Jerk Chicken Tacos {Slow Cooker Recipe!}

I think we all deserve a Caribbean vacation right about now, and these Jerk Chicken Tacos with Pineapple are here to help us escape to the tropics!

Jerk chicken tacos on a plate

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I’m longing for warm sands and island eats.

Since jumping on the next plane south isn’t in the realm of immediate possibility, I’m satiating my taste for the tropics with today’s Caribbean-inspired recipe for jerk chicken tacos.

“Jerk” cooking refers to a style of cooking in which the meat (usually chicken) is rubbed in a spice mixture, then slow-cooked over a wood and charcoal fire or grill. It’s popular throughout the Caribbean.

Jerk chicken is spicy, sweet, aromatic, and super juicy. It keeps you coming back for more.

Shredded chicken and pineapple in a bowl

Both the spices and the cooking style are what makes jerk chicken jerk.

The spices in Jamaican jerk seasoning are all spice, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, chile, and more. In traditional recipes, the spices are usually toasted whole, then ground.

Because we need a beach escape—and dinner—ASAP, I’ve taken the essential flavors of jerk chicken and and adapted them to create an accessible, slow cooker jerk chicken recipe that’s perfect for weeknight dinner.

5 Star Review

“Just tried this, and I am not often moved to leave comments for recipes, but it is REALLY good! Very interesting combination of flavors.”

— Yum —

How to Make Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Tacos

To make the crockpot jerk chicken recipe, I simply placed chicken thighs in my slower cooker, gave them a massage with the spice mix, then scattered the other ingredients over the top.  

No pre-cooking of any ingredient is required—the slow cooker does all the work.

This chicken boasts the bold, vacation-worthy flavors you’ve been craving!

What is Jerk Sauce Made of?

Traditionally, jerk sauce is made of ingredients like allspice berries, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, green onions, and fresh ginger.

As with this Jamaican Curry Chicken recipe, I swapped out the whole spices for ground and traded the Scotch bonnet peppers for jalapeños, which are a bit milder and easier to find, too.

The Ingredients

  • Chicken Thighs. I picked juicy chicken thighs over breasts, as they have more inherent flavor and can withstand hours in the slow cooker without becoming dry. Plus, chicken thighs are packed with protein and vitamins.
  • Spices. Thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger star. The contrast of warming spices with the savoriness of the thyme, the heat of the peppers, and the sweetness of the pineapple is straight-up addictive.
  • Jalapeños. Gives the chicken heat without making it overly spicy.
  • Pineapple Chunks. The canned pineapple chunks are this cook’s exercise of her kitchen liberty. Pineapple isn’t traditional to jerk chicken, but I love the way its sweet flavor contrasts with the warm spices, as well as its tropical flair. Plus, the pineapple juice doubles as a cooking liquid for the chicken.
  • White Vinegar. Adds acidity and helps tenderize the chicken during cooking.
  • Tortillas. We love piling our jerk chicken into scrumptious corn tortillas.
  • Toppings. To create a variation on jerk chicken tacos with slaw, I added a bit of red cabbage on top of our tacos. I also topped them with lime juice and non-traditional but unquestionably scrumptious feta cheese.

The Directions

Spices in a bowl
  1. Stir the jerk spices together in a bowl.
Sauce in a bowl
  1. Add the olive oil, mixing to form a paste.
Jerk chicken in a slow cooker for tacos
  1. Lay the chicken thighs in a slow cooker, coating them with the paste. Add the white parts of the green onions.
Pineapple being added to a slow cooker
  1. Add the pineapple and vinegar.
Ingredients in a slow cooker
  1. Add the jalapeños and garlic. Cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours.
Shredded chicken in a bowl
  1. Shred the chicken. Remove the pineapple with a slotted spoon.
Sauce in a pot
  1. Thicken the cooking liquid on the stove.
Shredded chicken and pineapple in a pan
  1. Stir in the chicken and pineapple. DIG IN!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover jerk chicken filling in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm chicken in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze jerk chicken in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
A plate of jerk chicken tacos with lime

Leftover Ideas

Leftover jerk chicken is delicious served over beans and rice. Take a note from this Instant Pot Chicken Enchiladas recipe and add the shredded jerk chicken to an enchilada. Or keep things fresh with new and exciting topping ideas. (Jerk chicken tacos with mango salsa or jerk chicken tacos with pineapple salsa would be scrumptious!)

What to Serve with Jerk Chicken Tacos

Here are some delicious ideas for jerk chicken tacos sides:

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