Make Your Own Jamaican Jerk Sauce for Chicken or Fish

Posted by on Feb 3, 2013 in Blog, Jamaican Food, Jamaican jerk, Jamaican Recipes | 0 comments

Make Your Own Jamaican Jerk Sauce for Chicken or Fish
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Little David's Jerk Sauce

Little David owns a jerk pit (Little David's Jerk Centre) in the village of Boston near Port Antonio, Jamaica, where jerk was born. Here's our rendition of his delicious jerk sauce & we think it's a pretty good copy. Below, we'll give you a recipe for baking jerk chicken in the oven. It's not quite the same as the one cooked over the coals and pimento wood, but we think you'll love it anyway. Give it a try!

Recipe makes about 1 3/4 cups (enough for 3 to 4 pounds of chicken)

  • 2 c. (about 8) chopped green onions, both white and green parts
  • 2 or 3 hot chiles, or to taste, minced (use Scotch Bonnet or Habanero)
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. corn oil
  • 1/3 c. crushed allspice berries, or about 1/4 c. ground allspice*
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger, or 1 1/2 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 or 3 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 to 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. beer (or 1/4 c. cider vinegar mix with 1/4 c. water), or more if necessary

*Ground allspice (pimento in Jamaica) usually has a more intense flavor than the whole berries. If you can't crush the berries yourself, then substitute about 1/4 cup of the ground seasoning so that you don't overpower the sauce.  The usual way to crush whole allspice is with a mortar & pestle, or in a coffee grinder. If you don't have either, put the berries in a strong plastic bag and pound them with a rolling pin or small hammer, on the sink or a cutting board. The bag will keep them from flying around when you hit them.


Put all of the above ingredients into a blender or food processor. Process on high speed until very smooth, adding a little more beer if needed to make a smooth juicy paste.

If you're not using the sauce right away, put it into a jar or plastic container and store in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for several months.


Serves 4 to 5.

  • 1 (3 to 3  1/2 lb.) whole chicken
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. Little David's Jerk Sauce, or more if desired (divide in half)
  • Oil for greasing broiler pan


Trim the chicken, cut it lengthwise in half or into serving pieces, and discard excess fat and skin. Rinse it with cold water and drain for about 30 minutes.

Place the chicken in a large glass bowl  and pour about 1/2 cup Jerk Sauce over the chicken. Using your hands, rub the chicken all over with the marinade, including under the skin. (You may want to wear disposable plastic gloves.)

Ideally, you should cover the container and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator overnight, rubbing it with the sauce a few times as it marinates. Do it for at least 4 hours; the longer the better.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Generously oil a large heavy roasting pan or large cast iron skillet.

Season the chicken with  a little salt, place in the pan and turn it over to coat with oil. Bake in batches if necessary. If the chicken is too crowded, it ends up being steamed.

Lightly brush the chicken all over with Jerk Sauce. Set the pan of chicken on the lower rack of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, turning over two or three times.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake the chicken about 20 minutes longer, brushing with the sauce and turning over several times.

The chicken is done when it is golden and tender and an instant thermometer reads 170 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the chicken.

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