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How to Make Hot and Fiery Jamaican Jerk Seasoning at Home

How to Make Jamaican Jerk Seasoning at Home
Hot and flavorful. This is what the Jamaican jerk seasoning is all about. Made from a blend of spices and herbs, this Caribbean seasoning makes your chicken or pork hot and flavorful. Tastessence provides some excellent tips on how to make Jamaican jerk seasoning at home.
Parul Solanki
Last Updated: Jul 21, 2017
Did You Know?
Jerk refers to both, the method of cooking and the seasoning used to marinate meat before cooking.
Derived from the Spanish word charqui, which means jerked or dried meat, jerk is the process of spicing and grilling meats and vegetables. The origin of the term is linked to the pre-slavery days of the Coromantee hunters of West Africa, who were Jamaican slaves who escaped from the British during the invasion of 1655. They jerked or poked the chicken or pork with a sharp object, producing holes that was filled with spices and then cooked. The resultant chicken or pork was tender, extremely flavorful, and also very hot.

Jerk seasoning is usually a blend of sweet tropical spices and savory herbs. However, the main ingredients for the seasoning include: allspice, also known as "pimento" in Jamaica, and Scotch bonnet chili peppers. The seasoning is applied to pork and chicken, but sometimes, it is also mixed with beef, sausage, lamb, and fish. The food is then broiled or grilled to perfection, or cooked over a pit or the fireplace. Of course, there are a number of number of companies that produce traditional Jamaican Jerk seasoning such as the Walkerswood Caribbean Foods Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, Grace Jerk Seasoning, or the McCormick Gourmet Collection Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. However, if you want to make the seasoning at home, then here are some tips to help you on your way.
Ingredients Needed for Making Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Allspice powder
One of the most important ingredients in Jamaican cooking, allspice is the dried fruit of the Pimenta dioica tree. The fruits are picked when they are ripe, and then dried in sun. Once dry, they turn brown and become like huge brown peppercorns. Usually, the allspice are powdered just before use to retain their shelf life.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Scotch bonnet pepper
Scotch Bonnet, also known as Caribbean red peppers, is a type of chili pepper that is found in the Caribbean islands. Closely related to habanero peppers, Scotch bonnet is one of the spiciest peppers around, although it does have a lightly sweet taste about it. It is this sweet-heat flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in jerk seasoning as well as a variety of other Caribbean cuisine. For the dry rub, Scotch bonnet pepper powder can be used.

Instead of Scotch bonnet Pepper, habanero peppers or chipotle chilies can also be used to add a fiery taste to the seasoning. If you are apprehensive about eating something this hot, then substitute Scotch bonnet peppers with a milder pepper.
Dried thyme
Thyme is a popular perennial herb with a minty flavor and penetrating aroma that is used in many dishes. You can either use fresh or dry thyme for making the jerk seasoning. However, it is important to keep in mind that dried thyme is much more concentrated than the fresh version. So, if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, you should use around half a tablespoon of dried thyme. Other than thyme, parsley, and chopped coriander can also used to impart flavor and a fresh aroma to the recipe.
Other Spices
Spices in measuring spoons
Apart from allspice, you need other spices to impart flavor to the seasoning. Some popular spices used in Jamaican jerk seasoning include ground black pepper, ground cloves, nutmeg, garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon sticks that are roughly crushed. Sometimes, onion powder or chopped scallions are used for the seasoning as well.
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe
Jerk chicken

✔ ¼ cup sugar
✔ 2 tablespoons canola oil
✔ 1 tablespoon allspice
✔ 1 tablespoon dried thyme
✔ 2 teaspoons garlic powder
✔ 2 teaspoons salt
✔ 1 teaspoon Scotch bonnet pepper powder
✔ 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
✔ ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
✔ ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
✔ ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
✔ ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
✔ Zest of 1 lime
Method of Preparation
To make the dry rub, in a large bowl, mix all the spices and herbs, except the oil and lime juice. Mix all the ingredients well, and store in an airtight container. This Jamaican Jerk seasoning can be stored for around six months. When you are ready to use it, just mix the seasoning with some canola oil and lime juice, and apply it all over the chicken or pork. You need to use only one to two tablespoons for a pound of chicken, pork, or lamb. Some people also use soy sauce and vinegar in the recipe.

Marinate the chicken or pork for around twelve hours before grilling it or placing it over direct heat on the barbecue. The traditional method of cooking jerk meat includes slow cooking over a low heat generated by slow burning green wood, preferably pimento. Serve it with Jamaican jerk sauce.
If you are using whole spices, then it is a good idea to toast them in a pan until they turn aromatic. Then, tip them into a grinder or use mortar and pestle to crush them.
If you want to add a Caribbean zest to your chicken, lamb, pork, or fish, then this versatile seasoning is just perfect for you. The best part is that you can make it and store it for a long time.