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Jamaican Jerk Pork

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8

This juicy, flavorful pork takes time—a few hours to brine, overnight to marinate, and 7 or 8 hours to smoke. It’s mostly hands off, and well worth it. In Jamaica, this is street food that’s eaten with rice and peas, grilled corn, or fried cornbread called festival.


  • 1 4- to 5-lb. bone-in pork butt or shoulder

For the brine

  • 1/2 cup Jamaican dark rum, such as Appleton
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 oz. kosher salt (3 Tbs. if using Diamond Crystal; 2 Tbs. if using Morton)
  • 3 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. robust unsulfured molasses
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the jerk marinade

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 whole Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed, seeds left intact
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. whole dried allspice berries or 2 Tbs. ground allspice
  • 2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
  • 5/8 oz. kosher salt (2 Tbs. if using Diamond Crystal; 4 tsp. if using Morton)
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. Jamaican dark rum, such as Appleton
  • 2 tsp. robust unsulfured molasses

For smoking

  • 2 cups pimento or applewood chips

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 360
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 150
  • Fat (g): 17
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 1850
  • Carbohydrates (g): 12
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Sugar (g): 8
  • Protein (g): 37


Brine the pork

  • Place the pork in a large bowl or in a zip-top bag set inside the bowl.

    In a large measuring cup, combine all the brine ingredients with 3-1/2 cups water. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.

    Pour the brine into the bag with the pork, squeeze out any air, and seal, or cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 6 hours.

Marinate the pork

  • In a blender, purée the garlic, chiles, onion, orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, allspice, thyme, salt, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

    Stir the rum and molasses into 1 cup of the mixture and reserve for basting.

    Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine.

    Use a fork or the tip of a sharp knife to poke holes all over the pork. Return to the bag or bowl. Pour the remaining marinade over the pork, squeeze out any air, and seal, or cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.

Cook the pork

  • Prepare a grill for indirect cooking over medium-low heat (300°F to 325°F) following the directions below.

    Remove the pork from the marinade and place on the cool side of the grill, fat side up. Cover the grill and cook for 2 hours.


    Using a silicone brush, baste the pork with the reserved basting liquid every 30 minutes until it’s used up. Continue cooking until tender when pierced with a fork and an instant-read thermometer registers 190°F in the center, another 5 to 6 hours, checking the temperature on the grill.

    Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Let it rest until cool enough to handle. Remove teh pork from teh bone, cut into 2-inch chunks, and serve.


Rate or Review

Reviews (7 reviews)

  • DonBishop | 07/30/2019

    My wife loved it. Me? Meh. First, the fat. I left it on, since the recipe called for having it facing up while cooking. Pork has enough fat inside to keep it moist. I should have taken it off, but thought it would render. It didn't. (Cooked on a Traeger for 9 hours total.) The bark that was lost when the fat was trimmed prior to serving was a tragedy. Second, you need to set aside a large chunk of time to make this. Lastly, the flavor. It just didn't make my taste buds happy.

  • Inwoner_stad_Gent | 07/25/2019

    It's a great recipe and a totally different take on jerk from the jerk chicken to be found elsewhere in FC.
    However I did have some misgivings about the length to cook the shoulder for 7+ hours: ar such temperatures, it sounded excessive. I put a 5 kg (11 lb) shoulder on my Big Green Egg, kept the lower end of the recommended temperature (sometimes even lower) and lo and behold the meat was done in 5 hours. Fortunately I had given myself some extra time by inviting the party early, but by the time people were ready to eat (which was 2 1/2 hours later - would have been "7 hours"), the meat was starting to dry in places, a real pity.
    Next time I will double the amount of habaneros because although the meat had enough zing, it wasn't hot as you would expect from a jerk recipe.
    But overall: very tasty, I will be making again for sure! Also love the leftovers.

  • justkilintyme | 08/29/2018

    The first time I had jerked pork was in Miami FL, made by Mikey from Banana Hut. I loved it. Moved away and tried a few recipes to replicate the flavor. This isn’t exact but it comes close. I double the peppers for more heat. Always a hit. A full 8 lb shoulder doesn’t last long. I use a Weber 22” grill with coals on either side, adding 3 or 4 every once in a while to maintain temps.
    This is great. Thank you!
    Now if I can make stewed cabbage and rice and peas...

  • chefbacchus | 10/18/2017

    This recipe was AMAZING.

    First of all, ignore the review below that says it was the worst. The person clearly did not follow the instructions. They brined it overnight, which is WRONG. You're supposed to brine it for up to 6 hours then MARINATE IT over night.

    So if you know how to read simple instructions and follow them, you can make this recipe and the results will be absolutely stellar.

    I cooked it on a gas grill with a small packet of smoking wood chunks and the flavor was exceptional.

    Make it with the rice and peas, serve with grilled corn.

    Absolutely delicious.

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