Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 24 servings
Yield: 1/2 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
8 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 8
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 159mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 39mg 1%
*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 indigenous tribe that was living in Jamaica in the late 1400s. 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 enslaved people 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 and Scotch bonnet peppers 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. 


  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika

  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Jamaican jerk seasoning recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats

  2. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together paprika, garlic powder, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

    Mix together ingredients for Jamaican jerk seasoning recipe

    The Spruce Eats

  3. Generously coat on your choice of protein and cook. Serve and enjoy.

    Jamaican jerk seasoning on chicken drumsticks

    The Spruce Eats

Recipe Variations

  • Try 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. Adjust the taste and make it your own.
  • Make the seasoning into a paste that you can rub onto your choice of protein by adding 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 1 tablespoon water.


  • 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.

How to Store

The seasoning can be stored in a lidded jar or container in a cool, dark place for up to six months.