Jamaica Jerk Sauce – Homemade and Easy

By Jessica Hylton - - Updated
 
This Jamaica Jerk Sauce is the real deal! Made with deliciously authentic ingredients, you get a mouthwatering punch of flavour made at home!
 
Jamaica Jerk Sauce in a small white bowl surrounded by scotch bonnet peppers.

Today’s post is a long long (too long) time coming. Throughout the years, I have always gotten the same question,

“Can I get more Caribbean recipes please??”

Okay friends. I have heard you! While I already have a few Caribbean recipes up here, here, there and here, I know you’re ready for more. I always thought you guys were covered, I mean, there are so many Caribbean and more specifically, Jamaican recipes out there! However, one night Gav and I took a deep dive and realised that there weren’t actually a lot of Jamaican recipes, by *actual* Jamaicans. SO, I’ve got you friends!!

I’m starting a new mini series here called the “Jamaica Series.” Where I’ll be making some great, authentic Jamaican recipes that may feature a *tiny* twist in order to veganise it.  I’ll also be sharing more of me in those posts and about my birth country, Jamaica! P.S. if you haven’t checked out my Vegan Ackee and Saltfish recipe with a HOW TO video for a whole Jamaican breakfast, go check it out now!

 
Jamaica Jerk Sauce ingredients including scotch bonnet peppers scallion thyme and other spices.

If you’re from a culture who is fiercely protective of its traditional food, you may know how I feel right now. In my head for months I’ve avoided this because Jamaicans are pretty unforgiving about you changing their traditional recipes! However I realised I had to get over that because at the end of the day, I’m truly a Jamaican at heart, through and through, vegan or not.

So let’s dive right in. We wanted to start with Jamaica Jerk Sauce because it is like, the hallmark of Jamaican cooking. Jerk sauce is actually one of two products made in Jamaica that are properly protected via worldwide trademark – the other one being our rum. “Jamaica Jerk” is a phrase you hear often, but of course here in Jamaica it’s just jerk. If you’ve never tried jerk sauce, you’re in for a treat. Think of the best spicy sauce that you know. Now get rid of that thought because you’re about to truly meet the best ever. With a combination of scotch bonnet peppers, pimento (all spice), nutmeg, soy sauce and thyme amongst other seasonings, jerk sauce is JAMAICA in a bottle. You get hints of sweet, salty, lots of spicy and a kick of flavour that can only be described as “island-y”.

Jamaica Jerk Sauce in a jar in-front of scotch bonnet peppers and thyme.

You can use jerk sauce for a multitude of ways. You could use it to add some heat to any ready made meal, or to use as a marinade. I’ve been known to add a dollop of jerk sauce to everything from:

  • spicing up quinoa/rice
  • adding it to veggie burgers before
  • Adding it to sandwiches as a spread
  • Using it as a marinade for veggies before bbqing
  • Using it as a marinade for cauliflower steaks
  • Using it as a marinade for tofu
  • Swimming in it

These are just a few ways you can use jerk sauce, to show you its wide use.

In its current state, I’ve made the sauce so that its consistency is similar to an actual sauce – thin enough to pour, but thick enough to properly embody all the flavours. Want a thicker wet rub? Simply reduce the water a bit.

 
Overhead shot of Jamaica Jerk Sauce in a while bowl.
 

Let’s talk about substitutes. If you can prevent it, please don’t substitute *anything*. More than likely you can find all the ingredients in the international section of your supermarket, or if you’re in Jamaica, definitely everywhere easily and cheaply. The only substitute that’s totally okay is the amount of peppers. We used organic scotch bonnet peppers, which according to Gavin are “no joke on the heat scale compared to regular scotch bonnet peppers.” Where he usually sweeps through a whole pack, one pepper suddenly lasted him up to three meals, since the flavour is much purer. I started this at a medium high heat level. Well, I think it’s a great heat that allows you to actually taste the ingredients while still delivering a punch. Adjust accordingly for your taste buds. If you’re not so sure, start with just one, and work your way up!

If you have to substitute and can’t find scotch bonnet peppers, habanero peppers are your next best bet. They do not taste exactly alike, however will do in a pinch.

 
Pimento seeds in a small bowl in front of scotch bonnet peppers.
 

Okay friends. Dive into this recipe and I hope you enjoy! Please remember a few important tips:

  • This is spicy. When opening your blender do not stick your head over it because the flumes will fly right into your face.
  • Please – wear gloves while cutting your scotch bonnet peppers or managing them. Either that or wash your hands immediately. Let me tell you – getting that burn out from under your nails takes days.
  • This uncharacteristically lasted over a week in our house because we went on a trip the day after I made it. Gav tasted it again as soon as we came back and said that the flavours were really taken to the next level because they were allowed to sit. Great jerk sauce is like fine wine, or in this case, well aged rum.
  • Ingredients matter. If you’re Jamaican, don’t just grab what’s already in your fridge or pantry if it isn’t fresh! I know we all have a pack of scallion dying in our fridge – don’t use that. I went out and even got some fresh pimento seeds which made all the difference. You truly taste it all here – down to the hints of nutmeg throughout when you use fresh and in season ingredients.

This was such a new experience for me to share this and I hope you truly love it! I’ll be back with way more Jamaican recipes – enjoy friends!

Two Jamaica jerk sauce pictures in a Pinterest pin.

Jamaica jerk sauce in a white bowl with wooden spoon sticking out.

Jamaica Jerk Sauce - Homemade and Easy

This Jamaica Jerk Sauce is the real deal! Made with deliciously authentic ingredients, you get a mouthwatering punch of flavour made at home!
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 16 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Course Jams, Sauces, Dips & Spreads
Cuisine Jamaican
Ingredients
  • 4 organic scotch bonnet peppers* 3 ¼ oz
  • ½ large red onion or 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 stalks of scallion
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fresh pimento seeds
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar I used organic
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Squeeze lime
Instructions

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until completely incorporated. Pour into a sanitised jar and place in your fridge.
  • You can enjoy immediately or let flavours meld together for as long as you like! Enjoy friends!

Video

NOTES
NOTES
Organic scotch bonnet peppers are much hotter and larger, so if you’re not using organic then you can up this to like 6 or 7. The sauce is very spicy, so use less scotch bonnet peppers for a mild sauce.
Pimento is the same thing as allspice.
I started this at a medium high heat level. Adjust accordingly for your taste buds. If you’re not so sure, start with just one, and work your way up!

Nutrition

Calories: 45kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 564mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 119IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
by Jessica

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Recipe Rating




80 comments

  1. Ted says:

    How long will this keep in the fridge? I have a boatload of jamaican scotch bonnet peppers I grow to make jerk sauce. I like your recipe best. I dry the peppers I don’t use to make jerk sauce, but would like to keep some sauce a long time. Can I hot batch can it in mason jars? What about freezing it? Any suggestions on putting up the jerk sauce for a long time is appreciated.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Recommended time is one week but we’ve honestly had it in our fridge for at least 3 and it was fine. I hope this helps!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      we use them on tofu cauliflower wings or even on veggies that we want to bake or grill. We’ve never tried hot batch canning on this recipe so I’m not able to give you an answer re: that.

  2. Ted says:

    5 stars
    I made this many times. It is fantastic. But I want to put some up because this is when my crop of Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers happen. I have dried a lot of ripe peppers but want to have the jerk sauce made from fresh peppers throughout the year, because it is so good. How long is the fridge life? Can I hot can it using this recipe? How does it take to being frozen as a way of putting it up?

  3. Nancy Huber says:

    5 stars
    Yum yum yum and yummier. The best ever sauce. Thank you.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      We’re so happy that you enjoyed this recipe Nancy! Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment!

  4. Nikki says:

    Quick question, I have dried pimento how many would you use? I’m in Canada and don’t have access to fresh pimento.
    I think that this is possibly the best most authentic jerk recipe that I have found. THANK YOU!!!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hi Nikki thank you so much! We used dried pimento seeds too so follow that exactly!

  5. Megan Pfeiff says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is SO good. We’ve made it twice now and it’s perfect as is for us. We didn’t have to adjust anything. Highly recommend! We have made Jamaican Jerk Chicken with this in a slow cooker and it’s great for Jamaican Jerk Chicken bowls & salads. Love it!

  6. Caiti Rose says:

    5 stars
    This jerk sauce recipe was FANTASTIC! We used habaneros instead of scotch bonnets due to lack of availability here in-town. Turned out delicious, spicy, and extremely flavorful. We used the sauce on some vegan chickn (Gardein I think) and made sort of a Jamaican inspired taco situation – – topped with your pineapple salsa recipe! This is our go-to jerk sauce recipe!

  7. DONNA SHAH says:

    Which kind of oil is best. You didn’t specify and I don’t wanna mess this up. I prefer using grapessed oil or coconut oil over vegetable or canola…but wanna know which you use.

    • Donna Shah says:

      Also, how many habernero peppers when substituting? Hard finding scotch bonnet peppers in my local supermarket. When will they catch up !!! Lol.

      • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

        Hi Donna you can definitely substitute them one for one.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hi Danna you can use coconut oil. I hope this helps.

  8. Jenny says:

    5 stars
    I’ve looked for fresh pimento seeds but can’t find them here. I’m from New Zealand and love anything spicy. I was given a basket full of an assortment of chillies including scotch bonnets and found your recipe for Jerk sauce. Anyway, is ground pimento ok to use? That’s all I could find.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hey Jenny a basket full of chillies sound amazing! Ground pimento Is definitely fine to use! We hope you enjoy it.

  9. Judy says:

    5 stars
    Talk about an authentic flavour! I absolutely loved this recipe. Easy to make and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We went for the high heat level and it did not disappoint.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thanks so much Judy! We’re happy that you enjoyed it!

  10. Aleita says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe. Can’t wait to try!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thanks so much Aleita! We hope you enjoy it!

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