If the idea of chicken for dinner (again) doesn’t exactly excite you then you haven’t tried this Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe. Jerk chicken is the most popular Jamaican dish to have been exported from the island, and for good reason too! It’s hard to find a chicken recipe that yields a more flavorful, succulent or moist piece of meat. I would say only a Coq a Vin recipe can compete on all levels.
Jerk chicken is Jamaica to the core, aromatic and smoky, hot and sweet and all things good. All of the ingredients used in the conventional Jerk Chicken recipe grow on the lush green island of Jamaica but the ingredients are readily available here in the States too, so there’s no problem replicating the authentic flavor profile. There is a problem replicating the authentic procedure though. A REAL Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe is cooked over not just coals, but also over fresh green wood; most traditionally wood from the pimento tree, which is native to the Caribbean. The Pimento tree delivers a key jerk chicken ingredient—allspice berries, which are used in the marinade. I do not have access to fresh green wood and I don’t have all day to spend cooking my Jerk chicken, so my version is not the completely authentic version but it’s a simplified one and the end result is still pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.
Any Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe partners perfectly with a sweet and chunky fruit salsa and for this one I am using a mango salsa with cilantro, lime, avocado and jalapeno.
The Cleanest Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
Once you do away with the sugar and vegetable oil in the marinade, the rest of the ingredients in a traditional Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe are all healthy, clean and good. However, if you are following a clean eating diet you’ll just want to make sure to look for chicken that is pasture-raised. This is not the same as “free range” and it is much more important than choosing “organic.”
Also, to keep pro-inflammatory saturated fat down to a minimum, I like to use skinless chicken thighs, which I meticulously trim of all visible fat. I find the chicken thighs to have considerably more flavor and maintain a much higher moisture content as compared to chicken breasts.
And finally, don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients! I know they may seem extensive, but the ingredients are for both the chicken and the marinade. It really just requires a little chopping, a whirl in the food processor and a little grilling. And trust me, the end result is SO well worth it!
- 1 red onion (chopped)
- 8 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 habanero chiles (seeded)
- 4 scallions (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 1/2 teaspoons allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (divided)
- 3 tablespoons unpasteurized soy sauce (such as Namu Shoyu)
- 3 tablespoons organic (unrefined red palm oil OR organic, extra virgin coconut oil, melted)
- 1 tablespoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s)
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt
- 2 1/4 pounds pasture-raised boneless (skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of all visible fat)
- 2 mangoes (diced)
- 1 firm avocado (diced)
- 1 shallot (finely chopped)
- 1 jalapeno (seeded and finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- To make the marinade, combine the red onion, garlic, habanero chiles, scallions, thyme, paprika, allspice, cinnamon, 1/4 cup of the lime juice, soy sauce, oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and sea salt in a food processor. Process to form a smooth paste. Transfer to a large shallow dish, add the chicken and turn to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results.
- Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Grill, turning and basting occasionally with the marinade for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To make the salsa, combine the mangoes, avocado, shallots, jalapeno, cilantro and remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice in a medium-sized bowl. Gently toss all ingredients. Season with a little salt and serve with the chicken.
LOOKING FOR MORE HEALTHY DINNER RECIPES?
If you liked the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital