How To Make Jamaican Jerk Seasoning


How do you make Jamaican jerk seasoning or jerk sauce? Do you know what jerk is and where it comes from? If you have ever been to Jamaica and had it, then certainly you would have been hooked to this authentic Jamaican flavor.

Jamaica jerk is very popular. There are several sauces that can be served with the meat after it is jerked but the spice used on the meat before cooking and how the meat is cooked is what makes it a jerk chicken, pork, or whatever meat you prefer.

The marinade is known as jerk seasoning or spice, not a jerk sauce. In this article, I have provided the recipes for:

  • jerk sauce, served with prepared meat and seafood
  • jerk marinade (wet rub)
  • jerk spice (dry rub)
  • variations

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, Spice or Marinade

Jerk is not just a spice but a method of cooking. Without certain ingredients in the spice and the meat being cooked a certain way you cannot truly call it a jerk.

After seasoning or marinating the meat it is usually cooked over pit or fireplace. Pimento wood is placed over the hot coals and the meat is placed directly on top of the wood. To steam the meat so that it remains moist with its own juices, you can place some pimento branches on top of the meat. (Pimento is also known as allspice)

The wood and branches must be green so they can hold the moisture and wont catch fire. After the meat is steamed then the branches are removed and the meat continues to cook until it gets a nice brown color.

The method for cooking the meat over the pit is now only done in a few places still, and a grill replaces the pit; but adding a few wood chips help to give that smoky flavor. The spice has not changed.


  • The Jamaican jerk seasoning/spice does not have soy sauce.
  • The Jamaican jerk spice does not have sage.
  • The Jamaican jerk spice does not have cinnamon.
  • The Jamaican jerk spice does not have orange juice/
  • The Jamaican jerk spice does not have olive oil!
  • The Jamaican jerk spice does not have lime juice!
  • The Jamaican jerk spice may have black pepper, only by your choice, but not as a general rule.

Using olive oil or soy sauce will change the authenticity of the spice. When marinating your meat use coconut oil or vegetable oil.


The Wet Jerk Spice: Marinade


(good for a whole chicken)

  • 2 medium onions, shredded
  • 3 large stalks scallion, mashed in a mortar
  • Large branch of fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves (if using fresh thyme break up the sprigs and get off as many leaves as possible)
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded or your preferred hot pepper finely minced (use more pepper if that suits you)
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed to a paste
  • 3 tablespoons pimento seeds, ground coarsely or ½ tablespoon ground pimento
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil


Shred onion, then mash garlic to a paste and place in a medium bowl. Pull off thyme leaves if using fresh thyme or add dried thyme to bowl. Grind the pimento seeds to the consistency of cracked black pepper. Finely mince hot pepper and add to bowl. Crush the scallion and add to bowl. Finally add salt and oil, mix thoroughly to combine. Use all the spice.

If using a blender:

You can use a blender to blend everything. Chop the onions, garlic and scallion and add to blender with salt and oil and pulse slowly until you get a smooth paste. You will now get a nice puree. Add garlic and puree, then add whole pimento seeds and pulse three times. Add fresh thyme with stalks and other ingredients, then pulse a couple of times. This will be smoother than the hand made version but still effective. I personally prefer the hand made version.

Tip: Don't remove skin from chicken. Cut chicken in desired sizes, or quarter a whole chicken, rinse chicken with a vinegar solution and pat dry. Use fingers to rub marinade into each piece of chicken.Using fingers, rub some of the seasoning under the skin of the chicken. Do the same with pork.

Please Rate Jamaica Jerk Seasoning Recipe

3.8 stars from 18 ratings of Jamaica Jerk Seasoning

The Dry Jerk Spice: Rub


(easy to put together)

  • 3 tablespoons cracked pimento seeds
  • 2 tablespoon whole pimento seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dry pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon garlic flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 2 tablespoons salt


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use three tablespoons for a whole chicken. Store the rest in an airtight container.

The Jerk Sauce

Jamaica has also developed fruit flavored sauces that you can have with anything, but there are so many flavours. These sauces are not specifically for jerk but if you like a sauce with your meat you can have them.

Here is a simple recipe for a sauce.


  • 1/2 can cranberry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (or finely minced hot pepper)
  • 1 level teaspoon finely ground pimento
  • pinch of salt (optional)


In a saucepan heat cranberry sauce on low and stir in your honey. The sauce should not bubble but should be heated right through so that flavours blend. Stir in pimento and pepper. Add a pinch of salt if needed.

Serve with jerk chicken or jerk pork.


Any fruit purée or nectar can be used for your jerk sauce, such as mango, guava, or any of your favourite tangy, flavourful fruit.

Alternative Sauce

This is the Jamaican sauce used with jerk chicken on the street (poor people sauce).


  • 1/4 cup catchup
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper minced
  • 2 tablespoons water (more if needed)


Whisk everything together and you are ready.

© 2012 Carolee Samuda

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Comments 34 comments

Rastamermaid profile image

Rastamermaid 4 years ago from Universe

Okay you got me,I'm going to try to make my own. Walkerwood and Grace make it so easy just to pick up all ready prepared. Even for rundown but sis,you given me that push to attempt to make for myself.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Kelli, It's very easy to make! You can try the dry spice which will keep longer but the wet spice gives a stronger flavour. Let me know how it turns out.

Thanks for stopping by, please enjoy your weekend.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Jamaican Jerk is delicious! It has quite a kick that satisfies the taste buds!! We use it with pork and when we make homemade jerky. Fantastic hub!! You rocked it!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Sunshine girl, nice seeing you. Thank you. Now you can make the jerk seasoning yourself! The main thing that give jerk the flavour is the pimento seeds!

Have a blessed day!

pandula77 profile image

pandula77 4 years ago from Norway

A great hub and a wonderful presentation. Thanks.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Pandula77, have a great day!

point2make profile image

point2make 4 years ago

A great hub. I have had jerk pork but now I think I will be able to make it myself with your helpful instructions. Thanks for the tips and now to the kitchen.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Point2make. I really hope your jerk turns out well. Let me know how it turns out. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I love the new avatar! You have made my day, Carolee.

This recipe sounds delicious. Bad time to read recipe hubs before lunch. :)

Now, I need to find green to wear today...

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Flora, well it's a spice recipe so don't let the chicken photo fool

I feel great in my new was your suggestion, thanks!

Is today St. Patrick's day? We don't celebrate it here so I don't know much about it. I wish I could recommend something other than fig leaves for you to wear but I guess you are no joking about fig

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Hey, I dunk a lot of bread in sauces and yes indeed, the chicken looks delicious.

I have a green scarf and earrings. I can wear those.

Fig leaves would be way too cold for this time of year. Must wear more clothing.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Save the fig leaves for another season and wear the scarf and earring! Bread in sauces, hmmmm, yes I can relate.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Thank you so much for answering my question. I've been dying to know how to make Jerk Sauce and was wanting an authentic recipe.

I go to the Mariposa Folk Festival here in Orillia every summer and they have this one food stand that has Jerk Chicken that I absolutely love. Now that you've provided me with a recipe I can have Jerk Chicken anytime I want.

Thanks again.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Susan, you are welcome. I wasn't sure what you meant by sauce because we call it seasoning or spice. Some people like a sauce with the chicken after it's cooked but the real flavour comes from the seasoning. Glad I could help.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Cardisa! You got your hair did! Lol. Ok well something is different! Love the new avatar!

I loved this hub though - never ever knew how to make this - but I'll give it a whirl! Thanks a bunch!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Kelly, I had a great hairdresser and

I really hope you make your own jerk chicken and see how easy it is to make!

Have a great weekend!

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

It's all in the pimento seeds. Very interesting! Thank you Cardisa!:)

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

You are welcome Linda. Please have a blessed Sunday!

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This is just what i needed as I have been disappointed in the jarred sauces, even the commercial dried "jerk" seasonings we get here. One question..can i assume that the pimento seeds are the same as the seeds in a sweet red pepper? Thanks and bookmarked!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Ho Green Lotus, no the pimento seeds loon just like peppercorns and grows on a tree all to themselves. They are actually pimento berries that have been harvested and dried so they come out like seeds. The other name is allspice and you might be able to get the ground allspice.

A lot of people try to figure out the jerk seasoning and try to make it but have come up short. Even here in Jamaica we have people making a crappy version and selling to people. I was thinking of doing my own spice brand but still thinking about it. I don't want anything to distract me from my writing.

I hope my recipe helped, thank you for stopping by. Have a great day.

Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

I love Jamaican Jerk anything. I have been to Montego bay twice. and that's all we ate.. wonderful I am book marking this thanks for sharing

voting up


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Deborah, I am so glad you like Jamaica and our jerk

Thank you so much, have a wonderful evening.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Just realized that this hub won the daily draw prize for Friday. Congratulations.

Ruby H Rose profile image

Ruby H Rose 4 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

Oh I cannot wait to try making some of this, it sounds so good. I love trying out new ideas. Great hub, and congrats on your win!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Flora, was I surprised when I got that email yesterday! I never really expected to win since I don't really publish everyday.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thnk Ruby, I hope you like the jerk seasoning/marinade or spice, it's really good.

Have a great day.

jenubouka 4 years ago

How in the world did I miss this hub?! Awesome, I have a piece of chicken that needs to be prepared and I do believe fate has lead me here to Jerk it up! I have always been a huge fan of Jerk seasoning and have fused these spices along with an Asian influence, needless to say it was phenomenal, as is this hub!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Jen, didn't recognize you there for a few seconds. Thanks for stopping by and I do hope that your chicken turns out well. Let me know.

tapasrecipe profile image

tapasrecipe 4 years ago from Spanish tapas land

Hi Cardisa,

have bookmarked this for the impending summer season,thank you so much

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Tapasrecipe. I am honoured to have you visit my hubspace. glad you liked the recipes.

kate wong 4 years ago

This is a great recipe, but am curious to see there is no brown sugar, as in many recipes I've seen. is there any specila reason why sugar is added, or not? Thanks

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Kate Wong, thank you for visiting my hubspace.

I find that people who have no idea about the authentic Jamaican spices tend to think that sugar is added to them. Sugar gives a sweet flavor and tend to burn easily thus giving the meat a dark flavour, so maybe that's the reason that people might add it to their spices. The original jerk spice does not have sugar because sugar tend to mask the other flavours with it's sweetness.

Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 4 years ago from Bangalore,India

Wonderful recipe and great pics. Congrats on winning.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Purple Perl, thanks for reading and commenting.

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