This flavorful and juicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe is a great way to celebrate grilling season, but it’s equally delicious cooked in the oven year-round. This version is paleo, and with just 4g net carbs per serving it’s also low carb and keto!
In the seemingly endless variety of ways to cook chicken, it’s fun to take a little global inspiration.
With a complex blend of savory spices, a touch of heat, depth from soy sauce, and the freshness of lime, Jamaican Jerk Chicken is a hard dish to pass up.
Serve this up with Black Beans and rice, or Coconut Sesame Rice and Mango Black Bean Salsa. And if you want to go all out, you could grill up some pineapple or fry up some plantains to go along with the meal!
Jerk Chicken Recipe
The main thing that makes Jamaican Jerk Chicken special is its unique spice blend. Once you get that right, you can use any dry heat cooking method you like to cook the chicken.
Additionally, I noticed that soy sauce and scallion are common additions along with the Jamaican jerk seasoning blend.
Finally, it’s traditional to include spicy peppers, such as Scotch Bonnet, which by all means add if you’re into really hot foods. I keep this dish a little more kiddo-friendly and just use a touch of heat from cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.
Spices in Jerk Seasoning
I’ve noticed slight variations in different Jamaican jerk seasoning recipes. Some will have more of a heat level, or others will have more warm spices (such as cinnamon).
However, in general I’ve found that the following ingredients are usually included in varying amounts:
- Dried onion flakes
- Garlic powder
- Dried thyme leaves
- Sweet paprika
- Black pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Cayenne pepper
- And often sugar, especially brown sugar
In terms of the heat level, I kept this more on the mild side, but feel free to adjust the heat level up or down based on your personal preferences.
How to Make Jamaican Jerk Chicken From Scratch
- Mix up the jerk seasoning.
- Marinade the chicken. That seasoning blend will give it tons of flavor!
- Cook the chicken.
How to Cook Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Jerk Chicken is typically cooked using a dry heat method, such as smoking, roasting, or grilling.
Roasting in the Oven:
- To roast chicken drumsticks, take the chicken out of the fridge about 10 to 15 minutes before you want to cook it so it can come to room temperature
- Preheat an oven to 350F
- Arrange the chicken on a large baking sheet, and roast until fully cooked, about 1 hour (no need to flip the chicken)
On the Grill:
- To grill chicken drumsticks, take the chicken out of the fridge about 10 to 15 minutes before you want to cook it so it can come to room temperature
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat
- Grill the chicken until fully cooked, about 35 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking
Jamaican Jerk Chicken FAQs
What is Jerk Chicken and Why Do They Call it Jerk Chicken?
Jerk refers to a Jamaican cooking method, in which jerk spice mix is used as a dry rub or wet paste to season meat, like chicken or pork.
According to The Kitchen Project, food historians think that jerk is a Spanish word that originated from the Peruvian word charqui, which refers to dried meat strips (basically, jerky). The word started as a noun and became a verb, as in “jerking”, which means to poke holes in meat so spices can permeate.
What is Dry Rub?
A dry rub is a mixture of dried herbs and spices that is rubbed directly onto meat, such as chicken or steak.
Usually, dry rub is used with a dry heat cooking method, such as grilling, smoking, or roasting.
Many dry rubs contain sugar and salt for a balanced flavor profile, as well as several other spices, such as paprika, cumin, etc.
How Can I Tell When Chicken is Fully Cooked?
Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part without touching the bone; it should read 165F.
Additionally, the meat should be white and not pink, and the juices should run clear.
What Part of the Chicken is Dark Meat?
On a chicken, the drumsticks and thighs are dark meat and the breasts and wings are white meat.
The more myoglobin (the oxygen-binding and transporting protein found in muscle tissue), the darker the meat. Dark meat is higher in calories and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals. Additionally, dark meat is usually prized for being juicier and richer in flavor than white meat.
Low Carb Keto Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Jerk Chicken is an easy recipe to keep low carb. In order to keep the carbs as low as possible, the main alteration I make from a traditional jerk chicken recipe is to omit the sugar and use a little bit of keto sweetener instead! It truly couldn’t be any easier.
Here are a few low carb side dish recipe ideas to make this a full meal:
- Low Carb Spiralized Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Basil, and Ginger Miso Dressing
- French Green Bean Salad
- Smoky Roasted Garlic Cauliflower “Rice” with Toasted Almonds
- Garlicky Collard Greens
More Dark Meat Chicken Recipes
- Braised Chicken Thighs with Black Tea Blackberry Sauce from An Edible Mosaic
- Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mushroom Garlic Sauce from Café Delites
- Paleo Roast Chicken Ratatouille from An Edible Mosaic
- Honey Soy Baked Chicken Thighs from She Wears Many Hats
- Crispy Garlic Chicken Thighs from Recipe Tin Eats
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (you’ll need this entire batch for this recipe):
- 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper more or less to taste
- 1 scallion green and white parts, thinly sliced, for garnish
- Fresh lime wedges for serving
- Combine all ingredients for the Jamaican Jerk Seasoning.
- Whisk together the Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, avocado oil, lime juice, coconut aminos, and stevia in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat well.
- Cover the chicken and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight.
- Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the chicken on a large baking sheet and bake until fully cooked, about 1 hour (no need to flip).
- Transfer to a serving platter and top with the scallion. Serve with fresh lime wedges to squeeze on top.
- Net Carbs: 4g per serving (2 drumsticks)
- Gluten Free and Paleo Options: To keep it paleo, use coconut aminos. To keep it gluten free, use tamari sauce.
- Spicy Heat Level: In terms of the heat level, I kept this more on the mild side, but feel free to adjust the heat level up or down based on your personal preferences. Scotch Bonnet peppers are traditional in Jerk Chicken.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on September 5, 2018. I updated it with more information on June 28, 2021.