Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Paste

3.3.16 | Recipe by Renz

An easy recipe for making jerk seasoning paste. A combination of aromatic spices that are used to give your food a classic jerk taste.
This is a picture of a white dish full of jerk marinade with fresh thyme around it

Jerk is the quintessential Jamaican spice and an integral part of Jamaican cuisine. Once you hear the term "jerk" anything you know it's coming from or inspired by this very popular combination.

It is a blend of aromatic spices that can be used to not only season chicken, seafood, pork or beef, but can also be used to contribute additional flavors to other dishes.

I use some in my coconut milk pasta. I also sometimes throw a spoon or so into my stews, especially in my stew oxtails.

Jerked meat is amazing. It is especially more amazing when the meat is cooked on an outside grill. The meat slowly turning confined in that case and the spices smoking out is beyond delicious.

Nothing beats some good old jerk chicken out the barrel with some bammy or coco bread.

I initially started buying the store-brand products by Grace Foods, but most of them were either too salty or too hot for me, even if I chose the mild ones. So I opted to come up with my own.

If you want to make a good jerk marinade at home, this simple recipe is for you.

Jerk Paste or jerk dry rub?

I am sure you see many recipes for jerk seasoning in the form of a loose powder. It's more like a rub than a paste.

A dry rub or dry seasoning is a mixture of spices in powder form. The paste is a more liquid-like version using oil to make it into a smooth paste.

This may be a personal preference but I prefer to use a paste rather than powder. I think it adheres to the meat better than the rub and that it has a stronger flavor. You also use less paste than rub.

And please don't confuse the paste or rub with what may be called sauce. Most times the sauce version is more like a bbq sauce so that is used while the meat is cooking, or to be used as a dipping sauce.

What flavors constitute Jamaican jerk?

As I mentioned earlier, this marinade is made up of spices that will give you that classic jerk taste.

Ingredients to make the jerk marinade on top a wooden board.

This jerk marinade is made up of some fresh ingredients for the spice blend to ensure you get a great quality blend of spices.

  • Scotch bonnet pepper is the Jamaican hot pepper. If push comes to shove you can use whatever hot pepper you have: Trinidad pepper, bird pepper, or habanero pepper are other examples of hotter peppers. You can also use a milder pepper but make sure it has a lot of flavors.
  • Pimento seeds - or also called allspice berries. This is another Jamaican strong spice with its authentic flavor. It's like having clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon all in one bite. If you cannot find allspice anywhere, you can substitute it with just cloves
  • Scallions - also called green onion or spring onion
  • Fresh thyme
  • Nutmeg
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Oil - I use olive oil
  • Vinegar - I would use white vinegar here only. The other variations would give it a different taste.
  • Garlic cloves

Spice grinder (optional)
Mixing bowl
Blender or food processor

Mixing up this jerk marinade

Add all the ingredients to the blender (minus the oil) and blend till combined.

After blending you find that the mix is a bit clumpy, you can add some tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture till you get a consistency you like.

Best way to store

Once this is mixed up, you can safely store it in an air-tight container. I use a mason jar to store most of my homemade mixes like my green seasoning and pepper sauce.

It has a tight lid. And the mouth is also wide and easy for me to scoop out when needed.

I put it into my fridge at least one hour after I've made it. It can last in your fridge for up to six months.

Always use a clean spoon to take some out. A dirty spoon can contaminate the paste and ruin the whole thing.

Now all you need to do is take a tablespoon or so or more if you choose or whatever your recipe calls for and get your jerk on.

Ways to use this marinade/paste?

This paste can be used as a seasoning on your chicken, fish, lobster to create jerk meats.

I especially like to add a bit to my barbecues as I did in this bbq chicken and pull jerk chicken sandwiches. A little jerk to the sauce gives it a nice additional flavor.

But don't let it just stop there. I also use jerk seasoning in these dishes:

Whatever you make be sure to pair it with some hard dough bread or festival, and possibly a red stripe beer.

A white bowl of blended jerk marinade


  • If you have a spice grinder, you can add all of the top spices to the grinder and grind them together, then add the spice blend to a bowl with the remaining paste ingredients and mix.

  • This recipe is a good base for your seasoning. It is very easy for you to adjust the flavors that you prefer more and eliminate those things that you do not like. Especially as it relates to the level of heat. 

  • If you are using extremely hot peppers but don't want the spicy flavor, remove the seeds from the peppers when cutting them up. The seeds and the membrane of the pepper have the most heat. I may use the seeds of one of the peppers because you definitely do need a kick of heat in there.

  • If you are going to deseed these peppers, get some gloves on your hands. MAKE SURE YOU WEAR GLOVES. And don't even think about forgetting you are dealing with peppers and go rub your eyes. You will end up wanting to dig your eyes out.

  • If it happens to be too hot when you make it, add a few squeezes of fresh orange juice to the mix to help cut the pepper.

  • The downside of making this is the pungent smell in your kitchen. It's almost like making pepper sauce. I've had a few coughs mixing this up and getting that strong scent. And let me give you a little word of advice. You will need to clean your mixer immediately. Dishwashing liquid and a little vinegar help to eliminate the scent.

  • Also, don't turn the container down to dry. The more air that gets to pass through the container, the easier it is to get rid of the smell and any residue pepper.

Are you a jerk seasoning fan?

If you say yes, you better be on Team Paste!!!

If you like Jamaican food, are some other recipes for you to try: