You’ll love this juicy roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken that’s flavor-filled and insanely delicious. Oven-roasted, cornish hens seasoned well with heaps of aromatics and basted with a swoon-worthy, lemon butter garlic sauce. This is such a perfect weeknight-friendly chicken dinner to make or whip up for any other occasion!

roasted jamaican jerk chicken cornish hens on oval platter

Oh yeahhh, baby. Today we’re diving deep into a plate of this delicious recipe! Jerk chicken is easily a top contender when it comes to my favorite West Indian foods. That jerk flavor is in a league of its own with a powerhouse of very distinct flavors. I’m not a huge fan of big, holiday-sized roasted chickens. As such, I had a blast developing this recipe that’s a bit scaled down for smaller servings.

Roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken 🙌🏾

Like I said, Jamaican jerk flavor is filled with robust flavor from scallions, peppers, salt, onion, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, and more! This entire recipe is so quick + easy to make and very much weeknight friendly, I know you’ll love that. No dry chicken here, this jerk chicken is juicy and flavor-filled all over.

⇢ More recipes: skillet chicken pot pie, succulent braised short ribs, saucy chicken piccata meatballs, delish blackened salmon w/ mango salsa, fan-favorite + cozy red beans and rice, and this crispy parmesan crusted chicken.

roasted jerk chicken with rice and peas on small plate with drink in the background

Ingredients Needed For This Recipe

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Butter & olive oil: For coating the chicken and for the basting/finishing sauce.
  • Garlic: No explanation needed…garlic and chicken just go together.
  • Cornish hens: The star protein! Cornish hens, aka Cornish game hens, are a particular variety of the commercial chicken family. They’re usually about half the size of a regular chicken, weighing in at around 2 – 2 1/2 pounds. Since they’re smaller in size, they cook faster and are perfect for feeding 1-2.
  • Jerk seasoning: The main ting for flavoring- I use Walkerswood (a personal fave!). This jerk seasoning is sold in a paste-like form with a thick consistency that spreads like butter; not at all like a dried seasoning blend.
  • Herbs de provence: One of my favorite seasoning blends! This type of seasoning is a blend of dried herbs that enhance nearly any roast chicken recipe. Herbs de provence seasoning typically features a savory blend of thyme, basil, lavender, fennel, rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, and more.
  • Fresh herbs: Herbs like thyme and sage add a fragrant pop that you’ll swoon over. These fresh herbs are stuffed inside the cavity.
  • Chopped parsley: Fresh chopped parsley or lightly dried parsley that’ll hydrate in the basting/finishing sauce.
  • Shallot: Kinda like an onion but has a more delicate and sweeter flavor.
  • Lemon slices & juice: Big lemony flavor all over, freshly squeezed is best.
ingredients for roasted jamaican jerk chicken laid out on beige surface

How To Make This Jamaican Jerk Chicken

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Preheat & prep. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a quarter sheet pan (or any baking vessel you have) fitted with a wire rack in place. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray and then set the baking vessel aside.
  2. Stuff the bird. Pat the skin of the hens dry using paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the herbs de provence and salt/pepper- to taste. Stir the seasoning blend to combine and set aside. Season the cavity of the hens with a bit of the seasoning blend. Then stuff the cavity of each hen with 3 sprigs of thyme, 3 sage leaves, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, and 2 lemon slices.
  3. Season the outside. Drizzle the outside of each hen with olive oil. Then use the remaining seasoning blend to season the outside of each hen. Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to lather each hen in the jerk seasoning, getting all nooks and crannies…get messy with it.

How To Make This Jamaican Jerk Chicken: II

  1. Then truss the hen legs together with kitchen twine. Place the hens onto the prepared wire rack/baking vessel. 
  2. Roast the hens, uncovered, for 1 hour. Meanwhile, about 10 minutes before that hour is up, let’s prepare the basting sauce.
  3. Make the sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, lemon zest + juice, minced shallot, parsley, garlic, and salt/pepper- to taste. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes then set aside.
  4. Baste w/ sauce. Remove hens from the oven. Use half of the sauce to lather the hens all over. Then put the hens back into the oven to roast for another 20 minutes to caramelize and finish off in the final roasting.
  5. Serve. Brush the roasted hens with remaining sauce. Then cut the hens in half. Serve this roasted Jamaican jerk chicken immediately.

⇢ This Roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe comes together so easily, y’all. I love how straightforward and simple it is yet loaded with ample flavor that you’ll adore! Get at this weeknight-friendly, chicken dinner winner! 🤤

Cleaning/Rinsing Your Poultry

I know cleaning chicken is a highly controversial topic lol. I will say that I notice that it often gets pushback among non-Caribbean folks. A lot of West Indians cleanse their meat in some way prior to cooking it. Growing up, I always saw both my mom and grandma cleanse chicken beforehand, and it’s always stuck with me. This is *totally optional* but including my tips, if interested.

Chicken out the package straight to the pan was a no-no, ha! Why? There’s a lot of goop/debris on packaged chicken. Cleaning the chicken is a way to remove any impurities prior to cooking. Here’s what I do: In a large bowl, add the cornish hens. Cover them in water with a touch of vinegar and a few lemon slices or a splash of lemon juice. You can let that sit for 5-7 minutes and then rinse the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and proceed.

A common misconception about cleaning chicken is that germs will get everywhere since your handling raw poultry. If you’re not touching various things, you wash your hands, and sanitize the area afterwards, all is well.

two roasted jamaican jerk chickens on wire rack

Why This Roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe Works (& Why You’ll Love It!) ♡

Here’s why you’ll get hype for this jerk chicken, friends:

  1. Low-effort, high-reward…I say this phrase a lot and it always applies to recipes like this one. A dish that can easily be made on busy weeknights when you want a quick, but homemade dinner. But while this jerk chicken recipe is easy, there’s no compromise on that scrumptiousness factor at all. A true low-effort dish with a high-reward to add into your rotation! 🙌🏾
  2. Flavorrr on flava…There’s tons of flavor-filled depth here with an island vibe that your people will go crazy for. Rich and signature jerk flavor all over this well-seasoned chicken with fresh herbs and more, yasss.
  3. No dry chicken…A dry piece of chicken is just sad, oof. None of that dryness found here, nah. With the basting/finishing sauce + perfect cooking time, we’re ensuring an extra moist jerk chicken that is chef’s kiss.
  4. It’s foolproof…This roasted Jamaican jerk chicken is wildly foolproof. With my step-by-step photos, you’re golden. You really can’t mess this recipe up and if you do, well, I just don’t know what to tell ya, ha! 😆
roasted jerk chicken hen on oval platter with lemon wedge

What To Serve Alongside This Recipe?

Love a good pairing! This Jamaican jerk chicken recipe pairs well with many things:

  • Rice and peas (the best pairing imo!), coconut rice, rice pilaf
  • Plantains or fried/steamed cabbage (Island favorites 👌🏾)
  • Roasted veggies: broccoli, green beans, asparagus, brussels sprouts
  • Mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower

Storing & Reheating Leftover Jerk Chicken

This dish is best served same-day but can still be stored to enjoy days later. Transfer any leftover roasted jerk chicken into an airtight container. This chicken will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend reheating leftovers in the oven or microwave until warmed through completely. You may need to add a splash of water/broth to the chicken to moisten as needed.

black hand holding the side of plate with jerk chicken, rice and peas, and plantain

This Roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken is truly the most perfect chicken dinner with an Island twist…so incredibly good. Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

Love Caribbean-centered recipes? Same here, don’t miss:

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roasted jamaican jerk chicken cornish hens on oval platter

Juicy Roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: Jamaican
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Description

You’ll love this juicy roasted Jamaican Jerk Chicken that’s flavor-filled and insanely delicious. Oven-roasted, cornish hens seasoned well with heaps of aromatics and basted with a swoon-worthy, lemon butter garlic sauce. This is such a perfect weeknight-friendly chicken dinner to make or whip up for any other occasion!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 whole cornish hens, cavities emptied- about 22 1/2 lbs each
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de provence
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 leaves fresh sage
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 slices of lemon, thinly-sliced
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar Walkerswood Jamaican jerk seasoning

For the basting/finishing sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small lemon, zested & then juiced
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon lightly dried parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Use a quarter sheet pan (or any baking vessel you have) fitted with a wire rack in place. Having a wire rack fitted on your baking vessel will ensure that the underside of the chicken gets roasted just as nice. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray and then set the baking vessel aside.
  2. Pat the skin of the hens dry using paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the herbs de provence and salt/pepper- to taste. Stir the seasoning blend to combine and set aside. Season the cavity of the hens with a bit of the seasoning blend. Then stuff the cavity of each hen with 3 sprigs of thyme, 3 sage leaves, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, and 2 lemon slices.
  3. Drizzle the outside of each hen with olive oil. Then use the remaining seasoning blend to season the outside of each hen. Now let’s lather the hens up with the jerk seasoning. Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to lather each hen in jerk seasoning, getting all nooks and crannies. I use about 1/2 cup of the seasoning to cover both hens, but feel free to use more if you’d like. 
  4. Then truss the hen legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips into the crevice of the legs to hold them in place. Place the hens onto the prepared wire rack/baking vessel. 
  5. Roast the hens, uncovered, for 1 hour. Meanwhile, about 10 minutes before that hour is up, let’s prepare the basting sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, lemon zest + juice, minced shallot, parsley, garlic, and salt/pepper- to taste. Stir everything to combine and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then remove the sauce from heat and set aside.
  6. Back to the hens, remove from the oven, but do not shut off heat. Use half of the sauce to lather the hens all over. Then put the hens back into the oven to roast for another 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of each hen reads at least 165°F.
  7. Remove the hens from the oven. Brush the roasted hens with remaining sauce and let the hens rest for at least 10 minutes. Then cut the hens in half using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Serve this roasted Jamaican jerk chicken immediately. I love serving this roasted chicken alongside rice and peas and plantains. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.