Recipe: Jamaican Jerk Sauce

Jamaican Flag

This is a versatile recipe for a chicken or pork marinade. It uses the traditional spices of Jamaica to make a fine bbq for a Texas backyard. Our colorful corn salad or chopped salad would pair well with this for a great summer meal. Jamaican jerk is sweet, spicy and wonderful in all ways. This recipe is enough for two 3-4 pound chickens, or a slab or two of ribs.


  • 6 scallions, whites and tops
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (1-2 inch hunk, I don't really measure)
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or 1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

I tend to be a little lazy on mixing the marinade. I just chunk up the veggies, peel the ginger, seed the peppers and toss it all in the food processor for a whirl. I don't actually measure the ginger either, I just add a 1-2 inch hunk. If you prefer, you can finely chop the first five ingredients and then add all the spices and give it another whirl in the food processer, then slowly pour in the juices, vinegar and soy sauce while the processer is running, finish by slowly adding the olive oil. Allow the marinade to sit for at least an hour before adding meat. I like mine spicy, but peppers can be tricky so adjust the amount of peppers or the type to suit your tastes. Scotch bonnets are typically the pepper of choice for jerk sauces, but use what you like.

I usually marinate the meat overnight. With chicken, I often start it in the oven and finish it on the grill, but going from start to finish on the grill works too. Keep the heat low and steady to allow the meat to cook through, brush with the marinade and turn frequently while cooking for the fullest flavor.

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