Instant Pot Jerk Chicken

Spicy food lovers, this one’s for you! 

Jerk Chicken is a Jamaican dish that combines a few key (but easily found) sweet and savory ingredients along with the sassy power of the Scotch Bonnet/Habanero or Jalapeño pepper! We are talking a marinade/sauce so flavorfully zesty, you very well may break a sweat once tasted. 

But no worries! The sauce is the perfect balance of flavor that will have you raving about this dish all the way to Ocho Rios. And what better than a Jew makin’ Jamaican food, eh? 

Folks, your Instant Pot game just got spiced up! 

Here’s How I Made It! (scroll to the bottom for the fully-written recipe): 

You know when an adorable dog stares at you helplessly just hoping you’ll give him some of that delicious food you’re eating and you don’t? It makes you feel like a jerk… 

SO LET’S MAKE JERK CHICKEN! We begin with one of two options to make it all jerky. And that is either a Scotch Bonnet (Jamaican) pepper or Habanero pepper. Both are practically identical and extremely spicy. 

OR you can use a Jalapeño pepper, which is more of a medium-hot spicy and is the pepper I prefer for this dish (even though the Scotch Bonnet/Habanero is the typical pepper used in this dish). 

Whichever jerk you choose, remove the stem and slice into quarters, longways. WARNING: DO NOT TOUCH/RUB YOUR EYES AFTER HANDLING A SPICY PEPPER, ESPECIALLY THE INSIDE. If you do, you will hate life for a short while. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling. 

If you want the spice level tones down, slice out the ribs and seeds from the pepper. 

Now pull out a food processor/blender because we’re about to get jerky with it and make that amazing jerk marinade/sauce. 

Let’s dump in some lovely ingredients that may seem a bit odd at first, but are necessary to creating the perfect sweet, savory and SPICY jerk sauce! Begin with a small can of pineapple and its juices… 

…our jerk (peppers) by choice… 

…a diced onion… 

…a few sliced scallions… 

…the juice of a lime… 

…a few cloves of garlic… 

…low-sodium soy sauce… 


Five Spice… 


…ground ginger… 

…white pepper… 

…dried thyme… 

Creole/Cajun seasoning… 


…and brown sugar. 

Purée everything together… 

…watch it whirl… 

…and POOF! Great job, Jerk! There’s our sassy marinade/sauce. Set aside. 

Now, take some chicken thighs (or breasts)… 

…lightly puncture them a few times over with a fork… 

…and place in a large freezer bag. 

Pour half the marinade over the chicken… 

…making sure the marinade is smothering the chicken… 

…and place in the fridge for 4-24 hours (but no less than 4 hours)… 

…as well as the remaining half of the marinade separately stored in an air-tight container. 

When it’s time to cook, add some butter to the Instant Pot and give it some heat. 

Once melted, add in the chicken… 

…and let sauté for a moment… 

…on each side. 

Then, pour in the remaining marinade from the bag… 

…as well as the reserved marinade (we separated the marinade in half because the portion that didn’t touch the chicken will be a bit thicker in volume and texture). 

Don’t stir the marinade in with the chicken. Rather, just let it rest on top. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure. 

When done, it’ll look lovely and smell wonderfully aromatic. 

Take some tongs… 

…and remove the chicken to a serving dish for the time being and set aside. 

Now, let’s focus on what has now become our Jerk sauce. Give the pot some heat so it bubbles… 

…while you create a cornstarch slurry to slightly thicken it up. Do this by taking equal parts cornstarch… 

…and water… 

…and stir… 

…until well combined. 

While the sauce is bubbling, stir the slurry into it… 

…And then kill the heat. It will have given the sauce the perfect consistency. 

Lastly, feel free to add in these two wonderful flavor enhancers as a final step. Barbecue sauce… 

…and hoisin sauce. 

Stir until well combined… 

…and there we have it! Our joyous Jerk sauce!  

Spoon it over the chicken in the serving dish…. 

…admire the beauty and take in that zesty aroma. 

…and perhaps make it look extra sassy by garnishing with a spare pepper. 

Plate it up… 

…try it out and have a moment of flavor orgasm… 

…show off how tender and juicy that chicken is. 

You’ll probably even want to sip some of the sauce because it’s totally addicting – and incredible over rice. 

But, depending on the spice level, you may sweat – so you’re losing weight WHILE you eat! Genius! 


Instant Pot Jerk Chicken
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Jerk Chicken

Instant Pot Jerk Chicken

Spicy lovers, rejoice! This sweet and spicy Jamaican classic is going to make your mouth salivate and need a glass of water (or rum). It's one of my favorite chicken dishes (and I wouldn't jerk you around).

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes


The Jerk

  • Choose ONE of the following:
  • 1 Habanero or Scotch Bonnet pepper, quartered with stem removed (WARNING: both peppers are EXTREMELY spicy and will come across that way in the dish, but that’s what Jerk Chicken’s known for. Scotch Bonnet peppers are traditionally used for this dish but are pretty hard to find, so a Habanero is fine to sub as they are very comparable). If you want some of the spice cut down, remove and discard the inner ribs and seeds
  • –OR-
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper (medium-hot spice and which is what I use and recommend as it’s spicy enough. If you want some of the spice cut down, remove and discard the inner ribs and seeds)
  • WARNING: DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES DIRECTLY AFTER HANDLING THESE PEPPERS or you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Wash them thoroughly first after cutting.
  • NOTE: Don’t want any spice at all? Leave out the peppers – but then this dish will be nice instead of a jerk

The Marinade

  • 8 oz can of pineapple rings or crushed pineapple (with their juices – try to get the 100% juice type over the heavy syrup)
  • 1 small yellow onion, loosely chopped
  • 3 scallions, loosely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of crushed garlic
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup of reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of Chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp of ground allspice
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of white pepper
  • 1 tsp of a Creole or Cajun seasoning such as Tony Chachere’s
  • 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

The Chicken

  • 2-4 lbs of chicken thighs (about 4-8 of them), boneless/skinless OR bone-in/skin-on (it’s your choice)
  • 2 tbsp (1/4 stick) of salted butter
  • 1 tbsp of barbecue sauce
  • 1 tbsp of hoisin sauce (optional, but suggested)
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch + 1 tbsp of water to form a slurry


  1. Add The Jerk and the The Marinade ingredients only to a blender/food processor and blend until puréed into what looks like an applesauce consistency
  2. Lightly puncture each piece of chicken with a fork and place in a large plastic freezer bag. Pour half the marinade over the chicken and reserve the other half in an airtight container. Refrigerate both the marinated chicken and reserved marinade overnight or for 4 hours minimum and up to 24 hours (don’t skip this step as it really gives the chicken some infused flavor)
  3. When ready to cook, add the butter to the Instant Pot, hit “Sauté” and “Adjust” so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Once the butter’s melted, take some tongs and place the chicken in the pot (it should hold 4 thighs at a time). Sauté the chicken for about 1-2 minutes on each side
  4. After briefly sautéing the chicken in the pot, pour in the rest of the marinade from the bag as well as the other half of marinade reserved in the airtight container. Don’t mix it in with the chicken, but rather just pour it over the chicken
  5. Secure the lid in sealing position, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” at High Pressure for 10 minutes. Quick release when done
  6. Once the lid comes off, remove the chicken with tongs to a serving dish and then hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” again and then hit “Sauté” again and leave it on “High” or “More.” Once the sauce bubbles, stir in the cornstarch slurry and then immediately kill the heat by hitting “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then keep the pot on warm. Once the bubbles die down a bit, the sauce will have thickened up to the perfect consistency
  7. Add in the barbecue sauce and hoisin sauce and give it a final stir and then drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve. NOTE: If you want to give it a bit of a char, brush the sauce onto the chicken and broil in the oven for 3-5 minutes or flash grill on the BBQ for a couple minutes (just keep an eye on it because the chicken will already be cooked and tender so don’t over-do it)
  8. Enjoy over rice!

Jeffrey's Tips

This makes a LOT of sauce so the chicken can definitely be doubled without doubling the marinade/sauce ingredients. Basically if you wish to double, just add more chicken and that’s it.

You can easily save whatever sauce is left and serve it over rice. It goes just perfectly with it.

If you don’t want to pressure cook the chicken and would rather grill it on the BBQ instead, go for it! Simple grill it after marinating in the fridge instead of pressure cooking!

Reader Interactions


  1. Bob

    I will try this as I think it would work in my 3 quart Instant Pot in my camper.

    BTW, a GREAT video would be one that shows recipes that can be made with a lot of the same ingredients, especially the spices and specialty items. For example, I have an almost full bottle of sesame oil that will likely still be here when the pandemic is a distant memory if I don’t find some recipes to use it in!

  2. Steven

    This is by far my favorite recipe of yours that I’ve made so far. Its becoming a pretty big hit for my group of friends we’ve made it several times now!

  3. Diane

    I got an instant pot a few weeks ago and luckily stumbled upon you on youtube when I was looking for how to use it or what to make. This is the second recipe I have made and it’s fabulous. I used a large Jalapeno and it was just spicy enough. I love your palate. I could tell with all those marvelous spices it was going to be delicious. My husband was so impressed, he watches you now too and he bought me your cookbooks as a surprise.

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