Jerk chicken is a delicious and spicy grilled chicken recipe from Jamaica. If you’re looking for a few side dishes that will compliment the strong flavors of jerk chicken, try out any of these 30 recommendations!
Jerk Chicken is a spicy chicken dish that offers a delicious explosion of flavor and can quickly be grilled up for lunch or dinner. If you’re craving a trip to the islands, enjoying some island flavors is the next best thing!
What is really great about the unique flavor of jerk chicken is the versatility. It’s both spicy and sweet and is a great way to mix up the flavor at your next backyard barbeque because it goes with just about any side.
You can serve Jerk Chicken with some white rice to help take the edge off the spicy marinade or you can top it with salsa for even more flavor (not traditional, but totally delicious).
No matter your preference, spicy, sweet or savory flavors, I’ve got a list of sides that will compliment spicy jerk chicken perfectly!
“Jerk” is a method of cooking that is popular in Jamaica. The meat is marinated for several hours or even overnight and then slow cooked over a fire made from pimento wood chips. The result is meat that is smoky, spicy, sweet and tender.
The most popular meat for this dish is chicken, but Jamaican jerk sauce can be used on just about any type of meat and is also enjoyed on several other Jamaican dishes.
Jerk Chicken has become a popular dish because of the mixture of flavors it offers. The meat is slowly marinated which allows all the flavor to sink in, and then it is slow cooked which makes the meat tender and smoky.
Jerk marinade is made with scotch bonnet peppers which are as spicy as a habanero pepper but also have a slightly fruity taste. It also features pimento berries, which is what allspice is made of, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, bell pepper and fresh thyme.
You can make your own jerk marinade easily at home or find a jar of premade marinade at your local grocery store to make this dish even easier.
If you choose to make your own, you can throw the ingredients into a food processor to get a smooth marinade and sauce that you can use to add spice to other dishes.
The key to truly flavorful meat is letting the marinade sink in. Ideally it should marinate for several hours and it can even be left overnight.
Yes! If you decide to make your own jerk marinade, it can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or even a week. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavors will become and it makes a delicious addition to rice, quinoa or even on top of eggs or a sandwich.
You can use leftover jerk sauce to add a bit of spice to any dish. Try it on rice, potatoes, or even as a sandwich spread.
Scotch bonnet peppers are very popular in Jamaican cuisine. They are a very spicy chili pepper that is cousins with the habanero. They are just as spicy as habanero but the flavor is a bit sweeter. Where habaneros have a slightly citrus flavor, scotch bonnet peppers have a subtle sweetness that is the perfect combo for Jamaican recipes.
If you are having trouble locating a scotch bonnet pepper, a habanero is a good substitute. If you are not a fan of spicy food, you can use a jalapeno with or without a pinch of cayenne. See more details on the difference between Scotch Bonnet Peppers and Habaneros here.
If you are making your sauce on your own, be careful as you add your peppers. You can always add more spice but once it is mixed in you cannot take it out!
- My Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe is cooked on a grill with a marinade made from scratch and a Jamaican beer that really helps bring out the smoky flavors.
- The Pineapple salsa with this Jerk Chicken from Creme de la Crumb adds an extra sweetness to the dish that is so yummy!
- This easy jerk chicken recipe in the Instant Pot from Marin Making Mom is a great way to enjoy the sweet and spicy flavor of jerk chicken in a quick way.
- You can use an entire chicken for jerk chicken or you can just use chicken thighs and legs. Bone-in meat with the skin on it provides great flavor for jerk chicken and helps the meat stay juicy and tender. I would not recommend skinless chicken breasts for this recipe as they may dry out.
- This traditional Jamaican dish is usually slowly smoked over pimento wood chips. If you’re trying to get the most authentic flavor for this savory dish, you can order pimento wood chips or use cinnamon wood chips. I think cooking it on a grill is an easier (and more authentic!) cooking method.
- If you choose to make your own marinade, you can adjust the amount of spice in your recipe. Use less peppers for less spice or you could even use a jalapeño instead of a scotch bonnet pepper for less heat.
- If you do use scotch bonnet peppers, use caution. These hot peppers pack a lot of heat and may leave your hands burning if you chop them without gloves.
- You can use a dry marinade or a liquid marinade or even mix up both!
- My jerk marinade recipe does not call for any sugar but a little bit of brown sugar may help the sauce become extra sticky. You can also add pineapple juice or orange juice for an extra bit of sweetness.
What to Serve With Jerk Chicken
Grains: Coconut rice, white rice, brown rice, quinoa, Jamaican rice
Vegetables & Fruit: Green salad, roasted peppers, collard greens, red beans, fresh fruit, cucumber salad, fresh pineapple, coleslaw
Potatoes & Pasta: Sweet potatoes, potato salad, sweet potato fries, french fries, plantain chips, pasta salad
On Top: Pineapple salsa, mango salsa, tomato salsa, jerk sauce, lime juice
Recipes to Serve with Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Rice and Peas
Food is central to Jamaican culture, and Jamaican Rice and Peas (from Jamil Ghar) are a must-have for any get-together, gathering, or weeknight meal; pair our take on the flavorful rice dish with roasted meat, curry, or stew for a classic Sunday dinner.
Pigeon Peas and Rice
How To Cook Long Grain White Rice in the Instant Pot
How To Make Brown Rice in the Instant Pot
Green Goddess Salad Recipe
Sweet Plantain Chips
How To Make Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Fritters with Lemon Tahini Sauce
Coconut Rice Salad
Coconut Rice Salad (from A Cedar Spoon) is a light, flavorful rice salad mixing coconut rice, red bell pepper, edamame, cucumber, broccoli slaw, cilantro, green onion, peanuts and dressed in a flavor peanut style sauce. This salad is a great addition to meals as a side dish or could be served with grilled chicken, seafood or beef.
Fries (Frites) and Andalouse Sauce from Belgium
Perfectly Crispy Homemade Tostones Recipe
Homemade Pico de Gallo Recipe
Mango Pico de Gallo
How To Make Jamaican Jerk Sauce
Roasted Chili Corn Salsa
Roasted Chili Corn Salsa (from Simply Scrumptious) is a delicious sweet, medium spicy, copycat recipe from chipotle. It’s quick, easy, and refreshing and made with simple ingredients. This flavor bursting vegetarian summer dip will be a show stopper side dish at your next get together!
Mashed Potatoes in the Instant Pot
Garlic Redskin Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Root Vegetables
Classic oven roasted root vegetables (from Little Sunny Kitchen) is an easy and healthy side dish that you can add to any meal. Make it to serve at a weeknight meal, or at your holiday table!
Smothered Green Beans
You can quickly whip up this comforting side of easy Smothered Green Beans (from Budget Delicious) for dinner tonight and any holiday meal in less than 25 minutes.
Homemade Creamed Corn in the Instant Pot
Fried Plantain Recipe
Soft, sweet and juicy. This fried plantain recipe (from Sims Home Kitchen) is so quick and easy to prepare plus you only need two ingredients to make it! Plantain is a simple, versatile dish that can be served as a side with lunch, dinner or as a main with beans, eggs, stew and more.
Macaroni Pie from Barbados
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Better Than Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice
I’m a huge fan of Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice (from Little Spice Jar), but my homemade version might actually be a bit better! Loaded with tons of fresh lime zest and punchy cilantro and mingling with fluffy, delicious garlic-scented rice! Perfect for burritos, bowls, and so much more!
One day I decided to experiment with some coconut milk I had on hand to create “coconut rice”, (from Goodie Godmother) which is now my preferred method of rice preparation for curries, although it’s also great on its own.
Instant Pot Jamaican Rice and Peas
This Jamaican Rice and Peas (from Real Food with Sarah) has all the delicious flavors of the traditional Caribbean side dish, but is quickly cooked in the pressure cooker! Have this easy coconut rice ready to eat with your favorite protein and Jamaican sides in less than 30 minutes.
Foil Packet Grilled Potatoes
These Foil Packet Grilled Potatoes (from Binky’s Culinary Carnival) are all spiced up with roasted garlic and herbs of your choice! Easy, delicious summer side dish with zero cleanup!
Grilled Jamaican Beef Patties
These Grilled Jamaican Beef Patties (from Carne Diem) are made with mostly easy to find ingredients. To season the ground beef you will need white pepper, beef broth, garlic powder, sweet paprika, ground all-spice, Caribbean Curry powder, olive oil, white onion, garlic, thyme, green onion, parsley, and scotch bonnet peppers.
Caribbean Callaloo Soup
Callaloo (from Food Fidelity) is as delicious as it is healthy. It’s made with nutritious but flavorful leafy greens plus peppers, okra, and fresh herbs. All of these ingredients are simmered slowly to produce incredible balance and delivers pure indulgence.