Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

Lately, I’ve had it in my head that I wanted to make some ribs rubbed with Jerk spices (coming soon) then glazed, kind of like I did my Cider Glazed Ribs awhile back but with a definite Jerk flavor. So I checked out the Jerk seasoning at the store. I’m sure it would have been ok, but it was pricy, had additives and didn’t really have the jerk flavors I was looking for. I want a Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub that’s going to mimic the real deal Jerk flavors I fell in love with years ago.

Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub


It’s funny but that real deal Jerk I had? I had it in Minneapolis. See the kids and I went downtown to a music festival. The line up was incredible, and we got to see B. B. King and Etta James, rest in peace, and the Nevilles. Somewhere in all of that, we rounded a corner to find a giant barbecue pit one of the restaurants built and they were cooking the most incredible, smoky, spicy jerk pork chops. I didn’t even know what Jerk was at that time…but I knew from the smell we HAD to have it even though we had to wait in line!

About Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub:

So that prompted me to get on the net and search, way back in the day, in the early ’90s – does anybody remember or still use S.O.A.R.? and discover everything I could about Jerk. I even ordered seeds and grew my own habaneros because there were none to be found in the Twin Cities. And I developed the recipe for my Jerk Chicken Breasts, which has only been slightly tweaked over the years – you can never stop learning, amirite?

So my dry Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub HAS to have those key flavors that belong in any Jerk recipe. The first being the habanero, but also the pimento, which is allspice, the cinnamon, ginger, garlic, green onion, and nutmeg, along with a couple other of the “usual suspects.” The only thing missing is the soy, and believe it or not, I’ve ordered soy powder, but I can’t wait for that – because I just can’t. Must have NOW, lol! Well, that was a little primal outburst, wasn’t it!? In the meantime, I can add a little soy sauce to whatever I’m making and if you don’t want to bother with the soy powder, you can do the same, or you can mix the spices in a little Soy sauce and make a wet rub to apply to whatever you’re making.

You really don’t want to stop at chicken or even at ribs once you have a jar of this magic on hand. Use it for pork chops or pulled pork, sprinkle it on your grilled veggies, dust your roasted potatoes with it, heck – use it on tofu if you’re a vegetarian! Add a touch of it to other recipes or rubs. Try it on your popcorn. It’s spicy hot in a good way (and you can control the heat if you make your own, something you can’t do with store-bought) and I think you’re going to be as nuts about this seasoning as I am!!

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Pineapple Mango Salsa with Jerk Chicken

Making Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub:

To stay true to the Jerk flavors, my Jerk Seasoning is based off my original Jerk Chicken Breast recipe, only in a dry form. It doesn’t have paprika or ancho or lemongrass or sage, parsley or any of the other weird aberrations additions I’ve been seeing (I know, I can be such a snob!) either in premade rubs or online recipes. I think I’m going to amend that just a bit. See, I had a heck of a time getting ahold of habanero powder and had to order it. Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, it wasn’t a big deal, but it is a little pricey. Mine was about 8 bucks, but I did have a five-dollar credit for ordering slow shipping on a prior Amazon order. Check it out if you’re a Prime member, and no, I’m not being paid to mention that.

A decent substitute is a little cayenne for the habanero powder, or even better, a little cayenne along with a touch of red pepper flakes. I guess you could even get some habaneros, dry them and pulverize them…it all just depends how true you want to stay to the flavors and/or how geeky you are (even I’m not quite that geeky!) opposed to how much you just want a jar of Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub at your fingertips to use on just about anything you’d like to put it on. Keep in mind that the Habanero pepper and the Scotch bonnet each rank at 350, 000 Scoville units and Cayenne is only 40,000 Scoville units so you may need to experiment for your ultimate heat level. The Scoville scale is a ranking of the heat of various peppers. the higher the number, the hotter the pepper. I gotta mention be careful with these ingredients and wash your hands well after and don’t breathe in the powder or you’ll be sneezing for sure.

The other thing that’s pricey is a jar of freeze-dried green onions! Zatarain’s makes them, but I decided to just do what I do with some of my herbs. I bought a bunch of green onions, chopped off the white bottom, sliced the green parts and laid them between 2 layers of paper napkins (or paper towel) and microwaved them. I went three minutes, then turned them over, then two minutes and stirred and then one more minute and voila – dried green onions. Microwaves vary in strength so you’ll have to tinker. The white parts can be stuck in water or dirt, inside or out and will regrow. It turns out the green parts of five green onion equals about a tablespoon.

Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

Saving Money on Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub:

One way I save money on spices is to buy them in the bulk section or in the bags from the produce section. And if I’m buying spices I don’t use a lot, I buy them in the whole form and then grind them up myself in my cheap little coffee grinder. Just don’t grind your coffee beans in the same grinder or you’ll have a surprise jolt in the a.m. Your whole spices will keep almost forever in a tightly sealed jar in a cool, dark cabinet. Just a hint if you do the same, a heaping teaspoon of the whole allspice or pepper will make a teaspoon of the ground.

I do plant herbs and bring them into the house during the winter. Sometimes they die, and if they do, I just dry them. Honestly, a plant is usually so much less than the cost of buying herbs from the store that it’s a no-lose proposition.

With this spice mix, the habanero powder was a bit pricey, around 8 bucks for a small bag, which was around a cup, and that’s more than I can use unless I want to make huge quantities. So many of these spices I already have on hand and so many of those are cheap, basic spices (the basics can be bought in large plastic jugs in the big box stores, buyers clubs and sometimes the grocery or dollar stores) and that offsets the pricier habanero powder. Keep in mind this has the real deal taste of jerk, all killer, no filler and is fresh & clean, and makes a quite a bit more than what you’d get for the same amount of money if you bought your mix, depending on the quality of that mix – the better commercial products are much pricier than the ones with lots of cheaper ingredients and no habanero. That being said, the substitute of cayenne and red pepper flakes will lower your cost considerably.

Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

About 4 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub:

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder or 1 tablespoon dehydrated green onion
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (brown or white)
  • 1 teaspoon or more of habanero or scotch bonnet pepper powder (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground allspice (use 1/2 teaspoon if using a store-bought powder)
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

About 3/4 cup Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder or three tablespoons dried green onion
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (brown or white)
  • 1 tablespoon or more of habanero or scotch bonnet pepper powder (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground allspice (use 2 teaspoons if using a store-bought powder)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

About 1 1/2 cups:

  • 1/4 cup onion powder or 6 tablespoons dried green onion
  • 1/4 cup sugar (brown or white)
  • 1/8 cup or more of habanero or scotch bonnet pepper powder (see note)
  • 1/8 cup ground pepper 
  • 1/8 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (use 1 tablespoon if using a store-bought powder)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

To use, a rule of thumb is about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat. Best if marinated overnight with Soy sauce.


1/2 to 1 teaspoon of habanero powder is the equivalent of one habanero. Jerk seasoning uses, generally, anywhere from 1 to 8 habaneros. I use 2 teaspoons of habanero, and I’m no wimp, so I went with a lower amount. Increase if you’d like it hotter, remembering it is easier to add than to take away. If your seasoning is too hot, just add more of the other ingredients. If you taste it, do so carefully.


I’ll be sharing Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub at Fiesta Friday number 279, hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

This real deal Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub is all killer and no filler! Of course, you can adjust to your heat level, great on almost anything! #JamaicanJerkSpice #JamaicanJerkSpiceRub #JamaicanSpiceRub

8 thoughts on “Jamaican Jerk Spice Rub

  1. I didn’t know I needed this until I saw it. I make jerks quite often (first meal I made for the hubs was jerk pork, so long ago, lol) but always with the wet marinade that has to be made fresh. What a hassle. This dry rub should help! Thanks, Mollie. You’re a goddess 😀

    • FrugalHausfrau

      HA! No wonder he married you, lol!! I love making the wet marinade, but I really was curous about/wanted to try/ and wanted a dry rub for my ribs! Coming soon to a blogger near you…umm…that’s my blog, btw! Oh, and I’m only a Goddess when in a manic phase, haha! Hope you’re done with school, and enjoying yourself, Angie!

  2. Gosh you are soooo good! This sounds sensational and very apt as I tried my first jerk chicken last weekend! I am a real wuss with spices so although my mouth was on fire I LOVED it. Making your own spice rub is fantastic. Being able to get just the flavour you want must be brilliant. You should market it! Thank you so much for sharing it with #FiestaFriday

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh my gosh, I am so glad you’ve tried it and loved it because I have to feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t like jerk, lol!!! 🙂 And thanks again for hosting for us!!

  3. Under the wire for FF Mollie! I like the combination of flavors in your mix. There is something in regular jerk seasonings that doesn’t sit right with me but I don’t see it in your own. I’ve pinned it. I much prefer making my own mixes to ones that you can purchase.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      What a riot! Did you know I thought it was Monday all day long, until my son and I went to the movies…they give a discount on Tuesdays and when he called off the price – that’s when I knew it was Tuesday…and here I thought my neighbor had put out the trash on the wrong day, lol!! Now I have to figure out how it is I am MISSING a whole day, lol!! Anyway, I’m loving this…I did add a touch more of the habanero to mine after all, though. And thanks for hosting for us this last week, Liz!!

  4. Jan McCombs

    Mollie…I cannot wait to try this , and also your chicken breast recipe…keep up the awesome work…
    Gotta go, I’m hungry!!!😉

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