A scrumptious specialty that’s popularly known across the Caribbean and Jamaica, jerk chicken is a slow-cooked grilled chicken dish that is spicy, smoky, and delectably fragrant.
The seasoning is made of two-star ingredients: allspice and Scotch Bonnet chiles, but the main flavor kicker is the marinade which is packed with ingredients such as lime juice, olive oil, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and fresh herbs to give you a rich taste unlike any other.
To top it all off, you can serve jerk chicken with healthy side dishes such as rice and beans, potatoes, grilled pineapple, coleslaw, mango salsa, maque choux, and fried plantains.
You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to eat this meal because you can certainly try it at home if you want a twist to your chicken recipes. However, you ask yourself, what to serve with jerk chicken?
Best Side Dishes To Pair With Jerk Chicken
Turning plain ol’ chicken to a five-star meal will not work without the perfect side dishes. You can use them as companions to complete your leveled-up grilled chicken culinary experience. Add a glass of wine or your favorite beverage and voila!
Here are 7 amazing side dishes to serve with the popular Caribbean and Jamaican jerk chicken:
Rice and Beans
Nutritional and a powerful combination, rice and beans are traditionally served with jerk chicken because it provides enough sweet and savory flavors that do not tend to overpower the meal.
You can use any type of beans for this side dish—red beans, black beans, and kidney beans are ideal varieties. If you want to enjoy it Asian style, try edamame beans or if you want to channel Indian flavors, use garbanzo beans. You can even try smoking or baking them, whichever you prefer!
As for the rice, anything also works, be it brown rice, red rice, long-grain white rice, or white jasmine rice. Just make sure to boil the rice with the beans and add a vegetable, chicken or beef broth, and cumin. After all that is cooked, you can splash a little cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice for more depth.
What better way to enjoy some jerk chicken but with everyone’s favorite sweet potatoes? The best thing about this side dish is you can prepare it any way you want!
If you want boiled sweet potatoes, season it first with salt, pepper, and butter before boiling. You can also roast sweet potatoes by mixing it with olive oil or avocado oil, and then sprinkling some spices such as garlic powder, paprika, and cumin.
You can also create fries by baking sweet potatoes. The recipe is even quite simple: just mix your preferred spices, pepper, and salt with the sweet potatoes and then bake until they’re golden brown in color. The possibilities are truly endless with this side dish!
Nothing would be as sweet, fresh, and satisfying as grilled pineapples. You can prepare them yourself or buy pre-sliced pineapples or pineapple rings from your local supermarkets and grocery stores if you’re in a hurry.
Whip up together a glaze made up of melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to add a caramel-y taste to the pineapples. Use a brush to spread the glaze then grill the pineapples to perfection for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until they’re brownish in color and then serve with the grilled chicken.
If you want it even sweeter, you can add some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top then squeeze a drop of honey or two.
You can never go wrong with this classic dressing made up of shredded cabbage and carrots. It has a bittersweet taste that’s crisp and cool which makes it a perfect companion to jerk chicken.
All you need is thin-sliced cabbage (red, green, or both preferably) and carrots mixed with apple cider vinegar, mayonnaise, and celery seeds. If you want to add an extra layer of sweetness, you can opt to add sugar or if you want a kick of spice, try adding dijon mustard.
To best prepare your cabbages prior to creating the coleslaw, you can plunge your shredded cabbage on a salt and water mixture and leave it alone for 5 to 10 minutes and then drain all the liquid away.
This vibrant mixture of reds, greens, and yellows is another perfect fruity side dish to serve with jerk chicken. It will only take about 30 minutes to 1 hour to prepare this recipe and it will totally be worth your time!
Dice ripe mangoes and put them in a medium to large bowl, depending on how much you’re going to make, and add chopped red bell peppers, red or green onions, minced jalapeños, one-fourth cup of lime juice or lemon juice, and combine them altogether. Allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
For a more zesty taste, you can add both the lime juice and lemon juice at the same time. Season with some salt and cilantro, and there you have it. Bon appétit!
Who says a traditional Louisiana corn-based dish can’t go with jerk chicken? Maque choux, pronounced as “mock shoe,” is made of varying ingredients that you can mix and match when you’re feeling particularly creative in the kitchen.
The recipe commonly calls for corn kernels cooked with butter, garlic, diced tomatoes, red or green onions, peppers (preferably bell peppers), and heavy cream. The consistency should be similar to a thick sauce. You can season with kosher salt or black/cayenne pepper for extra flavor.
Other variations have diced bacon in them for a fat, meaty flavor and even Creole seasoning. It all depends on how you want to serve it!
Crispy, sweet and caramelized to perfection, fried plantains are already great snacks by themselves, but by pairing them with jerk chicken, you’re bringing a new level of excitement to the dinner table.
Just fry the plantains on a non-stick skillet with enough canola oil or vegetable oil until golden brown. Sprinkle some sea salt on top and it will be good to go. It’s that simple!
Green plantains can be used for fried plantain chips if you’re up for a challenge. Just cook them the way you would with potato fries.