Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe (for chicken or pork)

5 from 1 vote
Jump to Recipe

Sharing is caring!

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning blend is a flavorful Jamaican inspired spicy dry rub with heat, savory, and herbal flavors. And it’s such an easy recipe to make yourself at home to use for a number of jerk recipes. It’s an awesome blend of spicy that’s perfect with any savory dishes on your menu.

A mason jar full of Jerk Seasoning

Recipe Highlights

  • Versatile spice blend historically used on chicken and wild boar and can be used as a base for a Jamaican Jerk Marinade
  • The moderately spicy blend of exotic flavors historically features spice from scotch bonnet peppers
  • If your looking for an alternative with minimal heat try our Cajun seasoning

What is Jerk Seasoning?

Jerk seasoning is a combination of spices that provides a balance of sweet, heat, aromatics, and savory flavors. Authentic Jamaican Jerk may apply to mixes of jerk spice, jerk marinade, and the basic style of cooking that comes from Jamaican cuisine over historically live fire cooking with pimento wood.

This spice blend consists of brown sugar, heat from cayenne, savory flavors like onion and garlic, and balanced with allspice (a dried berry that has been ground into a powder) and other baking spices.

Traditional jerk technique is about grilling hot and fast over wood or charcoal using the seasoning or a jerk marinade. We have a recipe for jerk grilled chicken that is an easy way to use the seasoning.

Jerk Seasoning Ingredients

  • Sweet – We use light brown sugar for our sweet element. Dark is fine too, but it brings a richer flavor.
  • Savory – Onion and garlic powder are the primary savory flavors. Note we use garlic powder in this (not granulated garlic), which is a more intense garlic flavor. Granulated garlic is fine as well, just adjust to taste since the grains are larger.
  • Salt – Our go-to is kosher salt for every seasoning we make.
  • Heat – We use dried cayenne pepper to bring in some heat.
  • Herbal – Dried thyme bring an herbal component.
  • Aromatics – This is one of the main components with the key being allspice, followed by ground ginger. We round that out with some ground cinnamon and cloves. This is what distinguishes a jerk inspired seasoning.
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning in a bowl

The flavor profile of the heat level can very depending on the dried hot peppers used. Consider substituting based on your heat tolerance. One of the best ways for a hotter spice mixture is to use dried habanero peppers or scotch bonnets. You can find the more unique dried peppers online or at a local specialty spice shop.

How to Make Jerk Seasoning

  1. Like any spice blend, simply combine all the ingredients together in a bowl to combine.
  2. Using a funnel, place the jerk seasoning into a mason jar or other container that can be sealed tightly.
  3. Serve as needed in recipes.

For more heat add more cayenne. We have tried this as well with red chili pepper flakes, but we did not like the larger flake consistency in the rub compared with adding more cayenne.

We also made this same portion with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. This does add a sweeter element to the seasoning. If you want more sweet balance with small increments of salt.

Storing Spice Blends

To preserve the jerk chicken seasoning spice blend, store in mason jars (or any airtight container) in a cool dark part of the pantry. This prevents light from hitting the jar causing heat or any liquid to dilute the spice over time. This seasoning will last up to three months properly stored.

A good way to tell if your spices are beginning to go stale is to keep an eye on the color. If you notice the pigment of your blending starting to fade then this can indicate it to be stale.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Jerk Seasoning Healthy?

The health benefits of jerk seasoning results from the nutrients consisted in the herbs and spices. Important minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium are found in abundance within most spices. Our spice blend is also a very good source of manganese.

Jerk seasoning can have a positive effect on your daily energy production, new blood cell formation, sleep better, and improve brain functioning. It has also been found to keep your skin and hair strong and healthy, including fighting infection in your body.

Ideal Jerk Seasoning Substitute?

There might not be a suitable substitute for jerk chicken seasoning at your local grocery store, so your best choice is to make sure you’re using this recipe. That being said, if you can’t find those particular ingredients, try to get as near as possible.

In any other case, just try using one of the following ingredients right down below that might get you fairly close.

Other Grilled Chicken Recipes

Other Seasonings and Rubs

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
5 from 1 vote

Jerk Seasoning Recipe

A blend of herbal and baking spices combined with heat for the perfect blend of flavors. A great Jamaican Jerk Seasoning for pork or chicken.
Prep: 5 minutes
Servings: 0.5 cups


  • 8-Ounce Mason Jar (for storage)


  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, Dark works as well
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves


  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix together.
  • Using a large funnel or spoon, transfer the rub into a small 8-ounce mason jar. Seal and store in a cool, dry part of your pantry. Will last for 2 months before clumping. Use on grilled chicken or pork.


For more heat consider using more cayenne. We tested with red chili pepper flakes and the grain size difference from the red chili flakes versus the rest of the rub was not a pleasant texture.
If all you have is granulated garlic (versus garlic powder) use 1 1/2 tablespoons. The granulated garlic has larger grains and won’t be as intense.


Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7000mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 1781IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 156mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Course: Entree, seasoning
Cuisine: Caribbean, Jamaican
Servings: 0.5 cups
Calories: 189
Keyword: how to make jerk seasoning, jamaican jerk seasoning, jerk chicken seasoning, jerk rub, jerk seasoning, what is jerk seasoning
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

mary cressler headshot


About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.