on the recipe, cooking techniques, and combinations as there are Caribbean islands. The only thing that many cooks can agree upon is that if there’s no heat, it’s not jerk. Check out these 9 recipes for jerk chicken that have that signature spicy-sweet heat that all jerk fans have come to love.
1. No-Fuss Jerk Chicken
This recipe gets its heat from Scotch bonnet peppers (you can substitute with habanero chiles as well) and includes whole allspice berries, thyme leaves, ginger, and soy sauce. Marinate overnight for the best flavor. Get the recipe here.
2. Jamaican Jerk Chicken
You can use this all-purpose Jamaican jerk chicken rub on any kind of meat, from chicken to pork to lamb to goat. Scallions, lime juice, soy, ground allspice, and light brown sugar amp up the sweetness. Get the recipe here.
3. Jerk Chicken Sandwiches
Curry powder and cumin differentiate this jerk chicken recipe which lasts for days in the fridge and really steps up your lunch game. Don’t hesitate to add in flavorful toppings to your sandwich like jalapenos, garlic aioli, or pickled vegetables to cut the heat. Get the recipe here.
4. Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken
This slow cooker jerk chicken is a real treat - throw everything in before you leave for work and you’ll come home to a homemade Jamaican meal that makes takeout sound like a joke. Get the recipe here.
5. Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Jerk Chicken
Tyler Florence’s jerk marinade has a number of ingredients but is well worth the effort. With a full head of garlic, you can be sure the flavors live up to the hype. Garnish with lime and parsley before serving for a hint of freshness. Get the recipe here.
6. Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Thighs with Homemade Mango Habanero Hot Sauce
Jerk rub pairs beautifully with this homemade habanero hot sauce that plays up the spicy-sweet nature of the jerk spice mixture. Bobby Flay includes onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne as well as ground ginger and cinnamon for a warm heat. Get the recipe here.
7. Paleo Jerk Chicken
One of the least complicated recipes for jerk chicken, this paleo version uses boneless, skinless chicken breasts and makes the most of the flavorful spice combo. Turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cumin, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil are all it takes to make this simple recipe. Get the recipe here.
8. Jerk Chicken Skewers
If you’re in a hurry, this jerk chicken recipe is for you. Combine Baron’s International Kitchen’s Jerk Sauce with bell peppers, onion, and cubed chicken breast and then grill the skewers until the chicken is cooked through. If you don’t have time to start from scratch, you can use Baron’s to make a homemade jerk chicken from start to finish in less than 45 minutes. Get the recipe here.
9. Tandoori-inspired Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
This marinade for jerk chicken wings combines the best of both cultures: the yogurt and oil in the mixture keep the chicken moist while cooking and also allow the marinade to double as a dipping sauce if you reserve some ahead of time. Get the recipe here.
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.