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Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Jerk SeasoningOur recipe for jerk chicken rub is easy to throw together and it tastes great on everything from meat to poultry to fish. Save your money and use ingredients from your pantry to make homemade jerk seasoning. Use the rub as is or turn it into a paste by adding scotch bonnets to make a classic jerk marinade. Our Caribbean-flavored spice blend is also a great addition to soup and stew. 

A spoon of jerk seasoning spilled on the table.

WHAT IS JERK?

“Jerk” is often associated with a distinct flavor profile. However, the term describes a cooking method; “Jerk” refers to the Jamaican technique of cooking meat and vegetables over an open flame. The jerk flavor we all love comes from a surprising ingredient- pimento wood! Pimento trees are native to Jamaica and the wood of choice when building a fire to cook. 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 JERK SEASONING?

This crave-worthy spice blend varies from region to region and home to home. Jerk dry rubs and wet sauces add similar savory and smokey flavor to food without cooking over an open flame, making this delicious flavor accessible to home cooks everywhere. The main ingredients in jerk spices are allspice, thyme, and fresh scotch bonnets. While I don’t include scotch bonnets in this recipe, I attempt to add heat using 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: Be sure to use onion powder and not onion salt.
  • Garlic Powder: Garlic powder adds garlicky flavor with a hint of sweetness.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Build heat that doesn’t overwhelm with cayenne.
  • Paprika: Smoked paprika provides warm, smoky heat.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Add more additional heat 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 signature flavor and a nod to the pimento trees, include allspice jerk seasoning.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon provides color and imparts more sweetness to counteract the heat.
  • Thyme: Dried thyme blends with the other ingredients and adds earthiness.
  • Salt + Pepper

HOW TO MAKE 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

  • For best results and bright flavor, 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 our other homemade spice blends!

Store leftover jerk seasoning in an air-tight jar.

WHAT DO YOU USE JERK SEASONING ON?

Historically, 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 jerk seasoning spilled on the table.

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Tressa Jamil
Our recipe for jerk seasoning is a perfect dry rub for chicken, pork, or fish. You can also turn it into a paste, and it is also a great addition 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

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

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
Keyword jerk seasoning
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