Caribbean Jerk Paste

Punchy scotch bonnet chillis tempered by sweet, aromatic spices go into this Jamaican marinade. This Gluten-free and Paleo recipe tingles with fruity heat.

Caribbean Jerk Paste

Jerk is a traditional Jamaican dish that involves marinading chicken or pork in a spice mix, before cooking over a charcoal fire and smoking with pimento wood from the allspice tree. Typical marinade ingredients include scotch bonnet chillies, allspice berries, thyme, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and spring onions. The result is a sweet and aromatic smokiness, tempering a warm punch of chilli. When cooking in colder climes, you can try to replicate the smoky flavour imparted by cooking over open flames by adding some black cardamom (take 8 pods, break open by crushing with the broad side of a heavy knife, shake out the seeds and discard the husks, and then grind in a spice grinder). The paste can be stirred into stock to make a stew, rubbed directly over meat before cooking in the oven, or whisked with equal parts of oil and vinegar to make a marinade (say, 120ml of olive oil and 120ml of white wine vinegar).

Recipes that use jerk paste:

cooking time
360ml (8 servings)
Caribbean Jerk Paste


fresh ingredients:

  • 4-6 scotch bonnet chillis (depending on how hot you like it!), stalks removed and quartered
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of root ginger (40g), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 200g spring onions (about 12), ends trimmed and roughly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)

dried ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

liquid ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (70g) runny honey
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) orange juice (about 2 small oranges)


  1. Grind the allspice berries. Put the allspice berries into a spice grinder and grind until finely ground (if you do not have a spice grinder, then use a pestle and mortar or the small bowl of a food processor). Set aside.
  2. Purée the aromatics. Put the fresh ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor (scotch bonnet chilli, garlic, fresh ginger, spring onion and thyme). Blitz until smooth. If the paste needs loosening up, add a bit of the orange juice.
  3. Add the ground spices. Add the ground allspice and the remaining paste ingredients (cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper, honey and orange juice). Blitz until fully combined.
  4. Bottle the paste. Transfer the paste to a sterilised glass jar, using the back of a spoon to press the mixture down and eliminate air bubbles. Seal, and transfer to the refrigerator. For best results eat within 1 month, but will keep for several months.

2 thoughts on “Caribbean Jerk Paste”

  • Hi Ruth. In the paleo jerk paste recipe you mention adding cardamom seeds on the directions but they are not listed in the ingredients list. Am I missing something? Otherwise recipe looks great and wanting to make It today. Thanks

    • Hi Zena, oops my bad. The recipe used to contain black cardamom seeds, but I took them out because I was really struggling to find them in the shops (they’re not essential). And I figured that if I couldn’t get hold of them in a foodie city like Bristol, then most other people would have no chance. I removed them from the ingredients list, but I must have missed them in the instructions. I’ve now corrected the recipe to remove all references.

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