Get a taste of the Caribbean with this authentic Jamaican Jerk Seasoning blend! Use it as a dry rub on chicken wings or steak. Or use it to make a marinade for chicken breasts, chicken thighs or shrimp! This homemade seasoning mix is easy to make at home and will stay good in the pantry for up to 6 months.
A few years ago, I visited Jamaica for the first time and immediately fell in love with the people, the culture and most of all, the food! One of the most popular Jamaican dishes is Jerk Chicken.
Jerk seasoning combines onion, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, allspice, thyme and nutmeg with a famous Jamaican pepper, the scotch bonnet pepper. When speaking with locals in Jamaica, they shared that the scotch bonnet pepper is the key to an authentic Jamaican jerk seasoning.
So to make a truly authentic jerk seasoning mix at home, I headed online to purchase a bottle of ground scotch bonnet peppers. If you don't want to purchase the scotch bonnet peppers online, it's no problem, you can easily use cayenne pepper in it's place.
It won't provide quite as much spice, but it will definitely give the seasoning blend a similar flavor. And there's the obvious benefit that cayenne is much easier to find at a local grocery store in America.
Jerk seasoning is truly a versatile spice blend that will add a kick of flavor to any recipe! I've been using jerk seasoning for years to flavor chicken, beef, shrimp, burgers and meatballs. It's flavorful, with just the right amount of spice!
Ingredients you'll need
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper Powder - seen pictured above. I ordered this powder online to make a truly authentic homemade jerk seasoning blend. If you'd like to use something that you already have in your pantry, use cayenne pepper instead of the scotch bonnet pepper.
- Brown Sugar
- Black Pepper
- Dried Thyme
- Ground Nutmeg
Step by step instructions
- Combine all of the spices together in a small bowl or mason jar.
- Store in the pantry for up to 6 months.
How to make jerk chicken marinade
- Combine 4 tablespoons jerk seasoning with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce to create a jerk marinade.
- Toss 2 pounds of chicken (or the protein of your choice) in the marinade.
- Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
Frequently asked questions
- Is Cajun and jerk seasoning the same? They are not the same. While both seasoning blends have a nice kick of spice, they do not contain all of the same ingredients. If you're looking for a homemade Cajun seasoning recipe, click the link to the left!
- What makes jerk chicken jerk? Jerk is actually a style of cooking in Jamaica where the jerk seasoning blend is rubbed over chicken, or is used in a marinade for chicken, then the chicken is grilled over an open fire.
- While chicken is the most traditional meat used in the jerk style of cooking, other meats and vegetables can also be cooked in jerk fashion.
- The name jerk has now become synonymous with the seasoning blend used to cook the chicken. Which is how the name jerk seasoning came to be.
- Is jerk chicken spicy? This jerk seasoning does get a kick from the scotch bonnet pepper powder, but it's balanced out well with the sweetness of the sugar, as well as the other herbs and spices. It's easy to adjust the spice level by adding or taking away some of the scotch bonnet pepper powder.
How to use jerk seasoning
- As a dry rub – this seasoning mix can be used on it’s own as a dry rub on meats like chicken, beef, lamb or turkey. The meats can then be oven roasted, grilled or smoked.
- As a marinade - refer to the instructions above for how to make a jerk chicken marinade. Note that it's not just for chicken! You can also use this marinade for beef, pork, lamb or seafood.
- As a veggie seasoning - sprinkle jerk seasoning over corn on the cob before tossing it on the grill . Or use it to season vegetables, like bell peppers and onions, before roasting them in the oven.
- To flavor meatballs - use the seasoning blend in this Jerk Chicken & Pork Meatball recipe, it's a fun and flavorful way to use the spice mix! Add the meatballs to bowls with rice or quinoa, grilled pineapple and honey lime dressing to create an epic Caribbean meatball bowl!
More homemade seasoning blends
Fill up your pantry with these other easy spice mixes!
- Moroccan Seasoning
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Shawarma Seasoning
- Fajita Seasoning
- Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon scotch bonnet pepper powder or cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Combine all of the spices in a small bowl or mason jar.
- Keep stored in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months.
- To create a marinade with the jerk seasoning, combine 4 tablespoons jerk seasoning with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Toss 2 pounds of chicken (or the protein of your choice) in the marinade. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
- To alter the spice level of the seasoning mix, either add more or less scotch bonnet pepper powder or cayenne pepper. If you're sensitive to spice, I'd recommend starting off with only ½ tablespoon of the pepper powder.