“Jerk” refers to a cooking method that originated with The Taíno, a people indigenous to the Caribbean that are now extinct due to disease brought to them by European colonizers. The Taíno taught their method of seasoning, smoking, and grilling chicken to African slaves on the island of Jamaica. The seasonings used in the jerk method were all native to the island of Jamaica and this blend is now known as Jerk Seasoning.
Did you know that jerk-style cooking isn’t at all limited to poultry? While this seasoning blend was originally used on chicken and pork, you can use it on any protein! Fish, beef, even tofu and vegetables are great candidates for this sweet yet spicy Caribbean style. But in our house, we just love baked chicken. We eat it all the time! And this easy jerk chicken recipe is a great way to spice things up and serve up something out of the ordinary. You can make our jerk dry seasoning blend in double quantities, store in an airtight container, and use at your leisure for up to a year on any meats or veggies that can use some extra flavor.
This is not an authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken as it is not smoked or grilled, but rather an oven roasted version. The Stay At Home Chef uses ingredients that are easily accessible for most people in the United States and Canada, so that our audience can easily celebrate world cuisines even if their opportunities for travel or access to regional ingredients are limited. For a wet Jamaican Jerk sauce, check out Jamaican food blogger Jessica in the Kitchen’s recipe. For a more traditional grilled version, try Immaculate Bite’s delicious recipe.
Spice Level Adjustments:
This is a traditionally spicy dish. The scotch bonnet peppers, or habañeros, give it a real kick! Luckily, this easy jerk chicken recipe is also easy enough to make more or less spicy depending on your preferences. 1 pepper will keep things pretty mild — just be sure to remove the seeds! They hold all of the spice.
Use 3 peppers for the standard level of heat. Of course, you can always add more. But try starting with 3 — it might be spicier than you expect!
The Best Cuts for Baked Chicken:
We use a mix of thighs and legs. They’re a bit fattier, which makes them juicier and more flavorful. But chicken breasts are fine to use as well! Keep in mind that cooking time will vary from cut to cut, so it’s extra important to keep an eye on that internal temperature when using a variety of cuts. A digital meat thermometer will help you keep track!
Is Jerk Chicken Supposed To Be Sweet?
It is a bit sweet, but not overly so. The sweetness comes from a mixture of brown sugar in the dry seasoning and the orange juice in the marinade. However, we’re only using a couple tablespoons of brown sugar and a half cup of orange juice. So it certainly shouldn’t be overly sweet!
If you’re worried about the sweetness, reduce the amount of sugar by a tablespoon. You can also use fresh squeezed orange juice, which tends to be less sweet than the concentrate you’d buy in the store.
Can I Make This Recipe on the Grill or in an Air Fryer?
You sure can! Not only is it easy to do, but it’s actually quicker than baking. It is slightly more hands-on, however, so pay attention to the changes in the recipe.
For the grill, set it to high heat. For the air fryer, preheat to 400 degrees. Using either method, cook for 12-18 minutes until you reach that safe internal temperature of 165 degrees. Flip halfway through the cooking time to make sure the meat browns evenly on all sides.
So many sides go well with this easy jerk chicken recipe!