Jerk Chicken Tacos

Jerk Chicken Tacos are an explosion of exotic, juicy jerk chicken, sweet and crunchy pineapple slaw and silky avocado jerk crema that will whisk you away to the Caribbean!

These Jerk Chicken Tacos are the tacos of your tropical dreams loaded with juicy, aromatic, earthy, sweet, smoky, spicy Jerk Chicken and sweet and crunchy pineapple slaw, drizzled with silky avocado jerk crema all cocooned in a warm corn tortilla. They are easy to make with a quick chicken wet rub while you prep the toppings, or they are entirely prep ahead friendly for a dinner that comes together in minutes.  Pair them with Coconut Rice and Pina Colada Fruit Salad for a complete tropical feast!

Chicken Tacos are a symphony of flavors and textures in every bite! Don’t miss Thai Chicken Tacos, Chipotle Chicken Tacos, Chicken Birria Tacos, Buffalo Chicken Tacos or Chili Lime Chicken Tacos.

HOW TO MAKE Jerk Chicken Tacos VIDEo

 
up close of jerk chicken tacos with jerk seasoned chicken
jerk chicken tacos lined on a plate with pineapple slaw
showing how to make jerk chicken tacos by whisking together jerk seasonings in a bowl

The Pineapple Cabbage Slaw 

Fresh, sweet, crunchy Pineapple Cabbage Slaw balances the smoky, spicy, earthy Jerk Chicken for the perfect bite!  You will need: 

  • Pineapple: Make sure you use a ripe pineapple for juicy, sweet freshness. Fresh is best for making slaw, I don’t recommend using canned or frozen. 
  • Cabbage: You can use red or green cabbage for the slaw.  As you can see by the photos, using red will turn your pineapple orange (which I think looks cool 😉).  Make sure to thinly slice the cabbage for the ideal pineapple/cabbage proportions.  To slice cabbage, I slice it in half through the stem, then cut a wedge around the stem to remove it, then proceed to thinly slice.    
  • Red onion: I love the zesty fresh pop of red onion, but you may also use green onions. 
  • Fresh cilantro: Measure the cilantro and then chop it.  The cilantro adds a bright, fresh, citrusy pop of flavor.  You can use more or less to taste.
  • Lime juice: Only one tablespoon is called for in the slaw, so use fresh or bottled lime juice. We prefer fresh, however, for an extra squeeze of fresh lime to finish, plus you need lime zest for the chicken wet rub anyway!
showing how to make chicken jerk tacos recipe by making pineapple slaw

AVOCADO JERK CREMA

The Avocado Jerk Crema is my favorite Avocado Crema recipe punctuated by Jerk Seasoning!  It is lusciously creamy, tangy and marries all of the contrasting flavors and textures of the chicken tacos together.  Best of all, it’s so easy to whip up in your blender!  You will need:

  • Avocado:  Use one medium to large avocado.  Take care your avocado is ripe so it blends to silky perfection. Unripe avocados will leave you with hard chunks and a grassy flavored crema.
  • Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt:  I personally prefer sour cream in this crema, but you can use either with delicious results.  Fat-free products will also taste great. If you go the yogurt route, take care to use Greek yogurt as regular yogurt is not nearly as thick.
  • Mayonnaise:  Just 2 tablespoons adds a sublime creamy richness and prevents the crema from separating.
  • Lime Juice: Use fresh or bottled lime juice and use more or less to taste.
  • Jerk Seasonings:  You will add 2 teaspoons Jerk Seasoning to the crema for an easy infusion of flavor.

HOW TO MAKE jerk Chicken Tacos

This Jerk Chicken Taco recipe has a few components, but they are all quick and easy to whip together! Let’s take a closer look at how to make them (full recipe with measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken 

  • In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce, olive oil and jerk seasoning together.
  • Pour over the chicken in a shallow dish and turn to evenly coat. 
  • Allow the chicken to rest while you prep the Pineapple Slaw and Crema (up to 40 minutes at room temperature) or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours then bring to room temperature for before cooking.
showing how to make jerk chicken tacos by marinating chicken with jerk seasoning

Step 2: Prep the Taco Toppings

While the chicken marinates, prep the Pineapple Cabbage Slaw, and Avocado Crema.  These toppings can all be made up to 24 hours in advance, so assemble them at whatever point during the marinade process is best for you! 

  • For the Pineapple Slaw: Simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. 
  • For the Avocado Crema:  Add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth, scraping sides down as needed. 
showing how to make jerk chicken tacos by adding all of the pineapple slaw ingredients to a bowl

Step 3: Cook the chicken

  • You can either grill, bake or pan-sear the Jerk Chicken – all methods result in ultra-juicy, flavorful chicken, but grilling naturally produces the more authentic smoky, barbecued flavor.  I’ve outlined the methods below.   
showing how to make jerk chicken tacos by cooking chicken until charred

Step 4: Chop the Chicken

  • Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. This will make for juicier chicken tacos!   Use this time to warm your tortillas. 
  • Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. 

Step 5: Assemble the Jerk Chicken Tacos 

  • Warm the corn tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat, on the grill (recommended!), or in the microwave. This makes them more pliable and means you can pile them higher with toppings! 
  • Assemble the tacos by layering them with chopped chicken, pineapple slaw, and a drizzle of avocado crema.   
up close of jerk chicken tacos with jerk seasoned chicken

How to Warm Tortillas

I HIGHLY recommend warming your tortillas for the BEST Jerk Chicken Tacos. The warm tortillas become softer, more pliable, the ideal melt-in-your mouth temperature with accentuated flavor. 

You can easily warm your tortillas using any of the outlined methods below. Once your tortillas are warmed, keep them warm and pliable by stacking them on a plate and covering with a slightly dampened, warmed paper towel or in a tortilla warmer. 

  • Open Flame (gas stove or grill):  This method is how I achieve the smoky char you see on the tortillas and is best with FRESH/homemade tortillas.  I simply add the tortillas directly to the burner of my gas stove then flip with tongs once they are charred on one side.  You can also accomplish this on the grill. If you are using lower quality corn tortillas, you will want to take special care not to over-char or they will become brittle and break.  You still want the tortillas soft and pliable. 
  • Skillet:  Heat a skillet (or griddle if you have one) to medium high heat (do not grease).  Working with one tortilla at a time (more for a griddle), heat each side of the tortilla for approximately 20 seconds until warm and soft.  You are not looking for char marks with this method.
  • Microwave:  Working with about 5-7 tortillas at a time, stack tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave for 20 seconds on high, then repeat at 10 second intervals if needed until warmed through.
  • Oven:  Create separate stacks of about 5 tortillas each, then wrap each stack in foil.   Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through (you can bake all stacks at once).
top view of jerk chicken tacos on a plate with avocado crema
picking up jerk chicken tacos with pineapple slaw

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up close of jerk chicken tacos with jerk seasoned chicken

Jerk Chicken Tacos

These Jerk Chicken Tacos are the tacos of your tropical dreams loaded with juicy, aromatic, earthy, sweet, smoky, spicy Jerk Chicken and sweet and crunchy pineapple slaw, drizzled with silky avocado jerk crema all cocooned in a warm corn tortilla. They are easy to make with a quick chicken wet rub while you prep the toppings, or they are entirely prep ahead friendly for a dinner that comes together in minutes.  Pair them with Coconut Rice and Pina Colada Fruit Salad for a complete tropical feast!
Servings: 10 -12 tacos
Total Time: 55 mins
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

CHICKEN

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts or thighs pounded to an even thickness
  • 10-12 corn tortillas like La Tortilla Factory

WET RUB MARIANDE

PINEAPPLE SLAW

  • 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon jerk seasoning <<<click for recipe

AVOCADO JERK CREMA

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons jerk seasoning <<<click for recipe
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Jerk Seasoniong: Whisk all of the seasonings together in a medium bowl. (You will not use all of them for this recipe.)
  • Marinate Chicken: Line the chicken in a single layer in a snug dish. In a small bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together then pour over the chicken. Turn the chicken to evenly coat. Allow the chicken to marinate while you prep the Pineapple Slaw and Crema (up to 40 minutes at room temperature) or cover and refrigerate up to 12 hours, then bring to room temperature for before cooking.
  • Avocado Jerk Crema: Add all of the ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the crema and refrigerate.
  • Pineapple Slaw: Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

TO GRILL CHICKEN (See Notes for Options)

  • Preheat grill to 400 degrees F with the lid closed, clean and grease grates.
  • Grill chicken undisturbed with the lid closed for 5-7 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through. (Cook to 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, then allow to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165 degrees F.)

ASSEMBLE TACOS

  • Chop jerk chicken into bite size pieces.
  • Warm tortillas in the microwave, in a skillet or char on the grill or open gas stovetop flame until warm but still pliable (detailed instructions in notes).
  • Assemble tacos by layering warmed corn tortillas with chicken, slaw and drizzling with avocado jerk crema.

Video

Notes

TO COOK CHICKEN ON THE STOVE:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until deeply golden on one side.
  2. Flip chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked to 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, then allowed to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165 degrees F.

TO BAKE CHICKEN IN THE OVEN:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add chicken in a single layer to a lightly greased baking dish.
  2. Bake the chicken for 14 to 16 minutes (for small/medium breasts that are about 5-6 ounces), 16 to 20 minutes (for medium/large breasts that are 7 to 9 ounces), or 20 to 25 minutes (for larger breasts). Cook to 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, then allowed to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165 degrees F.
  3. How to Warm Tortillas
You can easily warm your tortillas using any of the outlined methods below. Once your tortillas are warmed, keep them warm and pliable by stacking them on a plate and covering with a slightly dampened, warmed paper towel or in a tortilla warmer. 
  • Open Flame (gas stove or grill):  This method is how I achieve the smoky char you see on the tortillas and is best with FRESH/homemade tortillas.  I simply add the tortillas directly to the burner of my gas stove then flip with tongs once they are charred on one side.  You can also accomplish this on the grill. If you are using lower quality corn tortillas, you will want to take special care not to over-char or they will become brittle and break.  You still want the tortillas soft and pliable. 
  • Skillet:  Heat a skillet (or griddle if you have one) to medium high heat (do not grease).  Working with one tortilla at a time (more for a griddle), heat each side of the tortilla for approximately 20 seconds until warm and soft.  You are not looking for char marks with this method.
  • Microwave:  Working with about 5-7 tortillas at a time, stack tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave for 20 seconds on high, then repeat at 10 second intervals if needed until warmed through.
  • Oven:  Create separate stacks of about 5 tortillas each, then wrap each stack in foil.   Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through (you can bake all stacks at once).

Storage

Store the toppings, tortillas, and cooked chicken in separate containers to preserve their textures. Cooked chicken can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, the slaw for up to 3 days (drain excess juices), and the crema for up to 3 days. To store the crema, press plastic wrap directly against its surface to prevent oxidation (will prevent it from turning brown).  Keep the tortillas in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Meal Prep

  • Jerk Seasoning: Can be whisked together and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 years.
  • Marinade: Can be blended together and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days without the chicken.  
  • Chicken: Can be left to soak in the marinade for up to 12 hours. Cooked Jerk Chicken will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Pineapple Slaw: Can be assembled up to 2 days in advance, noting that the cabbage will soften over time.   Drain of some of the juice before using.
  • Avocado crema: Can be made up to 24 hours in advance.  Make sure to press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the crema to prevent oxidation (from turning brown).

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2 Comments

  1. Melissa says

    These were really good! I made as instructed, using purchased jerk seasoning.and added some feta cheese to the finished product. I like them for a couple of reasons. The taste: The sweet pineapple in the slaw contrasts with the jerk spice and the creaminess of the crema. They’re also very work from home, weeknight dinner-friendly. Each component has only a few ingredients and can be put together quickly. I started the marinade before work, threw the pineapple slaw together at lunch, so the flavors had time to combine, and made the crema when the grill was heating up. Served with some coconut rice and corn on the cob. Yum!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Melissa, your whole meal sounds delicious! I’m so pleased you found these tacos delicious and easy to make!

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