Jerk Chicken Salad is a delicious whole meal salad that packs a delicious spicy kick. It's super easy to make and perfect for a summer meal.
We are in the midst of a heatwave over here and the last thing we want to do is heat up the kitchen. Dinner is grilled and lots of fresh veggies and fruit are a necessity. This Caribbean chicken salad is like the Grilled Shrimp Salad that I posted previously. I cooked the protein and the pineapple components of the salad on the grill and served it over fresh, cold crunchy vegetables. And then drizzled a tangy sweet honey lime vinaigrette over it all.
Why I Love This Salad
- We marinate the chicken in a delicious homemade Jerk sauce for a flavourful, spicy kick that you can dial up or down.
- Fresh, grilled pineapple perfectly compliments the Caribbean flavours.
- Crisp vegetables add freshness, colour, and crunch.
- This jerk chicken salad is super easy to put together.
- This is a quick and easy meal, just 10 minutes!
- Not only is it delicious, but this Caribbean inspired chicken salad is nutritious, protein packed, and low in calories.
Here's What You'll Need:
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper The traditional and key ingredient in Jamaican jerk spice. But if you can't find a Scotch bonnet, a habanero pepper is a close cousin.
- Onion Use a medium whole onion which should yield about one cup when diced.
- Brown Sugar
- Lime Juice Use one lime for 2 tablespoon of juice.
- Soy Sauce This recipe is gluten-free if you use a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.
- Vegetable Oil You can use any oil, but a neutral one like vegetable or canola work best.
- Garlic and Ginger You can use these already minced from a jar, or you can mince them yourself. I love my mini chopper for doing this; it makes things easy!
- Spices There are quite a few spices in this recipe, and all of them combine to give your jerk chicken it's unique and distinctive flavour.
- Chicken Boneless, skinless chicken breasts work best for this recipe.
- Thyme Sprigs of fresh thyme go into the marinade. If you don't have fresh thyme, just use 1 tablespoon of dried thyme.
- Pineapple Fresh pineapple is best. I like to buy pineapple that's already peeled and cored for convenience.
- Tomato Grape tomatoes are the perfect size.
- Cucumber Long English cucumbers are perfect for salads because they aren't seedy and you don't need to peel them.
- Red Onion
We're keeping the salad dressing very simple to compliment the jerk seasoning.
- Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- Lime Juice
- Garlic and Seasonings
How To Make It
- In a food processor or high-powered blender combine all the marinade ingredients, blending until smooth.
- Put the chicken breasts and the sprigs of thyme into zip-lock bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag and massage so that the chicken breasts are coated. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or preferably overnight.
- Heat the grill and spray with cooking oil. Grill chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Grill the pineapple slices for just a couple of minutes per side.
- Allow the chicken to rest before cutting into slices.
- Toss together all the salad ingredients with dressing and top with jerk chicken slices.
- Scotch Bonnet peppers are extremely hot. You can reduce the heat level by removing the seeds and the white membrane from the pepper. Be sure to wear gloves to do this and be careful not to touch your face.
- You can also increase the heat level by using 2 Scotch Bonnets.
- If you aren't able to find Scotch Bonnet peppers, you can use a Habanero pepper which is fairly similar.
- Fresh pineapple is essential for this recipe. Canned pineapple won't hold up well for grilling.
- When making the marinade, first use the food processor to dice the onion before adding the rest of the marinade ingredients. This saves the extra step of dicing the onion manually.
- The safest way to tell if your chicken is cooked through is using a meat thermometer. It's an inexpensive tool that helps ensure not only food safety, but keeps you from overcooking as well.
Jerk Chicken FAQs
Jerk is a cooking method common primarily in Jamaica but also elsewhere in the Caribbean. It involves using a spice mixture that features scotch bonnet peppers and the flavours of allspice and nutmeg, and grilling the meat, (usually chicken).
Typically, jerk chicken is a spicy dish. However, you can adjust the heat level of this jerk marinade recipe to your preference by adding another chile pepper, or using only half of one. You can also reduce the heat of the scotch bonnet by removing the seeds and white membrane.
At least a couple of hours, but really it should marinate overnight for maximum flavour.
If you are making this Jerk Chicken Salad, it will be a meal. But if you just want to serve the chicken alone, try it with Coconut Red Beans & Rice, another traditional Jamaican dish. You can also serve the chicken in a bun, or a sandwich. And for dessert, what could be more perfect than Mango Coconut Ice Cream?
More Jamaican Recipes
If you love the flavours of the Caribbean, here are a couple more recipes:
Jerk Chicken Salad
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 Scotch Bonnet chilli pepper
- 1 lime juice of
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 5 slices fresh pineapple ½" thick
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1 red bell pepper seeded, cored and sliced into strips
- ½ cup red onion sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
Honey Lime Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup lime juice 2-3 Limes
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Process all the marinade ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Put the chicken and sprigs of thyme into a freezer bag with a zipper closure.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken, seal the bag, and massage to coat all of the chicken
- Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.
- Heat the grill to 400% or medium high. Spray it with cooking spray.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, turning only once. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°
- Grill pineapple slices for 2 minutes each side, or just until grill marks appear.
- Allow chicken to rest before cutting into slices. Cut the pineapple slices into chunks.
- Toss all the salad ingredients except the chicken in a large salad bowl.
- Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake hard to combine.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients, tossing gently.
- Top the salad with chicken slices and serve.