Jerk chicken is a unique dish that originates from Jamaica that involves dry rubbing or wet marinating chicken with the classic Jamaican seasoning jerk!
This dish is known for its smoky and fiery aromas and flavors, making it a popular chicken dish that is often served during the summer around barbecue season – but most recipes you will find for jerk chicken are limited to just the chicken alone.
Sure, you may cook up some slices of chilies or onions in the process, but one cut of chicken with a few slices of onion is hardly a meal.
This means you are going to need a hearty side dish to serve with your jerk chicken – but which one?
We have made a list of our top 18 best side dishes that match well with jerk chicken. Take a look at our pickings below and choose the side dish that best suits your tastes.
When eating a chicken dish as spicy as jerk chicken, you will want to counter it with something sweet and starchy to help cool your mouth down.
This recipe for coconut rice will help you make the perfect bowl of fluffy and sweetened jasmine rice with plenty of coconut milk to help counteract the spiciness of the jerk chicken.
Sometimes eaten as a dessert, grilled pineapple also makes for an amazing side dish to spicy and exotic dishes like jerk chicken.
Not only does its tropical taste enhance that Carribean theme, but the acidity of the pineapple helps combat the spiciness of the jerk seasoning.
Grilled pineapple is a light and refreshing side to serve up alongside your jerk chicken dinner – or save it as an after meal sweet treat!
A classic barbecue side dish, corn on the cob is easy to enjoy as it is so sweet and buttery to taste.
To make your corn on the cob smoky to match your jerk chicken, you are best off following this recipe for some deliciously buttery corn on the cob.
It is easy to follow, and it helps you get the perfectly grilled corn on the cob to go side by side with some delicious jerk chicken!
Potatoes are a great side to serve up with most meals, but they pair extra well with spicy foods like jerk chicken.
This is because starchy carbohydrates can help cool your mouth down after eating spicy seasoning, so serving up a side dish of herb roasted potatoes is a great choice – especially if you know you can’t handle the heat well.
This recipe for roasted potatoes will leave you with plenty of delicious wedges that are crispy on the outside but fluffy and light on the inside. The perfect side dish for jerk chicken!
Another potato based side dish, this recipe for mashed sweet potato is one that you have to try out.
It tones down the sweetness of the sweet potatoes by adding finely chopped green onions and garlic cloves.
This increases the amount of flavors in this one side dish without completely getting rid of the iconic sweet potato taste.
Although it is more muted, it now joined with more savory flavors that helps this side dish pair even better with jerk chicken.
Fried plantains is a popular side dish in the Caribbean that is served with almost every meal – and it’s easy to see why.
Some people may look at you like you are crazy – like, why are you frying bananas for dinner? But plantains are not the same as bananas as they need to be cooked before eating.
Sweet yet crispy with a deliciously caramelized texture, this recipe for fried plantains will help you cook up a storm at your next dinner party.
Add spice with spice by serving up this colorful salsa salad!
It’s one of the easiest recipes on this list, as all you need is a bunch of ingredients to chop up and mix together.
You can also personalize this recipe to suit your tastes. Try adding jalapeno for that spicy kick, along with some classic mango to bring a tropical theme to match your jerk chicken.
You can add peppers for a crunchy texture, or lime to increase the acidity of your mango salsa to help cool your mouth down after a bite of jerk chicken.
Coleslaw is often eaten alongside barbecue food and for good reason – it is creamy and tangy to help complement the smoky barbecue food perfectly!
And so, it makes sense that coleslaw is a great side dish to serve up alongside some jerk chicken. It’s simple to whip up your own, especially if you follow this recipe above, and takes hardly any time at all!
Plus, coleslaw is also a great choice to eat to cool down your mouth after tucking into some spicy jerk chicken – so give it a try!
Potatoes and dairy products are a great way to tackle spicy food so if you really want to try some jerk chicken but prefer milder dishes, you can help counter the spiciness by eating some classic potato salad as a side dish.
This recipe for an all American potato salad includes plenty of great ingredients like creamy mayonnaise and deliciously soft russet potatoes.
This means you can enjoy a creamy and light side dish that pairs well with the spiciness and smokiness of the jerk chicken.
Another great salad variety to serve up with your Jamaican-styled meal, this recipe for a cabbage salad also makes a great dairy-free alternative to a coleslaw.
It contains a lot of the same ingredients including the deliciously fresh cabbage and carrots but also contains crunchy cucumber and celery for a variety in taste and texture.
This makes this classic Jamaican salad a great choice for a side dish to go alongside your spicy jerk chicken.
Bread is a staple side dish to serve up during any meal, and Jamaica has their own version that pairs amazingly well with spicy dishes like jerk chicken.
Coco bread is very easy to make, yet it is deliciously sweet and soft thanks to the coconut milk and plenty of butter used in this recipe.
They also help combat the spiciness of the jerk chicken, while also giving you a splash of sweetness to contrast against the smokiness of the jerk seasoning.
So if you are looking for the right type of bread to serve at your Jamaican themed dinner, then coco bread is definitely the way to go.
Another classic Jamaican side dish, this recipe for rice and peas combines all the iconic tastes and flavors of Jamaica in one delicious dish.
This recipe for rice and peas merge together a lot of different flavors, including sweetness from the coconut milk and just a little kick of spiciness from ingredients such as allspice and scotch bonnet.
Both balance together incredibly well, making it an ideal side to serve up alongside some jerk chicken!
Vegetables are always a safe choice when it comes to side dishes, but if you want to really shake things up, then why not serve some carrots Caribbean style?
This recipe follows a traditional way to cook carrots in the Caribbean, including Jamaica itself.
It infuses zesty flavors of lemon and pineapple with sweet sugar and spicy chili, completely transforming the traditional taste of carrots to something way more exotic and delicious.
If you are looking for a bread-based side dish to serve up alongside your jerk chicken, then fried dumplings are definitely a solid choice.
They are commonly made in Jamaica and help cool your mouth down after a spicy meal – like jerk chicken, for example.
Although they may taste a little plain on their own, they are light and crispy on the outside.
They are also very easy to make and only require a few basic ingredients so if you are caught short, you can probably make some fried dumplings up in no time using ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
Another bread side dish, bammy is a flat bread made from cassava root. It is very starchy, so it is a great way to cool your mouth down after eating spicy jerk chicken.
It has been made in Jamaica for centuries, so it is definitely a side dish to choose if you want to serve up an authentic Jamaican meal.
It looks and is cooked similarly to a tortilla only a lot thicker and finishes a fine golden brown color.
Bammy is also very sweet as it is fried after being soaked in coconut milk so it counters the iconic smoky flavor of jerk chicken nicely.
Coconut drops are sometimes served as a toffee like dessert in Jamaica but sometimes, the sweet coconut flavor pairs so well with a meal that you can sometimes find it served on the dinner table as a side dish.
Chewy and sweet, this unique dish requires no baking nor any dairy ingredients – it only requires coconuts, sugar cane and a few spices to make!
Seeing as they are so easy to make, why don’t you try making a batch and serve one on your guests’ dinner plates as a sweet surprise!
Probably the most popular side dish, it just makes sense to serve up some garlic bread alongside your jerk chicken!
Although garlic bread originates all the way from Italy, it is such a strongly flavored side variant of bread that it is now eaten worldwide.
It is also very easy to make up yourself so instead of just buying some from a store, why not try making your very own garlic bread?
It is very simple to make and this recipe in particular is very easy to follow so give it a try!
And finally, we have another classic side dish served up at all kinds of meals – green beans!
Green beans are very nutritious but a lot of people avoid them because they think they don’t taste nice. However, if cooked properly, then green beans can taste completely different.
This recipe sautes the green beans with garlic, infusing them with for a strong and delicious taste. After having a sample, you will probably even wonder why you have never given this recipe a go before!
It is simple and easy, and leaves you with a wonderful side dish that pairs with anything – including jerk chicken!
So there you go!
Those were 18 of the best side dishes to serve alongside jerk chicken.
As jerk chicken is renowned for its spiciness and smoky flavor, it makes sense to pair it with sweet dishes that contain ingredients like coconut.
We also included plenty of starchy and acidic recipes so your guests have a side dish they can use to cool down their mouths if they find the jerk chicken too spicy for their tastes.
Plus, plenty of these recipes also share Jamaican roots with jerk chicken so you also can choose one or two to give your guests a sample of authentic Jamaican cuisine!
So grab your apron, wash your hands, and start cooking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Jerk Chicken Really Spicy?
Yes, jerk chicken is a very spicy dish but that is what makes it a stand out chicken dish.
It is perfect for those who love their meals to have a really spicy kick, but not recommended for those who prefer milder spiciness.
You can adjust the spiciness of your own jerk chicken by reducing the amount of jerk seasoning or by swapping the ‘scotch bonnet’ peppers for something milder.
When Did Jerk Chicken Become Popular?
Jerk chicken has been around for decades in Jamaica as the jerk seasoning is made from allspice and scotch peppers that grow there.
However, jerk chicken became a dish known worldwide when Jamaican migrants moved to places like the United States and began to share their cooking through their own restaurants and cook shops.
Hence, more and more people were introduced to Jamaican cuisine, and jerk chicken became a popular dish in many countries!
What Should I Eat To Cool Down My Mouth After Eating Jerk Chicken?
To cool your mouth down, you are best eating or drinking something that includes ingredients that help you handle spicy foods.
Milk based foods, acidic or carbohydrates are the best things to consume to help tackle a burning mouth – like yogurt or rice.