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.
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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.
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.
The smoke mixed with the spices gives the distinctive “jerk” flavor. The dish originated in Jamaica, but has roots from all over the Caribbean.
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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What should I serve with jerk chicken?
For a more traditional side you could go with corn, or 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.
More Chicken Recipes:
Jerk Chicken Skewers
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- 5 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 jalapeno pepper , ribbed and chopped
- 6 scallions , chopped
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pound chicken thighs , boneless and skinless
- 2 cups pineapple , roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper , cut into large 1-inch pieces
- 1 red onion , cut into large sections
- Fresh Cilantro , optional for serving
- 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.
- Brush the remaining marinade over top of the skewers.
- 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.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.
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
The marinade for these chicken skewers is just like my favorite restaurant!! I will be making these again and again!
This is a wonderful recipe. I love the spiciness of the chicken with the sweetness of the pineapple. Perfect combination.
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.
Yum! I love all these jerk flavors – perfect in skewers.