This air fryer jerk chicken is tender and juicy with crispy skin, and the bold, spicy kick we love in jerk chicken. It's a recipe that's easy to make and explodes with flavor.
Jerk chicken and the air fryer are made for each other if you ask me. Air frying this chicken keeps it tender and moist while still delivering that crispy skin we all love. It's so good!
Jerk Chicken in the Air Fryer
This easy jerk chicken was inspired by my jerk salmon recipe on this site and pairs well with this amazing air fryer parmesan potatoes and risotto pasta recipe.
Why You Will Love this Recipe
- It's a healthy cooking method that makes the chicken crispy while still juicy and tender on the inside.
- It's quick and easy to prepare on busy weekdays.
- It's a surefire hit for any occasion.
- It's exploding with flavor.
- Can be adjusted for less heat by removing seeds from peppers
- The marinating times ensure that all those incredible tastes get deeply infused into the chicken making it a real treat for your taste buds.
Don't skip the marinating process for this recipe. That's what gives you so much flavor and such tender chicken.
Although jerk chicken sounds exotic, it only uses a few simple ingredients that you'll find easily at your local grocery store. Be sure to check out the recipe card for exact quantities.
- Habanero or Scotch Bonnet peppers
- Onion powder
- Dried thyme
- Ground allspice
- Ground ginger
- Olive oil
- Fresh lime juice
- Soy sauce
- Brown sugar
- Chicken leg quarters cut into pieces
Substitutions and Variations
- Habanero or Scotch Bonnet Pepper - Use a cayenne pepper, banana pepper, serrano pepper, jalapeno pepper, or anaheim pepper instead.
- Keep the Seeds - If you like spicy food leave the seeds from your hot pepper in your marinade.
- Extra Spicy - Add a teaspoon of chili pepper flakes, jalapeno powder, smoked jalapeno powder, or chipotle powder to the mixture to imbue heat into the dish. I will also occasionally add a teaspoon of our homemade hot pepper sauce, or use your favorite hot sauce, to the mixture.
- Garlic Cloves - Use minced garlic, garlic powder, garlic flakes, or dehydrated garlic instead.
- Onion Powder - Use fresh onions or shallots instead.
- Thyme - Use oregano, cumin, coriander, basil, rosemary, marjoram, bay leaves, parsley, tarragon, or sage instead.
- Ground Allspice - Use nutmeg, cloves, or cinnamon instead.
- Ground Ginger - Use freshly grated gingerroot instead.
- Soy Sauce - Use Worcestershire sauce, tamari sauce, fish sauce, or teriyaki sauce instead.
- Pepper - Use white pepper, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes instead.
- Olive Oil - Use avocado oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or your favorite vegetable oil instead.
- Fresh Lime Juice - Use lemon juice, orange juice, or apple cider vinegar
- Add Zest - Add some zest with your fresh juice for some added flavor.
- Brown Sugar - Use honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup instead.
- Chicken leg quarters - Replace the leg quarters with bone-in or boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts just adjust your cook time accordingly.
- Add Smoked Paprika - Add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to add some smoky flavor.
- Bake Chicken Instead - Bake marinated chicken in the oven at 400 degrees F instead of air frying it for 30-40 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees and is golden brown.
- Add Tropical Fruit - Include some freshly chopped guava, papaya, pineapple, or mango to the marinade to add more tropical flavor.
- Add Coconut - Add some to the marinade to add flavor.
This complexly-flavored recipe is actually a very easy air fryer recipe to make! You'll find the highlights here, but check out the recipe card for the exact instructions.
1: Slice the hot peppers.
2: Emulisfy all ingredients in a food processor.
3: Marinade the chicken.
4: Air fry until cooked through and crispy.
Refrigerator: Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Store in an air-tight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through.
What to Serve with Jerk Chicken
This flavorful jerk chicken goes great with a variety of side dishes such as rice, rice and peas, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or even a salad! You can also garnish your dish with fresh herbs such as thyme or lime slices to add extra flavor and texture.
If you need ideas on what to serve with jerk chicken we've got you covered. Take a moment to check out all of our favorite side dishes. Enjoy!
- If you like spicy food leave the seeds and membrane in the pepper for your marinade.
- Traditional jerk chicken marinade can include scallions. I just used onion powder for a faster marinade.
- Be very careful when handling hot peppers, use food-grade gloves, and NEVER touch your face.
- Be sure to place chicken in a single layer in the air fryer for even cooking.
- To add even more flavor to the chicken, you can marinate it overnight.
- For a milder version of this recipe, you can use fewer habanero peppers or substitute with milder chili peppers such as jalapenos or poblanos.
- If using an air fryer for this dish, be sure to spray the basket with non-stick cooking spray before adding the chicken pieces for easier removal and to prevent sticking.
- Preheat your air fryer basket for 5 minutes at 400 degrees before adding the marinated chicken to help lock in moisture and speed up the cooking process.
- Make sure to check on your chicken often while it is cooking as different types of air fryers may vary in temperature control and cook times.
- Let cooked jerk chicken rest for 5 minutes after removing it from the air fryer before serving for maximum juiciness and tenderness.
- Adjust cook time depending on the thickness of individual piece sizes if necessary - larger thick pieces may require additional minutes, and smaller thin pieces may need less.
- Flip chicken pieces once during cook time to ensure both sides are cooked evenly and thoroughly.
Yes, you can bake the chicken in an oven at 400°F for 30-40 minutes instead or the chicken is golden and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
If you are looking for a milder option, jalapeno peppers can be used as a great substitute for Habanero peppers. You can also reduce the amount of pepper used in the recipe to adjust spice levels.
To properly marinate the chicken with this jerk seasoning recipe, you should pour the marinade over your chicken pieces and let them sit for at least 30 minutes, if not overnight, before cooking them in the air fryer.
Yes, this Air Fryer Jerk Chicken recipe is gluten-free since it does not contain any wheat, rye, or barley products which are known to contain gluten proteins.
For this recipe, you can use either a habanero or scotch bonnet pepper. If you enjoy spicy food, you can leave in the seeds and membrane for more heat.
More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Do you like air fryer chicken? Here are some recipes you may also like to try
Air Fryer Jerk Chicken
Ready to get cooking? Remember that you can print this recipe if you would like.
Air Fryer Jerk Chicken
- Resealable bag or Mixing Bowl covered with Plastic Wrap
- 1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper stems and seeds removed for less heat
- 1-2 cloves cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon allspice ground
- ½ teaspoon ginger ground
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 chicken leg quarters cut into pieces
- cooking spray
- On a cutting board (wearing food-handling gloves) slice the habanero or scotch bonnet pepper in half and remove the seeds and membrane. If you enjoy spicy food you can leave in the seeds and membrane.
- Add the habanero or scotch bonnet pepper, 1 clove of garlic, the spices, lemon juice, olive oil, and soy sauce to a food processor and process until emulsified and the pepper and garlic are finely minced.
- Marinate the chicken pieces with the marinade for at least 30 minutes, if not overnight in a bowl covered in plastic wrap or in a resealable bag.
- Then preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it in a single layer on the preheated air fryer basket coated in cooking spray.
- Cook for 13 minutes at 380 degrees. Flip and cook for an additional 12 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Serve immediately garnished with fresh thyme or lime slices! If you need ideas on what to serve with jerk chicken have a look here. I think you'll be glad you did. Enjoy every bite.
- Traditional Jerk Chicken marinade can include scallions, I opted for onion powder for a quick marinade but feel free to substitute scallions if you prefer.
- Be very careful when handling hot peppers use food-handling gloves if possible to prevent skin or eye irritation.
- If you like spicy food leave the seeds in the pepper for your marinade.
- Be sure to place chicken in a single layer in the air fryer for even cooking and that perfect crispy skin.
- Use a meat thermometer to check that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.
- This chicken is best the day it’s made however If there are leftovers they can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or in the air fryer if desired.
- Double the recipe and cook in batches. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.
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