Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken is sweet, spicy, and seriously delicious plus it’s healthy and all the hard work is done by your crockpot.
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Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Recipe
Crockpot Jerk Chicken is the perfect meal as we approach warmer spring and summer months. Not only is all the work done by the slow cooker meaning you never have to turn on the stove, the mango salsa screams summer with its bright and fresh flavors.
I have been making versions of this dish for years with a homemade jerk sauce but recently came across a packaged jerk seasoning mix that does all the hard work for you. It’s delicious, balanced, and means you don’t have to spend time measuring out tons of individual spices.
Now when it comes to making this dish, there are some adjustments you may want to make depending on the jerk seasoning you use. Start by tasting your jerk seasoning to test out the spiciness. Some seasonings are mild and some are incredibly spicy. For a milder seasoning, you can add some extra cayenne pepper. For a spicy mixture, you may need to use a little bit less or add a touch more sugar to balance it out.
Then depending on your diet, you can decide if you want to swap out the brown sugar (traditionally used) for honey or agave. You can also leave it out completely (Paleo, Whole30, or low carb) since the mango salsa will add some sweetness to the dish.
What is jerk chicken? Is it spicy?
Jerk chicken is a Caribbean dish, hailing from Jamaica, that is sweet and spicy. It’s traditionally made with a marinade that contains habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers, brown sugar, allspice, citrus or pineapple juice, garlic, and thyme. Some people also add cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices as well. It can be really spicy from the peppers since habaneros and Scotch bonnet peppers are some of the hottest around.
This recipe takes a bit of a spin from the traditional version and uses a jerk chicken seasoning blend since it is easier and significantly less spicy. You still get some heat, depending on the spiciness of your seasoning blend, but it won’t be overwhelming. And then you will get a nice sweetness from the brown sugar, orange juice, pineapple juice, and lime juice. It’s delicious.
Ways to Serve Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken
- Go traditional and serve it over a big pile of steaming white or brown rice. Classic and delicious. You can also use cauliflower rice, cabbage rice, or broccoli rice for a lighter option.
- Wrap it up in lettuce leaves or cabbage cups for a healthier take on the dish and one that is perfect for hot weather.
- One of our favorite ways to enjoy this dish is as tacos. Warm up some corn tortillas and stuff them with the jerk chicken, mango salsa, and some shredded green or purple cabbage for crunch,
- If you want to step outside the box, this chicken is killer in enchiladas. You can use a store bought wet jerk sauce as the “enchilada sauce” and add some shredded jack cheese on top. Trust me -it’s delicious.
- Not into chicken thighs? You can definitely use chicken breast, pork tenderloin, or pork shoulder (takes 8 hours) in this recipe.
Can I make this jerk chicken on the grill?
If you prefer the taste of grilled jerk chicken, use the sauce in the recipe as a marinade instead of cooking the chicken in the sauce. Ideally, the chicken should marinate for at least 4 hours. This marinade will work for chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken legs, and they can be boneless or bone-in. It will also work for pork chops or pork tenderloin.
How to Make Homemade Jerk Seasoning
If you prefer to make your own jerk seasoning, it’s a great staple to have in the pantry. Plus it means you get to control all the ingredients and spices. Jerk seasoning has a lot of spices, but you probably already have most of them at home.
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Mix together and store in an airtight container.
- Note: This jerk seasoning isn’t very spicy. If you want some heat, you can look for dried jalapenos, dried habanero peppers, or habanero powder to add. I prefer that to chili powder since it can overwhelm the other spices.
Looking for more slow cooker chicken recipes?
Here are some things I used to help prepare this recipe:
- Slow Cooker: There are so many different slow cookers on the market but I personally use this one that allows me to brown, sear, or saute in the same pan. Plus I find the cooking temperature to be really even and consistent.
- Jerk seasoning: There are lots of different ones on the market but I usually reach for this dry rub or this sauce, which can also be used in the recipe. Most supermarkets carry at least one brand of jerk seasoning with the spices.