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Matt’s Jerk Chicken

Get ready for a trip to the Islands. You may think jerk chicken is complicated, but really, all it takes is time. Throw on some tunes, grab an icy drink and prepare to be transported. Have a smoker? You can smoke the chicken first and finish it on the grill. —Jenn Hall, Collingswood, New Jersey
  • Total Time
    Prep: 25 min. + marinating Grill: 50 minutes
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 pounds bone-in chicken breast halves and thighs
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice berries
  • 1 cup applewood chips
  • 1/2 cup ketchup


  • Process first 18 ingredients, covered, in a blender until smooth. Divide chicken into 2 large resealable plastic bags; pour half the onion mixture in each. Seal bags; turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Soak allspice berries in water for 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving 1-1/2 cups marinade. Preheat grill and prepare for indirect heat. On a piece of heavy-duty foil (12 in. square), place soaked allspice berries; fold foil around berries to form a packet, crimping edges to seal. Using a small skewer, poke holes in packet. Repeat process for the applewood chips. Place packets over heat on grate of gas grill or in coals of charcoal grill.
  • Place chicken on greased grill rack, skin side down. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat until a thermometer reads 165° when inserted into breasts and 170°-175° when inserted into thighs, 50-60 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over high heat, bring reserved marinade to a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Add ketchup; cook and stir until heated through. Remove from heat.
  • To serve Jamaican-style, remove meat from bones and chop with a cleaver. Toss chicken with sauce.
  • Freeze option: Arrange grilled chicken pieces in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish; add sauce. Cool; cover and freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Reheat chicken, covered, until a thermometer reads 165°, for 40-50 minutes.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • Be warned, this dish is spicy! If you're sensitive to peppers, we'd recommend substituting jalapeno for the habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper.
  • For an authentic flavor, don't skip the allspice berries on the grill. It's about as close to the flavor of the pimiento wood found on Jamaica as you can get.
  • Don't scrape off the marinade before grilling. While it does prevent the chicken from getting really browned, it adds a lot of flavor.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1 serving: 346 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated fat), 109mg cholesterol, 419mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 1g fiber), 36g protein.

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    • Remenec
      Nov 17, 2018

      This is so flavorful and tasty! It takes a little effort to make, as there are a lot of ingredients. But they all blend together very well! I broiled the chicken as opposed to grilling it. I also omitted the habanero pepper, but the recipe still had plenty of zip to it!

    • LindaS_WI
      May 8, 2018

      This is a great dish that tastes very similar to the jerk chicken we had in Jamaica. Not too spicy, at least for us it wasn't. We had plenty for dinner one night, had leftovers for lunch the next day and then two days later I used the remaining in an omelet for breakfast. It's a lot of ingredients but I had most of them on hand so it wasn't a big deal. Well done!

    • sswimmomm
      Oct 22, 2017

      Made this exactly as written it came out great, has a nice spice to it NOT at all too hot, but it had a complex flavor. We chopped it, tossed it with the sauce, and served it on Hawaiian rolls with the Island Mango Slaw. The combo of the two recipes complimented each other well.