Bold and spicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs that are quick to make and easy on the waistline!
When I think of jerk chicken, I think of summer… Fragrant sizzling chicken hot off the grill, tiki drink in hand, produce-heavy side dishes from the farm stand.
With each bite, the spicy heat of the chicken warms your lips and soul.
However I’ve been told that many people are nervous about making jerk chicken at home. Some feel it’s too spicy, too fatty, or just too time consuming.
Today I want to share my healthy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs recipe that addresses all these things. So you can toss away your concerns and grill fabulous jerk chicken for your family and friends this summer.
First off, jerk chicken is supposed to by spicy… Really spicy. In fact, that’s part of the fun!
I generally feel that if your nose isn’t running while eating jerk chicken, the chicken isn’t spicy enough.
However I do realize that not everyone loves spicy food the way we do. That’s ok. You can still enjoy the depth and boldness of jerk chicken, taken a few notches down in the heat department.
This all has to do with the jerk marinade made with habanero peppers. If you simply use less habaneros, and marinade the chicken for less time, your chicken will be less spicy. Shaking off a bit of the marinade also helps reduce the heat.
Second, let’s talk about the health aspect. What makes traditional jerk chicken fatty is the fact that you use bone-in chicken pieces with their skin intact.
In our Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs recipe, we use boneless skinless chicken thighs so you get rich flavor from the thigh meat, without the extra fat from the skin.
Third, let’s discuss prep time. Because traditional jerk chicken is made with bone-in skin-on chicken pieces, it takes mush longer to marinade and cook.
However when the marinade is applied directly to the chicken meat, the marination time is reduced significantly. In fact you can get a nice spicy flavor after marinating just 3-4 hours.
If you want to marinade your Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs a couple days early, thats ok too. The chicken will be extra flavorful and spicy.
Boneless chicken thighs take less than half the time to cook, compared to bone-in chicken. Just place them on the grill for 6-7 minutes per side, and dinner is served!
See? You can do this.
Making Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs takes much less time than the traditional method, offers huge flavor, and cuts out unnecessary fat and calories.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs are a great prep-ahead recipe. You can puree the jerk marinade and toss it in a bag with some chicken before work. Then come home to a quick and easy grilled dinner that everyone will love.
I’d call that a win!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs
- 4-4.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into chunks
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3-4 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded
- 1 piece fresh ginger (2-inch piece)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice + zest of 3 limes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the chicken thighs in a large gallon zip bag. Place all remaining ingredients in the food processor. Puree on high until well-combined and pasty.
- Pour the jerk marinade over the chicken in the zip bag. Close the bag tightly and gently massage the bag to ensure all the chicken thighs are coated in marinade. Refrigerate for 3 to 48 hours. (The longer the marinade time, the more complex and spicy the chicken will taste.)
- Preheat the grill to medium heat, approximately 350-400 degrees F. Once hot, carefully brush the grates with oil. Take the chicken out of the bag with tongs and grill for 5-7 minutes per side. Serve warm!
Jerk Chicken is supposed to be extremely spicy and flavorful. If you are worried the heat level, use 2-3 habaneros, then shake the marinade off the pieces of chicken as you set them on the grill. Marinading for less time will also lessen the spice level.
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