A Spicy Perspective

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe – Bold and spicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs that are quick to make and easy on the waistline!

Jerk Chicken Recipe up close

Caribbean Chicken

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.

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Bring Jamaica Into Your Home

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.

How to Make Healthy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs Recipe | ASpicyPerspective.com

What Ingredients You Will Need

Ingredients

  • 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 (or scotch bonnets)
  • 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
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How To Make Jerk Chicken

Instructions

Place the chicken thighs in a large gallon zip bag. Place all remaining ingredients for the jerk chicken marinade in the food processor. Blend 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/medium-high 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!

Notes

Jerk Chicken is supposed to be extremely spicy and flavorful. If you are worried about 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.

Jerk Chicken Marinade, grilled onto the chicken

Jerk Chicken Marinade Tips & Tricks

This all has to do with the jerk marinade made with habanero peppers. If you simply use fewer habaneros and marinate 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 the 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 much 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 for just 3-4 hours.

If you want to marinade your Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs a couple of days early, that’s 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make This Dish Ahead of Time?

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs are a great prep-ahead recipe. You can puree the jerk marinade and toss it in a bag with the chicken pieces before work. Then come home to a quick and easy grilled dinner that everyone will love.

When Do I Know The Chicken Is Fully Cooked?

You will know the chicken is fully cooked when the internal temperature hits 165 degrees F. 

Can the Thighs Be Baked?

Yes, you can bake them at 400 degrees F for 13-15 minutes, for boneless thighs.

Would the Lime Juice in the Marinade “Cook” the Chicken?

I believe this is a little bit of an old wives tale. Although delicate seafood will “cook” in lime juice, I’ve never noticed any negative effect of marinating chicken in citrus for long periods of time. Also, the sugar and spices take the acidity down significantly.

Quick & Healthy Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs Recipe | ASpicyPerspective.com

Other Amazing Dinner Recipes

Check the printable recipe card below for nutritional information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, and vitamin percentages.

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5 from 11 votes
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Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Quick and tasty Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs Recipe. A healthy, faster version of authentic jerk chicken, using boneless skinless chick thighs.
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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!

Video

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1thigh, Calories: 168kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 53mg, Sodium: 1303mg, Potassium: 260mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 215IU, Vitamin C: 37.4mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 1.6mg
Course: Healthy, Main Course
Cuisine: Jamaican
Author: Sommer Collier

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22 comments on “Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs”

  1. Great! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, My wife loves it. She got surprised. Yeah. I am going to try this for my friends too. Nice. Thanks for your guide.

  2. Such a delicious & easy dinner recipe!! LOVED IT. 

  3. Wow! These were so yummy, better than anything from a restaurant! Loaded with flavor!

  4. This chicken had the most amazing flavor! Love the easy instructions.

  5. delicious, always make a big batch to eat and freeze for later!

  6. Given how much lime juice is in the marinade I would strongly suggest that you do NOT let them marinade for longer than three hours, and certainly not overnight or for a few days. When putting chicken (ot really any meat) into a marinade with a significant amount of citric acid, you can very quickly end up “cooking” it in the bag, via that acid….basically how ceviche is “cooked”. The result is meat that is denatured, often tough and dry, and will have an unpleasant tecture. Honestly, your best bet is to just leave out the lime juice altogether.

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for weighing in… I believe this is a little bit of an old wives tale. Although delicate seafood will “cook” in lime juice, I’ve never noticed any negative effect by marinating chicken in citrus for long periods of time. Also, the sugar and spices take the acidity down significantly. Hope this helps!

  7. Pingback: Caribbean Coleslaw Recipe - A Spicy Perspective

  8. My son wanted jerk chicken for his graduation lunch today and I made these! They were fantastic! I served them with peas and rice and sauteed greens.

  9. I substituted the three habenero peppers with two tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Habenero Sauce. This sauce, in taste, and heat resembles the Scotch Bonnet peppers more so the habenero ones. I could the thighs on a stove-top grill. They should be much better on a charcoal grill.

  10. Made this with my husband last night. I added 2 habanero peppers and it had a decent kick- may go up to 3 next time! Only modification I made was I used chicken breast instead of thigh. This will definitely become a summer staple in our house!

  11. I don’t have a grill at home. Can the thighs be baked?

  12. This is summer grilling at it’s best! Yum!

  13. Trying this weekend. They look so good. We are huge fans of grilling chicken thighs. Love having a new recipe to check out.

  14. Look at those grill marks! Perfection. Definitely adding this to my must-make list.

  15. Great recipe for summer entertaining!

  16. Love all those bold flavors in the marinade!

  17. I adore jerk chicken! Love the grill marks!

  18. I love the bold flavors of this dish!

  19. I agree — the spiciness is part of the fun!! I’m dying to try your recipe…I think it would be perfect on a salad!!