Jerk chicken normally gets marinaded forever and a day and then grilled up quickly. Here we throw it in the slow cooker so it marinates while it cooks, killing two culinary birds with one stone. Shred the meat and serve it up on rolls for your next game-day bash or just keep the thighs whole for a winner of a chicken dinner.

What to buy: A traditional jerk recipe would use Scotch bonnet chiles, but they can be really hard to find. The more common habanero pepper is a good substitute.

There are various intensities of molasses available, from light to blackstrap. Dark (sometimes marketed as robust) tastes best in this recipe.

Game plan: You can make the jerk chicken and toast the rolls up to 1 day ahead so all you have to do is warm up and assemble the sandwiches when you’re ready to eat.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can braise this in the oven. Brown the chicken and place in a Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid. Add the marinade, cover, and braise in a 325°F oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue braising until the chicken is very tender, about 45 minutes more.

This recipe was featured as part of our Tailgating Recipes photo gallery. For more game day protein, check out our beer can chicken recipe.

  • Yield: 24 sandwiches (about 8 to 12 servings)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: Up to 8 hrs 40 mins 
  • Active: 35 mins

Ingredients (19)

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

For the chicken:

  • 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro (about 1 bunch), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, sliced into rounds

To serve:

  • 24 (4-inch) deli French rolls or other crusty bread


  1. Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl. Coat the chicken all over with the rub and set aside. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it just begins to smoke, place half of the chicken in the pan skin side down and fry both sides until well browned, about 10 minutes total (the chicken will not be cooked all the way through). Place in a slow cooker and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients in a medium nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine. Pour over the chicken, cover, and cook on low, turning the chicken pieces every few hours, until the meat is falling off the bone, about 5 to 8 hours.
  3. When the chicken is ready, remove to a cutting board. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, pour it back into the slow cooker, and set the cooker to warm.
  4. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces (discarding the skin, fatty pieces, and bones) and place back in the slow cooker with the sauce until ready to serve.
  5. Split the deli rolls in half and toast, then place 1/4 cup of the jerk chicken mixture on each sandwich.