Main dish

Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken Thighs

Jerk chicken is a mouthwatering culinary delight that combines flavors and spices in a symphony of deliciousness.

To recipe
Jamaican jerk grilled chicken thighs
Recipe insights & TIPS

I recently wrote in our Foodness Gracious newsletter that Summer = Grilling.  My kids had never tried Jamaican Jerk seasoning before this recipe, and they didn’t know what to think when I told them that we were having it for dinner.  Sure, it sounds a little funny…okay, a lot funny! 

“Jerk chicken?”  

Yes!  Jerk chicken.  I told them they were going to love it.  The first thing you will notice is the aroma.  It’s just so different than other chicken that is more boring with just salt/pepper or maybe even with a little garlic powder.  This has IT ALL.  

Oh, and they did love it just as I predicted.  Your family will too.

Jamaican jerk grilled chicken thighs

Why You’ll Love This - That One Thing

There is nothing like the sweet and spicy of jerk seasoning.  Trust me, I’ve looked.  The combination of the brown sugar, thyme, nutmeg bring a savory sweetness that blends so wonderfully well with the kick from the cayenne pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Something many may not realize also…when you add that sugar component to a dry rub on your protein, then place it on the BBQ grill, the caramelization that occurs gives the greatest tasting char ever.

Ingredients You’ll Need - Quick Snapshot

Here are the ingredients you will need (see quantities below):

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs - You can always do bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts, even drumsticks
  • Pre-Made Jerk Seasoning - If you are pressed for time or even want to go a cheaper route than purchasing 15 different seasonings, you could go with just one that did all the work for you

If you want to jump in and make a homemade jerk seasoning, here is what you will need:

  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Brown Sugar
  • Allspice
  • Parsley
  • Paprika
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove
  • Cumin

The Process

Whether you go the route of making homemade Jamaican Jerk seasoning or going the easier (and possibly cheaper depending on what you have in your cabinet already), this chicken recipe is so easy.

First, it all starts with the foundation of the recipe…the seasoning!

Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken Thighs

Once you have your chicken thawed, you can coat your chicken on both sides with the seasoning.

Jamaican Jerk Grilled Chicken Thighs

After your grill is warmed up to a medium/high heat, it is time to put that glorious chicken on the grill.

jamaican jerk grilled chicken thighs

Chicken is not something where there is a significant amount of debate about the desired temperature.  Cooking the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is commonly considered to be fully cooked.  

When in doubt, you can always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the thickest piece of chicken.  If that reads 165 degrees, you can be confident that the thinner pieces of chicken will also be at 165 degrees or higher.  

Pull the chicken off the grill and let it rest for 3-5 minutes before serving to ensure all the juices stay inside the chicken.  

That’s it!  You’re ready to serve!

jamaican jerk grilled chicken thighs

Did You Know

Why does jerk chicken include the word “jerk” anyway?

Jerk chicken is a mouthwatering culinary delight that combines flavors and spices in a symphony of deliciousness. But have you ever wondered why the word "jerk" goes so perfectly with this fiery feast? Well, let me regale you with a fun-filled explanation!

Firstly, let's talk about the word "jerk" itself. Just say it out loud - "jerk." It's a word that packs a punch, much like the flavors of jerk chicken. There's a certain playfulness to it, a mischievousness that perfectly captures the essence of this zesty dish.

Now, let's delve into the origins of jerk chicken. Picture this: a group of passionate chefs huddled around a smoking grill, their faces lit up with excitement and maybe a touch of mischief. They're adding a concoction of spices, herbs, and secret ingredients, creating a flavor profile that is bold, vibrant, and, well, a little bit rebellious. And what better word to describe this rebelliousness than "jerk"?

When you take that first bite of jerk chicken, you're hit with an explosion of flavors. The heat from the scotch bonnet peppers, the aromatic blend of allspice and thyme, the hint of sweetness from brown sugar - it's a flavor journey that can make your taste buds dance with delight. And that dance, my friend, is akin to the spirited movement of a playful jerk.

Jerk chicken is not your average, run-of-the-mill dish. It's a rebel, a renegade in the world of chicken preparations. It dares to be different, to stand out from the crowd. And the word "jerk" encapsulates that spirit of nonconformity. It's like the mischievous class clown in the culinary world, always ready to make you smile and keep you on your toes.

But let's not forget the fun side of jerk chicken itself. Whether it's a vibrant beachside barbecue or a casual backyard gathering, jerk chicken brings people together in joyous celebration. And what better way to describe the laughter and camaraderie that ensues than by using the word "jerk"? It's like a friendly poke, a playful jab that creates an atmosphere of merriment and cheer.

So, my dear friend, the word "jerk" is a delightful companion to the tantalizing world of jerk chicken. It captures the mischievousness, the rebellion, the boldness, and the sheer joy that this dish embodies. So, the next time you indulge in a plate of jerk chicken, remember to savor not only the flavors but also the whimsical connection between that delectable dish and its perfect culinary partner - the word "jerk"!

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My kids had never tried Jamaican Jerk seasoning before this recipe, and they didn’t know what to think when I told them that we were having it for dinner.

Main dish
15 minutes
Total TIME:
25 minutes
10 minutes



  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

Ingredient Swaps


  • 3.5 oz. container of Simple Truth Organic Jamaican Style Grill Spice


  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs


  1. Thaw the 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs
  2. Heat grill to medium/high heat
  3. To make the jerk seasoning, combine the ingredients listed below
  4. OR if you want to make your life a lot easier because you’re crazy busy at home and work, you can purchase Jamaican Jerk seasoning already prepared for you. We used Simple Truth Organic Jamaican Style Grill Spice (3.5oz)
  5. Coat the chicken with the jerk seasoning
  6. Cook the chicken thighs to required doneness (approximately 165 degrees internal temperature)
  7. Serve!
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