Jerk Grilled Chicken

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For the perfect Jerk Grilled Chicken we take our Jerk Seasoning and grill chicken over charcoal for wood fire flavor. This is an easy way to elevate chicken flavor with a little heat and aromatic flavors.

Check out our jerk chicken recipe for a marinade and walkthrough of this historic Jamaican inspired dish.

Pieces of Grilled Jerk Chicken on a serving platter
Simply seasoned and grilled over charcoal.
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Chicken is the most consumed meat in the United States and expected to continue that trend for the next decade. But while chicken may sometimes seem boring, the better way to look at it is like a blank canvas. You can do so many things to elevate this piece of meat! And there is no better way to enjoy chicken than on the grill with a jerk inspired seasoning.

What is Jerk Grilled Chicken?

If you’re somebody who enjoys heat, like really hot chili heat, then grilled jerk chicken is perfect for you. Based In Jamaica and around the Caribbean, grilled jerk chicken is the way they want to cook chicken, (which inspired us to make our own version).

While you can cook it in the oven, for the purest flavor, and those exquisite char marks, grilling is ideal. The right grilled jerk chicken recipe packs a punch with perfect symmetry between heat and flavor.

It truly is a crowd-pleaser that will surely be the favorite food item at your party. Grilled jerk chicken breasts, thighs, legs, and drumsticks are great pieces to serve and will stay moist when grilled.

Jerk Seasoning Blend

A combination of aromatics, heat, and savory flavors go into our jerk seasoning. For more details in the process of creating our jerk seasoning, you can visit this article.

The Cut – Jerk Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks

When grilling chicken, we love bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks because they can handle high heat and are still tender when grilled to higher temperatures. You can buy them already separated, or you can buy the leg quarter in which the grilled jerk chicken thigh and drumstick are still connected.

Preparation and Seasoning

If you buy bone-in thighs, trim any excess fat off that hangs over the side with a good boning knife. The drumsticks won’t need much trimming at all. For grilled jerk chicken, season the meat 24 hours prior to cooking. This extra time allows the salt and some of the flavor to get into the meat in what is referred to as a dry brine.

Jerk Seasoning coated onto pieces of raw chicken
  1. Coat the chicken with extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Liberally season with the jerk seasoning. We use 1/4 cup of seasoning for every four individual cuts of chicken.
  3. Place the seasoned chicken into a gallon-size plastic bag and close. Just prior to closing all the way, squeeze out as much excess air as you can.
  4. Place in the refrigerator and allow to dry brine for 24 hours.

How to Cook Jerk Grilled Chicken

Jerk Chicken cooking on a weber kettle grill using two-zone cooking
Use the Two-Zone method of grilling for best results.
  1. Prepare grill for two-zone method of grilling using lump charcoal (briquettes are fine too). Before adding chicken to grill grate be sure the grates have warmed up for at least 5 minutes with cover of grill on.
  2. When grill is at target temperature of 450 degrees and the grate is hot, place the chicken over direct heat. Grill for 3 minutes (covered), or until the chicken has a nice sear.
  3. Flip the chicken and grill direct for another 3 minutes (covered), or until you see a nice crust form.
  4. Move chicken to indirect heat and continue grilling (covered), until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and let rest for 10 minutes to allow carry over cooking to occur and bring the internal temperature of the chicken to reach 175 – 180 degrees.
  5. Serve with your favorite sides.
Grilled Jerk Chicken pieces on a sheet-pan

Temperature Tool – Be sure to have a good instant read thermometer when grilling. We have been using the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen for over 8 years.

Gas Grill Modification – Use the same method of two-zone grilling. Simply lowering the burner makes the internal grill temperature lower.

Chicken Breasts – If you are using the same recipe for chicken breasts, follow the same process. Pull the chicken breasts when they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and let them rest for 10 minutes foiled.

For those who think removing your meat prior to grilling should happen, the reality is that it doesn’t materially change the internal temperature of the meat. Allowing the meat to rest at room temperature will actually increase the likelihood of bacterial growth. A hot direct flame will still perform as well with chicken that comes straight from the brine bag.

Other Seasoning Recipes

Any of these seasonings would also be great with this recipe also.

Side Ideas for Jerk Grilled Chicken

Jerk Grilled Chicken with dry rub on a plate.
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Jerk Grilled Chicken Recipe

An easy grilled chicken with Jerk Seasoning and cooked using a two-zone grilling method. The flavor is sweet, aromatic, and spicy.
Prep: 1 day
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total: 1 day 25 minutes
Servings: 4 people
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Ingredients 

  • 4 pieces bone in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 4 pieces bone in chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Jerk Seasoning

Instructions 

  • 24 hours prior to grilling, coat the chicken in olive oil and then liberally season with the jerk seasoning. Place in a plastic baggie and let dry brine for 24 hours.
  • Prepare grill for two-zone method of grilling using lump charcoal (briquettes are fine too). Before adding chicken to grill grate be sure the grates have warmed up for at least 5 minutes with cover of grill on.
  • When grill is at target temperature of 450 degrees and the grate is hot, place the chicken over direct heat. Grill for 3 minutes covered, or until the chicken has a nice sear.
  • Flip the chicken and grill direct for another 3 minutes covered, or until you see a nice crust form.
  • Move chicken to indirect heat and continue grilling covered, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and let rest for 10 minutes to allow carry over cooking to occur and bring the internal temperature of the chicken to reach 175 – 180 degrees.
  • Serve with your favorite sides.

Notes

Chicken Breast – If using chicken breast, follow the same steps, but cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, allowing carry over cooking to come to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Boneless Thighs – If you are using boneless thighs, they will grill faster, so stay close to grill while cooking and adjust the timing based on the sear and the internal temperature.
Chicken Quarters (Thighs and Drumsticks) – If you have a large grill space, you can use the same method with the thighs and drumsticks together as a Chicken Leg Quarter.

Nutrition

Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 244mg | Potassium: 293mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4386IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3mg

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

Additional Info

Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 25 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: grilled
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 107
Keyword: how to make jerk seasoning, jerk grilled chicken
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Vindulge

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!

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