Grilled Jerk Chicken

Spicy, smoky and aromatic, Jerk chicken is Jamaica’s most iconic dish.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour, plus at least 8 hours to marinate


  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 scallions, quartered
  • 2 Scotch bonnet or Habanero chili peppers, stemmed (and seeded, if desired; see note) and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2½ to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks or breasts)
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Make the marinade: In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken. Process until the vegetables are finely puréed and the mixture is relatively smooth (the texture will be slightly gritty). Place the chicken pieces and the marinade in a large Ziploc bag; squeeze air out and seal tightly. Mash the chicken around to coat evenly with the marinade. Place the bag in a bowl (in case of leakage) and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before grilling.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium heat (about 350-375°F). Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the cooler side of the grill and cook, covered, turning and moving occasionally to prevent burning and flare-ups, for 35 to 40 minutes. If the skin is not yet crispy, move the chicken, skin side down, to the hotter side of the grill; cook, keeping a close watch to prevent burning, until the skin is rendered and crisp, a few minutes. Transfer the chicken to serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges.
  3. Note: Be very careful when working with Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers. They are extremely hot, and if you touch your eyes while handling them, it will be very painful. It's a good idea to wear disposable gloves or wash your hands very well when done. The heat comes from the seeds and membranes, so throw in the whole peppers for spicy jerk chicken. For a milder dish, remove the seeds and membranes from one or both of the peppers.
  4. Note: If you don't have a grill (or grilling weather) the chicken can be roasted in the oven instead. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, and set an oven-proof rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the rack, skin side up, and roast until lightly browned and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Turn on broiler (leave the pan on the middle rack), and cook 1 to 3 minutes more, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy.

Pair with