Jacqui’s Jerk Chicken

January/February 2010

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Sweet, savory and spicy all at once, Jacqui Sinclair’s jerk marinade is absolutely addictive. Try it on pork loin, firm white fish or even goat if you can find it. The wood chips are optional if you’re grilling, but they add an authentic, subtle flavor to the chicken. Serve with a slightly sweet side dish, such as sweet potatoes or cornbread, to balance the heat.

"This was some of the best chicken I've had. I used a whole chicken and cut it up and just used all the pieces. I like to do this anyway because it's cheaper and you can use the carcass to make stock. We smoked ours on the grill using the...
Jacqui’s Jerk Chicken

Makes: 4 servings

Active Time:

Total Time:


  • Jerk marinade
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Scotch bonnet chile peppers, stemmed and quartered (see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 6-ounce bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed
  • 2 12-ounce bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 cup wood chips, such as apple or hickory, for smoking (optional)


  1. To prepare jerk marinade: Place scallions, onion, chile pepper to taste, lime juice, oil, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and thyme in a blender. Process until smooth. Place chicken in a nonreactive baking dish (see Tip). Rub 2/3 cup of the marinade onto both sides of the chicken. Transfer the remaining marinade to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours.
  2. Twenty minutes before you’re ready to grill, soak wood chips (if using) in a bowl of water. (No grill? See broiler variation).
  3. Fold a 12-by-20-inch piece of heavy-duty foil in half to create a 12-by-10-inch double-thick piece. Transfer the wet wood chips to the center of the foil, allowing as much water as possible to drip back into the bowl. Create a packet by folding the short ends of the foil over the wood chips and sealing the open sides. Make 6 holes in the top of the foil packet with a skewer or the tip of a knife.
  4. Place the packet of wood chips, pierced-side up, under the grill rack on top of the burners. Close the lid. Heat the grill to medium-high until the chips in the packet smell smoky and smoke begins to billow from under the lid, about 15 minutes. (Don’t worry if the packet temporarily catches on fire.) Grill the chicken, turning and basting with the reserved marinade occasionally (discard any unused marinade), until just cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes total, depending on the size. Broiler variation: Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Line a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place the chicken on the pan and broil for 10 minutes. Turn, brush with some of the reserved marinade, and broil until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching bone registers 165°F, about 10 minutes more.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours.
  • Kitchen tips: One of the hottest chile peppers, Scotch bonnets come in vivid shades of red, orange and green and are used throughout the Caribbean. Though they look similar to habaneros, Scotch bonnets have a citrus note that makes them undeniably different. You can control the heat of a dish a little by discarding the membranes that hold the seeds, which are the spiciest part of chile peppers, along with the seeds themselves. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling hot peppers or wear rubber gloves. If you can’t find Scotch bonnet peppers, habaneros can be substituted.
  • A nonreactive dish or pan—stainless steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when marinating foods in acidic ingredients, such as lime, lemon or vinegar. The acid in the marinade can react with “reactive” dishes or pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, and impart an off color and/or off flavor in the prepared foods.


Per serving: 351 calories; 14 g fat (3 g sat, 7 g mono); 137 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 45 g protein; 2 g fiber; 704 mg sodium; 466 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C & Zinc (20% daily value).

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Recipe Categories


Ease of Preparation
Total Time
More than 1 hour
Type of Dish
Main dish, poultry
Main Ingredient
Preparation/ Technique
January/February 2010
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