This recipe is from my newlywed days and a direct result of our honeymoon in Jamaica. We stayed at a Secrets resort right in Montego Bay where a chef grilled the best Jamaican jerk chicken by the pool every afternoon. We know, because we stood in line for that chicken every day and when the line was long and the sun was hot it was still worth the wait! A couple quick things about that honeymoon and the Secrets resort in particular…
- We stayed here specifically and it’s been six years since we’ve been there so there’s certainly plenty that may have changed over time, but we loved it!
- The food we had while we were there was great and the drinks were good quality. Also, rum & coca cola tastes so much better in Jamaica.
- It was very easy to schedule excursions and we loved the snorkeling one we did that also stopped at the original Margaritaville before heading back to the resort
- But please do not do the free snorkeling at the resort! Just don’t. When we attempted this at least, the equipment was low quality, supervision poor and overall experience bad. As in, let’s just talk about chicken instead… haha
So when we got back from our honeymoon I started browsing Pinterest for a jerk chicken recipe (after wallowing for a bit that we didn’t purchase the seasoning to bring home with us) and to be honest I got a little intimidated by the long list of ingredients in all the recipes I was finding! I’ve since learned a long ingredient list doesn’t necessarily equal a high level of difficulty! But then I came across this one and I don’t feel right calling is jerk chicken so I just reference it as Caribbean inspired chicken! The only thing I’ve really changed is using Tamari sauce instead of Soy sauce, though both are good! Ingredient list looks like this…
- Chicken – your choice, all cuts would work!
- Olive Oil – always recommend buying top quality; such a difference in taste & health benefits
- Brown Sugar – light or dark, depending on your flavor preference (dark brown sugar yields a little stronger flavor than light)
- Tamari Sauce – or Soy Sauce 🙂
- Italian Salad Dressing Mix – I like the ‘Good Seasons’ brand
- Dried Thyme – actually a great source of vitamin C, who knew!
- Ground Cinnamon – Adds a great dynamic
- Cayenne Pepper – gives it just enough spice, for those with low tolerance. me 🙂
I like to mix all of the above ingredients in a small bowl and then pour the marinade over the chicken in a baking dish that can be tossed in the dishwasher afterwards. Easy clean up and no waste! At minimum, I’d suggest letting the chicken marinate for 30 minutes. This is usually the timing I follow if I decide to make this last minute on a weeknight. If you can though, as with all marinades, let the flavor soak in for a good few hours in the fridge. In that scenario, just cover the top with plastic wrap.
This marinade is also known as ‘the good sauce’ in our household. Hailey loves this chicken and when she sees me prepping it in the kitchen she asks ‘Is that the chicken with the good sauce?’ haha You bet.
When it comes to cooking this chicken, grilling or stove top will be your best options; I’ve baked this a time or two as well, but it wasn’t my favorite. When I made it for this blog post we didn’t have a grill so I went stove top and it was delicious! Don’t flip too soon, make sure the bottom of the chicken is nice and browned and starting to crisp up before you flip it over; this is true for any meat really and will yield the most flavor! Now that we have a grill again though, that’s our preferred method. There’s just something about food right off the grill that’s so darn good!
When we sold our last house we left the grill with it, because it wasn’t in great shape and we were headed to a tiny apartment while our new home got built. With next to no room at the apartment, we never purchased a new grill during that time and then when we moved into our house we had a laundry list of purchases to make so it took us a little while, but we finally checked a new grill off that list! We went with charcoal this time, but actually use charred wood mostly and as we’re learning we are loving the smoked/grilled flavor it gives our meats and veggies! Oh and since we don’t have a deck on the back of the house yet, we grill right outside our garage in the driveway. Sometimes Allen uses the tractor as place to sit while the food is cooking. Do I even need to mention we moved to the country? I think it sounds pretty obvious… haha
Lately, my favorite sides to serve with this chicken are riced cauliflower and tri-colored roasted carrots. I don’t know why this wouldn’t taste the same to me across the board, since it’s just cauliflower haha, but my favorite riced cauliflower is from Trader Joes! It’s the best one and they also have a riced cauliflower stir fry mix that’s pretty tasty too. I could also totally eat this with a baked potato and salad, rice and steamed broccoli or just a side of grilled vegetables! Basically, you can’t go wrong 🙂
Caribbean Inspired Chicken
Flavorful chicken with just a hint of spice
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp tamari sauce or soy sauce
- 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Add all ingredients (minus the chicken) to a small bowl and stir well to mix.
Place the chicken in a baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Move chicken around and flip as needed to fully coat all pieces. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. If marinating for 30 minutes, you can leave on the counter. If longer, cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.
Cook chicken as desired (on the grill or in a skillet on the stove top) Cook for 5-8 minutes on each side or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit. Serve immediately with your choice of sides!