Spicy Jerk Chicken

These delicious Jamaican chicken skewers get their heat from Scotch bonnet chiles; ginger, allspice, and thyme add to the deep Caribbean flavor.

Spicy Jerk Chicken
Photo: © Paul Costello
Active Time:
55 mins
Stand Time:
40 mins
Refrigerate Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
13 hrs 35 mins
6 servings

The refreshing Jamaican salsa gets a lovely flavor from garlic that's marinated in lemon juice and a good kick of heat from a Scotch bonnet chile.


  • 10 scallions, coarsely chopped

  • 1 medium onion

  • 1/3 cup thyme leaves

  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 to 3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed

  • 1 (4-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 3 tablespoons ground allspice

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into thirds

  • 12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour

Fresh Pineapple Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1/2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed and seeded


  1. In a food processor, combine the scallions, onion, thyme, garlic, chiles, ginger, allspice, salt and oil and puree. Pour the puree into a bowl, add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight, turning the chicken once or twice. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

  2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Thread 3 pieces of chicken onto each skewer, wiping off as much of the marinade as possible as you go. Grill the chicken skewers over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred outside and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve hot off the grill, with pineapple salsa.

Meanwhile, make the pineapple salsa

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, sugar, salt, and garlic; let stand for 10 minutes.

  2. In a colander, rinse the onion under cold running water, drain well, and pat dry. Add the onion and all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the garlic mixture and stir well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Pick out and discard the Scotch bonnet chile before serving.

Suggested pairing

Ripe, peach-scented, off-dry German Riesling.

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