Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Jamaican jerk marinade and its ingredients on a wooden cutting board

The Spruce / Claire Cohen

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
35 Calories
2g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 35
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 621mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 11mg 53%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 93mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You've heard of Jamaican jerk seasonings and rubs, but this jerk marinade gets that incredible flavor deep into the meat. Use this mixture on beef, seafood, or poultry—it's also great on most vegetables. If you've never made it before, jerk marinade has a balance of sweet, earthy, and spicy flavors.

Traditionally, a Jamaican jerk sauce would be made with Scotch Bonnet peppers, the hot pepper of choice in the Caribbean. These little scorchers score very highly in terms of their heat; on the Scoville scale, which measures the intensity of peppers, they rank about side-by-side with habaneros. If you can't find Scotch Bonnets, you can use habaneros.

For chicken, the suggested marinating time is two to four hours. Marinate your pork a little longer, up to about eight hours. Vegetables and meat substitutes just need a short dip of roughly 30 to 40 minutes, and if using on fish and seafood, marinate for no more than 30 minutes.


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  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped

  • 1 hot pepper, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon oil

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or white vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt, kosher salt or sea salt is preferable

  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican pimento, or ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 dash hot sauce, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Jamaican jerk marinade
    The Spruce
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on size of the blender, this process might need to be done in batches. 

    Blend ingredients together
    The Spruce
  3. Use the marinade right away or, if making ahead, simply store it in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to seven days. We recommend making this the day before using to let the flavors marry well; however, it is not required.


  • There are many ways to use this marinade. The most traditional use is on grilled chicken, but pork and shrimp are great proteins for a Caribbean jerk marinade like this one.
  • Jamaican pimento is more commonly known as allspice and it's native to the Caribbean. It gained the name allspice because its flavor encompasses a combination of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper, but, confusingly, it's not actually a combination of those spices.
  • This marinade tastes best if you make it a day ahead of time so the flavors have time to meld. It's not necessary, however.

How to Store and Freeze Jamaican Jerk Marinade

  • If you would like to keep the marinade, it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
  • You can also freeze this marinade in an airtight container or zip-close freezer bag, with as much air pressed out of it as possible, for up to six months.

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