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Jamaican Jerk Turkey Recipe
Add a Likkle Jamaican Flavour to Thanksgiving

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Jamaican-jerk-turkey| Image source: saveur.comJamaican Jerk Turkey Recipe| Image source:

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Are you thinking of a new turkey recipe for this year’s festivities? Try this Jerk Turkey Recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner.

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What’s the most wonderful time of the year? I bet you said Christmas. That’s my answer too! However, what comes right before Christmas?

Thanksgiving of course. While we don’t celebrate here in Jamaica, well most of us don’t, I know Americans and other parts of the world will definitely be celebrating and maybe, just maybe, you are looking for a special way to spice up your turkey this year.

Now, as a melting pot of cultures, our cuisine reflects that beautifully. While turkey might not be an everyday dish in Jamaica (well, other than turkey neck) it certainly makes a grand entrance during special occasions and celebration

Turkey tends to make its appearance during Christmas, and even then, it's often overshadowed by other local delights, like oxtail and curried goat but especially our Jamaican-style Ham.

But hey, we love to mix things up, and adding a Jamaican twist to turkey is just one of the ways we celebrate our culture and creativity in the kitchen. Not to mention, this might be the best way for those Jamaicans living abroad to marry both of their cultures.

There aren’t many things a Jamaican would do with turkey, but I am certain that one thing we will do is Jerk it. Think about it… Jerk Turkey for Thanksgiving, it doesn’t get better than that. This rather simple recipe below will guide you through the process.

Jamaican Jerk Turkey Recipe


  • 1 whole turkey (about 12-15 pounds)
  • 2 cups Jamaican Jerk seasoning
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons allspice, ground
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1 tablespoon scallion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt to taste


Prepare the Turkey: Rinse the turkey under cold water with vinegar and lime juice then pat it dry with paper towels. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan.

Jerk Marinade: In a bowl, mix the Jamaican Jerk seasoning, soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, minced garlic, chopped thyme, ground allspice, grated ginger, black pepper, onion powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped scallion, lime juice, and a pinch of salt.

Marinate the turkey: Rub the jerk marinade all over the turkey, making sure to get into every nook and cranny. For an extra flavour boost, you can also gently lift the skin and rub the marinade directly onto the meat. Cover the turkey with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or better yet, overnight. This gives the flavours a chance to really soak through the meat.

Cooking Time: Preheat your grill or oven to 350°F (175°C). If you're grilling, set up for indirect heat. Place the turkey on the grill grates, away from the direct flames. Cook for about 3-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C), basting occasionally with any remaining marinade. If you're roasting, cover the turkey with foil and roast in the preheated oven. Remove the foil during the last hour of cooking to allow the skin to crisp up.

Rest and Serve: Once the turkey is done, you must let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to be redistributed, keeping the meat juicy and delicious.

There you have it – a Jamaican Jerk Turkey that's bound to steal the show at any gathering. Serve up this turkey recipe at your Family’s Thanksgiving gathering and they will sing your praises!

As Jamaicans, we can’t claim to be the experts on all things turkey, but we do know that marinating almost any poultry or meat in a well-made jerk sauce and preparing it just right will produce a winning dish at all times.

So go ahead and try it for yourselves and while you are at it, grab a copy of the eBook, Jamaican Sweet Treats, for some delectable Jamaican desserts that you will want on your Thanksgiving table.

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References & Sources For Jamaican Jerk Turkey Recipe

  1. Easy Jamaican jerk seasoning recipe - plus the best ready-made options (no date) My Island Jamaica. Available at: (Accessed: 21 November 2023).
  2. Jamaican jerk marinade - here’s the classic recipe (no date) My Island Jamaica. Available at: (Accessed: 21 November 2023).
  3. Discover Jamaica through a native’s eye with these amazing books (no date) My Island Jamaica. Available at: (Accessed: 21 November 2023).
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