Jamaican Jerk Sauce

Last week, when I whined about discussed my scallion overload with y’all (you know I’ve been reading The Bloggess too much when I bust out the y’alls), my friend Weber King suggested that I make jerk sauce, as it uses up a lot of scallions. (Y’all should go visit his blog; maybe that would convince him to update it more than once every 3 months).  Hands up if you knew that jerk sauce was made primarily of scallions: I had no idea.  So after much begging, pleading and nagging (and waiting all the way until the end of the work day), Weber King sent me his jerk sauce recipe, which he takes from Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue! Bible. (The exclamation point is in the official title, y’all). I would have walked by this book on the sale table at Border’s with barely an eye flicker: the loud cartoony cover, the 500 recipes, and lastly, that ridiculous exclamation point would have suggested that this was not the cookbook for me. Thank goodness Weber King is not so fastidious, because Mr.Raichlen surely knows his jerk sauce.  It was just about perfect on my very first attempt; how often can you say that about a marinade?

I’ve never been to Jamaica, but I’ve been to East Cambridge (and that’s pretty close). This jerk sauce was awesome: kick-ass spicy, but with more going on than just heat; allspice is predominant, with a scalliony bite, ginger, cinnamon & nutmeg in the background, a hint of herby freshness. Last week I marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 4 hours and popped ’em over a charcoal grill: delicious. Last night I marinated a whole, skin-on, bone-in, cut-up chicken for 8 hours and cooked it over a cedar-wood fire: fan-freakin-tastic.  I’m not lying (y’all); round up some monster scallions and give this one a go.

Adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Jamaican Jerk Marinade in The Barbecue! Bible, courtesy of Weber King.


Jamaican Jerk Sauce


  • 2 bunches scallions, white & green parts, scrubbed and cut to 1-inch pieces (or 1 bunch monster scallions, about 7 oz trimmed)
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped (2 oz)
  • 3 large coves garlic
  • 1, 1-inch piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp tamari (soy sauce; I used reduced sodium)
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme (I used 1 tsp bouquet garni due to the inexplicable absence of thyme in the house)
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 – 10 habañero or Scotch bonnet peppers (I used 3 large, frozen habaneros, about 1/2 oz each, with seeds & ribs)*

*Wear gloves when handling fresh or frozen chile peppers in order to avoid skin burns.


  1. Combine all ingredients except habanero peppers in the bowl of a food processor; process until uniform and vegetables are very finely chopped.  Add habañeros, 1/2 pepper at a time, and process until combined (you may want to seed the peppers first, then add seeds back in if you want more heat). Taste as you go, remembering that jerk sauce should be spicy.

Yields about 2 cups, or enough to marinate 2 lbs of meat.


  1. The original recipe called for 2 – 16 Scotch bonnet peppers: obviously one man’s spicy is another man’s wimpy. Add peppers at your discretion. Seeds & ribs add primarily heat, but not much depth of flavor; for greatest flavor, add seeded peppers; for more heat, add back some seeds.
  2. The original recipe also called for 3 tablespoons of Kosher salt. I thought this seemed excessive, especially with 3 tbsp of tamari. I cut it back to 1 tbsp of salt, which still seemed salty to me; however, after blending for a few hours, it did not seem overly salty. So, 1 to 2 tbsp would work, I think. The salt likely helps the flavor to penetrate the meat, so do not cut back too much.
  3. For my vegetarian & vegan friends, I suspect this sauce would kick as much ass slathered on Portabello mushrooms or fat rounds of summer squash; or added to rice or quinoa in a baked stuffed pepper or tomato. For something a little daring, try Jamaican Jerk grilled peaches or pineapple.


Store any excess fresh marinade (that was not used to marinate meat) refrigerated for about 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.


Although the classic scallion season is Spring, they are typically available year round at farmer’s markets. Habañeros or Scotch bonnet peppers are in season in late summer; but frozen peppers work equally well.


  1. Kim

    fwiw yall should try other raichlen recipes, that man knows him some grillin! (since we’re going for campy accents here)

  2. Cool! I’ve been thinking about making jerk chicken but (wrongly) assumed that most of the ingredients wouldn’t be local. I’ll admit that I didn’t know that scallions were the main ingredient. I’m definitely going to try this.

  3. Hi Mangochild,

    As I mentioned in the Options, I think a slather sauce for grilled mushrooms, summer squash or even corn on the cob would be fab. Also could be interesting as a peach/pineapple slather. Used as the flavoring for a grain-stuffed baked pepper, squash or tomato it also has possibilities. I would suggest making half a batch and experimenting; if it doesn’t work for you, freeze it and give it to a meat-eating neighbor. 🙂

  4. Mina

    This is my “go-to” Jerk sauce recipe! It turns out perfect every time! An important thing to note is that you should always add the actually pepper, instead of the seeds. The peppers add the real flavor with the right amount of heat. The seeds tend to add an overwhelming amount of heat without much flavor! Thank you!!

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