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Jamaican Jerk Marinade

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Are you looking for a way to amp up the flavor of meat, vegetables, or meat substitutes? Then This Jamaican Jerk Marinade is for you! Caribbean cuisine is delicious and diverse, but one thing remains true, Jamaican jerk hits the top of the flavor list every time. The mixture of herbs, earthy spices, and piquant flavors is wonderful. We’ve even used this Jamaican jerk marinade on chicken, pork, and turkey, and, it does not disappoint!

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

What is Jamaican Jerk?

Jerk is a cooking style native to Jamaica. Normally, meats like chicken or pork are marinated in a blended spicy mixture of earthy spices, Scotch Bonnet peppers, herbs, and green onions. The meat is then slow-roasted or grilled and served with rice, plantains, and a fruit-based salsa. While marinating is the top method for making Jamaican jerk, some home chefs use a dry rub instead. One method isn’t necessarily better than the other. We recommend the rub for shorter cooking items like seafood, thin cut pork chops, kebabs, and chicken breasts. The marinade is great for larger or tougher cuts of meat like dark meat chicken, pork roasts, beef, thick cut pork chops, and turkey.

How spicy is Jamaican Jerk?

It is not unusual for traditional Jamaican jerk to include Scotch Bonnet peppers which are flavorful but incredibly hot! These peppers are similar to habanero in both heat and flavor. We recommend starting with a milder pepper like jalapeno or serrano, then working your way up to cayenne peppers before considering Scotch Bonnets. As always, wear food-safe gloves when handling peppers. Remove the seeds and white “veins” located around the seeds to reduce the spiciness. Leave them intact for a spicier Jamaican jerk marinade.


  • Onion: Use white or red for a sharper finish or yellow for a mellow onion flavor.
  • Green Onion (scallions)
  • Chili Pepper: jalapeno, serrano, cayenne, habanero, or Scotch bonnets
  • Soy sauce
  • Vegetable oil
  • White vinegar, distilled
  • Fresh thyme
  • White sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Allspice
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Hot sauce (optional)
Jamaican jerk marinade in bowl

How to make it:

  • Place all marinade ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on the size of your blender, this process might need to be split into two batches. 
  • Jerk marinades have the same consistency as blended salsa. However, it should not be too thick. Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra water to thin out the ingredients as they blend. 
  • Use Jamaican jerk marinade right after blending. 
  • If made ahead of time, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. We recommend making it the day before so that the flavors have time to combine.
Jamaican jerk marinated chicken

Marinating Times:

Use 1/2 cup of Jamaican Jerk Marinade per pound of meat. Recipe makes 1 cup of marinade, or enough for 1 pound of meat. Double or triple the recipe to suit your needs

  • Chicken, whole cut-up: 4-8 hours
  • Chicken breasts: marinate for 2-4 hours. 
  • Pork chops and roasts: marinate for 2-8 hours. 
  • Beef: 4-8 hours
  • Vegetables and Meat Substitutes: 30-40 minutes.
  • Fish and Seafood: marinate no more than 30 minutes in Jamaican jerk marinade.
marinated jerk chicken on the grill

What is the best way to use jerk marinade?

Jerk marinade can be relatively thick once blended. We recommend making 2-3 small gashes in the meat with a sharp knife or using a jaccard meat tenderizer before marinating. Use the knife method on chicken legs, bone-in thighs, beef and pork roasts, and whole chicken. Use the jaccard method on chicken breasts, boneless thighs steaks, and chops. Fish, seafood, vegetables, and meat substitutes do not need piercing. Just submerge in the marinade and cook as directed.

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Have a large batch of chicken, pork, seafood, or veggies to grill up? Consider using this perfectly spiced Jamaican Jerk marinade to help you flawlessly flavor your food.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Marinades/Brines
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: jerk marinade, marinade recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 25kcal


  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 5 whole scallions (green onions) roughly chopped
  • 1 chili pepper seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons water add more if needed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce optional


  • Place all marinade ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on the size of the blender, this process might need to be split into two batches.
    Recipe makes about 1 cup of marinade. Use 1 cup marinade per pound of meat. Increase the recipe to suit your needs.
  • Use marinade right after blending. If making ahead of time, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I recommend making this the day before so that the flavors have time to combine.
  • Marinade times:
    For chicken, marinate 2-4 hours.
    For pork marinate for 2-8 hours.
    Beef for 4-8 hours.
    Marinate vegetable and meat substitutes for 30-40 minutes. I
    f using on fish and seafood, marinate no more than 30 minutes.


Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 103IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.



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