once upon a chef

Grilled  Jerk Chicken

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica. Some people believe the term comes from the word charqui, a Spanish term for jerked or dried meat...

which eventually became jerky in English; others claim it’s related to the constant turning or jerking of the meat to load it with the spice blend and cook it thoroughly.

Let’s get started!

You will need

– 1 small yellow onion, cut into large chunks – 2 scallions, quartered – 1 Scotch bonnet or Habanero chili pepper, seeded and roughly chopped – 1 garlic clove, peeled – 1 teaspoon Asian five-spice powder – ½ teaspoon allspice – ½ teaspoon dried thyme – ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg – ¾ teaspoon salt – ¼ cup soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed) – ½ tablespoon vegetable oil – 2½ to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks or breasts)


Begin by making the marinade. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a food processor.

Process until the vegetables are finely pureed.



Place the chicken and marinade in a Ziploc freezer bag and let it marinate in the refrigerator at least eight hours or overnight.


When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to medium-high. Cook the chicken until the skin is brown and crispy, then turn the heat down or move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking