If you’re looking for a party hit, these Grilled jerk chicken kebobs are it. These are perfect for BBQs, family gatherings, or for your next family meal. Between the homemade marinade and creamy cilantro lime ranch dressing, you’ll want to make sure this gets a space in your recipe book!
What is jerk chicken?
Like most people, you probably hear the word “jerk” and instantly think of insanely hot spices. The truth of the matter is, the spices used to create a “Jamaican” jerk-style meal don’t have to be that hot at all. In fact, the term “jerk” is often to referred to the style of cooking versus the temperature of the flavor.
Traditionally speaking, in the Jamaican culinary world, the term “jerking” referred to cooking meat over an open flame, particularly over pimento wood. Being a unique tree, the wood taken from the pimento tree would give off a distinct aroma as it burned and the smoke is what would flavor the meat being cooked.
Since we can’t go into our backyards and find these amazing trees and their wood, people wanted to be able to easily recreate the taste and flavors. That’s why you now see a variety of jerk spice blends like the one you’ll use in the marinade for this recipe.
How to Make the Grilled Jerk Chicken Marinade
This marinade is considered a “wet” seasoning and it’s perfect for helping keep the juiciness of the chicken while being grilled. Not to mention, the combination of seasonings comes together for an amazing flavor. Here is what you will need to make it:
- Warm spices: allspice, nutmeg, ginger, scallions, garlic
- Hot spices: Habanero pepper,
- A bit of sweetness: light brown sugar
- Pantry staples: salt and pepper
- Tamari sauce, oil, lime juice, thyme
Once you’ve gathered all of the marinade ingredients together, add their proper measurements into a bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until it becomes a salsa-like chunky sauce.
If you want to make this marinade ahead of time, be sure to follow proper food storage techniques and keep it in a tightly sealed container (preferably a jar) and refrigerated.
How to Make the BEST Grilled Jerk Chicken Kebobs
You’ll want to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been trimmed of the fat and cut into cubes (roughly ¾ inch).
Add the chicken cubes and marinade into a large bowl and give it a few tosses. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least two hours. You can marinade the chicken for up to 24 hours but I don’t suggest going beyond that. The citrus in the marinade will begin to break down the chicken, eventually causing it to be mushy.
Before putting the chicken on the skewers, give them a quick 15-20 minute soak in water to prevent them from catching on fire while being grilled. Thread the chicken onto the soaked skewers and grill until they are fully cooked.
How to Make the Best Kebob Dipping Sauce
This is another recipe you’ll want to keep handy because you can use it for much more than dipping your kebobs. This Creamy Cilantro Lime Ranch sauce is a must try!
All you need is:
- Cream-based sauces: sour cream, mayo, heavy whipping cream
- Tang: lime (juice and zest), garlic, cilantro, scallion
- Salt and pepper
These ingredients simply need to be whisked together in a medium bowl and stored in the refrigerator. It’ll be good for up to a week.
Garnishings and Fixings for Grilled Jerk Chicken Kebobs
You could always go classic kebob and add different color bell peppers, purple onion, or fruit like pineapple. For this particular recipe, you’ll notice it topped with thinly sliced scallions, scotch bonnet peppers (or habanero peppers), and fresh cilantro leaves.
FOR THE MARINADE:
- 3 Scallions, ends trimmed and cut in 3 pieces
- 4 Cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 Habanero pepper, stem removed
- 1-inch piece Fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Light brown sugar
- ½ Tablespoon Minced fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- ½ teaspoon Ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into ¾-inch cubes
CREAMY CILANTRO LIME RANCH DRESSING (yields 1 ½ cups)
- ½ Cup Sour cream
- ½ Cup Mayo
- ½ Cup Heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon Fresh lime zest, or more to taste
- 1 Clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh cilantro, minced
- 1 Scallion, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Optional Garnish Ideas:
- Scallion, thinly sliced
- Scotch bonnet pepper or habanero pepper, thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro leaves
FOR THE KEBOBS:
- Add the ingredients of the marinade to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop everything up a bit, and then process until it turns into a chunky sauce with a consistency similar to runny salsa.
- Add the chicken and the sauce to a large bowl and toss well to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but up to 24 hours.
- 20 minutes before you want to cook the chicken, soak 6 wooden skewers in water (to help prevent them from catching on fire). Preheat a grill to medium-high.
- Thread the chicken onto the 6 skewers. Grill the skewers until the chicken is fully cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. When the chicken is fully cooked, there should be no pink in the center, and it should reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Serve the chicken skewers topped with any garnishes you like, along with Creamy Cilantro Lime Ranch for dipping.
FOR THE DIP:
- Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Serve, or store covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.