Recipe: Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Karen Adler and Judith Fertig offer up a recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

What’s for Dinner?

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

-Courtesy 300 Big & Bold Barbeque & Grilling Recipes (Robert Rose, 2009) by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Authentic jerk chicken means a whole chicken, cut up and on the bone. Since it’s a slow-smoked dish, the dark meat of the thighs and drumsticks is moister and more flavorful than the white meat, so pull the white meat off the smoker first to avoid overcooking it.

Serves 6

Jerk Marinade:

Jerk Chicken2 large onions, quartered
1 hot chile pepper (such as jalapeño, serrano or habanero)
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground allspice (preferably Jamaican)
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 to 7 lbs bone-in chicken pieces


1. Prepare the marinade: In a food processor, combine onions, chile pepper, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, sugar, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and hot pepper flakes; pulse until smooth. Add thyme sprigs.

2. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry. Place in a large dish and pour in half the marinade, turning chicken to coat each piece. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 6 hours, turning occasionally. Transfer the remaining marinade to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.

3. Meanwhile, prepare an indirect fire for smoking in your grill or smoker.

4. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade, and place skin side down on the indirect side of the grill. Close the lid and smoke for 11⁄2 to 2 hours, turning and basting with the reserved marinade every 10 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165°F.

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