Without fail, this Jamaican jerk chicken recipe will make you wonder why all chicken recipes aren’t more flavorful. That’s what it does to me. The jerk marinade is a quick blend of hot pepper, allspice, cinnamon, thyme, bay, brown sugar, scallions, garlic, and lime juice. It infuses the chicken with such surprising exotic flavor that’s all at once bright, sweet, savory, and spicy. It’s such a nice departure from every other chicken marinade you’re used to.
I use jalapeno to add heat over the traditional scotch bonnet chile that most jerk recipes call for, because I find scotch bonnets hard to find at my local market, but if you happen to have them available near you, use it here!
After marinating, the chicken breasts only need a quick broil and they’re done! I love how they blacken a bit, while the middles stay tender and juicy—the blessing of marinating. For a dish with so much flavor, it’s amazing that there’s such a reasonable amount of calories, which just hammers home the point that flavor isn’t always created by adding fat like butter, cream, or olive oil…but by adding spices and herbs in exciting combinations. Don’t you just love that?
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed and finely chopped (or Scotch Bonnet chile if you can find it)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Combine all ingredients except for chicken in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Place chicken in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag and pour the jerk sauce over the chicken, taking care to cover all parts. Squeeze excess air from the bag, seal, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat your oven's broiler and set the top oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiler flame. Line a baking sheet with foil, set a wire cooling rack on top of the sheet and grease the rack well with canola oil. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the cooling rack and broil for 15 minutes, flipping halfway. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.