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Jamaican Jerk Chicken Skewers

white platter with Jamaican jerk chicken skewers and green onions

Sometimes you write a recipe and it’s just an instant hit, like you can’t get enough of it. That’s the case with this Jamaican jerk chicken skewer recipe.

Of course that might have something to do with using the same marinade (that I love) from this authentic Caribbean jerk chicken recipe. So, I had a bit of a head start on this chicken skewer recipe.

What Is Jerk Chicken?

Jamaican jerk chicken is a popular dish that originated in Jamaica, makes sense right? It’s known for its rich and flavorful taste, with a combination of spicy, sweet, and smoky flavors.

The chicken is marinated in a mixture called “jerk marinade” before being cooked. The marinade typically includes ingredients like: scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, garlic, ginger, onions, and various spices like allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.

chicken in jerk chicken marinade

This marinade gives jerk chicken its distinctive spicy and aromatic flavors. The chicken skewer is then grilled over direct heat, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat while creating a dark char on the outside of the meat.

What ‘s The Difference Between a Skewer and a Kabob?

These terms are often used interchangeably, and pinpointing the exact difference can vary depending on individual perspectives. Generally, both terms refer to cooking food on a stick.

Most would say a skewer is the stick, typically made of wood or metal, with a sharp, pointed end. Conversely, a kabob is generally a skewer loaded with a combination of meat and/or vegetables.

overhead shot of chicken skewers on a grill grate over fire

Skewers can be found in round or flat designs, I prefer the flat design due to its convenience when flipping the food. When using a single round skewer for a kabob, there is a tendency for the food to rotate on the skewer instead of turning over.

To address this, I recommend using two skewers per kabob when using the round style. This will prevent the food from spinning on the skewer.

What Is The Best Method for Grilling a Chicken Skewer?

When it comes to grilling a Jamaican jerk chicken skewer, my suggestion is to begin by using medium-high direct heat. This will result in a nice char on the exterior of the chicken and vegetables, enhancing the overall flavor.

chicken skewers on a grill over direct heat

Once you’ve gotten your desired level of charring, move the skewers to the indirect heat section of the grill. Allowing them to finish cooking over indirect heat ensures ideal doneness, without over charring.

How To Make Jamaican Jerk Chicken Skewers

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 15 mins | Serves: 4

Ingredients
3 lbs chicken thighs
1 each:
red bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares
yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares
orange bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares
red onion, cut into 1″ squares
3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Jerk Marinade
12 whole green onions, roughly chopped
2 Scotch bonnet peppers or habanero peppers, seeded and veined 
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled 
½ medium Spanish onion
1 bunch fresh thyme, stems and all (about 12 sprigs)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup avocado or canola oil 
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 ½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp lime juice
Zest of 1 lime

Step 1: Roughly chop the first six ingredients for the jerk marinade, and toss them into a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth, but chunky.

Step 2: Cut the chicken into roughly 1″ square pieces, they don’t need to be exactly that size but close enough.

chicken cut into cubes for a jerk chicken recipe

Step 3: Place the chicken in a sealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over top of the chicken. Massage to ensure chicken is completely coated. Seal the bag and place the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

Step 4: Light your grill and set up for two zone cooking. While the grill is preheating, remove chicken from the refrigerator and assemble the Jamaican jerk chicken skewers. Discard any leftover marinade.

Tip* I like to start and end with a red onion, they cup the meat and other veggies and hold them in place.

Step 5: Place chicken over direct heat and allow the meat and veggies to char but not burn. Flip and turn the chicken often until desired level of charring has happened, usually about 10 minutes. 

Step 6: Move the chicken over to indirect heat and close the grill lid. Allow chicken to cook until the internal temperature reaches desired doneness as indicated by a reliable quick read thermometer. Usually about five minutes.

Step 7: Remove the Jamaican jerk chicken skewers from the grill, garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

grilled chicken skewers on a white plate

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Skewers

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1" squares
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cut into 1" squares
  • 1 orange bell pepper cut into 1" squares
  • 1 medium red onion cut into 1" squares
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped

Jerk Marinade

  • 12 whole green onions roughly chopped
  • 2 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers seeded and veined
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 inch fresh ginger peeled
  • ½ medium spanish onion
  • 1 bunch thyme, stems and all
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup avocado or canola oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • zest from one lime

Instructions

  • Roughly chop the first six ingredients for the jerk marinade, and toss them into a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth, but chunky.
  • Cut the chicken into roughly 1" square pieces, they don't need to be exactly that size but close enough.
  • Place the chicken in a sealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over top of the chicken. Massage to ensure chicken is completely coated. Seal the bag and place the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
  • Light your grill and set up for two zone cooking. While the grill is preheating, remove chicken from the refrigerator and assemble the Jamaican jerk chicken skewers. Discard any leftover marinade.
  • Place chicken over direct heat and allow the meat and veggies to char but not burn. Flip and turn the chicken often until desired level of charring has happened, usually about 10 minutes.
  • Move the chicken over to indirect heat and close the grill lid. Allow chicken to cook until the internal temperature reaches desired doneness as indicated by a reliable quick read thermometer. Usually about five minutes.
  • Remove the Jamaican jerk chicken skewers from the grill, garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

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