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Jerk Chicken Wings: the phenomenally flavorful recipe for a delicious Jamaican appetizer

Total time: 2H45
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist
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Jerk chicken wings are an amazing Jamaican appetizer dish that has it all. Sweet, tangy, smoky, and with plenty of spice, this easy-to-make dish is crispy on the outside and beautifully tender and juicy on the inside.

Jerk chicken wings are a more flavorful, fragrant, and spicy dish compared to your classic buffalo wings or Cajun chicken. The latter dish tends to be seasoned with dry herbs and spices rather than a wet marinade.

The name is believed to come from the Spanish word charqui, which means jerky. Made with spices like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, spicy chili peppers, lime juice, and soy sauce, along with various other aromatic ingredients, jerk marinade is impossible to resist.

These tasty Jamaican jerk chicken wings are a perfect finger food to serve at your next barbecue, potluck, or game day party.

Jerk Chicken Wings Ingredients

You'll need a wide array of spices and other ingredients to make the jerk chicken marinade, but fortunately, they're widely available at your local supermarket.

To give its tangy flavor, you'll need lime juice and orange juice. Use freshly squeezed when possible.

You'll also need various spices including allspice, cayenne, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Chili peppers bring a bit of heat to the dish, while honey helps to balance the marinade with its sweet flavor.

Soy sauce and olive oil add a layer of umami or savory to jerk marinade.

Chicken wings are the ideal cut if you're looking for snacky appetizers, but you can use any chicken cut you like.

How to Make Jerk Chicken Wings

Homemade Jamaican jerk chicken wings are absurdly easy to prep and cook. Simply put the chicken in a sealable bag, combine all the ingredients in a bowl, then pour the marinade over the chicken. For the best results, and most flavorful jerk wings, let the chicken marinate overnight. If you're in a rush, a few hours will do the trick.

The next day, heat your grill to 400F, then cook the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces and sides and enjoy.

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Jerk Chicken Wing Variations

If you love spicy food, consider using Scotch bonnet peppers instead of jalapeños. Scotch bonnets are the traditional type of chili used to make jerk marinade, however, they can be tricky to find and are very spicy. Habaneros are a good substitute if you want to use Scotch bonnets but can't get find them.

For a fruitier marinade, you can add in mango or tamarind.

Other tasty additions you can put in your marinade include green onions, maple syrup instead of honey, and five-spice. You can taste the marinade before adding it to the chicken and add in other tasty ingredients to make your own unique version of jerk sauce.

What to Serve with Jerk Chicken Wings

There are loads of sauces to serve with your jerk chicken wings. Cilantro lime sauce, hot sauce, mango sauce, yogurt sauce, and honey-lime sauce are all delicious options.

You can also make extra marinade and serve it as a dipping sauce with the wings.

You can serve your jerk chicken wings with various delicious side dishes such as fried plantains, salsa, grilled fruit, beans, and rice, or coleslaw.

Tips for Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

For a more intensely flavored marinade, you can blend the ingredients before pouring it over the chicken.

Your chicken is done cooking when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F/75°C. Use an instant-read meat thermometer.

Make sure to discard the marinade after marinating the chicken. Because the raw chicken has been sitting in it, it's not safe to eat. If you want to serve up extra jerk sauce with the cooked chicken, make another batch.

If you don't have a grill, you can bake the chicken at 400F.

To make air fryer jerk chicken, place the wings in the basket of your air fryer. Make sure they're arranged in a single layer. Cook them for 20 minutes at 400F, flipping once halfway through. You may need to work in batches, but you can keep the chicken warm by placing them in an oven set to 150F.

To make jerk chicken wings in the Instant Pot, cook the wings and marinade for 13 minutes on high, followed by a 7-minute natural release. Broil the wings for several minutes until they reach your desired level of crispness.

For an extra pop of brightness, garnish your jerk chicken with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.

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How to Store Jerk Chicken Wings

Once cooled, transfer the chicken wings to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Ingredients
chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
4 lbs
Garlic, minced
4 cloves
white onion, chopped
1
fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp
jalapeño peppers, deseeded and diced
2 to 3
Soy sauce
1 tbsp
Honey
2 tbsp
limes, juice
3
Orange juice
1/4 cup
salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika
2 tsp
Dried thyme
2 tsp
ground allspice
1 tsp
Ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp
Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp
Bay leaves
2
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup

Instructions

In a bowl, combine garlic, ginger, onion, jalapenos, soy sauce, honey, lime juice, orange juice, salt, thyme, pepper, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, bay leaves, and oil.

Put the chicken into a large ziplock bag.

Pour the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and shake well.

Refrigerate the chicken for at least 2 to 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat your grill to 400F. Grill the chicken for 30 to 40 minutes.

Flip the chicken every 10 to 15 minutes.

Cook until crispy and the meat reaches 165F internal temperature.

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