• (Ainsley's Caribbean Kitchen / Dan Jones)

‘Jerking’ is all about maximising flavour. Traditionally, the mix will include allspice and Scotch bonnet chillies, but the spices can be adapted to taste. Here’s my ultimate jerk marinade with spatchcocked chicken. If you prefer, you can use chicken breasts. 






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (71 votes)


  • 1 1.5kg chicken, backbone removed and spatchcocked (ask your butcher to do this), or use chicken breasts (see Note)
  • mixed salad or coleslaw, to serve

Jerk marinade

  • 225 g onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 small Scotch bonnet chillies, halved and de-seeded
  • 50 g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cm piece fresh turmeric root, peeled and roughly chopped (or use 3 tsp ground turmeric)
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 15 g fresh thyme leaves
  • 120 ml white wine vinegar
  • 120 ml dark soy sauce
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinading time: at least 2 hours, or overnight.

1. First, make the marinade. Place all the ingredients, except the seasoning, into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.

2. Cut slashes into the smooth side of the spatchcocked chicken so that the marinade can penetrate the flesh and place the chicken in a shallow dish. Pour over the marinade and rub well into the meat. Cover and chill for at least 2–3 hours, or preferably overnight, turning every now and then.

3. Preheat a barbecue with a lid and take the chicken out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.

4. Cook the chicken on the hot barbecue with the lid down for 40–50 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with any leftover marinade, until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a thin metal skewer. Remove the chicken from the heat and rest for a few minutes, then serve with a simple mixed salad or a traditional crunchy coleslaw.



• If you prefer, you can use four chicken breasts with the skin on and cook on the barbecue for 15–20 minutes.


Recipe and photograph from Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen by Ainsley Harriott (Ebury Press, hb, $39.99). Photography by Dan Jones.