Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe

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Jerk Chicken is a flavorful dish featuring bone-in chicken thighs and legs marinated in a rich, spicy sauce and baked to perfection. If you’re a fan of spicy chicken, you’ll love this! For another zesty option, try my Copycat Chipotle Chicken.

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Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe

The term “jerk” in cooking comes from the Peruvian word “charqui,” which refers to dried strips of meat (similar to jerky). This method of cooking preserved the meat and imparted a smoky flavor. Over time, Jamaican Jerk became known for its blend of spices and herbs used to season various meats, typically incorporating allspice, thyme, nutmeg, and spicy peppers like Scotch bonnet or habanero.

Chicken Ingredients

  • Onions: Yellow onions are preferred for this recipe, complemented by scallions (green onions).
  • Peppers: While traditional jerk seasoning uses Scotch bonnet peppers, habanero peppers are a suitable alternative due to their similar heat level and flavor. They are also more readily available. For less heat, substitute with jalapeno peppers.
  • Herbs and Spices: Essential spices include ginger, thyme, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and black pepper.
  • Chicken: Bone-in chicken thighs and legs are used in this recipe for their tenderness and flavor.

Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe

How to Make Jerk Chicken

Start by marinating the chicken in jerk seasoning. For best results, marinate for at least 3 hours, up to overnight. To prepare the marinade, combine all the ingredients (except the chicken) in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Place the chicken in resealable plastic bags, pour the marinade over, and ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated. Seal the bags and refrigerate for the desired marinating time.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the marinated chicken on it. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). For a nice char, broil the chicken for the last 2-3 minutes. Serve with rice or sweet potatoes, garnished with parsley and a wedge of lime.

Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe

Is Jerk Chicken Spicy?

Yes, jerk chicken is known for its spiciness, primarily due to the peppers used. Habanero and Scotch bonnet peppers both have high heat levels, ranging from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units, compared to jalapenos, which range from 2,500 to 5,000 SHU. Adjust the number of peppers or use milder jalapenos if you prefer less heat.

Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe

Air Fryer Jerk Chicken

To prepare this recipe in an air fryer, set the temperature to 350°F (177°C). Place the chicken in the air fryer basket in a single layer, starting with the skin side down. Cook for 15 minutes, then flip and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). For jerk chicken wings, follow the same instructions, adjusting the temperature to 400°F (204°C) and cooking for a total of 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe


Jerk Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium habanero peppers or Scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium scallions, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and legs, about 8-10 pieces (1.36 kg)
  • Parsley, for garnish


  1. Prepare Marinade: In a food processor, combine the onion, habanero peppers, scallions, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger, thyme, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and pepper. Process until smooth.
  2. Marinate Chicken: Place the chicken in a large resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, seal the bag, and move the chicken around to ensure it’s fully coated. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Preheat Oven: When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Bake Chicken: Arrange the marinated chicken on the baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). For a charred finish, broil for the last 2-3 minutes.
  5. Serve: Serve the jerk chicken with rice, garnished with lime wedges and fresh parsley.

Enjoy your deliciously spicy and flavorful jerk chicken!

Spicy Jerk Chicken Recipe

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