Warm Up Your Belly with Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

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Craving sunshine? For a tropical taste in the middle of winter, try these Jerk Chicken Drumsticks. Traditionally a Jamaican cuisine staple, jerk chicken is most known for its combination of scotch bonnet peppers and ground allspice. Though the spice rub and marinade is quite spicy, the chicken once baked is a little milder.

Jerk Chicken

To make jerk chicken, you pretty much need to use your entire spice cabinet. I’m only halfway kidding! Eight different spices go into the marinade, as well as brown sugar, lime juice, an onion and a scotch bonnet pepper. If you can’t find scotch bonnets where you live, try a Serrano or Habanero instead. Just make sure to use gloves while handling and don’t touch your eyes or face.

Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken should be marinated for about four hours, or overnight if you really want to bring on the heat. Many would serve this dish with black beans and rice, but I love the combination of jerk chicken and mashed sweet potatoes, myself! The sweetness of the potatoes pairs nicely with the heat of the chicken.

If this chicken doesn’t warm you up, I’m not sure what will!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Drumsticks


Combine scotch bonnet peppers and ground allspice for a mildly spicy dinner idea. Pair with mashed sweet potatoes to balance the flavors. Food blogger Jenna Weber explains the alternatives for different types of peppers in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.



  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered


  1. Place all ingredients except for the chicken in the food processor and process until well combined.
  2. Place chicken drumsticks in a large plastic bag and pour jerk marinade over. Seal bag tightly and toss well. Place in the fridge for four to six hours (or overnight).
  3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray an eight-inch square cooking dish with nonstick spray then line with chicken. Spoon more marinade over top and rub in as best you can.
  4. Bake chicken for 45 minutes, or until juice runs clear. Serve with black beans and rice or, as I like to, with mashed sweet potatoes.

Yield: 2-3 servings

Jenna Weber, food blogger for PBS Food's Fresh Tastes blogJenna Weber is half of the Fresh Tastes blog team. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008 and, since then, has worked as a pastry chef, bread baker and freelance food editor. Currently, Jenna blogs full-time on EatLiveRun.com where her delicious daily recipes and quirky culinary musings appeal to thousands. She lives in Northern California and, when not in the kitchen, can usually be found on her yoga mat.