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The Origins of Jerk Chicken A Spicy and Delicious History

Jerk chicken is a popular dish that originated in Jamaica, and it’s a delicious and spicy way to enjoy chicken. But how did this dish come to be, and what makes it so special? In this blog post, we’ll explore the origins of jerk chicken and share recipes for making it at home.

The History of Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the indigenous people of the Caribbean, the Arawak and Taíno. These people used a traditional cooking method called “barbacoa,” which involved slow-cooking meat over an open flame. When the Spanish arrived in Jamaica in the 16th century, they brought with them African slaves who introduced new spices and cooking techniques.

The word “jerk” comes from the Spanish word “charqui,” which means dried meat, and refers to the process of marinating and cooking meat in a spicy rub. The traditional jerk rub includes spices like allspice, thyme, garlic, and scotch bonnet peppers, which give it its signature heat.

Today, jerk chicken is a staple in Caribbean cuisine and can be found all over the world. It’s usually served with rice and peas, plantains, and a side of salsa or hot sauce.

Making Jerk Chicken at Home

If you want to try making jerk chicken with a mango salsa at home, here’s two recipes one easy one where you use our Jerk Paste and the second one where you make from scratch.

Recipe 1

Ingredients for the Jerk Chicken:

  • 4 chicken legs or 8 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 3 tbsp Chef Bernie’s Jerk Paste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A little salt if you like your food on the salty side

Ingredients for the Salsa:

  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions to make the Jerk Chicken:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the Jerk Paste, lime juice, and olive oil. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Arrange the chicken on the baking sheet, skin-side up. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crispy.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, make the salsa. In a medium bowl, combine the diced mango, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeño pepper, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  5. Serve the chicken with the salsa on the side.

Chef Bernie’s Jerk Paste is a convenient and delicious way to make jerk chicken at home. But if you want to take it up a notch, try his Special Edition Extra Hot Sauce, which is made with Trinidad scorpion peppers as well as scotch bonnets. Just be careful – this sauce is seriously hot, so use it sparingly!

Recipe Two


  • 4 chicken legs or 8 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, brown sugar, garlic, thyme, allspice, smoked paprika, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess marinade.
  5. Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through and the skin is crispy.
  6. Serve with rice and beans, plantains, and a side of salsa or hot sauce.

Enjoy your delicious and spicy Jerk Chicken!

Jerk chicken is a tasty and spicy dish with a rich history that dates back to the Caribbean indigenous people. Whether you make it from scratch or use Chef Bernie’s Jerk Paste, this dish is sure to impress your taste buds. And don’t forget to serve it with some salsa or hot sauce on the side to really bring out the flavors.

If you try this recipe or have any tips for making the perfect jerk chicken, be sure to tag us!