Instant Pot Jerk Chicken is a super flavorful and easy chicken dish with the right amount of spice, smokiness and a note of sweetness. Serve it in a rice bowl, salad or wrap for a quick dinner or lunch.
There comes time towards the end of winter when I am SO DONE with cold weather, I don’t even want the hearty soups, casseroles and roasted root vegetables that taste so good in early December. Instead, I start craving summery flavors and tropical cocktails with an umbrella.
Jerk chicken with a side of mango and crunchy veggies is one of my go-to dishes that feed into my summer-longing mood. The chicken is typically marinaded for hours in the most delicious combo of spices and herbs but since it’s still too chilly to start the grill outside at the end of February (at least in Maine), I found a way to make an Instant Pot version of jerk chicken that’s super easy, quick and versatile.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Jerk chicken made in an Instant Pot is juicy, flavorful and doesn’t require long marinading time.
- It uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs which makes it easy to shred and eat.
- This dish comes together in no time, especially if you make a batch of jerk seasoning ahead of time!
- It’s a great source of lean protein that’s NOT boring.
- My homemade jerk seasoning is made with easily accessible spices that you can get at most grocery stores.
- No pressure cooker? No problem. Make it in your Crock Pot instead (instructions included).
- You can use it in a variety of different ways (see Serving Suggestions below for ideas).
- If you are looking for more boneless skinless chicken thighs ideas, make sure to also check my Buffalo Chicken Thighs (air fryer or oven) and Instant Pot or slow cooker Creamy Green Chicken Chili.
WHAT IS JERK CHICKEN?
Jerk Chicken is basically chicken meat (usually on the bone) marinaded in a mix of delicious, vibrant spices, oil and other ingredients and typically barbequed. This dish is popular in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.
The combination of spices in jerk marinade varies but the main two ingredients that are always present are allspice and chili peppers, typically Scotch bonnet or habanero.
For my version of jerk chicken, I used dried chipotle powder which is less spicy and easier to find than dried Scotch bonnet chilis. It also provides a nice note of smokiness since we are using the Instant Pot instead of a charcoal grill.
JERK CHICKEN INGREDIENT NOTES
- Chicken Thighs: skinless boneless thighs are best for this recipe but boneless breasts will also work.
- Jerk Seasoning: homemade (see details below) or store bought.
- Olive Oil: you can swap it for avocado or vegetable oil, if you prefer.
- Garlic & Ginger: to give the jerk chicken a layer of vibrant, fresh flavor.
- Lime Juice: to finish the dish with a tangy note.
JERK SEASONING INGREDIENTS
- Ground Allspice: a jerk seasoning must!
- Chipotle Chili Pepper: for a spicy and smoky kick.
- Dried Thyme: you can use fresh thyme, if you prefer.
- Salt: kosher salt is what I use.
- Paprika: I like sweet Hungarian paprika for its superior, intense flavor.
- Smoked Paprika: to add smokiness to the seasoning.
- Black Pepper: use freshly ground black pepper for best results.
- Ground Cinnamon: to add a note of earthy sweetness.
Mix all seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and stir or place in a small jar and shake until combined. This recipe makes about ⅓ cup of the seasoning but you will only need 2 tablespoons to make the chicken.
HOW TO MAKE JERK CHICKEN THIGHS IN THE INSTANT POT
Step 1: Make jerk marinade. In a medium bowl combine olive oil, 2 tablespoons of jerk seasoning, minced garlic and ginger. Stir until thick paste forms.
Step 2: Marinade the chicken. Add the jerk paste to the chicken and stir until chicken thighs are well coated. The marinade is quite thick so it will require some patience but make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies!
Step 3: Set aside to marinade for 30 minutes or up to 6 hours in the fridge.
Step 4: Add water or chicken broth to the Instant Pot and insert the trivet.
Step 5: Arrange chicken thighs on the trivet in one layer, close the lid and set to high pressure for 15 minutes. Make sure the vent is in the “seal” position.
Step 6: Release the pressure. I usually let the Instant Pot release the pressure naturally for about 15 minutes and then use the manual release function to finish.
Step 7: Shred the chicken. Carefully lift the trivet with chicken thighs, transfer the meat to a bowl and roughly shred with 2 forks. Add some or all of the cooking liquid, depending on how saucy you want it.
Step 8: Garnish. Drizzle the chicken with freshly squeezed lime juice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.
SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS
To make this dish in a Crock Pot, start with the first 3 steps from the Instant Pot instructions above. Then, arrange marinaded chicken in the slow cooker, add water or chicken broth and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks, then drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Shredded jerk chicken is super versatile and can be enjoyed in many different ways.
Here are some delicious suggestions:
- In a wrap. Pair it with spinach, crunchy veggies and sliced mango or pineapple and enjoy in a whole grain tortilla.
- On a bed of cabbage and shredded veggies for a low carb version. I like to use bagged rainbow coleslaw and top it with fresh Mango Pico de Gallo.
- In a salad with greens and your favorite veggies.
- In baked sweet potatoes: open the sweet potatoes lengthwise, stuff with shredded jerk chicken (with juices) and top with mango, red onions and cilantro.
- In a grain bowl. That’s how I usually serve it – paired with cooked brown rice with red quinoa, spinach, sliced red onions, fresh mango and avocado. So good!
HOW TO STORE IT
If you’re making jerk chicken ahead of time to use in bowls, salads or wraps, I recommend placing shredded meat in a large airtight container and adding all the cooking liquid to it. This step makes it easy to reheat on the stove without the chicken drying out. When you're ready to use it in a wrap or salad, just take the chicken out of the pan with a slotted spoon so it’s not too saucy.
You can store jerk chicken in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave the container in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove or enjoy cold.
MEAL PREP TIPS
You can meal prep Instant Pot jerk chicken in two ways:
- Make and store a whole batch in an airtight container in the fridge. Use throughout the week in various dishes (see Serving Suggestions above).
- Meal prep grain bowls: arrange salad greens, chicken, rice (I used brown rice and quinoa mix), red onions and mango in individual containers. Add fresh avocado slices when ready to serve!
Jerk seasoning has a very distinct delicious flavor that’s hard to describe if you’ve never had it. My best definition is that it is smokey, spicy and slightly sweet, with earthy flavors of allspice and a note of ginger and cinnamon.
Of course, especially if you have a trusted one you love. Different jerk seasoning brands can be more or less spicy. If yours is very spicy, you may want to adjust the amount. If you have all the ingredients to make the homemade version, I definitely recommend giving it a try. You’ll love the flavor of the chicken!
Store it in a jar or airtight container for up to 4 months. It will allow you to make Instant Pot jerk chicken a couple times again (because it’s THIS good!). You can also use the marinade for oven baked chicken drumsticks or wings. Or, it's fantastic for barbequing chicken on the grill!
Yes, absolutely! You can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
MORE IDEAS TO TRY
- Buffalo Chicken Thighs
- Creamy Green Chicken Chili (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
- Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
- Kale & Barley Salad Bowl with Salmon
If you try this Instant Pot Jerk Chicken, be sure to leave me a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and see how it turned out for you! You can also share and tag me on Instagram!
This post contains affiliate links.Print
These juicy and delicious Pork Kebabs can be made in the air fryer or oven. Lean pork tenderloin cubes are marinaded in paprika, olive oil and fresh garlic, and then layered with red bell peppers, onions and bacon onto skewers and cooked at high temperature to perfection. Serve them with my creamy mustard maple dipping sauce!
1 lb pork tenderloin, any visible fat trimmed
2 red bell peppers
½ medium onion
2 slices bacon
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Creamy Mustard Maple Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cut the pork into a 1-inch dice and place in a medium bowl.
2. Add olive oil, crushed garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and stir to coat. Set aside.
3. While the meat is marinading, cut bell peppers, onion and bacon into 1-inch squares.
4. Add cut up veggies and bacon to the bowl with the pork and mix well to coat everything in the marinade.
5. To assemble the kebabs, layer meat cubes, bacon, onions and peppers onto bamboo or metal skewers. I like to start and end with peppers or onions and I use 4 pieces of meat per skewer.
6. Air fry at 370 degrees for 10-15 minutes or in the oven preheated to 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. The skewers should look browned and have nicely caramelized edges.
7. To make the mustard maple dipping sauce, mix together mustard, maple syrup, mayo, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined.
8. Serve pork skewers with the dipping sauce, if desired.
If you are using the air fryer method, make sure the skewers you’re using fit your air fryer. If they are too long, snip them with kitchen shears or sharp scissors.
For best results, make sure that pork and veggie pieces are similarly sized. This will ensure even cooking.
Cooking times may vary depending on the kind of air fryer/ oven you are using. I like to preheat my air fryer for a couple minutes but it’s not necessary.
My air fryer is a 7-qt GoWise and I love it!
For keto / paleo / Whole30, make sure the bacon you're using is sugar free.
Nutritional value below is for one kebab without dipping sauce.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: lunch, dinner
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: pork kebabs, pork kabobs, pork kebabs in oven, pork kebabs in air fryer, pork skewers