Jerk Seasoning is the perfect blend of spicy, sweet aromatic island flavour to elevate your standard meal. This classic Jamaican spice blend compliments poultry, meats, fish, seafood and vegetables. The options are limitless!
If you’re searching for more tasty ways to season your meals, try my All Purpose Seasoning and Homemade Seasoning Salt next!
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The kick of heat you get from jerk seasoning is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. It’s more complex than a simple hot sauce and has a delicious depth thanks to sweet inclusions like dark brown sugar. Additions like allspice give it a warm, earthy taste.
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Easy – simply mix a few staple seasonings from your spice cabinet to make authentic jerk seasoning.
- Versatile – jerk seasoning can be as fiery hot or mild as you like; all you have to do is adjust your measurements!
- Delicious – it’s spicy, smoky, and sweet so it brings a depth of flavor to whatever you season. There’s a reason why it’s world-famous!
What is Jamaican Jerk?
Jerk is a hot and spicy dry-rubbed or wet marinated blend of herbs and spices used on all types of meats and seafood. Traditionally, jerked foods would be cooked over a small open coal or wood fire. Jerk has a spicy, woodsy, smoky flavour.
Jamaican Jerk History
It’s been said that the Maroons (descendants of Africans who formed settlements away from slavery in the Western world) jerked wild pigs in Portland, Jamaica while on the run from the British. It’s been a part of Jamaican culinary traditions for centuries, and now evolved in various unique dishes.
What is Jerk Seasoning Made Of?
The main components of jerk seasoning are allspice, a hot pepper (usually scotch bonnet) and dried thyme.
What You Need to Make this Recipe
- Small Mixing Bowl – to combine all the ingredients
- Empty Spice Jar or airtight jar – to contain the all purpose seasoning
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Garlic and Onion Powder – these aromatics are essential in jerk seasoning and should definitely be included.
- Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Cloves and Ginger – use a blend of these spices for the perfect combinations of deep, warm, earthy, woodsy flavouring.
- Cayenne Pepper and Red Chili (Pepper) Flakes – this is where you’ll get the heat from, adjust as needed. You can also dehydrate your own scotch bonnet peppers and grind them to make your own dried scotch bonnet pepper.
- Dried Thyme and Parsley Flakes – these dried herbs work well here, thyme is essential, parsley can be omitted.
- Smoked Paprika and Paprika – this not only enhances the colour of the seasoning blend, but also add the traditional smokiness that is essential and most notable in jerk.
- Salt and Black Pepper – you can opt to leave the salt out of the blend and salt your individual dishes as you go. Adjust to taste.
- Dark Brown Sugar – this is optional, however adds a delicious subtle sweet note to the seasoning blend that balances the heat perfectly.
How to Make Jerk Seasoning
Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and mix until evenly combined. Transfer to an empty spice jar or airtight container and store in your spice cabinet or a dark cool place.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
- Spicy – add dehydrated and ground scotch bonnet peppers for an even spicier jerk seasoning. You could also double the amount of cayenne pepper.
- Low Sodium Jerk Seasoning – lower the amount of salt or omit it altogether.
- Sweet – instead of dark brown sugar, you could use light brown sugar or regular white granulated sugar.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
Use jerk marinade to add Jamaican flair to your favourite foods. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Tofu – upgrade that bland tofu to something delectable and delicious!
- Burgers – enhance your burgers. Try this Jerk Burgers with Pineapple Mango Salsa.
- Chicken – it would pair perfectly with chicken. Check out my recipes for Jerk Chicken Poutine, Quick & Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken, and Jerk Chicken Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing.
- Seafood – spice up your shellfish with jerk! This would taste great with shrimp or salmon.
- Pork – jerk adds a delicious smoky flavour to tender, juicy pork.
- Pasta – it’s not just for protein; jerk seasoning boosts the flavours in this Jamaican Rasta Pasta.
- Veggies – toss your vegetables in this seasoning before cooking and they’ll be devoured in seconds!
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Make this spice blend your own by adjusting the ratio of each ingredient. For example, if you want to enhance the spiciness, use less sugar.
- Make a big batch by doubling or tripling this jerk seasoning recipe.
- Check the expiration dates for each of the ingredients you use in order to ensure maximum freshness.
- Never pour the seasoning over extremely hot or steaming food because if it is exposed to moisture, it will clump.
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
Yes! This homemade jerk seasoning is supposed to be made ahead of time so that it’s ready for use whenever you need to add a dash of flavour to your food.
Store in an airtight container and place it in your spice cabinet or a dark cool place. It should be away from direct sunlight. When properly stored, jerk seasoning can last up to one year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Jerk seasoning is made from a blend of dry herbs and spices whereas jerk marinade is more of a wet blend. The spice blend is often used as a dry rub, whereas the marinade is often used to marinate meats overnight as the flavours soak in more effectively. Both are used very similarly, but it’s all up to preference.
Although it can last a long time, it can become stale. If the pigment of your spice blend begins to fade, it has lost its potency.
No. Jerk seasoning and cajun seasoning are two different spice blends. Cajun seasoning is a combination of a few herbs and hot peppers.
Interested in more Condiments, Marinades and Seasonings? Check These Out!
- Caribbean Green Seasoning
- Jerk Marinade
- Jamaican Pickled Vegetables (Escovitch Sauce)
- Homemade Tzatziki
- Easy Instant Pot Apple Butter
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Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe
- Small Mixing Bowl
- Empty Spice Jar or airtight jar
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar optional
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Dried Parsley Flakes optional
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Red Chili (Pepper) Flakes
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp Ground Allspice
- 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
- Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and mix until evenly combined. Transfer to an empty spice jar or airtight container and store in your spice cabinet or a dark cool place.