This jerk chicken marinade is the most flavorful chicken marinade you’ll ever have! This jerk chicken recipe can be made with whole chicken breasts or you can skewer them with your favorite vegetables! Spicy, full of flavor, this jerk chicken marinade is a must try.
Every year we go to St. Lucia for vacation and I always eat half my body weight in jerk chicken. I don’t think there is such thing as a more flavorful piece of meat. You can do a jerk dry rub or a wet marinade. For this recipe, I wanted to do a wet marinade.
I’ve bought pre-made jerk marinade and it’s pretty darn good, but obviously homemade marinades from scratch are way more fun and rewarding. Jerk seasoning has many influences not just from the Caribbean, but African, European, and most recently Asian influences (as you can see in the different ingredients above). All of these flavors blend together to make such a flavorful marinade.
My other favorite part about this recipe is that you basically throw everything into a food processor and there ya go! Ok fine, you have to peel the garlic and peel/cut up the ginger, but I think we can all sacrifice that for the rest of the ease of the recipe.
The recipe calls for scotch bonnet peppers, but sometimes they are hard to find so you can substitute with a habanero pepper. If you like your jerk very spicy you can add two peppers, we did two and it was perfect for our taste. If not, just stick with one to be safe.
Once the marinade is pulsed and blended, taste and you can adjust the seasoning. All spice is the star of this show, so feel free to add more after giving it a taste. You can stop here, bottle the marinade, and store it in the fridge to use later…..or we can use it now!
I’ve made this recipe with full chicken breasts which is great, but my favorite way to eat them is as skewers. If you’re going the skewer route, cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes prior to putting in the marinade.
I marinated it for about 12 hours myself. I recommend overnight or minimum 4 hours, this dish relies on the flavor so you have to give it the time for the marinade to do its job. After hours of marinating, trust me it deserves an A+.
For the skewers I cut up a red onion, red/orange bell peppers, and cubed up pineapple. The pineapple compliments the heat of the jerk chicken so well. Also, grilling pineapple is so underrated. The char on the pineapple gives it an extra depth of flavor along with the sweetness.
We grilled it on our gas grill, but I can only imagine how amazing it would taste over a charcoal grill. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Cook time can vary due to thickness and size of chicken, so best to use a thermometer.
I finished it off with some chopped scallions and I served it with my version of an spicy Caribbean coconut rice which compliments it so well. I hope you enjoy the jerk chicken marinade and it spices up your life a little bit!
As mentioned earlier, you can also grill entire chicken breasts which are so great too!
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- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped (1/2 cup)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- 2 inches ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp ground all spice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or freshly grated
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper or habanero, stems removed (if you like really spicy add 2)
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3 bell peppers, stem/seeds removed, cut into 1 inch squares
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch squares
- 2 cups cubed and peeled pineapple
- Chopped scallions
- Serve with my Spicy Caribbean Rice
- In a food processor, combine all the marinade ingredients and pulse until all ingredients are combined into a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed, can add more all spice if desired.
- Add cubed chicken (see note#1) to a gallon ziplock bag or bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken, mix chicken with marinade so all chicken is coated. Place into the refrigerator, marinate overnight or minimum 4 hours.
- If using wooden skewers, soak them in water prior to using. After chicken has marinated, alternate skewering the chicken, pineapple, and bell peppers.
- Grill over medium high heat (about 425 degrees) rotating occasionally so all sides get cooked. Cooking time will depend on thickness of chicken and grill heat. You are looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Remove from grill and garnish with chopped scallions and serve with a side of rice or side of choice.
- You can also marinate whole chicken breasts if you do not want to do skewers
- You can place the marinade in a sealed jar and keep refrigerated for a week or freeze if you want to keep longer.
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