Homemade Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Blend

plate with small piles of dry spices for homemade jamaican jerk spice blend
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Warming, peppery allspice is a classic Caribbean flavor—after all, that’s where it has long been cultivated—and it sets just the right spicy, tropical tone for our Jamaican jerk seasoning blend recipe. 

Not to Be a Jerk, But Our Jamaican Jerk Spice Blend Recipe Is Way Better Than That Store-Bought Stuff.

Making your own spice blends at home is the best way to ensure big, bold flavors because you can control the freshness of your blend. Plus, it’s a good money-saver, and it’s easy to do! Basically, there’s no reason not to make your own! You’ve mastered taco seasoning, now it’s time to get a handle on the rich tropical flavors of island-spiced Caribbean jerk seasoning—i.e. your new favorite dry-rub.

plate with small piles of dry spices for homemade jamaican jerk spice blend

What Is Jerk?

Some believe that “jerk”—as in “Jamaican jerk chicken”—is a word that is always synonymous with spicy heat, and lots of it. But in fact, Jamaican jerk spice doesn’t have to be crazy hot. While the exact meaning of the word “jerk” is somewhat open for interpretation, most people agree that it’s more about a style of cooking than a set-in-stone flavor profile. In Jamaican culinary tradition, “jerking” refers to the practice of cooking meat over an open flame, and, historically, the beloved “jerk” flavor profile came from cooking over local Jamaican pimento wood. This pimento tree wood—and, BTW, allspice berries grow on pimento trees—releases fragrant oils as it burns, and the smoke produced by its fire flavors the grilling meats.  As time went on, people wanted to create faster and easier ways to enjoy the flavor of “jerk” and so a whole world of jerk spice blends—dry rubs and even wet sauces—was born.  

What Is Jerk Seasoning?

 So, if jerk is a style of cooking, what is an authentic Jamaican jerk seasoning recipe? Can that even be a thing? Well, since the “jerk” style of cooking hails from Jamaica, our jerk seasoning recipe is one that celebrates the flavors of that gorgeous, sea-swept island, and that approximates the flavors produced by grilling over pimento wood as best it can. Though Scotch bonnet peppers—also known as Caribbean red peppers—are traditional, our Jamaican jerk seasoning blend relies on heat from a combination of cayenne and black pepper. Together they create a terrific, straightforward heat and they’re much easier to find than Scotch bonnets. We warm things up even more with a wide array of classic baking spices, which have long been overlooked for their ability to add complexity to savory dishes—that oversight stops here!

bowl with a spoon and homemade jamaican jerk spice blend

How To Make Jerk Seasoning

Alright already—enough of the food nerd stuff. Time to spill the beans! What’s in jerk seasoning? And please tell me how to make the best homemade jerk seasoning ever. Well, we thought you’d never ask! In a big bowl, gently combine:

  • Onion powder & garlic powder: this jerk dry rub is a perfect case for keeping these on-hand in your pantry (a case we’ve made before.) 
  • Dried thyme.
  • Those baking spices we mentioned: allspice, cloves, ginger, cinnamon
  • A little sweet: brown sugar 
  • And a little heat: black pepper & cayenne pepper.
spoon filled with homemade jamaican jerk spice blend

You Made a Whole Jar-Full of Dry Jerk Seasoning—Now What?

Now, you feast! We love to use jerk seasoning in: 

P.S.Homemade jerk spice makes a really nice gift, if you can manage not to use it all up before you gift it. 

We’re Not Jerking You Around—Jerk Spice is the Best!

Right? Did you make our Jamaican jerk seasoning and did you love it? What did you use it on? Once you start sprinkling it here and there, and using it as a dry rub on anything that touches your grill, there’s just no going back. Snap a photo of how you use your jerk spice blend—we want to know! Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Homemade Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Blend

Serves 1

Ingredients

2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Method

In a small bowl mix together all dry spices. Store in an airtight container. Makes ¾ cup. Link: our jerk fries, jerk kebabs and jerk tacos