DIY Jamaican Jerk Seasoning – Minimalist Baker Recipes

Jar filled high with our homemade Jamaican jerk spice rub

Spicy, savory, salty, and sweet? Jamaican jerk seasoning has it going on! When a recent craving arose for the bold, balanced flavors of this Caribbean spice mix, we got into the kitchen attempting to replicate its magic with ingredients we had on hand.

Our inspired version comes together in just 5 minutes with easy-to-find ingredients! It’s so versatile and adds instant flavor to everything from chicken to plantains, veggies, chickpeas, and more. Let’s spice it up in here!

Spoons and bowls of onion powder, garlic powder, allspice, cayenne, thyme, sea salt, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper, and brown sugar

Origin of Jamaican Jerk Cooking

When it comes to Jamaican cuisine, “jerk” refers to a style of cooking that traditionally involves marinating meat in a spicy seasoning and cooking it over a wood fire for a smoky flavor. This method is believed to have originated with indigenous peoples in Jamaica.

The spicy, warming seasoning typically contains Scotch bonnet peppers and allspice as key ingredients. Since it’s challenging to find Scotch bonnet in our area, we came up with an inspired twist using cayenne pepper. For a version using Scotch bonnet peppers and other fresh ingredients, check out this more traditional recipe from Island Style Kitchen.

How to Make Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

The term “jerk seasoning” is sometimes used to refer to a dry spice rub and sometimes to a marinade.

To keep things super simple and convenient, we like to make a dry spice rub with sugar, salt, and spices. This dry mixture keeps well for months in the pantry, and if you want to make a marinade, it’s as easy as stirring in a few liquid ingredients!

For the jerk spice rub, we combine onion powder, granulated garlic, ground allspice, brown sugar, sea salt, and dried thyme with ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. You can use this rub as is, or turn it into a marinade by adding oil, tamari, and maple syrup. Either way, it’s DELICIOUS!

Side view of a jar with spices in layers

We hope you LOVE this Jamaican jerk seasoning! It’s:

Subtly sweet
Easy to make
& SO versatile!

Enjoy it on everything from chickpeas, tofu, and cauliflower (recipe coming soon!) to roasted plantains, mushrooms, and other veggies. It’s so flavorful that it would probably even make cardboard taste good 😜 (not recommended, though!).

More Caribbean-Inspired Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Overhead shot of a tablespoon in a bowl of our homemade Jamaican jerk seasoning recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes

Total Time 5 minutes

Servings 8 (~1 Tbsp servings)

Course Spice Blend

Cuisine Caribbean-Inspired, Jamaican-Inspired

Freezer Friendly No

Does it keep? 3 Months

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar* (ensure organic for vegan-friendly)
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 – 1 ½ tsp ground cayenne* (start with less if your cayenne is especially spicy)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Add all spices to a small jar (or bowl) and shake (or stir) to combine, breaking up any stubborn clumps of brown sugar.

  • Taste and adjust as needed, adding more cayenne if it’s not noticeably spicy. It should taste sweet, salty, and quite spicy. Flavor will vary with the freshness and heat level* of your spices, so feel free to adjust further to taste (we added the full amount of cayenne)! Will keep at room temperature for several months.

  • Enjoy as a dry spice rub or turn it into a marinade (see notes section for marinade instructions). It’s delicious for seasoning chickpeas, cauliflower (recipe coming soon!), tofu, oyster mushrooms, roasted vegetables, chicken, and more!

*Recipe as written makes ~1/2 cup seasoning.
*Brown sugar is traditionally used in jerk seasoning. We tested with coconut sugar, and while it worked, it covered up some of the nuance of the spices, and we preferred the more neutral taste of brown sugar.
*The cayenne we used was 35,000 heat units and we added the full amount. Adjust up or down depending on personal preference and how spicy your cayenne is!
*To make a marinade, combine 1/2 cup of the dry spice rub with 1/4 cup olive oil (or your neutral oil of choice), 1/4 cup tamari (low sodium for less saltiness), and 2 Tbsp maple syrup. Whisk/stir until smooth. The marinade works well for seasoning chicken and is delicious tossed with crumbled tofu, shredded oyster mushrooms, or sliced plantains roasted on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 425 degrees F (218 C) until tender with crisp edges.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of cayenne.

Serving: 1 tablespoon Calories: 16 Carbohydrates: 3.9 g Protein: 0.4 g Fat: 0.2 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 441 mg Potassium: 43 mg Fiber: 0.9 g Sugar: 1.3 g Vitamin A: 17 IU Vitamin C: 1 mg Calcium: 24 mg Iron: 0.5 mg

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