Jerk Chicken Spread People Eating Top Down 1

What is jerk?

What is jerk?

Jerk chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Jamaica! So what is jerk? Originating in Jamaica, it refers to a special way of marinating & slow cooking over an open flame – usually it’s meat, like chicken or pork, resulting in a juicy, succulent and smoky dish that’s like nothing else.

Jerk on hot grill


The cuisine has its origins with the Taíno people, who were indigenous to the Caribbean. In the mid-1600s, a group of enslaved Africans (later known as the Maroons) managed to escape plantations in Jamaica and fled to the mountains, where small numbers of Taíno people lived. The Maroons learned the Taíno cooking methods and developed these into jerk as we know it.

The Maroons would marinate wild game with herbs and spices native to Jamaica, like scotch bonnet chilli. They would cook by smoking the meat in underground pits because an open flame would have given away their location. This is where the ‘jerk pit’ style of cooking is thought to have originated.

Jerk Centres

These days, meat is marinated or dry-rubbed in herbs and spices and then cooked over flames on a jerk pit. The meat is slowly smoked and skillfully charred for maximum flavour.

You can find jerk "centres" all over Jamaica, often as roadside stalls. The deliciously smoky smell of the jerk pits fills the air, drawing in hungry locals and tourists alike.


The great thing about jerk is that everyone’s recipe is a little bit different - and a lot of people (including Chef Collin!) like to keep some ingredients a little bit secret - it's their special recipe. But most people will agree on some key ingredients. Recipes almost always include allspice, thyme and fiery scotch bonnet. Most jerk marinades are also made with onions, garlic, spring onions and ginger, and many also include soy sauce, sugar, nutmeg, cloves and even orange juice.

Fancy giving it a go? Try our jerk marinade recipe at home!

More than just a dish...

Jerk is all about flavour – but there’s a lot more to it than just the taste. Eating jerk is about sharing moments with friends and family - prepping together, cooking together and then eating a LOT of food together, with some beers, some cocktails and move-your-feet music. It's about coming together and spending quality time together - celebrating and having a good time.

What we're famous for...

Jerk Chicken is part of our DNA. We know good things come to those who wait, that's why we marinate our chicken for 24 hours for maximum flavour. To serve, our chefs brush it with our sham sauce, flame-grill it to get those epic smoky flavors, and then cover it with our delicious jerk gravy to serve. We pair it with chunky slaw and your choice of coconut rice and peas or spiced fries. It's a meal that's seriously hard to beat. 

Cutting into jerk chicken rice and peas

Can't decide what to order?

You know that feeling when you're looking at the menu and you just can't decide what to get? The Jerk Platter is here for you! Featuring a mix of some of our absolutely favourite jerk dishes, it's designed for sharing with 2+ people and means you can try even more tasty dishes! Includes:

  • Half Jerk Chicken
  • Half rack of BBQ ribs
  • Jerk sausage
  • Coconut rice & peas
  • Spiced fries
  • Slaw
Jerk platter - Summer BBQ

BBQ Jerk Summer Flavours

Join us for the Ultimate BBQ vibes this Summer. Why fuss with a BBQ at home when you can get your grill on at Turtle Bay? This summer, bring your family and friends for a taste of our legendary smoky jerk flavors. Our jerk chicken is marinated for 24 hours and flame-grilled to perfection, giving you that mouthwatering, smoky goodness you crave. Skip the mess – come hang out with us and enjoy the ultimate BBQ vibes. Why not wash it all down with a tropical cocktail (or two😉)?

Book here

See the menu