This copycat version of our favorite Jamaican Jerk Seasoning does not disappoint!
Jamaican jerk spice is deep, smoky, and earthy, with a touch of sweetness and a nice amount of heat. Its unmistakable flavor is used to create memorable dishes like Jerk chicken, pork chops, or fish. It’s even added to the sauce in a fun dish called “Rasta Pasta.”
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Why We Love Our Jerk Seasoning Mix
Our DIY version is just as authentic as some of the store-bought brands like Grace or Walkerswood. But our recipe lets you experiment with the quantities for a spicy or mild version. We know you’ll agree that Jamaican jerk seasoning is a tropical island spice that up-levels any meal! It’s originally meant for meats and seafood, but it’s also good on baked potatoes, corn on the cob, or garlic bread! This jerk seasoning recipe is a multi-purpose spice that you’ll use up in no time! Double or triple the recipe because it will go fast and it lasts a long time!
What is Jerk Seasoning?
Jamaica has a vibrant food culture and a distinct cooking style of its own. “Jerk” means the meat is pierced all over and then rubbed or marinated in the Jamaican jerk spice. After that it’s usually cooked on an open flame, low and slow, so the seasoning cooks right into the meat. This gives it an unforgettable smoky flavor with a tender, juicy finish. The aroma alone will make your mouth water!
What Spices Are in Caribbean Jerk Seasoning?
Most of these seasonings are probably already in your pantry! Be sure to save empty spice bottles for making extra batches!
SAVORY SPICES: Onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, onion flakes, and thyme give this spice mix its savory flavor profile
SWEET SPICES: Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and brown sugar add a touch of sweetness.
SPICY SPICES: White pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes (or chili powder) make Jamaican Jerk Seasoning spicy! White pepper has a very different flavor profile than black pepper, and it’s an important component for jerk seasoning. Be sure to use white pepper.
How to Make Jerk Seasoning
It’s super easy to mix up a batch of homemade jerk seasoning.
- Grind thyme leaves and pepper flakes with a mortar and pestle (or the back of a spoon in a bowl). I bought my mortar and pestle at a market in Jamaica and I love it!
- Add remaining ingredients and stir.
- Transfer the dry Caribbean jerk seasoning to a small jar and shake vigorously.
How to Use Jerk Seasoning
- As a paste: mix jerk seasoning with olive oil (or bacon grease for extra flavor!). Smear over prepared meat before cooking.
- As a marinade: add jerk seasoning to balsamic vinegar and marinate meat up to 2 hours before cooking.
- As a seasoning: for a different flavor profile in casseroles or pasta dishes, use jerk seasoning in place of taco seasoning, Italian dressing mix, greek seasoning, or other seasonings
- As a topping: sprinkle liberally over meat, veggies, or casseroles and cook.
- Hold onto those old McCormick spice jars (I have the Jamaican allspice jar from my mom!) and make some extra batches to share with friends and family! Or grab some from Amazon, Walmart, or the dollar store. Check out how awesome (and reasonably priced too!) some of these spice labels are!
- A mason jar with mason jar caps is one of my very favorite ways to store spice mixtures and rubs. No messing around with a lid and ring! Also perfect for gift giving! Who doesn’t love to receive a homemade gift of food?
- As with all seasonings and spices, the best way to store Jamaican jerk spice is in a cupboard away from bright light or intense temperatures.
- If it does clump up, simply shake the jar or break it up with a fork.
- 1 Tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- ½-1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, chili pepper, to taste*
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
- 1 ½ Tablespoons onion powder
- 1 ½ Tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon ginger
- 1 Tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ½ Tablespoon cinnamon
- ½ Tablespoon ground nutmeg
- Ground thyme leaves and pepper flakes in mortar and pestle. In a small bowl or jar, combine all ingredients.
- Store in an airtight container.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Recipe from African Bites