How To Build The Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter

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By Christopher Spiker

Imagine the savory aroma of spicy, succulent jerk chicken wafting through your kitchen, tantalizing your taste buds and sparking joy in your heart. In “How To Build The Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter,” you will discover the secrets to creating a mouthwatering Caribbean feast right at home. From selecting the freshest ingredients to mastering the perfect marinade, you’ll learn step-by-step how to craft a dish that’s bursting with flavor. With our friendly guidance, you’ll be whipping up a jerk chicken platter that will leave your guests craving for more. Dive in and let’s bring some island magic to your dining table! Have you ever wondered how to build the perfect jerk chicken platter? Perhaps you’ve tasted this flavorful and spicy dish at a restaurant or a friend’s cookout and thought, “I wish I could make this at home.” Well, you’re in luck! In this guide, you’ll learn step-by-step how to create a jerk chicken platter that will impress even the most discerning palates.

How To Build The Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter

What is Jerk Chicken?

Jerk chicken is a traditional Jamaican dish that captivates taste buds with its blend of savory, spicy, and sweet flavors. It’s a dish that speaks volumes about Jamaican culture and its rich culinary history. Made with a unique marinade featuring scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, thyme, and other spices, jerk chicken offers a complex symphony of flavors.

Why Make Jerk Chicken at Home?

Making jerk chicken at home allows you to control the quality of ingredients, level of spiciness, and, best of all, enjoy the satisfaction of creating a delicious meal from scratch. Plus, cooking at home can be a fun activity, especially if you involve friends or family members.

Ingredients for the Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter

Essential Ingredients for Jerk Chicken

To start, you’ll need a set of essential ingredients to make the jerk chicken. Here’s a quick rundown:

Ingredient Quantity
Chicken Thighs (bone-in, skin-on) 2 lbs
Scotch Bonnet Peppers 2
Garlic Cloves 4
Thyme (fresh) 1 tbsp
Allspice (ground) 1 tbsp
Scallions 3
Soy Sauce 2 tbsp
Olive Oil 2 tbsp
Brown Sugar 1 tbsp
Lemon Juice 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Black Pepper 1 tsp

Optional Ingredients for Added Flavor

For those who want to add a bit more complexity to the dish, consider these optional ingredients:

Ingredient Quantity
Nutmeg (ground) 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon (ground) 1/2 tsp
Ginger (fresh) 1 inch
Orange Juice 1/4 cup

Preparing the Marinade

Step 1: Prepare the Peppers and Aromatics

First, finely chop the scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, scallions, and thyme. Be cautious when handling scotch bonnet peppers as they are extremely hot. Consider wearing gloves to avoid any accidental contact with your eyes or skin.

Step 2: Combine Ingredients

In a blender or food processor, combine the chopped scotch bonnets, garlic, scallions, thyme, soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. If using optional ingredients, add them at this time as well. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency.

Step 3: Marinate the Chicken

Place the chicken thighs in a large zip-lock bag or a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure each piece is well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. This will allow the flavors to penetrate deeply into the chicken.

How To Build The Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter

Cooking the Jerk Chicken

Grilling the Chicken

Grilling is the traditional method for cooking jerk chicken, imparting a smoky flavor that adds depth to the dish.

Step 1: Prepare the Grill

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Make sure to oil the grates to prevent sticking.

Step 2: Grill the Chicken

Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess marinade drip off. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down. Grill for about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).

Oven-Baking the Chicken

If you don’t have a grill, you can also bake the jerk chicken in the oven.

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).

Step 2: Bake the Chicken

Place the marinated chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake for 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the chicken is fully cooked.

Building the Perfect Platter

Essential Sides and Complements

A jerk chicken platter isn’t complete without some traditional sides. Here are some classic options to consider:

Side Dish Description
Rice and Peas A staple in Jamaican cuisine, made with coconut milk, kidney beans, and thyme.
Fried Plantains Sweet and slightly caramelized, they balance the spiciness of the jerk chicken.
Festival Bread A sweet, fried bread that serves as a delightful companion.
Mango Salsa Fresh, tangy, and a bit spicy, adding a burst of flavor.

Creating Rice and Peas


Ingredient Quantity
Long Grain Rice 2 cups
Kidney Beans (canned) 1 can
Coconut Milk 1 can
Thyme (fresh) 1 sprig
Garlic (minced) 2 cloves
Onion (chopped) 1
Salt 1 tsp
Black Pepper 1/2 tsp


  1. Rinse the Rice: Start by rinsing the rice under cold water to remove excess starch.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: In a large pot, sauté the garlic and onion until fragrant.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Add the kidney beans, coconut milk, thyme, salt, and black pepper.
  4. Simmer: Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the rice. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  5. Fluff and Serve: Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.

Preparing Fried Plantains


Ingredient Quantity
Ripe Plantains 2
Vegetable Oil for frying
Salt to taste


  1. Peel and Slice: Peel the plantains and slice them into 1/2-inch thick rounds.
  2. Heat Oil: Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Fry Plantains: Add the plantain slices and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Drain and Season: Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Making Festival Bread


Ingredient Quantity
All-purpose Flour 2 cups
Cornmeal 1/2 cup
Sugar 1/4 cup
Baking Powder 1 tbsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Milk 1 cup
Vegetable Oil for frying


  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add Milk: Gradually add milk and stir until a dough forms.
  3. Shape Dough: Take small portions of the dough and roll between your palms to form elongated shapes.
  4. Fry: Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry dough until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  5. Drain and Serve: Remove the festival bread and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Preparing Mango Salsa


Ingredient Quantity
Mango (diced) 1 large
Red Bell Pepper (diced) 1
Red Onion (diced) 1/2
Cilantro (chopped) 1/4 cup
Lime Juice 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Jalapeño (optional) 1


  1. Combine Ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine the diced mango, red bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro.
  2. Add Lime Juice: Squeeze lime juice over the mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Season: Add salt to taste. If you like extra heat, finely chop the jalapeño and add it to the salsa.
  4. Serve: Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour to allow flavors to meld.

How To Build The Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter

Assembling Your Jerk Chicken Platter

Now that you’ve prepared the jerk chicken and all the delectable sides, it’s time to assemble your platter.

  1. Create the Base: Start by placing a generous scoop of rice and peas on one side of the platter.
  2. Add the Chicken: Arrange the jerk chicken pieces next to the rice and peas.
  3. Include the Plantains: Add a portion of fried plantains on the other side of the platter.
  4. Festival Bread: Place a few pieces of festival bread on the platter.
  5. Garnish with Salsa: Finally, add a small bowl or a spoonful of mango salsa to the platter.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Jerk Chicken Platter

Managing Spice Levels

Jerk chicken is known for its heat, but you can adjust the spice level to your liking. If you’re not a fan of overly spicy food, you can reduce the amount of scotch bonnet peppers. Removing the seeds and membranes from the peppers can also help manage the heat.

Marinating for Best Results

Marinating the chicken for a longer period gives the flavors more time to penetrate the meat. While 4 hours is a good minimum, marinating overnight yields the best results.

Cooking Consistently

To ensure your chicken cooks evenly, make sure all your chicken pieces are roughly the same size. Using a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C) can also help you avoid undercooking or overcooking the chicken.

Adding Smoky Flavor

If you’re using an oven and miss the smoky flavor from grilling, you can add a small amount of liquid smoke to the marinade. It won’t completely replicate the grill, but it will add a subtle smoky undertone.

How To Build The Perfect Jerk Chicken Platter


Building the perfect jerk chicken platter is not only rewarding but also allows you to delve into the rich flavors of Jamaican cuisine. By following these detailed steps, you’ll be able to create a mouthwatering meal that leaves everyone asking for seconds. Enjoy your culinary adventure and the delicious results!

Now that you’ve learned how to make jerk chicken at home, why not share this guide with friends or family and host a Jamaican-themed dinner party? Happy cooking!