Years ago, I tried my hand at Jamaica’s most popular dish, the Jamaican jerk chicken. The chicken was moist and flavorful, but I wasn’t too crazy about the combination of spices. The recipe had received many positive comments, saying that it was as close to an authentic recipe as it can get. I assumed it was just my personal preference especially when my opinions didn’t change after trying another variation. One night while indulging in yet another “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” marathon, I watched the chef of Tortuga’s Lie prepare his version of Jamaican jerk chicken. A dry and wet rub were both used to produce the most flavorful chicken and was served with a pineapple chutney. Watching Guy Fieri devour the chicken made my mouth salivate and I knew I had to give this dish a try. With careful observation, I created a copycat version of this dish and now I can say, I am a fan!

jamaican jerk chicken
Jamaican jerk chicken

Serves 4


Tortugas' Lie Jamaican Jerk Chicken

1 hrTotal Time

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    Wet rub
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 1 habanero
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Dry rub
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 chicken thigh, skin-on
  • Turmeric rice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • Pineapple chutney
  • 1 fresno, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 pineapple, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sherry


  1. Process green onions until finely chopped. Place in a colander, place colander over a bowl. Cover and let sit for 4-5 days in the refrigerator to drain excess water.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add whole habanero and brown on all sides. Remove from heat. Combine with green onions, roasted red pepper - shallot in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  3. Combine ingredients for the dry rub from garlic powder - ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
  4. Loosen skin on the chicken. Spread wet rub directly on the chicken, underneath the skin. Place 1/2 tbsp butter on the wet rub for each thigh. Place skin on top to cover. Sprinkle dry rub on both sides of the chicken thigh.
  5. Heat 1 tsp oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs, skin side down. Sear until browned. Flip over the chicken, reduce heat medium-low. Cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  6. For the rice, heat 1 tbsp oil in medium saucepot over medium heat. Add turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Toast the rice for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Remove cover, fluff rice and season with salt and pepper.
  7. For the pineapple chutney, heat 1 tbsp oil in medium saucepot over medium heat. Add Fresno, shallot, and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add turmeric, ginger, brown sugar, and pineapple, stirring to coat. Add sherry and cook until pineapple has softened about 10 minutes. Add water if the liquid has evaporated and pineapple begins to brown. Remove from heat.
  8. Serve chicken with pineapple chutney and turmeric rice.

**Helpful tips and common mistakes

For a chicken dish, this recipe requires some planning; 4-5 days planning to be exact. Sure, it can be a pain to wait all those days but just think about the results. It’ll be worth it, trust me! The first step is to drain all the water from the green onions. I was surprised to see how much water can be extracted from the green onions, especially because it doesn’t have a particularly high water content. Place in a colander and let it sit to let the water draw out.

Jamaican jerk chicken

Habanero peppers are spicy little suckers, one of the spiciest peppers other than the ghost chili. Add more peppers if you dare!

Jamaican jerk chicken

Once the wet rub is combined, the rest is easy-peasy. 

Jamaican jerk chicken

Stuff the chicken with the wet rub, season the outside with the dry and cook the chicken. My chicken thighs were bone-in, requiring a longer cooking time as opposed to boneless chicken. You can also use chicken breast if you’re not a fan of dark meat.

Jamaican jerk chicken

Serve with the pineapple chutney, turmeric rice, and greens for a complete meal. I have to say, if all Jamaican jerk chicken tasted like this, I would have been a fan from the start. The wet rub melts underneath the skin and becomes almost a sauce for the juicy chicken. The chutney is spicy and sweet and compliments the chicken perfectly. Just darn delicious all around!

Jamaican jerk chicken



    Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles


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