Jerk Chicken

December 17, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten, prop styling by Molly Fitzsimons, food styling by Monica Pierini
  • Prep time 24 hours
  • Cook time 55 minutes
  • makes 6 pieces
Author Notes

On my latest trip to New York City, I went all in when it came to Caribbean food. My AirBNB was in Crown Heights, and I was steps away from deliciousness. I’m talking oxtail with gravy (mac on the side please), homemade beef patties with spice that would knock your socks off, and of course, we can’t forget jerk chicken! My favorite to get some from was Peppa’s Chicken in Crown Heights. I highly suggest you go for everything honestly, but don’t skip out on the jerk chicken. Juicy, tender, flavorful with the right amount of spice, dear lord, I put on some Kirk Franklin as soon as I went home!

If you're not familiar with jerk chicken, then let me familiarize you with a style of cooking called “jerk.” It’s a method of cooking where meat is rubbed with a dry or wet marinade consisting of “jerk spice.” The spices can vary from person to person, but they typically consist of allspice, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, and scotch bonnet peppers (which can be hard to find sometimes).

I made my recipe from a lack of scotch bonnet peppers at my local stores (Portland, step it up!), which is what jerk spice is traditionally made with. So I went for Thai chiles, which still gives it that nice punch of heat that you need in a jerk. We also got the usual suspects here: ginger, garlic, and allspice. My take on jerk chicken definitely leans more on the citrusy side of things, so it is not traditional by any means. I highly suggest you have your favorite Kirk Franklin locked and loaded for this one. Enjoy! —Romel Bruno

What You'll Need
  • 4 large Thai/bird’s eye chiles (red and green both work), stemmed
  • 1 small shallot, peeled
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (from about 2 large scallions)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped unpeeled ginger (from about a 1-inch piece)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2½ pounds)
  • Cooked rice, roasted veggies, and/or pickled cabbage, for serving (optional)
  1. In a blender, blend the chiles, shallot, garlic, lime zest and juice, orange juice, scallions, soy sauce, oil, ginger, brown sugar, thyme, allspice, and nutmeg until puréed but still somewhat chunky.
  2. Place the chicken in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Pour the chile mixture over the chicken. Seal the bag, making sure to let out all the air. Massage the bag, making sure the chicken is totally covered in the marinade. Let marinate for at least 6 hours or up to 24. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to a wire rack placed inside a sheet tray; it’s okay if some marinade clings to the chicken. Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Turn the broiler on high and broil for 2 to 4 minutes, until the skin gets nice and crispy. Serve this dish with rice, some pickled cabbage, or a salad and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Romel Bruno
    Romel Bruno
  • SaffronThreads

2 Reviews

SaffronThreads December 30, 2021
Had to make a couple of substitutions because of what I had at hand (serranos and boneless thighs), but this was absolutely devoured at my house and went immediately into the permanent recipe collection.
Romel B. February 25, 2022
Love that!