If you have ever had Jamaican food in general, you know it’s all about flavor + spice! Embrace the heat with my Baked Jamaican Pineapple Jerk Chicken recipe, cooked in a beautifully spicy homemade jerk sauce along with sweet pineapple chunks, and a nice BBQ jerk sauce topping for a delicious marriage of flavor. A real nostalgic comfort food dish for many Jamaicans. No need for a grill with the recipe while keeping the same amazing results. Traditional jerk chicken option available!
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When it comes to Jamaican jerk chicken, there's a special place in my heart. I grew up eating perfectly charred jerk chicken (even Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings) on a grill that were often chopped into the most perfect bites from a machete (large butcher knife) and served with hard-dough bread (or basmati rice) and generous squirts of BBQ sauce and jerk sauce. Honestly, this has to be one of my top favorite Jamaican food to eat, especially since chicken in general is a MUST for me. Haha. Also, this Authentic Jamaican Curry Chicken is another staple that you'll thank me later for trying!
Although, I still enjoy a good authentic dish of Jamaican jerk chicken from the grill when eating out in Brooklyn, unfortunately, the fact that I don't have a grill has lead me to create this Baked Jamaican Pineapple Jerk Chicken recipe. There's still a way to enjoy delicious jerk chicken without the use of a grill and I hope that you love this recipe as much as my family and I do. You'll want to enjoy this recipe with a few sips of this Frozen Pineapple Margarita Mocktail for the perfect combo! But to keep things traditional, you'll want to enjoy this chicken with Jamaican Rum Cream, Jamaican Rum Punch Mocktail, or a side of Creamy Jamaican Rasta Pasta.
Traditionally, as I've mentioned, Jerk chicken is a staple Jamaican dish that is often enjoyed with hard-dough bread or sometimes rice and peas. The chicken is usually seasoned well with a jerk seasoning and marinade and is left to fully marinade 1-2 days (or overnight) so that everything soaks in and the chicken is nice and tender when cooked.
My favorite store-bought brand of jerk marinade is by Grace Foods, which is available to purchase at your local grocer or online via Amazon, however, when making your own sauce, it consists of blended spices and seasonings and the spiciness can be adjusted based on preference.
In the most recent years, another trend in Jamaica has been the addition of pineapple to staple flavors such as jerk, ginger beer, etc.-----which is why I chose to make pineapple jerk chicken as opposed to the tradition version.
Believe me when I say that adding pineapple is a nice offset to the spice AND it's such a killer combo, ya'll. SO good!
In jerk sauce or marinade, the 3 main ingredients that MUST be present are: scotch bonnet, thyme, and allspice (aka pimento seeds). You can't remove any of these ingredients or else it wouldn't be considered "jerk".
The THREE parts of this Pineapple Jerk Chicken Recipe is the chicken itself, jerk seasoning, and the homemade Pineapple jerk sauce + BBQ sauce.
The best part about any chicken is the marination process, which I talk more about tips to doing so whether overnight or just for a few minutes. But let’s talk about this delicious recipe, especially the marinade and the sauce.
Here’s what you need for these delicious Jamaican Jerk Chicken:
Traditionally, Jamaican jerk chicken comes garnished with a few simple ingredients, which can include:
Baking Jamaican Pineapple Jerk Chicken is generally an easy process—in total about 1 hour due to the process of cooking the chicken and "drying out" of the sauce. You first start by cleaning and washing your chicken pieces to ensure that they are clean and ready to be seasoned. I like to wash my chicken with both vinegar and lemon to help keep things clean and sanitized.
Once your chicken is clean, then it’s seasoning time! I’m all about seasoning every “layer” of my food, therefore, the chicken gets direct seasoning and so does the sauce. Let everything marinate for 10-15 minutes or 1-2 days (or overnight tightly wrapped in the refrigerator) for the best results.
Blend your pineapple jerk sauce ingredients and massage unto seasoned chicken and let the cooking process begin.
The following tips and tricks will make cooking the best Jamaican Jerk Chicken easier and with greater results:
Marinate the chicken. This is a VERY IMPORTANT step that most overlook but makes a world of a difference. Traditionally, Jamaicans will clean, rinse, and season their chicken 1-2 days prior to making this dish. Simply add your seasoned chicken to a ziplock bag or airtight container and refrigerate overnight (or for up to 2 days). When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
Remove the skin. Keeping or removing the skin of the chicken is an individual preference for many, however, removing it for jerk chicken helps the flavors to soak into the meat better, especially during marination.
Chop the chicken into smaller pieces. Since you can use various pieces of chicken for this recipe, chopping them up into smaller pieces helps the chicken to cook through better and makes for an easier bite.
Cover to bake + then remove and bake again. With any Jamaican dish, slow and steady is always the best results. Once you add all of the ingredients (including the chicken), cover the baking dish with foil and bake for the first 40-45 minutes before removing the chicken from the oven to pour the "juices" into a bowl or measuring cup to create the "BBQ jerk sauce" and then add everything back to the oven to finish until it's all cooked through, tender, and the sauce has thickened nicely. This creates a similar "char-like feel" as traditional jerk chicken.
To make your own jerk seasoning dry rub, you'll need the following:
Making traditional jerk or pineapple jerk doesn't have to be left to only chicken. In Jamaica, it's also used for other types of meat and the possibility of switching things up with another meat or alternative is also a good idea:
You can easily make this dish ahead by making the homemade pineapple jerk sauce/marinade a few days in advance and storing it tightly in a sealed jar or container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
In addition, you can season and marinade your clean chicken for 1-2 days prior to making this recipe as well.
Once ready to cook, let the chicken sit at room temperature for 20-25 minutes before combining the homemade sauce and chicken and then baking.
Growing up in a Jamaican household means I learned about a lot of great Jamaican spices. While these spices go great in recipes for their flavor, they also have many healing properties. I'm going to share a list of Jamaican herbs that I always keep on hand for their medicinal purposes.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat servings in the microwave or in the oven to serve.
You can also freeze leftover chicken for up to six months. Then defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat to enjoy.
You can serve this pineapple jerk chicken as-is. Also, enjoy this pineapple jerk chicken with a side of bread (hard-dough bread is traditionally used in Jamaica) or with your favorite side (i.e. rice and peas, brown or white rice, veggies, salad, etc.).
While many sauces are thickened for texture, what you use as a thickening agent is solely up to you. All in all, it depends on how you like it! Use 1 tablespoon at a time mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water to dilute. Then pour the mixture into the sauce, simmering for an additional few minutes to activate the thickener. Some thickening agents you can use are:
Arrowroot starch (GF)
Potato starch (GF)
It depends. When making your own jerk seasoning and marinade, you definitely have more control over the amount of salt that you use. However, for store-bought seasonings + pastes, you might find it more salty in taste.
Basically, Jerk seasoning is a dry spice blend and a jerk marinade comes in a liquid-y, paste-like form. The dry seasoning blend is meant to be rubbed into your meat and left in the fridge overnight before grilling or baking. While, the marinade is a quicker version of the spice blend and can also be used as a rub on your meat.
While I only poke holes with whole pieces of chicken like the drumstick, breasts, thighs, etc., if making wings you don't have to. Overall, the marinade penetrates the meat as deeply as possible once it's marinated overnight or for up to 2 days, resulting in a more moist meat so you don't HAVE to poke holes.
Overall, it takes about 50-60 (at most) to bake jerk chicken for the best results.
Like many other chicken dishes, you can serve a variety of veggies with jerk chicken. My personal favorites include corn, sweet potatoes, mashed or roasted potatoes, yams, rice + peas, plantains, kale, spinach, collard greens, or other non-traditional ones like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, etc.
Traditionally, Jamaicans will clean, rinse, and season their chicken 1-2 days prior to making this dish. Simply add your seasoned chicken to a ziplock bag or airtight container and refrigerate overnight (or for up to 2 days). When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
Honestly, it depends on your preference. Overall, BBQ sauce is added to the jerk sauce to offset the heat, therefore, starting with 1-2 cups is a great rule of thumb.
Absolutely! If you aren't a fan of pineapple or you choose to make this jerk chicken recipe more than once and need to switch things up---simply omit the pineapple in your homemade jerk sauce and keep the flavors more traditional.
Basically, Jamaican jerk chicken is super packed with flavor that is spicy and sweet with a smoky, char taste if made on a grill. Overall, jerk seasoning has warm, complex, and salt undertones, which makes it the perfect flavor for any taste buds.
Because I love spicy flavors and whenever making anything Jamaican, I’m always inclined to add scotch bonnet peppers—–this specific pineapple jerk chicken is spicy. However, just know that the pineapples and BBQ sauce helps to offset the heat a bit. If you'd like, you can increase the amount of scotch bonnet peppers used in the jerk sauce to as much as 6 total, if you love extra spice!
If you tried this Baked Jamaican Pineapple Jerk Chicken Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.