It’s carnival weekend people! And what could be better than treating yourself to my jerk chicken recipe for a taste of Jamaica right in your own back yard!

If you can’t make it to Notting Hill this Bank Holiday do not fret…Invite some friends round, fire up the BBQ and eat and drink your way into the spirit of carnival. If you want to make yourself a costume, then that’s up to you, but I’m here to take care of the food side for you.

I’ve been making this for over 20 years after a first generation British Jamaican friend of mine gave me the low down on how to make authentic jerk. She learned from her mother and in turn her mother learned from her mother and…well you get the picture.

So let’s get ready to jerk around…

Jerk Chicken Recipe

Serves 2 (increase quantities as needed)


  • 4 x Chicken Thighs
  • 1 x Small Scotch Bonnet/Habanero Pepper
  • 1 x Thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 3 x Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 x TSP Allspice Berries
  • 2 x Heaped TSP Curry Powder
  • 1 x TBSP Finely Chopped Fresh Thyme
  • 1 x Level TSP Brown Sugar
  • 1 x Lime (or ½ Lemon)
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper


Peel your ginger and garlic then grate on a fine grater. Now chop through with a knife to make sure it’s nicely fine. Throw it in a bowl big enough to marinate your chicken.

Grind up your allspice berries in a pestle and mortar until fine ground. Add that to your bowl.

Roughly pull the leaves off you thyme so you can discard the woodiest stems then chop finely and add to the mix.

No add the curry powder, sugar, a good pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper.

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Careful now!

It’s time to be a little careful and respectful of Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers. They’re hot. Like proper hot, so no messing around. I highly recommend using latex gloves.

Half the pepper and remove the internal membrane which holds the seeds. These are the hottest part of the chilli, eat these without experience and you will regret it!

Finely chop the chilli flesh and add to our bowl.

Now we have all those lovely hot, sweet, herby, spicy flavours in there so we need a bit of acid to balance things, so add the juice of your lime (or half lemon) and mix.

We are looking for a loose paste so add a little water until it’s the consistency of double cream (with bits in!).

Add your chicken and using a spoon if you’re not wearing gloves, make sure your chicken is well coated in the marinade getting it into all the nooks and crannies.

Cover and set aside in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

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Let the flavour in!

You can oven cook (follow the instructions on the pack of chicken) or better still get that BBQ going and cook to perfection. Always make sure that chicken is cooked through and the juice run clear.

I served mine with sweet potato fire roasted on the BBQ (you can off course do plantain in the same way) with a side salad.

Or make some rice and peas. Simply cook rice and red kidney beans with a can of coconut milk topped with water if needed. Use fresh beans if possible (follow soaking instructions) and make sure you cook all the liquid out as the idea is to infuse the coconut into the rice. If using canned beans drain thoroughly and add towards the end of cooking so they don’t turn to mush.

Get your dancing shoes on and get cooking some jerk this weekend and get with the party spirit!

Remember to tell me how you enjoyed this recipe in the comments below…

Michael Robinson

The Food Curator
The Food Curator (AKA Michael Robinson) is an aficionado of all things food and bon viveur based in London. A passion for cooking and dining has driven him to put fingers to keyboard to bring you his thoughts on the world of food. When not writing, eating or cooking he has a love of American muscle cars. Pop on over to my Facebook page and let's start a Facebook food revolution together:
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