As a Jamaican, I grew up with Jerk seasoning being added to meat, and the meat being slowly roasted on open pits. Being a plant-based eater, I get to experiment with jerk seasoning on different plant-based ingredients. 

Recipes like my Jamaican Jerk Sauce, Jamaican Jerk Cauliflower, Jerk Tofu, and Jamaican Jerk Butternut Fries are a hit. Therefore, I’m sharing with you my jerk seasoning recipe.

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Whether you are a vegan or a meat lover, you can use this spice mix without any hesitation. Try this jerk seasoning today, and you won’t stop using it, ever!

Jamaican jerk seasoning in glass jar on a white background

What Is Jamaican Jerk Seasoning?

Jamaican jerk seasoning is a special blend of spices that makes up a rub or a mix. Jerk spice is the most common type of spice mix used in Jamaica. It is made from about eight to ten spices and has a depth of flavor.

It is used on a variety of ingredients and acts as a marinade. The term “jerk” is giving to a special type of technique in Jamaica. In this technique, holes are poked in the meat so that the spices can go deep down and give flavor to the meat.

So, for different types of meats, Jamaican jerk marinade works perfectly fine. It is among the most loved spice mix in Jamaica and is a must in every kitchen.

Components To Jamaican Jerk Spice

Now, because the jerk spice is made from several spices, you can’t pick them up randomly. Every spice has its own unique taste. So, if you randomly pick up and mix spices, you are not doing justice to the individual flavor. Therefore, the spices in the jerk seasonings are not picked up randomly.

There is a science behind it! Every spice is carefully picked so that when these spices are mixed together, every single spice shines through. You won’t find a single flavor take over others. Every spice has its own place in the mix. And above all, there is a balance of sweet, salty, spice, and tart. It is truly amazing!

Here are the necessary components that make up the Jamaican jerk seasoning:

  • Herbs: herbs bring in freshness and a distinct strong flavor. The most commonly used herbs are dried oregano, parsley, and thyme.
  • Aromatics: Aromatics add a strong fragrance to the mix. The most commonly used aromatics include onion powder and garlic powder.
  • Seasoning: Seasonings like salt and black or white pepper are a must. If you skip pepper, you can’t skip the salt. It is a major flavor!
  • Spice: Jamaicans love their spices. Especially cinnamon and nutmeg. So, these two are compulsory! Other than these, you can also use all-spice, cumin, etc.
  • Sugar: Sugar is another important flavor you can’t miss. It balances out the heat. You can use any type of sugar. For instance, use organic cane sugar. If you want to add more depth to sugar flavors, use brown sugar.
  • Heat: Now, a little heat is good. There are many options here. Use paprika, cayenne, chili powder. And if you want to make the heat to the next level, use dried scotch bonnet powder.

Why Make Jerk Spice At Home?

You can buy premade jerk spice from any grocery store. You can ever find it online! So why bother making your own? Well, there are several reasons you should make your own jerk spice. But the one main reason is that you can’t customize a premade jerk spice according to your liking. Let’s say you don’t like clove in it, and you just have to compromise on that if you are buying premade spice mix.

However, if you are making your own jerk spice at home, you can choose your own ingredients and give it your flair. You can adjust the heat or sugar according to your liking. Furthermore, as long as you keep the balance, you can choose whatever spice you like. It is a luxury you can’t get in a store-bought jerk seasoning.

jerk seasoning ingredients

Ingredient Breakdown

Although the choices are unlimited, and you can choose whatever ingredient you like, here is one for the starter. It has the perfect balance of flavors, and the heat is also moderate. So, if you are someone new to the whole jerk spice experience, you should probably start with these ingredients:

  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried Thyme
  • All-spice
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Ginger powder
  • Cayenne powder
  • Paprika
  • Organic Cane Sugar
  • Salt

How To Make Jamaican Jerk Seasoning?

Now making your own Jamaican jerk seasoning is a piece of cake! Literally. You don’t have to indulge in any laborsome task. The only thing you have to do is choose your ingredients, and if you don’t have them available in your kitchen pantry, buy them. Mix these spices in a bowl and store them in an air-tight jar, and that’s all! It can’t get any easier than this!

How To Use Jerk Seasoning?

The reason why I love this spice mix is that it is versatile. I don’t have to prepare a different spice mix or a marinade every time I want to make something. I simply add this spice mix.

It is so convenient. I have even stopped buying spices! I am so addicted to the jerk spice that I use it in everything. The beauty of this spice mix is that you can use it in any way. Here are a few ideas on how to use it:

Ø  Dry rub

You can use it as a dry rub to marinate several ingredients.

  • Use it to marinate whole fish or fish filet. It works really well with salmon.
  • Rub it on your steak.
  • Try it with pork chops. You will love it!
  • Rub it on the whole chicken and finish it off in the oven. It will taste divine.

Ø  Wet rub

You can mix the spice mix with either olive oil or even lemon juice to create a wet rub. Here is how you can use it.

  • You can mix it with olive oil and rub it all over the chicken breasts.
  • Create a mixture with oil and lemon and toss prawns over it.
  • Mix it with yogurt to make an Indian-inspired Jamaican version of tandoori chicken.
  • Mix it with olive oil and toss your favorite vegetables in it. You will get delicious Jamaican jerky roasted vegetables.
  • You can even marinade tofu with this spice mix.

Ø  As a seasoning

You can use jerk seasoning in dips, sauces, and seasonings as well. For instance, add it to hummus, mayonnaise, etc. furthermore, you can also add these to curries to enhance their flavors and give them a new direction. You can also use these on snacks, like popcorns, roasted chickpeas, corn cob, etc.

In short, this spice mix goes well with literally everything!

How To Store Jerk Spice?

You can store this spice just as you store any other spice. Place it in an air-tight jar and keep it on your spice shelf. It will stay fresh for up to a year. Most people tend to keep their spice in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. I don’t usually recommend it.

That’s because, as you keep them in the refrigerator, they tend to get moisture. When a spice develops moisture, its shelf life decreases. So, if you are keeping it in a dry, cool place in an air-tight container, it will do just fine.

However, also note that if you keep it in a very hot place, like in the cabinet above the stove, it will also develop moisture and get bad. So, keep in mind the temperature when putting the jar. Also, never put a wet spoon in the spice jar. It will ruin your spice mix.

How To Know If The Spice Is Fresh Or Not?

If you have a sharp nose, you can smell the spice and tell something is not right. The thing is that the spice mix will eventually go bad. Even if it takes time, it is bound to happen. So, here are a few signs you should look for to know whether the spice is fresh or not:

  • Fragrance: If you smell a foul fragrance, it clearly means the mix has gone stale.
  • Color: If the spice’s color seems lighter than usual or is fading, it means the species is going bad.
  • Taste: you can also taste the spice mix. If the taste is not strong enough or is bitter, it is a clear indication that the spice mix has reached the end of its shelf life.
  • Texture: You can touch the spice mix. If it’s wet or not as powdery as it should be, it means it has gone stale.


The thing about this spice mix is that you can add any spice to it as long as you don’t disrupt the balance of flavors. Every component offers many choices to pick from. So, there is no hard and fast rule. It all depends upon flavor preferences. So, the sky is the limit. Make small batches so that you can experiment with new flavors and decide which combination you love the most.

More Jamaican Recipes To Try

Amazing Homemade Spice Blends

Overlay of jerk seasoning on a white background

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(Per serving)
  • Energy: 20 kcal / 84 kJ
  • Carbs: 5 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 5 min
  • Ready in: 5 min
  • For: 7 Servings



  1. To make dry jerk seasoning, mix spice ingredients in a jar until fully combined.
  2. Store in an air-tight container for up to 6 months.
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.