Stir together your own mix of spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasoning and you’ll add Island flair and flavours to chicken or pork for summer barbecues. (Skip to recipe.)

homemade jerk seasoning in jarThis blog has been quiet the last couple weeks because I’ve been on a tropical holiday. I had a blissful time with fourteen of my relatives in sunny Jamaica so we could celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday!

jerk seasoning, celebrating mom's 80th in Jamaica at the Bahia Principe resort

celebrating the big day with the friendly staff at our resort

My mom is a trooper. She suffers from arthritis, but doesn’t let that stop her from living life with gusto. I hope I’ve got her energy and enthusiasm when I get to be that age.

Jamaica is a stunning island – amazing things to see and do everywhere.

jerk seasoning, mossy stones on the beach at the Bahia Principe resort, Jamaica

We stayed in a resort, and that alone is a wonderful holiday, but when you’re traveling with a crowd of fun-loving relatives – every day is a party.

jerk seasoning - our family group in Jamaica

here are 10 members of our gang – mom’s the one on the right

We ate, drank, suntanned, partied, swam, shopped, chatted, laughed, ate, toured, told tall tales, drank, ate, walked, and did I mention that we ate?

As soon as we’d finished stuffing ourselves at the magnificent buffet for breakfast, we’d be deciding when and where we should meet for lunch. It was a tough life I tell ya . . .

I tasted so many new tropical foods I’d never had before; every meal included some new taste sensation.

jerk seasoning, Jamaican breakfast foods

breakfast of mango, boiled dumplin, fried dumplin, ackee & saltfish (Jamaica’s national dish), and of course, a serving of bacon

The buffet down at the beach served the best jerk chicken – charred and crisp from the grill, with an assortment of sauces with different heat levels to drizzle on top. Mmmmm. Lip-smackin’. I’ve got a great recipe for you to mix up your own jerk seasoning so you can have a little taste of Jamaican spice, too. Just keep scrolling down past the pictures.

jerk seasoning on jerk chicken, rice and beans, callaloo

jerk chicken, rice and peas, and sauteed callaloo

One day we toured up into the Blue Mountains to see how Jamaica’s world famous coffee is grown.

jerk seasoning, coffee plants in Jamaica

coffee plantation up in the hills

jerk seasoning, famous Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica

famous Blue Mountain coffee, grown at high altitudes and considered to be the best in the world

jerk seasoning, green bananas growing on tree, Blue Mountains, Jamaica

bananas grow up there, too

On our way through Kingston, we stopped at Devon House I Scream. This delicious little shop is included in the top ten best ice cream places in the world.

jerk seasoning, Devon House I Scream

Another day, half of us rented a van and toured around part of the island. Driving on the left side of the road was a new experience for Raymond and my brother-in-law, who took turns at the wheel.

jerk seasoning, driving on the left in Jamaica

We had a few . . . er . . . driving adventures, and found a lot of narrow, winding mountain roads with little villages dotted in the jungle.

jerk seasoning, mama and sleeping boy at roadside stand in Jamaicajerk seasoning, tropical fruit stand in Jamaica

We stopped at the pristine seven mile long Negril Beach for a dip in the fantastically warm and clear water.

jerk seasoning, Negril Beach in Jamaica

Another day, my sister and I slipped away for a cooking class at a plantation house on a 900 acre former allspice (pimento) and lime plantation. We were the only two people in the class so it was like a private lesson. We were toured through the plantation in a jitney (trailer) pulled by a tractor.

jerk seasoning, jitney ride

my sister Rosalinda, sitting in the jitney

jerk seasoning, allspice berry blossoms

allspice blossoms and developing berries – the spice that gives jerk seasoning its unique flavour

jerk seasoning, cooking class in Jamaica with Chef Irie

Chef Irie, our lovely cooking class instructor

So many sights to see on this stunning little tropical island, rich with history and culture.

jerk seasoning, colorful buildings in Jamaica

jerk seasoning, blue, blue ocean

jerk seasoning, roadside tropical fruit in Jamaica

Jamaican apples, ackee, green bananas, soursop

jerk seasoning, bird on thatched sun umbrellaIMG_1552b

jerk seasoning, jackfruit and pineapple

roadside fruit stands everywhere – this one has jackfruit, pineapple, and bags of red-skinned Jamaican apples

jerk seasoning, cleaning starfish on the beach in Runaway Bay, Jamaica

At the resort buffet, we indulged in fresh coconut water. The expert handler whacks the top off a coconut, pokes a hole into it with a sharp knife, and pours it into a glass or just sticks a straw into it so you can sip it right out of the coconut.

jerk seasoning, poking a hole in the coconutjerk seasoning, pouring out the coconut water

Are you feeling the island vibes? Wanna taste some of the island spice?

Jerk is actually a way of cooking – a hot and spicy barbecue style of cooking. Highly seasoned meat, traditionally pork, but now including chicken and fish, is cooked slowly over a charcoal fire of pimento (allspice) wood until the spices are blackened from the smoke and the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender and moist. The seasoning mix varies from cook to cook, but always includes allspice and some form of hot pepper – Scotch Bonnet Peppers are preferred if the seasoning is a paste mixture. If making a dry mixture, dried hot chili peppers are used. I’ve made up a dry mix, combining ingredients from two Jamaican cookbooks and three different jerk spice mixtures we bought in Jamaica. Rub the seasoning into the meat of your choice, let it rest for a while if you have time, then throw it onto the grill and cook it low and slow to get that nice smoky flavour melding with the spices. It’s the taste of Jamaica. Yaa man.

homemade jerk seasoning in bowlpork shoulder steaks rubbed with jerk seasoning, ready to grill

Liven up your summer barbecues with your own special jerk seasoning mix.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can substitute cayenne pepper for the crushed chili peppers.

Click here for a recipe using the seasoning to make authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

heap of homemade jerk seasoning

Jerk Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried red chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stir together all spices. Keep in an airtight container.

Use as a dry rub for pork, chicken, or fish, before barbecuing or roasting, or use in recipes that call for jerk seasoning.

Makes about 6 tablespoons.

Guten Appetit!

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Make your own fantastic jerk seasoning to jazz up this summer's barbecue meals!


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jerk seasoning, jamaican sunset