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Key Ingredients In Jamaican Jerk?

by Dan
(St Charles Il USA)

Question About: Authentic Jamaican Jerk

I have seen so many recipes from non-Jamaicans who say that their recipe is authentic. It gets very confusing.

Can someone tell me how to make authentic Jerk marinade and sauce. And jerk bbq sauce. Is there cinnamon and nutmeg really in the seasoning?

Answer by Wellesley

Greetings sir Dan! And thanks for asking!
A double thanks for highlighting this issue.

You are so true, every Tom and Jane seems to be piggybacking on brand Jamaica these days; and Jamaican recipes is just a one smaller example.

It is concerning!

Anyway, back to your question... "are cinnamon and nutmeg key ingredients in Jamaica jerk"?

The answer is a strong NO.

Quick Analogy.... Do you follow soccer (football)?
If you do, you'll likely hear about the 'Brazilian type of play' right?

OK, well they have a style, but it doesn't mean it doesn't lend itself to modifications. That's the same principle with Jamaican jerk.

In fact, your question prompted me to do further research, that's another reason I love this job :-)

I was amazed that, although most of the authority Jamaican sources use cinnamon (and nutmeg) in our Jerk Sauce, Seasonings and Marinades, some of the established ones didn't mention them in their key ingredients, or at best, included one, but not the other.

For example, this Jerk seasoning from Walkerswood didn't mention cinnamon at all.

I also checked with my foodie friends and experts in the field locally, and they all confirmed same.

The two key ingredients for all Jamaican jerk, they all agreed, are ...

  1. Scotch Bonnet Pepper &
  2. Pimento (Allspice)

    For me and the family though, we inevitably almost always use..
  3. Escallion and Thyme, as well.

All the other ingredients seemed to add additional 'spice', if you will, to the concoction :-)

To help you further though, take a look at these three recipes I have put together on this website.

  1. Jamaican Jerk Marinade Recipe
  2. Jamaican Jerk Sauce Recipe
  3. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Recipe

Looking closely, you'll see that some use nutmeg and cinnamon and some doesn't, but they all have the key ingredients.

Get the idea!

Great. I hope this helps!

Be sure to read more about Jamaican food here.


P.S. Get more answers to questions here.

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