Jerk Pork

Jerk pork always has a special place in my heart. Now that I think about it, pork is my favorite protein to cook using the jerk method. It keeps the pork tender and moist. Growing up I remember weekend trips to the north of Jamaica weren’t complete without stopping by Jerk Pen for 1/4 pound of jerk pork with festival or bread.

Grilled jerk pork.
Grilled Jerk Pork

What is jerk?

Jerk is a cooking method originating from Jamaica. It came about as a collaboration between the Native Indians (mainly Taino and Arawak tribes) and African runaway slaves (known as the Maroons). During the Anglo-Spanish War of 1655, the Spanish set their enslaved people free. They Maroons ran to the mountains where they were introduced to the Natives, who taught them the land and their cooking methods. Jerk was developed by the Natives as a way to preserve meat, specifically pork. It is believed that the Natives hunted wild hogs and the Maroons seasoned the meat and cooked it the way the Natives taught them.

The traditional way to cook jerk is to smoke meat over pimento wood using a marinade made using thyme and dried pimento berries over a pit fire. Some used scotch bonnet peppers as well. Today, most Jamaicans don’t use the traditional methods, but instead they use a jerk pan. However, the basics of the marinade remain the same.

What part of the pig is best for jerk pork?

You can use any part of the pig. In Jamaica they usually jerk the whole pig, and you get to pick the part that you like. But since cooking a whole pig is not realistic for many people, I recommend using the part of the pig that you prefer. In my opinion, pork shoulder, butt or shoulder steak works best. If you like your pork leaner I say go for the loin or chops. If you decide to use a whole pork shoulder or butt, then I recommend cutting it into steaks. This way it’s easier to grill and you can chop it up later if you wish.

Is it better to use a rub or marinade?

This is totally preference as both will work just fine. If you want to use a dry rub, I recommend using this one from All Seasoning. Want to use a wet marinade I recommend Walkerswood or use A Dozen Cousins to keep it Whole30. The wet marinade is actually more traditional. If you want to make your own dry rub at home, then check out my jerk rub mix in my jerk bacon recipe.

What does jerk pork pair well with?

Looking for the perfect side? Try festival! It is a Jamaican version of hush puppies. I highly recommend making a double batch as they are so addicting. Everyone will be coming back for more. Roasted or boiled breadfruit is a great option, as well as fried bammy (a cassava flatbread). But no jerk meal is complete without jerk sauce for dipping.

Grilled jerk pork

Jerk Pork

Pork shoulder steak marinated in a flavorful jerk marinade then grilled to perfection. 100% gluten free with Whole30 compatible options that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 4


  • Grill
  • Mixing bowl
  • Long tongs
  • Meat thermometer


  • 2.5 pounds pork shoulder steak
  • 2.5 TBSP jerk marinade I used 2 packets of A Dozen Cousins jerk marinade
  • ½ onion sliced
  • ½ green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 stalks green onion chopped
  • 1 TBSP coconut aminos or coconut teriyaki
  • ½ TBSP pimento


  • Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  • Marinate for 30 minutes to overnight.
  • Preheat grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit then reduce the heat to low.
  • Remove pork from marinade, add to the grill and cover. Check after 5 minutes.
  • Flip once the pork begins to get some color. Flip occasionally until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit using a meat thermometer (40-45 minutes).
  • Let pork rest for 10 minutes then slice or chop into cubes.


If marinating the pork overnight, ensure its covered and remove 30 minutes before cooking.
Keyword caribbean, caribbean food, grill, grilled, grilled jerk pork, grilled pork, grilling, jamaican, jamaican food, jamaican recipe, jerk, jerk pork, pork, summer, summer recipes

Brown Stew Chicken

Jamaican brown stew chicken is always a hit in our house. While other Caribbean countries have their own version, Jamaicans added their own twist to it by using a bit of jerk seasoning in the marinade. Jerk seasoning can be used as a general all-purpose seasoning and not just in jerk recipes. The chicken is also browned first before adding the rest of the aromatics in before braising. This is what helps gives the dish the brown color and really adds to the flavor. While the recipe calls for chicken parts, a whole chicken can be cut up into 1–2-inch chunks and used. If you aren’t comfortable butchering a whole chicken, you can have the butcher at your supermarket do this for you. Just ask them to cut the chicken up for making a stew.

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Brown stew chicken served with cauliflower rice.
Brown Stew Chicken Served with Cauliflower Rice

What is browning?

Browning (or burnt sugar) is brown or cane sugar that has been caramelized until it becomes very dark. Many seasoned Jamaican cooks make this from scratch, but using store bought browning is just fine. Despite it being made from pure sugar, it’s not very sweet tasting. Actually, using a little goes a long way. Start small and if after you mix it in you think it needs more then add a little more. Just remember that the chicken will get a bit darker when cooked and if you use too much it can make the dish bitter.

If you are doing a Whole30, you can use coconut aminos or coconut teriyaki instead. Coconut teriyaki works best because it’s a bit thicker and will work more like the browning will. The chicken doesn’t get as browned as if you used browning, but you still get a nice color. Adding an extra tablespoon when adding in the ketchup could give the brown stew chicken a more desired look.

Why use ketchup?

While the dish cooks, it releases its own liquid and makes a natural gravy so there is no need to add water. The gravy by itself is good and you don’t need to add anything else, it’s traditional to add a few tablespoons of ketchup. Ketchup is very common in Caribbean cooking, especially when making stews. It’s like our version of tomato paste. The ketchup thickens the gravy and add an extra layer of flavor and umami. Instead of using tomato ketchup, as is traditional in brown stew chicken, the carrot ketchup from The New Primal (affiliate link) is my go-to. If you are not a fan of either, you could use BBQ sauce instead.

Can brown stew chicken be cooked in the Instant Pot?

Absolutely! Use the sauté function to brown the chicken without the seasoning marinade (onion, bell pepper, pimento etc.). After adding the seasonings back in after searing the chicken, place the lid on top of the Instant Pot but don’t lock it on. You should be able to just pull the lid up when needed. Allow the chicken to cook for 5 minutes then turn off sauté mode. Secure the lid and pressure cook for 13 minutes on high pressure. Allow the Instant Pot to natural release for 10 minutes then manually release the remaining pressure.

What to serve brown stew chicken with?

Brown stew chicken can be served with a variety of sides. Rice and peas or just plain white rice is traditional, but if you are making this Whole30 then cauliflower rice is perfect. Fried plantain and vegetable salad are also great sides to add. And for dessert, this Bread Pudding recipe is never a bad idea.

Brown Stew Chicken

A gluten free Jamaican version of a Caribbean classic. Brown stew chicken is a rich and flavorful chicken stew that has been marinated in classic Jamaican spices and slowly braised until tender. Perfect for weeknight dinners that will transport you to the Caribbean.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 6


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large skillet or Dutch pot with lid
  • Wooden spoon
  • Tongs


  • 4-5 pounds chicken leg and thigh work best.
  • ½ onion sliced
  • ½ green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 stalks green onion chopped
  • 1 TBSP pimento seed
  • 1 TBSP poultry seasoning
  • 1 TBSP all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 TBSP jerk seasoning optional
  • ½ TBSP dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp browning see notes for Whole30 swap
  • 2-3 TBSP ketchup I use carrot ketchup
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil


  • Wash chicken and pat dry.
  • Add onion, green bell pepper, green onion, pimento, garlic powder, all-purpose seasoning jerk seasoning (if using), poultry seasoning, browning, dried thyme, salt and pepper to the chicken and mix.
  • Marinate chicken for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a large skillet or Dutch pot on the stove on medium heat.
  • Once heated, add olive oil.
  • When olive oil is heated, add chicken and marinade.
  • Cover and let the chicken get brown, about 3 minutes. Once one side is browned, flip and let the other side brown while covered.
  • Once the chicken is browned on both sides, scrape the bottom of the pot/skillet. You should have some liquid released by this point.
  • Cover the pot/skillet, reduce heat to medium low and let cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir. let cook another 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  • Add in ketchup, stir and let cook another 5 minutes.
  • Serve with your white rice or cauliflower rice and enjoy!


If you can marinate this ahead of time, overnight is best covered in the fridge. Remove 30 minutes before cooking so the chicken can get to room temperature.
If you want to make this Whole30, use 1 TBSP coconut aminos or coconut teriyaki instead of browning.
If there is any left, this is even better the next day.
Keyword brown stew, brown stew chicken, chicken, gluten free, grain free, jamaican, jamaican food, jamaican recipe

Jamaican Bulla Cake

Jamaican bulla cake is a snack or treat enjoyed by many Jamaicans, young and old. Made with traditional Jamaican spices and flavors, its sure to be a fast favorite for your family. They can be made in a variety of different shapes and travel very well. And even better, they are super easy to make! If I can make these, I have no doubt that you can too. Plus, your house will smell like fall after these are done baking. I am really happy to share this gluten free version with you.

Gluten free Jamaican bulla cake.
Jamaican bulla cake

What is Jamaican bulla cake?

Bulla is a type of flatbread that is typically round in shape. It is a big hit with kids, in fact I ate this a lot in elementary school. It is made using lots of ginger, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg. They are very portable, often sold in clear plastic bags at lunch time or after school by street vendors.

What can you eat them with?

Bulla is normally eaten with cheese, avocado (Jamaicans call this pear), butter or by itself. Some people eat it with jam, cream cheese and even nut butter. The possibilities are endless.

Things to know about making bulla

  1. Not all gluten free flours are made equal. I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1-1 baking flour which has xanthan gum in it. If you use a flour without xanthan gum you may get different results.
  2. They do not have to use a round cutter. I like to make them into different shapes dependent on the occasion.
  3. They make great gifts!
  4. Store them on the counter for 4-5 days in an airtight container. If your kitchen runs hot, then store these in the fridge.
  5. Be sure to use dark sugar. It doesn’t matter if its dark brown sugar or dark coconut sugar. White sugar will not give you the color you want.
  6. The dough will be a bit sticky when you do the first kneading. Have extra flour handy to help prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers.

Looking for other easy baking recipes? Check out my Garlic and Herb Biscuit recipe.

Jamaican Bulla Cake

The gluten free version of a Jamaican classic. Packed with traditional Jamaican spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Overall time 1 hour
Course Snack
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 15 cakes


  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Parchment paper
  • Silicone brush
  • Measuring spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Baking sheet
  • Rolling Pin
  • Biscuit cutter


  • 2 cups 1- 1 GF baking flour I used Bob's Red Mill 1-1 Baking Flour
  • 2 cups GF all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp xantham gum omit if your baking flour flour has it. Add an extra tsp if you would like it more chewy⠀
  • 1 cup grated ginger or 2-3 tsp ground ginger⠀
  • 5 TBSP butter cubed⠀
  • 1 ½ cup coconut sugar⠀
  • 3 TBSP molasses⠀
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract⠀
  • 1 tsp salt⠀
  • 1 tsp nutmeg⠀
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon⠀
  • 1 ½ cup cold water⠀
  • 2 tsp baking powder


  • In a bowl combine flour and butter until it forms a fine crumble and butter is incorporated.⠀
  • Then add the sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and xantham gum and mix. ⠀
  • In a separate container combine water, molasses and vanilla then add to dry ingredients and mix. The dough should be a little sticky.
  • Add dough to a clean floured surface and dust the top with flour. Kneed lightly and add more flour if sticky until the dough holds its shape.
  • Place in a clean bowl covered with a damp cloth in a warm area for 30 minutes. ⠀
  • Put dough on a floured surface, dust the top with flour and roll until about 1/4 inch thick. Add more flour if dough gets sticky. ⠀
  • Use any size cuter to make the cakes then place on greased parchment paper. Brush the top with oil.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Remove and brush with melted butter or oil and enjoy!


To make this paleo you can use 4 cups of Bobs Red Mill paleo baking flour, use ghee instead of butter and only 3/4 cup cold water.
Keyword baked goods, bulla, caribbean food, gluten free, jamaican, jamaican food, jamaican recipe, paleo option

Jamaican Curry Chicken

Jamaican curry chicken is one of my favorite dishes from my childhood. When I realized I could make this on Whole30 it made me so happy. Its super easy to make and packs so much flavor!

Curry chicken with cauliflower rice.
Curry chicken served with cauliflower rice

What is the history of curry in Jamaica?

After slavery ended, many indentured workers came to the island looking for work on plantations. The Indians were among the first to come to the island to work on sugar cane plantations. They brought their spices and recipes with them. Curry itself is not a spice, but a mixture of different spices used to marinate meat for stews.

How is Jamaican curry chicken different from curry chicken in India?

There are two major differences. The first difference is that Jamaicans will toast curry powder in a neutral oil. This is process is called burning the curry. Raw curry powder can give some people digestive discomfort and toasting it prevents that from happening. The second is that in India, coconut milk is used to simmer the chicken whereas in Jamaica water is used. In Jamaica, we don’t always add water when making curry chicken as the chicken will release its own liquid as it cooks.

Tips for making this dish

  1. Use whatever part of the chicken you like. That can be boneless skinless thigh or breast or bone in skin on.
  2. For a more authentic meal, you could cut up a whole chicken. It’s usually cheaper to get a whole chicken than chicken parts. However, A whole chicken will take a bit longer to break down so plan extra time.
  3. As the chicken cooks it will release its own liquid so there is no need to add water in the beginning. If you choose to add water, do not submerge the chicken in water.
  4. You can reserve half of the onion, bell pepper and green onion before marinating and add that in halfway through the cooking. This is called a second seasoning.
  5. Growing up we didn’t add carrots or potato, but you absolutely can. I added carrots and chayote squash to this recipe. Other vegetables you can add are green plantain, turnip, zucchini and rutabaga.
  6. The type of curry powder you use matters. If you can find it, use a Jamaican curry powder like All Seasoning (Whole30 compatible). If you cannot find a Jamaican curry powder, then add a bit more turmeric to your curry powder to give it more of a yellow color.
  7. If you are on the AIP protocol, use turmeric instead of curry powder. Omit black pepper, bell pepper and pimento. If you cannot find an AIP compliant all-purpose seasoning, then you can omit it.

What can be served with Jamaican curry chicken?

To keep this Whole30 serve with cauliflower rice and vegetable salad. If you are not doing a Whole30, white rice is the way to go. If you added potato and carrots, you could enjoy as a standalone meal. Looking for more Whole30 Jamaican meals? Check out my recipe for Brow Stew Chicken and Chicken Chop Suey.

Whole30 Jamaican Curry Chicken

A Jamaican twist on an Indian style of cooking.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 4


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Large skillet with lid
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon


  • 3 pounds chicken breast or thigh cut in 1 inch chucks
  • 4 stalks scallion/green onion chopped⠀⠀
  • 1 small onion sliced⠀⠀
  • 3 carrots chopped⠀⠀
  • 1 chayote squash peeled and cubed ⠀⠀
  • ½ green bell pepper chopped⠀⠀
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped⠀⠀
  • 1 inch fresh ginger chopped⠀⠀
  • 1 tsp salt⠀⠀
  • 1 tsp black pepper⠀⠀
  • 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning ⠀⠀
  • 1 tbsp pimento smashed⠀⠀
  • 4 tbsp curry powder divided⠀⠀
  • 1 cup water⠀⠀
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil


  • Season chicken with half of the onion, garlic, scallion, ginger and bell pepper. Add salt, black pepper, all purpose and poultry seasonings, pimento, 2 tbsp curry powder and let marinate 30 minutes to overnight. ⠀⠀
  • In a heavy bottom pot over medium heat add oil and once melted add the remaining curry powder. Stir until fragrant (1 minute). This is called burning the curry. ⠀⠀
  • Add in chicken and marinade to the pot and stir to combine. Add water and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add in the other half of the onion, garlic, ginger, bell pepper and scallion. Also add the carrots and chayote squash.
  • Stir, cover and cook another 15 - 20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. ⠀⠀
  • Serve with cauli rice or your favorite sides.
Keyword caribbean food, gluten free, grain free, jamaican, jamaican food, jamaican recipe, whole30

Jerk-Style Bacon

Jerk-style bacon has been a favorite of mine for a few years now. I always loved adding jerk seasoning to premade bacon and then I realized I could make bacon from scratch and season it the way I like. It takes some preplanning but it’s totally worth the wait.

Jerk Bacon
Jerk bacon with breakfast potatoes and blueberries

Why make bacon at home?

There are many reasons! For us, we wanted to control the salt that was going into our food more. It’s also a great way to really flavor the bacon. Having the pork belly marinate in the jerk seasoning adds a great smoky flavor that you wouldn’t get by just adding jerk seasoning to premade bacon. And this way we get to control how thick or thin we want our bacon slices.

Is jerk-style bacon spicy?

It will be as spicy as you want it to be. The way I have written the recipe does not make it very spicy but feel free to add more chili flakes. This goes back to why it’s great to make your own bacon.

Things to know about this recipe

  1. It may seem like a lot of salt but it’s not. Through the curing process you need the salt to help break down the meat.
  2. Every oven is different. It may take your bacon a little longer to reach a safe internal temperature.
  3. I used regular salt instead of curing salt and had no problems. Feel free to use a compatible curing salt if you desire.
  4. This recipe is whole30 compatible. But you can add 1-2 tablespoons of brown or coconut sugar (for paleo) if you desire a little sweetness.
  5. make a double batch! You’ll thank me later.
  6. I recommend using a jerk rub instead of a jerk wet marinade. I recommend this one by All Seasoning.

What can I serve jerk-style bacon with?

It cooks just like regular bacon. I like to serve it with a vegetable and a serving of fruit for breakfast. Feel free to use it wherever you would use bacon like a BLT, or even my bacon wrapped plantain stuffed chicken thigh recipe.

Whole30 Jerk-Style Bacon

Homemade jerk bacon. This recipe takes a few days to create so plan ahead.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 10


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Ziplock bag
  • Airtight container
  • Measuring spoons
  • Baking sheet
  • Baking rack
  • Meat thermometer
  • Mixing bowl


Jerk Bacon (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 3 pounds pork belly
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup jerk seasoning

Jerk Seasoning

  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg


  • Season pork belly with salt and jerk seasoning.
  • Place in a Ziplock bag and refrigerate for 7 days, turning the bag every day.
  • On day 7 remove and wipe off any extra seasoning.
  • Preheat oven to 200F.
  • Place on a rack on top of a baking sheet and let cook for 3-4 hours or until the pork reaches 150F.
  • Let cool and place in the fridge to cool for up to 24 hours. Then remove and slice as thick or thin as you would like.
  • Store in the fridge or an airtight container.
Keyword bacon, gluten free, grain free, jerk, jerk bacon, soy free, whole30

Slow Cooker Jerk Carnitas

Slow cooker jerk carnitas is one of my favorite proteins to make while on a Whole30, especially in the fall and winter. It’s great to meal prep as it cooks itself. Put it in the slow cooker in the morning and its ready for dinner when you get home from work.

Slow cooker jerk carnitas
Slow cooker jerk carnitas

Can slow cooker jerk pork be cooked in the oven, instant pot or slow cooker?

While this recipe calls for it to be cooked in the slow cooker, it can also be made in the oven. Place seasoned pork in a deep Pyrex dish or Dutch oven and cook covered at 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit. I would not recommend you leave the oven on unattended. I use the oven method when I am home doing chores so I can easily get to the stove if something goes wrong. The instant pot is another great option. I use the slow cooker function, but you can pressure cook it if you wish. If you choose to pressure cook it, be sure to cut the pork into chucks and add at least 1/4 cup of liquid. I usually add water with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and coconut aminos. Let the pressure cooker naturally release for at least 10-15 minutes before manually releasing to ensure the meat stays tender.

Things to know about this recipe

  1. I prefer to use All Seasoning all-purpose and jerk seasoning. All the ingredients are Whole30.
  2. This goes well with cauliflower rice bowls, cauliflower rice and peas or use two tostones to make a sandwich.
  3. It’s even better the second day. Make the day before and let it sit in the fridge to develop more flavor.

Other similar recipes

Looking for other pork recipes? Try making my Jerk-Style Bacon or Jerk Pork recipes.

Slow Cooker Jerk Carnitas

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 10


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Slow cooker
  • Sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Measuring spoons
  • Broiler


  • 5-8 pounds pork shoulder/butt cut in 1-2 inch chunks⠀
  • 1 medium onion sliced⠀
  • 3 stalks scallion chopped⠀
  • 1 bell pepper chopped⠀
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped⠀
  • 2 tsp salt⠀
  • 2 tsp all purpose seasoning optional
  • 1 TBSP jerk seasoning⠀
  • 1 TBSP coconut aminos⠀
  • 2 TBSP compliant teriyaki divided
  • Jerk seasoning:⠀
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder⠀
  • 1 TBSP onion powder⠀
  • 4 tsp dried thyme⠀
  • 2 tsp ground allspice⠀
  • 2 tsp black pepper⠀
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes⠀
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper⠀
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg


  • Combine everything except 1 TBSP teriyaki sauce in the slow cooker and mix together and cook for 5 hours on high. ⠀
  • Once done, remove to a bowl and shred. Add the remaining teriyaki sauce and 2 tsp jerk seasoning and mix. ⠀
  • Add to a large parchment lined sheet pan and broil for 10-15 minutes. Then stir and broil another 10 minutes. ⠀
  • Serve with your favorite side.
Keyword carnitas, gluten free, grain free, jerk, jerk carnitas, soy free, whole30