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Authentic Jamaican Jerk Marinade

This marinade is packed with bold flavors and spices that will elevate your meat, poultry, or vegetables to new heights.

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Have you ever tasted a dish that instantly transports you to a tropical island, with its vibrant flavors and mouthwatering aroma? That’s the magic of Jamaican Jerk Marinade!

There are many variations of jerk marinade.

Coming from a Jamaican family, this is how I learned to make my own jerk marinade. It’s a little sweet, and spicy, and incorporates a depth of flavor that is unmatched.

In my opinion, it tastes best grilled, but if you’ve got an over, or an air fryer, you can certainly make delicious jerk-marinated dishes.

In this post, we will explore the origins and importance of this traditional Jamaican marinade, its essential ingredients, and how to prepare it perfectly.

A Taste of History: The Origins of Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Jerk Marinade Beauty

Jamaican Jerk Marinade has a rich history that dates back to the 17th century when formerly enslaved Jamaican Maroons, combined their culinary skills and local ingredients to create this iconic seasoning.

The word “jerk” comes from the term charqui, which means to burn or dry meat, like jerky.

Jerk marinade combines spices and other aromatic ingredients like scotch bonnet peppers, onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, and allspice to create a spicy mix that can be used to flavor meat.

This flavorful marinade is synonymous with Jamaican culture, representing the island’s resilience, creativity, and love for bold and deep flavors.

Essential Ingredients of Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Some ingredients for jamaican jerk marinade laid out on a wooden cutting board.

The beauty of Jamaican Jerk Marinade lies in the harmony of its many herbs, spices, and other flavorings.

A lot of recipes on the internet don’t get it quite right – opting to use lots of powdered ingredients and soy sauce, rather than fresh herbs and spices.

Here are the key ingredients that make this marinade truly unique:

1. Allspice (Pimento): The dried berries of the pimento tree, allspice is the backbone of this marinade. It imparts a warm, sweet-spicy flavor that’s unmistakably Jamaican.

2. Scotch Bonnet Peppers: These fiery peppers add a kick of heat and fruity undertones to the marinade. Habanero peppers are a great substitute.

3. Thyme: Fresh thyme adds a subtle earthy, minty flavor to the mix.

4. Green Onions (Scallions): These aromatic onions provide a mild, sweet flavor and crunchy texture.

5. Garlic: A classic ingredient that adds depth and richness to the marinade.

6. Ginger: Fresh ginger gives the marinade a warm, zesty bite.

7. Brown Sugar: A touch of sweetness to balance the heat and enhance the flavors.

8. Browning: Adds a savory, umami element to the marinade, and provides that deep brown color. You can also use Soy Sauce, or Tamari in place of soy sauce.

9. Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice provides acidity and brightens up the flavors. The juice of orange, or lemon also makes for great flavor.

10. Spices: A blend of nutmeg, and cloves adds warmth and complexity to the marinade.

Tips for Perfectly Marinated Meat, Poultry or Vegetables

Marinating chicken in jerk marinade

1. Make sure to thoroughly coat your choice of meat, poultry, or vegetables with the marinade, allowing it to penetrate deeply.

2. For best results, marinate your ingredients for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight, in the refrigerator.

3. When cooking, use indirect heat, such as grilling or roasting, to ensure the marinade doesn’t burn and become bitter.

Enjoying Jamaican Jerk Dishes: A Complete Meal

Jerk marinade in a food processor

To fully appreciate the magic of Jamaican Jerk Marinade, serve your jerk dishes alongside traditional Jamaican accompaniments like rice and peas, fried plantains, steamed cabbage or a refreshing cucumber-tomato salad.

And don’t forget a cold glass of Jamaican rum punch or Sorrel tea.

We hope this post has inspired you to explore the delicious world of Jamaican Jerk Marinade. It’s time to bring the flavors of the island to your kitchen and create unforgettable meals for your loved ones.

Get the full recipe, ingredients, and video below for this Jamaican Jerk Marinade!

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Jerk Marinade Beauty

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

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  • Author: Mila Clarke
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Diet: Diabetic
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This marinade is packed with bold flavors and spices that will elevate your meat, poultry, or vegetables to new heights.


Units Scale
  • 1 bunch fresh scallions
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 45 garlic cloves
  • 1, 1″ knob of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp pimento seeds (allspice berries)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pimento peppers (for flavor), if available
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper (with seeds for added spice)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 12 tbsp browning (or substitute with 1 tbsp soy sauce for a lower-sugar option)
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar (or sugar substitute such as stevia or erythritol)
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • Juice and rind of 1/2 lime


  1. In a blender or food processor, combine the scallion, thyme, garlic cloves, ginger slices, pimento seeds, pimento peppers, Scotch bonnet pepper, chopped onion, salt, black pepper, grated nutmeg, browning, sugar, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice and rind.
  2. Blend or process the ingredients until you achieve a smooth paste-like consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
THE authentic Jamaican Jerk Marinade you ALWAYS needed (from a Jamaican!) 🇯🇲 | The Hangry Woman


There are many subs you can make if you can’t find the original ingredients:

  • Sub Scotch Bonnet Pepper for Habanero
  • Sub Browning with soy sauce or tamari
  • Use a brown sugar substitute for less sugar
  • Sub apple cider vinegar for white vinegar
  • Sub a lemon for a lime.
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Category: Sauces & Marinades
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Jamaican


  • Serving Size: 1/4 batch per pound of protein or veggies.
  • Calories: 69
  • Sugar: 5.1 g
  • Sodium: 297.9 mg
  • Fat: 2.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.3 g
  • Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Protein: 1.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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About Mila

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m earning my Master’s degree in Applied nutrition.

I’m a journalist and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living with  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen, and teaching you about diabetes self-management.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals and tips on diabetes self-care.

Be sure to download my FREE Diabetes Community App Glucose Guide, or reach out for FREE 1:1 diabetes health and habit coaching.

How can I help with your diabetes management?

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One Response

  1. Wow, this recipe for authentic Jamaican jerk marinade sounds delicious! I can almost smell the aromatic blend of spices and flavors just by reading the ingredients list. I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing!

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