Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts, marinated in a fiery jerk marinade, let you savour the flavours of the Caribbean Islands! Make Instant Pot, grilled or oven-baked jerk chicken with this simple recipe!
Sand between your toes, warm sunshine, ocean breezes, reggae and stunning sunsets: Caribbean life seems idyllic!
And when you add fiery jerk seasoning spices to juicy chicken in this Caribbean jerk chicken recipe, you'll have it all! It's an island-style meal that will likely become a regular in your meal rotations.
Once you become hooked on jerk flavours, try this Jerk Salmon with Black Bean Salad, too.
❤️ Why this jerk recipe works
- This recipe makes a fragrant, Jamaican-style jerk marinade for chicken breasts, thighs or chicken wings. It has a kick from a blend of spices and herbs including fennel, allspice, cayenne, thyme, garlic and ginger.
- While you can sometimes buy jerk seasoning mix pre-made at your supermarket, it's very easy to make yourself, you'll know it will be fresh, and you probably have all the items in your spice drawer already.
- When you add a little saltiness from soy sauce, sweetness from honey and coconut sugar, heat from chili pepper, and acid from citrus juices, you'll have made an amazing, perfectly balanced spicy jerk chicken marinade. It will taste like it has come direct from the islands!
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities in the recipe card below. But first, here are a few details about the ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfectly every time.
It seems like a lengthy list, but it's simply a recipe for chicken breasts with a Caribbean spicy jerk sauce! This blend of jerk spices features boldly spiced flavours, but it's easy to customize the heat level to your family's tastes.
- peppers: Scotch bonnet peppers are the traditional Caribbean choice. These may be hard to find where you live, so you can substitute Habanero pepper or jalapeño pepper.
- tamari soy sauce: Use a gluten-free variety for a gluten-free diet (or coconut aminos for a paleo diet )
- coconut sugar
- fennel seeds: these add a distinct flavour. If you really dislike fennel, you can leave them out.
- cayenne pepper: Use less if you want to reduce the heat!
- ground allspice
- dried thyme
- ground ginger
- garlic cloves
- green onions (scallions)
- apple cider vinegar
- lime juice: freshly squeezed
- orange juice: freshly squeezed
- 4 chicken breasts: Feel free to use boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs. Both will be delicious!
This is a simple two-step recipe!
- Whir the jerk marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and pour it over the chicken pieces in a large ziplock bag or marinating container.
- Marinate for two hours (or even overnight) then remove the chicken pieces and grill, bake them in the oven until it has reached an internal temperature of 165°F. when measured with an instant-read meat thermometer, or cook them in an Instant Pot!
👍🏼 Helpful Tips
This is one of those convenient recipes that you can make ahead of time!
Mix the jerk marinade, pour over the chicken in a resealable bag or marinating container and freeze. Thaw it overnight in the fridge, then make your choice of oven-baked jerk chicken or grilled jerk chicken, or pressure cook it in an Instant Pot!
❓Questions about jerk chicken
Jerk chicken is authentically made with a Scotch bonnet pepper. If you can't find one, a Habanero is the closest substitute. If Habanero peppers are too hot for your tastes, substitute a jalapeño pepper.
But whatever chili pepper you use, remember to wear thin rubber gloves.
Capsaicin and related compounds called capsaicinoids are the substances that give chili peppers their heat. They cause a burning sensation on soft tissues, so avoid touching your eyes.
If you don't have gloves to protect your hands, handle the peppers as little as possible and wash your hands thoroughly in soapy water immediately after cutting them.
🔁 Possible Variations
As I mentioned, a Scotch bonnet pepper is a traditional choice for jerk seasoning. If this is difficult to find where you live, feel free to substitute whatever kind of pepper you have available.
Habanero peppers are also fiery hot, jalapeños less so. Or if you want to try a tamer version of this marinade, simply omit the pepper!
🥶 Storage and Freezing Instructions
Store leftover jerk chicken in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Avoid foodborne illness! Bacteria can grow in cooked chicken, even when refrigerated, so consume it within a few days, or freeze it for 3 months or so.
🍽 What to serve with jerk chicken
Salads for jerk chicken: I like to pair spicy chicken recipes like this with a cool refreshing salad or with coleslaw. Serve this jerk chicken with this Caribbean Cauliflower Couscous Salad, with Mango Black Bean Salad, or with a simple slaw.
Sides: Go authentic and serve it with rice and beans, perhaps with some fried plantains on the side. Sweet potatoes go well with jerk seasoning. Try these Rosemary Garlic Smashed Sweet Potatoes or Coconut Rice.
Dessert: Keep your Caribbean theme going throughout your dinner and make these easy Caribbean Rum Bananas Flambé for dessert! Don't forget the ginger beer!
🗒More easy chicken recipes
When you make these Instant Pot or baked jerk chicken breasts, please leave a comment and a rating below. I love hearing when you've made one of my recipes. Thanks in advance!
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This baked jerk chicken breast recipe was originally published in 2018. It has been updated with new photos and extra information. The recipe remains the same.
Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts
- ½ Scotch bonnet pepper, Habanero pepper or jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoon tamari soy sauce (or coconut aminos )
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 green onions (scallions) chopped
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon lime juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoon orange juice freshly squeezed
- 4 chicken breasts boneless and skinless
- Put Habanero, soy sauce, honey, coconut sugar, fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, allspice, thyme, ginger, garlic and green onions in a blender and blend until smooth. Add apple cider vinegar, lime juice and orange juice and continue to blend until well combined.
- Put chicken breasts in a resealable bag or marinating dish, pour marinade over, seal the bag or dish and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or longer).
Instant Pot Directions
- Pour marinade from resealable bag into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Add ½ cup water. Set the trivet that comes with the Instant Pot on top of the marinade and position chicken breasts on it. Close the lid, lock and seal it and set the cook time manually for 8 - 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts. When cooking time is up, use the quick release to release the pressure. Remove the chicken breasts and slice or shred them.* Moisten with some of the pan juices.
- Heat oven to 375°F. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade and place in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake at 375°F. for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour marinade into a small saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat until reduced by one-third. Spoon reduced marinade over chicken breasts and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
- Heat grill and grease grates. Remove chicken breasts from marinade, pour marinade into a small saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat until reduced by one-third. Grill chicken breasts for 5 minutes per side or more, depending on their thickness, basting frequently with the marinade. Cook until chicken has reached an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe was adapted from Sunny Anderson's Caribbean Chicken Wings