Bring some tropical flavors to the dinner table with this simple Jamaican jerk seasoning. It's slightly spicy, sweet, and perfect for chicken, shrimp, beef or even vegetables!
While we love a good traditional Jamaican jerk recipe, sometimes we don't have time to dig out the food processor and deal with handling spicy scotch bonnet peppers.
This Jamaican jerk seasoning simplifies the process immensely: with a few simple pantry spices, we get those delicious jerk flavors: warm spice flavors from the allspice and thyme, a spicy kick from the cayenne and a subtle sweetness from the brown sugar...it all goes so so well together.
Just a few shakes onto your chicken, shrimp, beef or vegetables, and you get those delicious jerk flavors without the hassle of the food processor.
And by making our own seasoning, we are avoiding any unhealthy additives like MSG or anti-caking agents that can sometimes be found in store-bough spice blends. This spice blend is gluten-free, clean eating, vegan and paleo compliant!
Why you’ll ♡ Jamaican jerk seasoning
- it's simple and ready in under 10 minutes
- you don't need to handle scotch bonnet peppers or dig out a food processor
- it's delicious on chicken, shrimp, steak or vegetables
Don't forget to pin this recipe to save it for later!
What is Jamaican jerk?
Jerk refers to a technique used to cook meat (chicken, beef, pork, seafood and more) originating in Jamaica (1). Traditionally, the meat is slathered in a marinade or a dry rub, then cooked over an open fire (often including pimento wood). The marinade can vary greatly by chef, but typically consists of allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, onions and thyme, as well as many other ingredients (2).
This seasoning recipe was inspired by traditional Jamaican jerk flavors, but made with pantry staples which are easily found in North American (US/Canada) kitchens. While it is not an authentic Jamaican recipe, my hope is that it will honor the traditional flavors while introducing it to new home chefs.
How to prepare the seasoning
To prep this seasoning, we will combine brown sugar (or coconut sugar), thyme leaves, ground allspice, garlic powder, cinnamon, black pepper, salt and cayenne. Stir to combine. Use the seasoning right away, or store in the pantry in an air tight container for up to a year.
- sugar- most jerk seasoning recipes do not include sugar, but I found it to compliment the flavors really well. Leave it out if you'd prefer
- cayenne- as written this spice blend has a mild spice to it. Feel free to increase the cayenne to 1 teaspoon for a spicy version or reduce to ¼ teaspoon for a mild version. It's also fine to leave it out completely.
- marinade- turn this into a marinade by combining with lime juice and olive oil. You can use this on chicken, shrimp and steak. Find full quantities in my Shortcut Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade post
- salt- this seasoning blend includes salt, so you should not need to add salt to whatever you are putting it on.
- this recipe makes close to ½ cup but can easily be doubled or tripled and stored long term.
How to use this seasoning?
I recommend tossing the protein or vegetable that you will be cooking in some olive oil and lime juice to help the seasoning stick. It's best to rub the seasoning onto the chicken/steak with your hands so that it sticks and coats it evenly. For shrimp or vegetables, you can toss to coat a bowl.
Cook as you normally would, and serve with fresh mango if you can (the combo of jerk seasoning and fresh mango is really hard to beat!)
How much seasoning to use?
Don't be afraid to use this seasoning aggressively. I advise using 2-3 tablespoons per pound of chicken, shrimp or steak.
(Pictured above: this seasoning used as a chicken marinade with some olive oil and lime juice)
Ways to use this seasoning
- chicken marinade- add a bit of olive oil and lime juice and use it as a chicken marinade (refer to instructions in this post)
- sheet pan dinner- try this Jamaican Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner
- meal prep recipes- try these Jamaican Chicken Meal Prep Lunch Bowls
- it's great on roasted vegetables such as cauliflower
- it's great on shrimp
- I bet it would be great on salmon (I must try this!)
More seasoning blends + dry rub recipes
- 7 Easy Spice Blends
- Homemade Taco Seasoning
- Brown Sugar Chili Seasoning
- Homemade Indian Spice Blend
- Homemade Moroccan Spice Blend
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (for mild spice; up to ½-1 teaspoon for a spicier version)
- Stir together all ingredients.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.
- Don't be afraid to use this seasoning aggressively! Use 2-3 tablespoons per pound of chicken, shrimp or steak.
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