The best Jamaican jerk chicken

The tastiest jerk chicken breasts

If you haven’t made jerk chicken before I suggest you get busy with it as soon as possible. It’s packed with the most amazing flavours imaginable and it’s a carnival in your mouth. The spices give warm depth and the chilli adds heat. This is the kind of dish that works well for a weeknight supper, but also one you could whip out when you entertain.

The tastiest jerk chicken breasts

I’m sure every jerk chicken recipe tastes great, and I’m not saying this is the best ever jerk chicken recipe (although it might be), it’s a case of looking at the classic spice and aromatics that go into the dish and then modifying to your own taste.

I have used a lot of garlic and ginger because I love how they add a punch to the chicken, but I’ve left it quite mild from a chilli perspective because I don’t like abrasive heat. I ground all the spices freshly and it is probably the most predominant flavour in the mix, but the hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar really add so much value. I used dark muscovado sugar and liked how the molasses flavours really worked here. 

The tastiest jerk chicken breasts

It’s important to marinate the chicken overnight. This makes a world of difference with the spices seeping through the flesh. I’ve kept my recipe quite mild and only used one jalapeño chilli (seeds in), but if you like things more fiery, add another or use a scotch bonnet or habanero instead.

The tastiest jerk chicken breasts

Cook’s notes – I like to give the chicken a quick fry before they go in the roasting pan to render some of the fat and to crisp up the skin. This is not entirely necessary and if you would prefer to skip this step and go straight to the roasting stage. Your dish will be a little fattier though. Adjust the time up to ensure the chicken is cooked through. Use a separate pan to brown the meat in. The bits of onion and garlic that might cling to the chicken from the marinade will blacken the pan quickly.

I like to serve this with a mix of brown and wild rice. The brown rice has a nutty flavour and is healthier, and the wild rice gives it a nice texture. It’s the perfect side to soak up all those delicious juices.

Oh, and top tip, if your thyme is looking a little dry and old, dip it into boiling water for 3 seconds to totally rejuvenate it. 

wild and brown rice for jerk chicken

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Recipe – feeds 4

The tastiest jerk chicken

Print Recipe
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes


  • 8 free-range chicken thighs– bone in and skin on
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Jerk marinade

  • 2 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 6 cm ginger minced
  • 4-6 sprigs thyme
  • 8 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 limes- juiced
  • 1 Tbsp demarara / muscavado sugar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 jalapeno chilli finely chopped
  • 1 shallot or half a brown onion finely chopped


  • Make this the day before
  • Place the chicken thighs into a large Ziploc bag and mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Pour this over the chicken in the bag and massage it all together until the chicken is well coated.
  • Store in the fridge overnight, flipping the bag over when / if you remember to do this.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C and get your rice on the go.
  • Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan, remove 4 thighs and shake off as much of the marinade as possible. Fry the skin side down until golden, flip and lightly brown the other side.
  • Wipe the pan down if it has burned bits on the bottom and repeat this for the remaining 4 thighs.
  • In a large casserole dish with a lid (or a roasting tray with foil) drizzle over the Worcestershire sauce. Place the chicken pieces on top. Pour over the marinade from the bag and spread it evenly over the chicken. Pace in the hot oven and roast with the lid/foil on for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and roast for a further 10-15 minutes.
  • Chicken is cooked when the internal temperature is 75C / 165F.
  • Serve with rice which you can cook while the chicken is roasting. I love a combination of wild and brown rice.
Servings: 4



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  1. Ziska Baumgarten says:

    Your list of ingredients say chicken breast (skin on, bone in) but in your instructions you mention chicken thighs. The chicken pieces on the photographs also look like thighs.

  2. Yip, I made a mistake. Thank you so much for pointing that out to me.

  3. sho, this looks incredible. Always looking for tasty new recipes so keen to give this a go 🙂 YUM

  4. Where does one find Jerk marinade?

  5. and really, demarara / muscavado sugar??????? I luv your blog but thats just pure bs pretentiousness

  6. Debbie Kilian says:

    Wickets – don’t make it if you don’t know what Demerara sugar is…. It’s certainly not pretentious of Sam …
    Really …. Move on !!!

  7. Annememde Waard says:

    Wow!!! Looks yummy and comforting! Can’t wait to try it!!!
    Demarara/muscavado suger is available almost everywhere and is sure to make a difference to the dish.
    Think if you can’t say anything nice, just don’t write on the blog. Lots of us loving the blog and comments like above spoils the fun.

  8. Hi Wickets, was it really necessary for you to insult me? I mean really? If you don’t like something I write why don’t you just click away to another recipe somewhere else instead of taking the time to send me this offensive comment.

    I used dark muscavado sugar which is an all natural product from Mauritius and the flavour is completely different to white or mass produced brown sugar. It most definitely does make a difference to the flavour of the dish. It is my recipe and my blog so I will say / include what I like on it.


  9. I Tumtum I have no idea, it doesn’t exist in South Africa hence this recipe where you make it from scratch.

  10. Thanks so much Robyn, its such an exciting dish

  11. Thanks Annememde, Yes it is and it really does make a difference to the flavour. I actually used a dark one so it had even more molasses flavour.

  12. Thanks for jumping in there to my defense Debbie. What an insulting comment on something that I gift to the world for free.

  13. Tumtum, I think I see the confusion… in the list of ingredients, jerk marinade is the title and then everything below is the ingredients for it. hope that helps 🙂 also here in New Zealand we have bottled jerk our international section of the supermarket, maybe yours too? 🙂

  14. Hi May I know what is Jerk Marinade? Sorry I am from Singapore…

  15. Elaine Beard says:

    Am going to serve this as part of a Birthday feast. Thanks for the recipe.There are 3 Leo’s in the family.I am one of them.

  16. I also had a question about the jerk marinade. Is it ready made, or do you have a recipe for it? Also, can the print be larger. It comes out real tiny to read comfortably. Thank you.

  17. HI, Daisy, I don’t think you read the post because if you had you would see that the recipe to make the marinade is published there? I’m busy with a site update that will likely have the text a little larger, but you could just copy and paste the copy into a Word document, increase the font size and read/print.

  18. Thanks Sam. On rereading, I understand it better. Will try it soon.

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