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Jerk-Spiced Chicken

Jerk-Spiced Chicken

Jerk Grill in Chicago makes some of the best chicken I've ever had. It's spicy, sweet, and fall-off-bone juicy. When I was in grad school and going to classes on the weekends, my bus would pass by Jerk. If I was willing to hop off a few stops before mine, I would pick up some amazing jerk wings or a quarter chicken to bring home for a late lunch or dinner. As a person who loves to cook, I, of course, wanted to learn how to make it myself. After some research and some help from Kelis, I came up with this version here. I have done wet jerk marinades before and they've turned out great; the only issue is I always end up making too much and the excess sits in the fridge until it spoils because I forget to get around to it. The dry rub feels more small-batch friendly.

The most important spice in jerk seasoning and a lot of Caribbean cooking is allspice. Allspice isn't a blend of a lot or all spices - it's actually one type of spice berry.  It has a spice and warmth very similar to cloves and is sold whole or ground. It's a common ingredient in many baked goods and you can find it in most grocery stores. The next time I make this, I will add onion powder and soy sauce (two traditional additions) - I didn't have either this time, so I've skipped them.

The cooking method is a great way to make really fork-tender and juicy chicken. The 45-min covered cooking helps retain the juices and the last uncovered 20 mins help concentrate the liquid, almost turning it into a glaze. It's a delicious drizzle over the chicken as you're plating. I served this chicken with some cilantro rice and a side of green beans and peas sauteed in olive oil. It was a hit!

Serves 4-6


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 skinned drumsticks
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • ground black pepper (be generous)
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Layout the chicken on a 9x13 baking dish
  3. Add the garlic, thyme, olive oil, allspice, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, black pepper, and salt to the chicken. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
  4. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 mins. 
  5. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil (it will release a lot of hot steam, watch your hands). Flip the chicken pieces over to the other side.
  6. Place back in the oven and cook for 20 mins.
  7. Plate and serve!
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