Jerk Chicken on Gas Grill

April 20, 2015

While visiting my brother in Las Vegas, I had some doubts about making Jerk Chicken on a Gas Grill. Yet, the chicken itself ended up well seasoned and delicious. The 24 hour marinade permeated deep into the chicken, and also left a dark flavorful crust. Overall, the recipe was a success. The main drawback about making this on the gas grill, was that I was not able to get proper aroma and smoke flavors coming from the spice-filled smoking packet. When I put the smoking packet on the grill grate above the burner, the packet didn’t become hot enough to generate much smoke. Then when I placed it directly on the burner element, the wood chips simply caught fire. You should make this recipe even if you only have a gas grill, but still this charcoal grill version is better.

Delicious and no need for sauce

Delicious and no need for sauce

Before Chris Kimball made this recipe, I tried to make Jerk Chicken on my own, but it came out just so-so. Chris Kimball’s only previous Jerk Recipe because used 1/4-cup of brown sugar, which seems absurd to me.


  1. My past recommendation was to cut the 3 habaneros (including about 20% of seeds) down to just 2 habaneros chiles. Today, because my audience included kids, I used 3 jalapenos again including about 20% of seeds. It was tame
  2. Be sure to marinate the chicken for a full 24-hours, otherwise your flavor will not permeate into the meat of your chicken.
  3. If you don’t properly clean and season the grill in step 6 then the skin will stick to the grill.
  4. I used 5-lbs of thighs and allow the chicken to marinate for 24 hours. I still had a little room to throw in two boneless breasts for the last couple of hours to marinating; a back-up plan for any spice-o-phobe.
  5. If you go to Jamaica, the only thing better than Jerk Chicken is Jerk Pork.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $9.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:30 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM. (of course I started marinating the day before)

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Jerk Marinade:
1-1/2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
2 Habanero chiles (or 3 Jalapenos)
8 scallions
6 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest (2 to 3 limes)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5-lbs bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs)

Smoking Packet:
2 tablespoons whole allspice berries
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons water
1 cup wood chips

  1. Coarsely grind the whole coriander seeds, the allspice berries and whole peppercorns in a spice grinder. Add freshly ground spices to blender.
  2. Discard the stem from the chiles. Remove and reserve the ribs and seeds, then cut into quarters. Add to blender. Roughly chop scallions and garlic and add to blender. Add all the remaining ingredients (except the chicken) to the blender and process until a smooth paste forms. Empty the paste into a gallon-sized Zip-Lock bag.
  3. Trim the chicken to remove any excess fat (or ribs) and cut the breasts is half cross-wise. Add the chicken to the marinade and remove as much air as possible from the zip-lock bag. Allow to sit a room temperature for 30 minutes; flipping the bag over after 15 minutes. Refrigerate for 24-hours.
  4. Combine the spices for the smoke packet with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and allow to hydrate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak 1 cup of wood chips separately. When completely soaked, wrap the soaked chips and moistened spice mixture in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Use a paring knife to cut five or six vent holes in top of the packet.
  5. Set the wood chip packet over the primary burner and turn all burners onto highest setting. Close cover, and pre-heat grill for 15 to 25 minutes until the wood chips begin to smoke. Reduce primary burner to medium and turn off other burners.
  6. Use tongs and paper towels to season the grill grate with vegetable oil (otherwise the skin will stick to the grill).
  7. Leave some marinade on the chicken, and put chicken skin-side-up as far away from the heat as possible. Arrange so that the dark meat is closest to the heat, and the white meat is further. Cover grill and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Flip chicken skin-side-down as you move the chicken directly over the primary burner. Cook for until well browned. Flip the chicken again skin-side-up and continue cooking directly over primary burner until the chicken reaches the correct temperature; 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs/drumsticks.
  9. Move to a serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Slice limes for serving.

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