Jerk Chicken Skewers

Jerk Chicken Skewers make the perfect summer party appetizer, or family dinner. The chicken has a bold Jamaican flavor, and is paired with fresh pineapple, red pepper and red onion for the perfect kabob.

close up of chicken skewers with jerk marinade


 

Jerk Chicken Recipe

Kabobs are a summertime favorite in my family, and I love being out in the fresh air grilling. These Jerk Chicken Kabobs pack a bold flavor with some spice, but are complemented with the sweet fresh pineapple and crisp veggies.

chicken skewers on a wood cutting board

This chicken skewer recipe makes a great party appetizer, or make it a main when paired with cooked rice or beans.

What is Jerk Chicken?

Jerk refers to the cooking style in which meat (usually chicken) is coated in an array of spices then cooked over a fire or grilled.

close up angle of chicken kabobs with pineapple, pepper and onion

The smoke mixed with the spices gives the distinctive “jerk” flavor. The dish originated in Jamaica, but has roots from all over the Caribbean. It is also referred to in Jamaican Jerk Sauce.

The ingredient list for a good jerk chicken marinade looks long, but they are pretty basic and also easily verstile. Sure you can slap on some dry jerk seasoning, but marinating gets flavor through to the core of the chicken.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil- or another neutral oil like vegetable or canola
  • Lime juice
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Garlic
  • Jalapeno– scotch bonnets, habaneros or other peppers, omit if you don’t like heat
  • Scallions– or other member of the onion family
  • Maple syrup– or brown sugar or honey
  • Soy sauce
  • Spices: thyme, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and sal
overhead close up of chicken kabobs

How to Make Jerk Chicken Skewers

Prepare the Marinade: Chop green onions and remove ribs and seeds from jalapeno pepper, then add all of the remaining marinade ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or blended.

basting jerk marinade onto skewers

Blend for 1 minute on medium speed until smooth. Once blended, add half of the marinade to a large bowl with the cubed chicken breast and toss to combine. Cover and marinade in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare other Ingredients: While the chicken is marinating, Slice and chop the red pepper (removing the ribs and seeds) and red onion into large 1 inch pieces. If using a fresh pineapple; peel, core and chop into 1 inch chunks.

chopped chicken on a cutting board

Prepare Kabobs: Once the chicken is done marinating, spray 8 10 inch metal skewers with cooking spray. Next, begin to skewer the chicken, chopped red peppers, red onion and pineapple chunks onto each skewer.

I like to alternate mine. Brush the remaining marinade over the finished kabobs and move on to grilling.

chicken and veggies on a metal skewer

Grilled Kabobs

Spray the cool grill with cooking spray to avoid the chicken from sticking. Next, heat the grill to 400°F.

Once the grill is heated, add the jerk chicken skewers to the grill and cook 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Kabobs in the Oven

If you prefer to use your oven instead of grilling these jerk kabobs you can absolutely do so. The cook time will differ, and traditionally jerk chicken is best cooked over open flame or grill, but the idea and concept will be the same.

close up of grilled chicken skewers and rice

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with foil.

Once preheated, add prepared kabobs to the baking sheet and cook on the middle rack for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you want a more charred veggie and chicken you can broil on high for an additional minute.

Tips & Suggestions

  • Spray your grill with cooking spray before heating it to help the chicken kabobs from sticking.
  • If using wooden kabobs, soak for at least 30 minutes in water before threading.
  • If using metal skewers, aim for square or swirly sticks to prevent meat from spinning.
  • If you are short on time, you can opt out of slicing and using a fresh pineapple and instead use canned pineapple chunks. Another option would be buying pre-sliced pineapple from your local grocery store.

Chicken Variations

I love using chicken thighs for my jerk chicken kabobs, because it is more authentic and yields more flavor. You can of course swap in some boneless skinless chicken breasts if you wish.

fork picking up a piece of chicken

Makes sure that the chicken pieces are large enough to be thread, but not so big that they won’t be able to cook at the same rate as the vegetables.

If you love the flavor of these kabobs, you could also use the marinade for chicken wings, chicken legs or even a whole chicken. The cook times and methods will vary depending on the cut you choose, but this jerk chicken marinade is versatile and can be used for a variety of recipes.

close up overhead of chicken skewers

What should I serve with jerk chicken?

For a more traditional side you could go with corn, or tomato rice. Other great options include cooked beans or grilled veggies. Here are a few other favorites:

Storage & Make Ahead

Kabobs can be made ahead of time up to 24 hours, but taste best right off the grill.

Remove the chicken from the kabobs and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Rewarm before enjoying. The oven tastes best, but microwave is good too.

jerk chicken skewers for pinterest

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close up of jerk chicken skewers
close up of jerk chicken and vegetables

Jerk Chicken Skewers

4.89 from 9 votes
Chicken marinated in a warm spice blend then skewered with red bell pepper, onion and pineapple chunks. Cook on the grill or oven.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Jerk Marinade:

Skewers:

Instructions

  • Add the oil, pineapple juice, garlic, maple syrup, lime juice, soy sauce, thyme, salt, nutmeg, allsprice, ginger, jalapeno, scallions and cinnamon to a food processor or blender and combine on medium speed until no large chunks remain and everything is well blended.
  • Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and add them to a large prep bowl. Pour half of the marinade over the chopped chicken and toss to combine. Reserve the rest of the marinade for grilling, and cover and marinade in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, but up to overnight.
  • Once the chicken is done marinating, spray 8 10-inch metal skewers with cooking spray. Next, begin to skewer the chicken, bell pepper, onion and pineapple onto each skewer, I like to alternate mine.
    skewering chicken and veggies onto a kabob
  • Brush the remaining marinade over top of the skewers.
    brushing on marinade
  • Spray your cool grill with cooking spray to avoid the chicken from sticking. Next, heat the grill to 400°F. Once the grill is heated, add the jerk chicken skewers to the grill and cook 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Once finished, remove from kabobs and serve topped with fresh cilantro.
    chicken kabobs on a plate
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 468 kcal, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Protein: 21 g, Fat: 33 g, Saturated Fat: 7 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 111 mg, Sodium: 844 mg, Potassium: 547 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 16 g, Vitamin A: 1313 IU, Vitamin C: 91 mg, Calcium: 62 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Author: Caitlyn Erhardt
Calories: 468
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: jerk chicken skewers
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
jerk chicken kabobs for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.89 from 9 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed this, made them using the oven method and they were fantastic. I like how the marinade isn’t super runny and actually sticks to the vegetables so it has a good flavor. Thanks for sharing

  2. 5 stars
    The marinade for these chicken skewers is just like my favorite restaurant!! I will be making these again and again!

  3. 5 stars
    This is a wonderful recipe. I love the spiciness of the chicken with the sweetness of the pineapple. Perfect combination.

  4. 5 stars
    What a fun and flavourful recipe! Can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can fire up the grill to make these.