In this grilled chicken breast recipe, it’s not so much the cooking method that earns it the name jerk-style, but rather the marinade. Jerk marinades can be either wet or dry, but they do contain a layering of spices. Again, most notably spicy peppers and allspice, and, here, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and a nice dose of black pepper. If you have fresh ginger and want to use that instead of ginger powder, that’s another great way to go (about 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger for 1 teaspoon powdered).
This jerk grilled chicken would be excellent paired with any simple pasta salad, and some grilled vegetables like romaine, onions, and peppers. Also, think about Kale Crunch Salad, and Simple Couscous Salad.
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Jamaican Jerk-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts: These chicken breasts are so flavorful, and pack a little bit of heat, but not too much. The marinade is vibrant with ginger, chilis, garlic, and spices, and the chicken only takes 10 minutes to grill up after marinating!Tweet This
The word jerk can be used both to define a spice blend or a style of Jamaican cooking with African roots. Traditional jerk cooking involves smoking, though now grilling is a commonly used cooking method. According to The Around the World Cookbook by Sheila Lukins, the jerk tradition goes back to the 17th century when the Maroons combined their skills for slow-pit roasting with the Arawak Native Americans’ use of allspice and hot peppers.
Some jerk-style foods are blazingly hot, and some just provide a low, slow tingle of a burn. This one is fairly gentle. If you want a spicier mixture, leave some or all of the seeds in the jalapeño, and think about raising the amount of garlic or black pepper up a notch or two.
Scotch bonnet peppers are the most commonly used hot pepper in Jamaican jerk seasoning, but here I call for a jalapeño because that’s what I usually have in the fridge. Definitely use a Scotch bonnet, or another type of hot pepper, if you prefer!
- Chicken breasts – I used boneless, skinless breasts in this recipe, but you can also use boneless, skinless thighs. Just add about 5 to 8 minutes to the cooking time, depending on their thickness.
For the Marinade
You’ll also need these ingredients and the Jamaican Jerk-Style Marinade recipe.
- Oil – Use a neutral oil here, like vegetable, grapeseed, or canola.
- Lime juice – Fresh, if possible!
- Garlic – Fresh and minced finely.
- Jalapeno pepper – Adds heat! Seed the pepper before mincing, unless you are looking for a hotter jerk chicken.
- Ground allspice – A classic jerk spice, actually the ground unripe, dried berry from a pepper tree.
- Ground ginger – Adds warmth.
- Brown sugar – Just a touch to balance out the spice.
- Freshly ground black pepper – Add as little or as much as you like.
- Nutmeg – Ground nutmeg is a very classic spice in jerk seasoning, but I am allergic so I made it optional.
- Scallions – Adds color and flavor; l use both the white and light green parts, finely chopped.
How to Make Jamaican Jerk-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts
- Make the marinade.
- Marinate the chicken: Pour the marinade into a large shallow container. Add the chicken breasts, turning to coat them. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Prepare the grill:
- Grill the chicken: Turning once about halfway through the cooking time (a total of about 10 minutes) for simple grill marks on each side. Or, turn the chicken a total of three times, for cross-hatch grill marks.
- Serve: Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving, sliced or whole.
Leftovers and Storage
Leftover grilled chicken will be useful for other meals for days to come. Add it to salads of all stripes: grain salads, green salads, and vegetable salads. You can keep the chicken covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
What to Serve With Jamaican Jerk-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts
More Grilled Chicken Recipes
- Simple Herbed Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Provencal Chicken and Peppers
- Grilled Chicken Thighs with Indian Curry Yogurt Marinade
- Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Vegetables
- Grilled Lemony Chicken and Baby Artichokes
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Jamaican Jerk-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts
- 1 recipe Jamaican Jerk-Style Marinade
- 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 pounds)
- Make the Jamaican Jerk-Style Marinade and pour it into a large shallow container. Add the chicken breasts, turning to coat them well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Just before grilling, heat the grill to medium-high. Carefully oil the grill rack.
- Grill the chicken for a total of about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts, turning once about halfway through the cooking time for simple grill marks on each side. Or, turn the chicken every two minutes or so, a total of three times, so that you achieve cross-hatch grill marks (turn the chicken breasts a quarter turn as you flip them). Grill until the chicken is cooked through, at an internal temperature of 165 F.
- Remove the chicken from the grill to a cutting board and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving, sliced or whole.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.