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How to make Jamaican jerk chicken using pimento wood and leaves

This question, How to make Jamaican jerk chicken using pimento wood and leaves, over the last two months, have for sure, been the most asked question of me!

I know a little about Jerk, but not enough to write about, and so I asked Kesha to help me out with it.

Below is the question and then her response.

IG Credit: @acklamvillage

I absolutely love the authentic flavour that the pimento wood gives. How do you make jerk chicken using pimento wood and leaves?

RESPONSE: by Kesha Stewart

Thanks for asking!

I did some research, and now have it on good authority (a top chef from St. Thomas) that I can share this information with you on how you can get your jerk on - in authentic Jamaican style, using pimento wood and leaves to create your spicy gastronomic delight.

We also threw in a few tips and secrets :-)


Method #1 - The Standard Approach (In Jamaica)

  1. Create a generous portion of seasonings by making your seasoning mix
  2. Select the best fresh seasonings available - scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, garlic, scallion, pimento leaves (green) and pimento berries (dried), a bit of browning (optional), Red Label Wine (can be replaced with cream/orange soda if you’re doing chicken) and grated nutmeg (secret ingredient). Powdered jerk seasonings may also be added.
  3. Fire up your blender and blend to get a thick mixture (Don't use water!)

    Chef’s Tip #1: Avoid onions and the green part of the scallion as these contribute to the spoilage of meats and may affect your marinating process.

  4. Next, clean your meat or poultry thoroughly
  5. Give the meat / poultry a salt rub and set it aside for a bit. This tenderizes the meat and prepares it to absorb the seasonings
  6. Lightly season the meat
  7. Place in a bit of boiling water and let it cook for approximately half an hour (scalding)
  8. Remove and season again. Be very thorough here. Put seasonings in insertion points such as under the skin and use your knife to make additional insertion points as desired.
  9. Place in a tightly closed container, put in your fridge and let it marinate for at least an hour preferably 24 hours


    For the jerking you will need Pimento sticks and leaves (ideally)

  10. Place pimento sticks evenly across your lit jerk pan or grill, leave no gaps
  11. Organize the meat on the pimento sticks
  12. Cover with pimento leaves

    Chef’s Top Tip: Use the green pimento wood if you can, it releases a little more flavour than the dry one.

  13. Let the slow sweet process of jerking take its course. Don’t rush, it this could take a few hours. In time the sumptuous authentic jerk flavour will arouse your taste buds.

By the way, Pepper Elder Wood (used by the Maroons) or Sweet Wood, are great substitutes for pimento wood, but remember, it is still that, a substitute for the distinctive flavour that the pimento wood gives.

Method #2 - How to make Jamaican jerk chicken on the grill (Overseas)

If you’re not currently on the rock you can improvise and enjoy authentic jerk also using this method:


  1. Prepare your seasonings to include pimento leaves (green) and dried pimento berries.
  2. Crush them into bits with your pestle or grinder. Include a jerk seasoning of your choice, for example, Easispice Jamaican Dried Jerk Seasoning (powdered) or Walkerswood Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (wet)
  3. Clean meat / poultry meticulously
  4. Rub with salt as mentioned above
  5. Massage the seasonings into the poultry / meat, then
  6. store appropriately in the refrigerator to allow it to marinate for at least 24 hours


    Now is the time to fire up your gas / charcoal grill!

  7. Immerse your pimento wood bits, twigs and chips in water for at least 20 minutes. This will allow them to smoke rather than burn.
  8. Remove and place in foil, but be sure to puncture holes to allow smoke to escape (a handful should be enough)
  9. Place foil with chips directly on coals or gas burner.
  10. Set the pimento leaves in a pan of water over the heat so that they can diffuse their flavour, or use them to make a bed on the grill onto which you will place your meat/poultry, then
  11. Cook at 275 degrees for about 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Note: You’ll know it’s ready to eat when the juices run clear, or if the meat thermometer reads at 165deg.

And two final tips:

  1. Consider adding another handful of chips after 2 hours.
  2. Be sure not to place your meat/poultry directly onto the charcoal!

That's it, however you do decide to do your jerk, I’m sure you will enjoy enjoy authentic Jamaican jerk, using pimento wood. Be sure to share your tasty adventures using the comments below.

Remember, if not had already, you can get your pimento wood, straight from Jamaica here.


Wellesley's Note:
I hope this was helpful. I'd love to hear from you. Please share your feedback in the comments below.

See also: The Pimento Tree Explored

#How to do Jamaican Jerk with Pimento Wood and Leaves

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