Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe

 The Spruce

Ratings (11)
  • Total: 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1/2 cup seasoning (24 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
8 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1/2 cup seasoning (24 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 8
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 292mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 0g
Calcium 5mg 0%
*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.)

Jamaicans are proud of their trademark jerk seasoning, also known as Caribbean seasoning. Jerk is a method of cooking and seasoning meat that can be traced to the Arawak Native American tribe that was living in Jamaica when it was found by Christopher Columbus in 1492. They used a specific technique to smoke and dry meat in the sun or over a low fire and this method is still used today to make what's called jerky.

In the 18th century, a group of slaves called the Maroons hid in the mountains to escape from the British, who were then in control of Jamaica. The Maroons used salt, pepper, and spices like allspice (called pimiento in Jamaica) and scotch bonnet peppers (habanero in Jamaica) to preserve meat. It was spiced, wrapped in leaves and then cooked over a lattice fire. This is the origin of the famous and iconic Jamaican jerk seasoning now used as a dry rub or as a marinade for pork, chicken, seafood, and beef. In Jamaica today you'll find jerk huts right on the beach, where vendors build fires in the traditional way. 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on preferred spice level)
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe
     The Spruce
  2. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients.

    Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Generously coat on your choice of protein and cook.

    Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

  • The seasoning can be stored in a lidded jar or container in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
  • This homemade version of Jamaican jerk seasoning mix is great on fish, shrimp, pork, and chicken.
  • Serve jerk chicken, fish, shrimp, or pork alongside other Jamaican favorites, such as ackee, breadfruit, cassava, and rice and peas.


Recipe Variations

  • Try out the spice level before you commit. Make a batch with 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, cook something with it, and then adjust, adding a bit more cayenne if you want it spicier. 
  • Make the seasoning into a paste that you can rub into your choice of protein by adding 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar and 1 tablespoon water.