This Jamaican Jerk Sauce is excellent! Made with delicious, original ingredients, you receive a tasty punch of flavor that you can make at home!

If you’re from a culture where traditional foods are fiercely guarded, you’ll understand how I’m feeling right now. In my mind, I’ve avoided this for months because Jamaicans are extremely harsh when it comes to accepting other influences in their cooking. However, being vegan didn’t stop me from being a true Jamaican.

So let’s get started. I decided to begin with Jamaican Jerk Sauce since it is, in many ways, the defining characteristic of Jamaican cuisine. In addition, jerk sauce is one of only two Jamaican goods with a globally registered trademark, the other being our rum.

You will also enjoy, Jerk Potato Salad, Jerk Tofu, and Jerk Cauliflower Steaks.

Jerk Sauce Scotch Bonnet Peppers

What is jerk sauce?

Jerk sauce is a marinade that originated in Jamaica. If you haven’t tried jerk sauce before, you’re in for a treat! Consider the greatest hot sauce you’ve ever tasted. Now put that thinking aside because you’re about to meet the best of all time.

Jerk sauce is JAMAICA in a bottle, with scotch bonnet peppers, nutmeg, pimento (allspice), soy sauce, and thyme, among other flavors. Sweet, salty, spicy, and an “Island-y” jolt of flavor are all present.

While I was growing up in Jamaica, jerk sauce was rubbed and poked (jerked) into the meat. 

The meat is then cooked in old oil barrels, cut in half lengthwise, and fired with charcoal.

For a detailed history of Jerk Sauce, check out Wikipedia’s article.

In the ’80s back in Jamaica, I lived in Hopewell, close to a popular beachfront called ‘Old Steamer’. An old wrecked ship was on the shore.

They had a yearly event called, Fisherman’s Regatta where they had the best jerk chicken. 

The local chefs made the best jerk recipes.  I recalled the jerk seasoning sauce that they used had a fruity taste, 

 I tend to go for that flavor in my sauce,  so I added orange juice to my sauce and it tastes amazing. Check out the dry version, Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

I’m a huge fan of the flavors of Jamaican cuisine, and this jerk sauce recipe perfectly reflects the flavors of traditional Jamaican cuisine.

Trust me when I say that once you’ve marinated your choices of protein in this Jamaican jerk sauce, you’ll be craving it and wanting more! Thanks to the jerk sauce, each bite is more flavorful than the last. This Jamaican jerk sauce contains so many tasty flavors and ingredients that it’s a genuinely unique culinary experience!

What is Scotch bonnet pepper?

Scotch bonnet pepper is popular in many Caribbean and African countries. They are a type of chili pepper that produces fruits from its evergreen, perennial, and tropically grown plant. The fruit pods are usually shaped like a bonnet that is about 1.57 inches in size or above. Its distinct fruity and spicy flavor makes it popular in many signature Jamaican dishes that are loved worldwide.

In addition, it usually has four bulbous ridges/edges at the bottom that normally sports the colors; yellow, orange, red, and even green. Scotch bonnet peppers are known to have a Scoville heat range of 100,000–350,000 Scoville unitsScoville heat is the potency of heat/spiciness based on the concentration of capsaicinoids within peppers, especially, chili peppers invented by the American pharmacist Wilbur Lincoln Scoville in 1912.

‘Scotchy’ is a common nickname used in Jamaica for scotch bonnet peppers. It got its name due to its similar appearance to the Scottish bonnet/hat- Tam o’ Shanter.

However, in other places, it may be known differently. For example, Bonney peppers, Caribbean red peppers, Boab bonnets, Scotty Bons, Martinique pepper, goat peppers, and more. So, there was a reason for my earlier hail to the Caribbean and West African h-steppers first. This is because Scotch Bonnet peppers are ubiquitous in West Africa and the Caribbean-especially in Jamaica.  

Other countries where scotch bonnet pepper is used are Guyana, Haiti, and Cayman.

What is allspice?

Allspice is dried and unripe berries that are derived from the Pimenta dioica- a mid-canopy tree. This tree falls under the Myrtaceae or myrtle family where all other popular members include; Acca (feijoa), bay rum tree, clove, eucalyptus, guava, myrtle, and Pohutukawa.

Despite common misconception,  it is not a blend of other spices/herbs! It is a single spice that is native to the Greater Antilles (but it is believed that it was first discovered in Jamaica by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage), Central America, and Southern Mexico. However, you can find the spice being grown in a globally warm climate.


Jamaican Jerk Sauce Ingredients

Jamaican jerk sauce

Jamaican Jerk Sauce is as Jamaican as Jamaican Rice and Peas, Jamaican Patties, and Jamaican Callaloo.

I grew up in Jamaica enjoying all these delicious recipes, but now as a vegan, I have made it my passion to make meatless and gluten-free versions of my childhood favorite recipes.

Recently, I made Jamaican Jerk Cauliflower, and it has been a huge hit with my readers. I must say the jerk sauce I made then was a very adapted version.

Today, I decided to make a more authentic Jamaican jerk sauce recipe. However, I had to reduce the spiciness drastically since I cannot tolerate the heat anymore now that my taste buds have changed as I get older.

I was only able to include two deseeded Scotch bonnet peppers, and that was spicy for me.

You can make my recipe as written and then increase the Scotch bonnet pepper to adjust the heat to your taste.

Do you want to take your jerk sauce to another level? Add 1/3 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce to the jerk sauce or try my Homemade Vegan BBQ Sauce recipe.

Reasons to love this Jamaican jerk sauce:

There are many reasons to love this Jamaican jerk sauce, including:

Simple: All you need is a blender and a few ingredients.

It is versatile: It’s a marinade or a dip, depending on your mood.

Convenient: It’s more convenient than store-bought, and it’s great for making ahead of time.

jerk sauce in a glass jar on a black marble background

Jamaican jerk sauce recipe:

  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Pimento berries (allspice)
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Soy sauce
  • Orange juice, or pineapple juice
  • Olive oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Scotch Bonnet peppers
  • Salt to taste

How to make jerk sauce?

  1. To make the jerk sauce recipe, place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.
  2. This sauce is ready to use, or you can pour it into a container with a tight-fitting lid and keep it refrigerated for a week.

If you like and enjoy this Jamaican jerk sauce recipe, don’t forget to share your feedback in the comment section below… Have Fun Cooking!!

Recipe variations:

This sauce has a strong flavor and will definitely spice it up. Apart from the apparent heat, the vast selection of fresh spices ensures lots of good bites and fresh flavor.

The inclusion of nutmeg, allspice, and scotch bonnets gives it a distinct Caribbean flavor. The sauce can be cooked to integrate the flavors further, though the outcome will be more mellow.

For a spicier jerk sauce:

Try scorpion chilies or increase the number of peppers you’re using (2 chilies will make for a hotter dish).

For milder Jerk sauce:

To make a milder jerk sauce, combine the following ingredients.

Remove the seeds from the spicier peppers (use gloves!) and/or substitute less spicy peppers like jalapenos or serrano peppers if you want a milder/lighter jerk sauce.

You must determine your individual heat tolerance and tailor the sauce to your preferences.\

How to use jerk sauce?

Jerk sauce can be used in a variety of ways. It could be used as a marinade or to add heat to any ready-to-eat food. Jamaican jerk sauce can be used on wings, chicken, pork, and seafood. I’ve been known to top everything with a spoonful of jerk sauce, including:

  • Adding it to sandwiches as a spread
  • Using it as a marinade for tofu
  • Spicing up quinoa/rice
  • Using it as a marinade for veggies before BBQing
  • As a marinade for cauliflower steaks
  • Adding it to veggie burgers before swimming in it
  • It’s also used in the preparation of the Jamaican Jerk Marinade.
  • To add a flavor boost to soups or stews, swirl it in. To make a simple spicy dip, combine it with crema or sour cream. It can be used in a variety of ways.

As you can see, there are many different methods to utilize jerk sauce.

How to freeze jerk sauce?

Fill an ice cube tray halfway with the jerk sauce and freeze it. To freeze, place them in the freezer.

Take out the jerk sauce individual cubes and place them in the zip-top bags. It’ll be there for three months.

Recipe tips and tricks:

  • This is a spicy dish. Avoid sticking your head over the blender when it is opened because the flumes may fly directly into your face.
  • Please use gloves when cutting or managing your scotch bonnet peppers. Alternatively, immediately wash your hands. Let me tell you — it takes days to remove the burn from under your nails.
  • This lasted an unusually long time in our house, as we cooked it a day before we departed on a trip. My mom tasted it again immediately upon our return and found that the flavors had been elevated significantly as a result of the sitting time.
  • Ingredients are important. If you’re Jamaican, don’t eat what’s already in your refrigerator or cupboard if it’s not fresh! I’m sure everyone has a pack of wilting scallion in their refrigerator — do not use them. I even went out and purchased some fresh pimento berries, which made a huge difference. When you utilize fresh and in-season ingredients, you can genuinely taste it all, even down to the nutmeg hints throughout.
  • Use high-speed grinders to achieve a smoother consistency.
  • If you’re not using organic scotch bonnet peppers, you can up the heat to 3 or 4. However, the sauce is quite spicy, so use fewer scotch bonnet peppers if you like a milder sauce.
  • Allspice and pimento are the same spice.
Overlay jerk sauce in glass jar on a black ceramic slate

Other Jamaican Recipes To Prepare

  1. Jamaican Rice And Peas
  2. Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge
  3. Air Fryer Fruit Cake
  4. Irish Moss
  5. Sorrel Drink

If you make this Jamaican Jerk Sauce recipe, snap a photo and hashtag #healthiersteps  — we love to see your recipes on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter!

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(Per portion)
  • Energy: 146 kcal / 610 kJ
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Carbs: 20 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 5 min
  • Ready in: 5 min
  • For: 4 Servings



  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Store jerk sauce in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.