The History of Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Do you like cooking and trying out new recipes during the Summer? Have you heard of Jamaican Summer Barbecue Marinade? Jamaican Jerk Summer BBQ marinade is a Jamaican seasoning commonly used on chicken and pork. The marinade has a rich history and incredible health benefits outlined below.


Jerk is an art of cooking that calls for marinating meat using a dry rub or a wet marinade before cooking or grilling. Jerk is from the Spanish word "Charqui," which means strips of dried meat. These strips originated from Jamaica in the seventeenth century. 

In the late seventeenth century, Spanish colonists freed their African slaves who ran to the Jamaican countryside. The Africans mingled with Arawak Indians and Tainos, the indigenous people of the Caribbean, and they became Jamaican Maroons, the first people to advocate for free Black people. 

 The Tainos and Arawak Indians would smoke their meat to preserve it longer, keep insects away and introduce a smoky taste. Africans learned from the Arawak Indians and Tainos how to smoke and dry meat over a fire or in the sun.

By the eighteenth century, most indigenous people gave up on Jerk, but the Africans continued the practice. The Maroons mastered the technique and made it better by incorporating seasoning ingredients into the recipe. 

The most common meat the Africans jerked was the wild hog meat, and an essential spice was pimento wood. However, as the Maroons spread throughout Jamaica, they had to quickly adapt and use more herbs to marinate their meat.

For instance, they incorporated scotch bonnet pepper, bird peppers, elderberry peppers, and spice. Over time, the ingredients have evolved, and now ginger, garlic, cinnamon, green onions, sugar, lime juice, salt, and thyme make up the Jamaican jerk barbecue marinade.

Previously drying meat in the sun or smoking over the fire were the main ways to prepare jerk. Nowadays, you can easily marinate your meat and grill it over oil barrels powered with hardwood charcoal or wood-burning ovens. 

Jamaican jerk marinade has spread widely and is now used to season your seafood, such as shrimp, fish, vegetables, and sausages. Jamaican Jerk Marinade consumption is popular in Jamaica and throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and other Caribbean countries.