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Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Jamaican Jerk SeasoningOur recipe for jerk rub comes together quickly, and it tastes great on everything from beef to poultry to fish. Save your money and use ingredients from your pantry to make homemade Jamaican jerk seasoning. Use it as is, or turn the rub into a paste by adding scotch bonnets to make a classic jerk marinade. 

A spoon of jerk seasoning spilled on the table.

WHAT IS JERK?

“Jerk” is associated with a distinct flavor profile, but the term describes a Jamaican cooking technique of roasting meat and vegetables over an open flame. The popular jerk flavor comes from a surprising ingredient- pimento wood! Pimento trees are native to Jamaica and the wood of choice to build a fire. And wouldn’t you know it? Pimento trees produce allspice berries, one of the main ingredients in jerk seasoning. As the wood burns, natural oils release, producing smoke that infuses grilled meat with deep aromatics.

WHAT IS JAMAICAN JERK SEASONING?

This crave-worthy spice blend varies from region to region. Jerk rubs and wet sauces provide a similar smokey flavor to food without preparing your meal over an open flame, making this delicious flavor accessible to home cooks everywhere. The main ingredients in Jamaican jerk seasoning are allspice, thyme, and fresh scotch bonnets. While I don’t include scotch bonnets in this recipe, I add heat with cayenne and red pepper flakes. You can also dehydrate scotch bonnets and grind them into a powder if you want more heat and a distinctive jerk flavor.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Onion Powder: Use onion powder, not onion salt.
  •  Garlic Powder: Garlic powder adds garlicky flavor with a hint of sweetness.
  •  Cayenne Pepper: Build heat that doesn’t overwhelm using cayenne.
  •  Paprika: Smoked paprika provides warm, smoky heat.
  •  Red Pepper Flakes: Add more heat and a bit of smokiness with red pepper flakes.
  •  Cumin: Cumin lends a warm, citrusy flavor to the spice blend.
  •  Nutmeg: Nutmeg rounds out the other spices in the mixture with its nutty sweetness.
  •  Allspice: For a signature flavor and a nod to the pimento trees, include allspice.
  •  Cinnamon: Cinnamon provides color and imparts sweetness that counteracts the heat.
  •  Thyme: Dried thyme blends with the other ingredients and adds earthiness.
  •  Salt + Pepper: Use Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper.

HOW TO MAKE JAMAICAN JERK SEASONING

Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl; stir to combine.

Mix the spices for jerk seasoning together in a bowl.

Store the spice blend in an airtight container.

Store leftover jerk seasoning in an air-tight jar.

PREPARATION TIPS

  • I recommend using fresh spices and herbs, as spices lose their potency over time.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of these homemade spice blends!

Store leftover jerk seasoning in an air-tight jar.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Historically, Jamaican jerk seasoning is for chicken, pork, and fish, but this versatile spice blend is the base for many recipes.

Roasted jerk chicken on a serving plate.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • STORAGE – Once you’ve stored the jerk seasoning in an airtight jar, it will keep in your pantry or cabinet for up to 2 months.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

What’s in jerk seasoning?

Making jerk seasoning at home is the best way to get bold flavors catered to your taste buds, and all you have to do is add your favorite meat or vegetable and start cooking. Here is what we put in ours.
• Herbs – Dried thyme
• Aromatics – Onion and Garlic Powder
• Spices – Cumin, Nutmeg, Allspice, and Cinnamon
• Heat – Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes, and Smoked Paprika
• Seasoning – Salt and Pepper

What does jerk seasoning taste like?

Jamaican jerk seasoning has a sweet, smoky, earthy heat. The best part about making the spice blend at home and not just buying one at the store is that you can alter the spices to cater to your taste buds. Classic jerk seasoning often contains allspice, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin. We added other spices to the base, resulting in a salty, sweet, and smokey spice blend.

What’s a good substitute for jerk seasoning?

Honestly, there isn’t one. It’s such a versatile spice to have in your pantry, but if you don’t feel like making a homemade spice blend, I recommend purchasing the store-bought version.

YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY: 

A spoon of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning spilled on the table.

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Tressa Jamil
Our recipe for Jamaican jerk seasoning is a perfect dry rub for chicken, pork, or fish. You can also turn it into a paste or add it to soups and stews.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Spice Blends
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 8 Tablespoons
Calories 17 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • ½ tablespoon all spice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried

Instructions
 

  • Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl; stir to combine.
  • Store the spice blend in an airtight container.

Notes

Preparation Tips:
  • I recommend using fresh spices and herbs, as spices lose their potency over time.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 TablespoonCalories: 17kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gSodium: 607mgFiber: 1g
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
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