Quick-Smoked Jerk Chicken

July/August 2014

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In this jerk chicken recipe, a zesty marinade of garlic, brown sugar, cider vinegar, spices and lime juice gives the meat exquisite flavor. The hickory woodchips lend a lightly smoky flavor to the chicken, but feel free to grill the chicken over coals or gas instead. Serve with a green salad and a buttermilk-herb dressing.

Quick-Smoked Jerk Chicken

Makes: 8 servings

Serving Size: 3-4 oz. chicken

Active Time:

Total Time:

Equipment: Hickory woodchips


Jerk Paste

  • 4 scallion greens, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  • 4 to 4 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts), skin removed


  1. To prepare jerk paste: Combine scallion greens, onion, Scotch bonnet (or habanero), garlic, brown sugar, lime juice, vinegar, oil, allspice, thyme, salt, cinnamon and pepper in a blender; puree. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  2. To marinate chicken: If using bone-in chicken breasts, cut each breast in half crosswise to make two portions; trim visible fat from the chicken. Add to the jerk paste and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. To grill chicken: Place 2 large handfuls of hickory woodchips in a large bowl, cover with water and let soak for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat a gas grill to medium or build a two-zone fire (coals on one side of the grill) in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400°F).
  5. If using a gas grill, turn off one or two burners (depending on your grill) so one part is no longer lit. Add one handful of soaked woodchips directly onto the charcoal or into a stainless-steel smoker box. (To improvise a smoker box, see Tips.)
  6. When the wood begins to smoke, oil the grill rack (see Tips). Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the rack above the unlit portion of the grill. (Discard any remaining marinade.) Close the lid and cook, adding the second handful of soaked woodchips after 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F, 33 to 35 minutes.

Tips & Notes

  • If using a gas grill without a smoker box, you can improvise one: Fold a 12-by-20-inch piece of heavy-duty foil in half to create a 12-by-10-inch double-thick piece. Place all of the soaked woodchips in the center, fold the short ends over the woodchips and seal the open ends. Make several holes in the top of the packet. Place the packet, pierced side up, under the grill rack on the burners.
  • Once the grill is heated, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the hot rack right before placing the chicken on the grill.


Per serving: 217 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 117 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 4 g added sugars; 4 g total sugars; 30 g protein; 1 g fiber; 306 mg sodium; 314 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

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Recipe Categories

Ease of Preparation
Main Ingredient
Preparation/ Technique

Type of Dish
Main dish, poultry
July/August 2014
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