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Matt’s Jerk Chicken

Total Time

Prep: 25 min. + marinating Grill: 50 min.


16 servings

Get ready for a trip to the Islands. You may think jerk chicken is complicated but, really, all it takes is time. Throw on some tunes, grab an icy drink and prepare to be transported. Have a smoker? You can smoke the chicken first and finish it on the grill. —Jenn Hall, Collingswood, New Jersey
Matt's Jerk Chicken Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 pounds bone-in chicken breast halves and thighs
  • 1/2 cup whole allspice berries
  • 1 cup applewood chips
  • 1/2 cup ketchup


  1. Process first 18 ingredients, covered, in a blender until smooth. Divide chicken into 2 large bowls; pour half the onion mixture in each. Turn chicken to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Soak allspice berries in water for 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving 1-1/2 cups marinade. Preheat grill and prepare for indirect heat. On a piece of heavy-duty foil (12 in. square), place soaked allspice berries; fold foil around berries to form a packet, crimping edges to seal. Using a small skewer, poke holes in packet. Repeat process for the applewood chips. Place packets over heat on grate of gas grill or in coals of charcoal grill.
  3. Place chicken on greased grill rack, skin side down. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat until a thermometer reads 165° when inserted into breasts and 170°-175° when inserted into thighs, 50-60 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over high heat, bring reserved marinade to a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Add ketchup; cook and stir until heated through. Remove from heat.
  5. To serve Jamaican-style, remove meat from bones and chop with a cleaver. Toss chicken with sauce.

Can you freeze Matt's Jerk Chicken?

Arrange grilled chicken pieces in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish; add sauce. Cool; cover and freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Reheat chicken, covered, until a thermometer reads 165°, 40-50 minutes.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • Be warned, this dish is spicy! If you're sensitive to peppers, we'd recommend substituting jalapeno for the habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper.
  • For an authentic flavor, don't skip the allspice berries on the grill. It's about as close to the flavor of the pimiento wood found on Jamaica as you can get.
  • Don't scrape off the marinade before grilling. While it does prevent the chicken from getting really browned, it adds a lot of flavor.
  • Peppers (Hot)
    Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

    Nutrition Facts

    1 serving: 346 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated fat), 109mg cholesterol, 419mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 1g fiber), 36g protein.

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