Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

GGrilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks, the Jamaican classic, are easy to make at home and you can control the heat levels. However, at least some heat is necessary because otherwise, it just wouldn’t be Jerk.

Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

What is Jerk?

Jerk is a Jamaican barbecue, and sometimes called Jamaica’s national dish. The word “Jerk” is both a dish and a cooking method. It refers to meat, usually chicken, marinated in lime, spices and hot peppers, then cooked on a barbecue grill or fire pit. In Jamaica, jerk chicken, or pork, is everywhere from roadside stands to the finest restaurants from one end of the island to the other.

Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

If you can’t take the heat……

Then you’re looking at the wrong recipe. The defining characteristic of Jamaican jerk is the smoky heat, largely due to the addition of Scotch bonnet chiles. The Scotch Bonnet is up there at the top of the Scoville scale, which is a measurement of heat in peppers. A Scotch bonnet chile measures between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). That’s pretty hot when you consider that the jalapeno measures between 1,000 and 10,000 SHU.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Drumsticks
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

This Jerk Chicken Recipe is “Mild”

I used only one Scotch bonnet chile in this recipe, so while it definitely packs some heat, it’s still not overly hot. Some Jamaican recipes that I have seen contain many more peppers, and if you’re still reading, you aren’t spice adverse, so feel free to use more. Although this was delicious, the next time I make it, I’ll use two peppers. However, if you aren’t sure, I would advise sticking to just the one.

Grilled Jerk Chicken

How to Cook Jerk Chicken

This is a grilled jerk chicken recipe, so obviously, it’s cooked over a grill. Although you can roast it in the oven, grilling is best for the most authentic flavour, and those lovely char marks. Any chicken pieces will work, but I like to use drumsticks because they stay moist and juicy when grilled. For more delicious grilled drumstick recipes, try Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks, or Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

Grilled Jerk Chicken

What to serve with Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

You can serve a simple, cooling salad with this chicken, or you can make the whole meal Jamaican, and serve it with Coconut Red Beans & Rice like I did here. Plenty of lime wedges and a frosty beverage, along with napkins are also requirements.


Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

Drumsticks are marinated in a mixture of spices, lime juice, and chiles, then grilled for a deliciously spicy, easy meal.
4.89 from 27 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Marinating time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 6
Calories 333 kcal



  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chile
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 lime juice of
  • 1 2" piece fresh ginger peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 12 chicken drumsticks


  • Put all ingredients except the chicken in a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Put the chicken into a re-sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it.
  • Seal the bag and massage it to make sure all of the chicken is covered. Refrigerate overnight or 6-8 hours
  • Heat barbecue grill to high and spray with cooking spray
  • Remove drumsticks from marinade and transfer to a platter. Discard marinade.
  • Place chicken drumsticks on the grill and allow to sear, about 2 minutes per side.
  • Turn grill heat to low, close the lid and grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until internal temperature at the thickest part of the drumstick reads 170°, about 40 minutes. Serve hot, with lime wedges.


Use care when handling a hot chile like the Scotch Bonnet. Wear gloves and avoid touching your face. 
Because you are using a food processor for this recipe, you can simply remove the stem and put the whole chile pepper in without chopping.
If you are unable to find a Scotch bonnet chile, you can substitute a Habanero.


Serving: 1gCalories: 333kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 30gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 1630mgPotassium: 477mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 140IUVitamin C: 9.8mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2.4mg
Keyword barbecued chicken, chicken drumsticks, grilled chicken, spicy chicken
Tried this recipe? What changes did you make?Let us know how it was!

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46 thoughts on “Grilled Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

  1. I love heat so these are definitely in my Bbq menu plan. And that coconut red beans and rice sounds like the perfect pairing😋

  2. I love some heat, so I think I can handle the jerk spice! And love the char marks from the grilling! It’s been a few weeks since we’ve grilled some chicken (I’ve been on a turkey burger and shrimp kick), but these drummies are making me crave some chicken for dinner tonight! Happy Friday Colleen!

  3. Love these! Bring on the heat. I also like your suggestions for what to serve it with, especially the frosty beverage. Our mouths need cooling after a delicious dish like this one!

  4. The grilled chicken drumsticks look lip-smacking. I can imagine my kids devouring it licking their fingers. will try.

  5. I have said to many times before I will be making a nice jerk chicken on BBQ but never got to. I am saving this recipe now and cannot wait to make these drumsticks next BBQ – they look soooo good!

  6. I have never tried Jerk seasoning but it sounds great. I’m definitely a spicy food fan so this would be right up my street! Going to pin for later!

  7. Ah, does it get any better than grilled jerk chicken, right? These look so good that my mouth is full of water now. Can’t wait to grab a few!

  8. I have a weak spot for grilled chicken, everyone knows it. So I have been trying every recipe I find. Very excited to try yours now because it looks incredible!

  9. Travelling to Jamaica and having authentic jerk is on my husbands and my bucket list, but I am so happy to make this at home now, no more waiting, we love spice so this is going to be an instant hit for sure!

    1. Hi Mikayla, You should definitely travel to Jamaica, it’s so beautiful. But I’m happy that you don’t have to wait to try jerk. This chicken can satisfy that craving for you!

  10. I love Jerk seasoning! I can’t wait to try this drum stick recipe just so my fingers will get all spicy and delicious.

  11. I have always wondered what jerk was but didn’t bother to look it up haha. Now I know!!
    Drumsticks are one of my favourite ways to enjoy chicken!

  12. The way you’ve flavored these drumsticks is so fun! I love the mix of really spicy heat with the brown sugar sweetness and a little lime juice just to tame everything a bit and bring out the best flavors.

  13. I love the charred look on these chicken drumsticks. And jerk is one of the best flavor combos for chicken I know, what a glorious recipe!

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