Last updated by at .

Jerk Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving

For many Jamaican families in the U.S., the traditional baked turkey will not take center stage at this week’s Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, it will be replaced by jerk roasted turkey.

It started a few years ago. I suspect, because somebody got bored with the traditionally baked turkey and decided to add little kick to it. When you think about it, jerking a turkey makes sense. If you can jerk a chicken, why not jerk a turkey?

Well, that idea has caught on. Several Jamaican restaurants now prepare and sell jerk roasted turkeys on order.

Type ‘jerk turkey’ or ‘jerk roast turkey’ on your computer and the search will return several pages with recipes, how-to information, and videos. You can even buy a jerk roast turkey from Nieman Marcus and jerk turkey from Boars Head.

I’ve never had jerk turkey, mainly because I don’t like turkey.  I’d curious to give it a try but it won’t be this Thanksgiving. I’ve been invited to join a family for dinner and I expect the turkey will be baked and accompanied by the normal Jamaican fare  – curried goat, jerk chicken or pork, escoveitch fish, rice and peas, etc.

If you’d like to try making jerk turkey for your Thanksgiving this year, here’s a recipe I found at

Jerk Roast Turkey

Write a review


  1. ¾ cup olive oil
  2. ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  3. ½ cup chopped scallions
  4. ¼ cup freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  5. 2½ tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  6. ½ tbsp. dried thyme
  7. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  8. ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  9. ½ tsp. ground cloves
  10. ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  11. 1½ tbsp. soy sauce
  12. 6 cloves garlic
  13. 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and chopped
  14. 2" piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  15. 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  16. 1 (12-lb.) turkey
  1. 1. Heat oven to 500˚. Combine ¼ cup oil, sugar, scallions, ¼ cup pepper, 2½ tbsp. salt, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves, juice, sauce, garlic, chiles, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth and set aside. Melt butter and mix with remaining oil; set aside. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Season turkey inside and out with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature.
  2. 2. Transfer turkey to a rack set inside a roasting pan, tuck wings behind turkey and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Brush turkey all over with butter, reserving some for basting. Pour 2 cups water into roasting pan and roast turkey, brushing once with more of the butter, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350˚ and continue roasting, brushing occasionally with butter, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh, without touching the bone, reads 150˚, about 2 hours. Remove turkey from oven and baste completely with reserved sauce. Place back in oven and continue to cook until internal temperature reaches 165°, about 20 to 25 minutes more. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, and let sit for 30 minutes before carving; serve with lime wedges if you like.
Adapted from Saveur
Adapted from Saveur

Nigel Spence, one of my favorite Jamaican chefs, does a deep fry jerk turkey and has created this video demonstration for how to make it. Chef Nigel owns a restaurant, Ripe, in Mount Vernon, where he makes and sells his jerk turkey. Deep frying a turkey is best left to professionals or cooks with a lot of experience.

How to join the #FoodieTuesday linkup –

  • Add the link to your foodie post in the link tool at the bottom of this post
  • Leave a comment.
  • As a courtesy, please include a link back to this post.
  • Tweet, G+, Like, etc., using the hashtag #FoodieTuesday


Happy Thanksgiving!

 Loading InLinkz ...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrated primarily in the U.S. and Canada, Thanksgiving is a day set aside to give thanks. In the US, it’s celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November; in Canada, the second Monday in October.

As with all celebrations, food figures prominently, more specifically, turkey with stuffing, accompanied by cranberry relish, macaroni and cheese, string beans, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin or pecan pie. We’re not big fans of turkey, so in our house, we usually serve some of our favorites: fish, seafood, pork, mutton.

Unfortunately, I have no photos of past meals, but I do have several of meals I’ve had during my travels. Some were in restaurants, others were at friends’ homes.

So in observance of the holiday in the U.S., please enjoy this selection.

Meals from My Travels – Happy Thanksgiving!


Tortillas, Toronto
crab cake and salad
Crab cake with salad, Toronto
Seafood meal
Seafood, Toronto

Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Food is an integral part of our lives. And on Thanksgiving, we give thanks with one of the biggest feasts of the year.

Thanksgiving isn’t an official holiday in Jamaica though some Jamaicans who’ve returned home have brought the tradition with them. What we have that’s similar is harvest. At the harvest, members bring produce to their church to receive a blessing from the priest.

Honey bananas
Honey bananas

These bananas are called honey, because they’re naturally sweet, sweeter than regular bananas. They are also smaller than average bananas, probably a half or two-thirds in size, and are quite popular in Jamaica. Honey bananas sell fast despite the fact that they’re usually more expensive than regular bananas.

Green bananas
Green bananas

These bananas are called green to differentiate them from the yellow ones, which most people are familiar with. Green bananas are boiled and often eaten with steamed fish, ackee and salt fish or other meats. It’s also used to make porridge, dumplings or put in mannish water soup, a soup that is made from the head and intestines and other parts of the goat. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac.


We picked these avocados at the home of one of my cousins. Since they weren’t quite rips, we wrapped them in newspaper to speed up the process.


The breadfruit was brought to Jamaica by Captain William Bligh between 1780 and 1786. Roasted, it is is the perfect accompaniment to ackee and salt fish, our national dish. It can also be eaten boiled, fried, used in soups, and made into chips. For roasting, I prefer them a little ripe or turned. They are a little sweeter and softer. In soups, I prefer them what we call, young, meaning not ripe. Breadfruit can also be referred to as full, ready.


The main ingredient in ackee and salt fish, our national dish, ackee was brought to Jamaica from West Africa. It’s ackee season now and the trees are laden with fruit. Ackees contain a poisonous gas and must be opened before they are picked.

Jamaican cooks and chefs have been experimenting with how they prepare ackee. Moving away from the traditional marriage with salt fish, ackees can be curried, or used in bruschetta and cheesecake.

A basket of food
A basket of food

A bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables and produce. Happy Thanksgiving!