How to Make Jerk Chicken and Ribs To Die For

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Whether it's smoking low and slow or grilling fast and hot, I absolutely love making chicken and ribs during the Summer. And my favorite preparation for making each at home has to be Jerk-style. Good jerk just has so much going for it. The spiciness makes you sweat and actually cools you off in the hot sun. And the savory and complex blend of spices makes your mouth water like nothing else (that's the best tenderizer in the world). And for some reason, jerk pairs amazingly with a cold brew, probably an outdoor cook's best friend.

There are two ways to do jerk: a dry rub made from a litany of different spices and herbs, and a wet marinade that uses an onion and soy base. I prefer the wet marinade, not only because I think it gives you better flavor, but also because you can reserve a portion of it and use it to sauce your meat after you grill it.

This recipe works with either chicken or pork, cooked any way you like. It suits grilled or smoked ribs just fine, but it's hard to beat a whole chicken cooked slow over smoldering coals or in a smoker for three to four hours. When the meat is just about falling off the bone, that's when you hit it with the sauce.

Beware: This recipe is spicy! I use Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers to give it kick. But both peppers provide great flavor as well. If you want to decrease the heat, stem and seed the peppers before blending in your food processor, and add less.

John Linn
Jerk Marinade/Sauce

1/2 onion, white or yellow preferred, roughly chopped
2 long scallions, rough chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, paper removed
6 sprigs worth of fresh thyme leaves (dried is fine if that's all you have)
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS of fresh ginger, sliced
2 tsp. allspice
.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
.5 tsp ground nutmeg
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper. More to taste.

Blend above ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. The seasoning should be fine, but add more soy sauce if necessary. Then comes the most important ingredient: Lots and lots and LOTS of coarse ground black pepper! You want to add the black pepper after blending so the coarse bits cling to the meat. This is the key to great results!

Pour about half the marinade over your meat and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Transfer the remainder of the marinade to a pot and cook over medium heat until the onion and garlic mellow and the sauce thickens slightly. Serve this over your finished jerk chicken or pork, and you'll be in Heaven.

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Darius H.
Darius H.

Is it wrong if its a little green?


Yes, you are right John. After using it as a marinade, the marinade should be cooked before using it as a sauce. BTW corn on the cob is very cheap at Publix and Walmart through this weekend. I can vouch for the corn from WalMart which is nice and large and full flavored. Not ultra-sweet. 10 cents each there.

I mention this for your BBQ weekend :)

jon t
jon t

how much ground pepper is lots and lots and lots. I am no pepper wimp. so how much we talking?

John L.
John L.

Totally, Rock. And if you want to, I suppose you could use the marinade you actually put on the meat in the sauce. Just be sure to thoroughly cook the sauce to kill any bacteria first.

Honestly, this is probably one of my favorite sauces to make with barbecue.. kind of salivating now thinking about the weekend. :-D


I compliment you on making your marinade for dual use as a sauce. I am disgusted by the usual marinades that are disposed of. For example take a marinade that calls for using a cup of soy sauce.... No way on God's green earth will I use that much soy sauce and then just chuck it. Too wasteful.

Maybe I have missed it but I have never seen a recipe that said use marinade as a sauce too. But it is common sense to do this if possible

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