Before visiting the island of Jamaica, there were three things I associated with this country. This first thing is that Bob Marley, the legendary singer is from Jamaica. Also, Americans take fully inclusive package vacations in Jamaica because the resorts and beaches are stunning. And lastly, in Jamaica, jerk chicken is the most popular dish to eat. And, you can bet I was very interested in eating it many times while I was here. I was curious to discover local knowledge on the best Jamaica Jerk chicken recipe too.
What is Jamaican Jerk Chicken?
Essentially, Jerk chicken is a wonderfully spicy, smoky, zesty and fragrant grilled meat dish. It is usually associated with Jamaica, yet, this dish is loved and eaten throughout the Caribbean. If you get to do some island hopping in the Caribbean, you may be able to see if the Jamaica jerk chicken recipe tastes better here or on one of the other islands.
The secret to a tasty Jamaica jerk chicken experience is in jerk seasoning. Jerk seasoning has three main ingredients; thyme, allspice and super hot scotch bonnet chillies.
What is allspice?
Allspice is a single spice made from dried berries of the allspice tree, also native to Jamaica. It’s sometimes referred to as Jamaican pepper, perhaps because allspice looks like peppercorns. Allspice combines the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper.
In addition to these key ingredients, a good Jamaica Jerk chicken recipe isn’t complete. It usually has onions, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger too.
For best results, blitz together the ingredients into a sticky marinade sauce, massage into the chicken and leave to marinate overnight. Once grilled, this is sure to produce the most flavourful, tender Jamaica jerk chicken dish ever.
What does Jerk Chicken taste like?
It’s one of the best explosions of flavour you can experience. Sweet, salty, spicy and punchy! A Jamaica jerk chicken recipe will recommend that you slow cook it over a fire or grill if possible. This allows the smoky flavours to penetrate the meat, which results in a delicious meal!
Our road trip in Jamaica. Jerk chicken was eaten at many different stops along the way.
What to serve with Jamaica jerk chicken
This one is open to discussion as Jamaica jerk chicken tastes good with anything, or just on its own.
Typically, it’s served alongside rice and beans and usually salad too. Other popular sides include mashed potato, coleslaw, grilled corn and fried plantains. There is usually a homemade spicy salsa made from mango, pineapples or other tropical fruits to spoon over the top too. If it’s offered to you, go for it! Another flavour bomb to enjoy.
All over Jamaica, jerk chicken meals that we enjoyed were typically served with rice and beans, and salad. However, Jamaica jerk chicken recipes can be served with many other sides too.
Where to find the best jerk chicken in Jamaica
I’ve listed three places to eat the best jerk chicken in Kingston, Jamaica. The capital city is where it’s at for getting the full experience of this tasty Jamaican dish.
JoJo’s Jerk Pit
JoJo’s slings out jerk chicken, pork, lamb, and other Jamaican dishes to enjoy tasty Caribbean cooking at its best. Come here for chilled vibes, good food and even live music every Saturday night from 7.00 pm.
Enjoy traditional food of Jamaica, including jerk chicken right here. The restaurant serves barbequed jerk chicken, pork, fish, and conch. This eatery is open-aired to take in those tropical breezes. We highly recommend this spot.
This place lives up to the hype! I ate there, I can tell you that the jerk chicken here is spot on. The spice is just right, and the smoky flavours will leave you wanting another plate of jerk chicken.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 186+ countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.