This post is sponsored by Princess Cruises, all opinions are my own.
Jerk Chicken Marinade:
The best jerk chicken marinade ever! Seriously flavorful with hints of spices, a little heat, and everything you need to transport you to the Caribbean islands.
This jerk chicken marinade is hands down my favorite marinade of all time. I have been making big batches of it and freezing half so I can pull it out and use it whenever I want! And boy do I want to use it. ALL THE TIME. I use it for wings, for grilled chicken, baked chicken and more!
It has all the flavors of the Caribbean, but with easy to find ingredients, and is so quick and easy to whip up. All you really need is a blender or food processor.
Speaking of the Caribbean, I recently got to spend a week cruising with Princess Cruises on a Caribbean Cruise. It was aboard one of the MedallionClass vessels, and was an incredible experience. You can learn more about what it means to cruise with Ocean Medallion here. And exciting news: 6 new ships were just announced to be part of the Medallion Class. I can’t wait to cruise with them again.
Anyway, one of our destinations was Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos. Now, I had been to Turks and Caicos before but stayed on my resort the whole time (all-inclusive and I was there for an event), so it was very fun to get to do a little exploring.
One of the things we did was visit a coral reef to do some snorkeling, and then go to a beach where a lot of sting rays like to hang out. It was incredible. We got to hold a sting ray, touch its spongy skin, and even got to go in for a little kiss. Too fun!
And want to know one of the best parts? The sting rays were completely out in the wild. No fences. No domestication. Just a wonderful place to see them and interact with them.
We learned to do the sting ray shuffle, which despite the name, is not in fact a dance, rather a way to walk along the beach where they live without accidentally stepping on one.
After spending the day our swimming, snorkeling, and playing with sting rays, we worked up quite the appetite, so when we got back to shore, we decided to go to Jack’s Shack, which is a fun beach eatery with menu items with salty names! Many of which are not family-friendly, so I won’t be sharing them here. 😉
One of the food items at Jack Shack was a jerk chicken. When I had visited Grand Turks a few months prior the jerk chicken was one of my favorite things I ate, so I knew I needed to give it a try. And I loved it. I loved the combination of spices. The blackened exterior. The juicy interior. It was fantastic.
When I got home I knew it was going to be one of the recipes I tried to recreate, along with these Pineapple Mojitos inspired by one of the other cruise stops–San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Honestly, the food on Princess Cruises is incredible, and so sometimes when we are in port, I don’t really want to eat anything since I know the food on board is going to be better! Plus, when I am onboard I can use my Ocean Medallion and the OceanNow app to have it delivered right to me. So I was happy to say the jerk chicken delivered, and I walked away full and happy.
If you have the chance to plan a cruise, I recommend the Caribbean cruise with Princess, and if you have a stop at Grand Turks, check out the Sting Ray excursion, and fill up on cocktails and jerk chicken after. In the meantime, make this super easy jerk chicken marinade so you can enjoy the flavors of the Caribbean at home.
Easy Jerk Chicken Marinade
Chicken is such a versatile meat, and one that is so inexpensive it is no wonder we buy it and use it all the time. But it can also get boring. Luckily there is nothing boring about this easy jerk chicken marinade recipe. It is bursting with flavors.
Don’t let the long-ish ingredient list keep you from making this amazing chicken marinade. It is truly easy to make, as no special cooking skills are required. In fact, you only need to do three things to make this marinade.
- Dump all ingredients into a blender or food processor.
- Blend or process until smooth
- Pour over chicken and let it marinate.
What Goes In Jerk Chicken Marinade Recipes?
The spices are what really make a jerk… hahaha now all I want to do is make jokes about what a jerk you would be if you didn’t make this recipe.
Nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon are used to give this jerk marinade some depth and complexity of flavor. And while they are not over-powering in the flavor, they do add just the right amount.
There is also ginger, thyme, and black pepper, all of which play a role in giving this a complex, pleasing flavor.
There are two kinds of onions in this marinade, the green onions and a yellow onion. They both offer a different flavor, and should both be used.
Peppers or Chilies
Jerk chicken marinade is usually spicy, and often uses Scotch Bonnet or Habanero chilies to get the heat. As someone who doesn’t mind a little heat, but often cooks for my whole family, including 4 kids, I knew I wanted a little heat, but not too much as I wanted my whole family to be willing and happy to eat this chicken.
I opted to simply use a can of green chilies. They are a mild chili and are super easy to find canned, which means no special trips to the grocery store. Plus they can be found all year round. This makes finding the ingredients easy.
But you can swap them out for a spicier variety. And depending on who you are cooking for, you may want to. My tip is to blend it all up and taste it, and if you want spicier, add a bit more chilies to the mix!
Beyond that you have lime juice, which gives some nice acidity!
Brown sugar, which sweetens it just the right amount.
Garlic and ginger which are aromatic and absolutely necessary!
Soy sauce, which adds some saltiness and complexity.
Basically it seems like a bunch of random ingredients, but combined you get a truly spectacular flavor combo that will make you oh so happy!
How Long Should I Marinate Chicken?
This is a question I get a lot, and there is no perfect answer. It depends on the marinade, and the cut of the chicken.
Annoying… I know.
So here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- Don’t store your chicken in marinade for more than 48 hours in the refrigerator. But feel free to store it in marinade in the freezer for longer. The USDA says 2 days is the limit in the fridge.
- Why are you marinading? For some cuts of meat you marinade to help tenderize the meat, for chicken this is unnecessary. You marinade to enhance flavor. Which means you only really need to marinate your chicken for as long as it takes to do that. Usually between 30 minutes to 12 hours.
- Skin on and bone in take longer than boneless, skinless. So when I make wings I like to marinate for at least 4 hours, usually overnight. When I am making chicken breasts I will give it a couple hours, but sometimes as little as 30 minutes if I am in a hurry.
- Is my marinade acidic? A marinade that is too acidic can actually toughen up the meat, so you wouldn’t want to marinate your meat more than a few hours in it. For this marinade, that is not a problem.
With this marinade, here is my personal preference:
- Chicken tenders or chicken breasts: 30 minutes to 2 hours
- Skin on chicken thighs: 12 hours -24 hours
- Chicken wings: 4 hours -12 hours, but sometimes I just let them sit overnight.
- Whole chicken: 12 + hours
I usually just throw my chicken into a zip top bag, pour the marinade over. Zip things up. Squeeze to make sure the marinade is evenly distributed and all of the chicken is getting covered, then pop it in the fridge.
This is not a very runny marinade. It does have some juiciness, but there are also chunks, so making sure it is evenly distributed is a must if you want it to give your chicken lots of fantastic flavor.
Cooking Marinated Jerk Chicken
Once you have finished marinating your chicken, it is time to cook it. And how you cook it will depend on what kind of cut the chicken is. I love grilling it, air frying it, and baking the chicken in the oven.
Here are instructions for how to cook chicken wings:
Just remember, whatever the cut of chicken, or cooking method, cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees for safe consumption.
Jerk Chicken Marinade
- 1 lime zest and juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp thyme
- 3 green onions rough chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion coarsely chopped
- 4.5 ounce green chili peppers 1 can, or use 2 habaneros
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tbs garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- ½ tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tbs ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon ground pepper coarsely ground
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour over chicken and marinate at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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