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5 from 1 vote

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Coconut Rice and Strawberry-Avocado Salsa

Servings 4 to 6 people



  • 1 ½ cups jasmine rice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp coconut (or granulated) sugar
  • ½ tbsp kosher salt


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or dried parsley
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • zest and juice of 1 lime


  • 1 small red onion, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
  • ½ serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces strawberries, finely chopped
  • 1 Haas avocado, ¼-inch cubed
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1 large lime
  • Kosher salt


  • Jasmine Rice —> Any kind of rice will work, just adjust the portion of liquid to rice and cooking time as needed. Brown rice will need more liquid and more time!
  • Coconut milk—> Coconut cream will also work, or omit and cook with all water if you just can’t find coconut milk.
  • Coconut sugar—> Brown sugar, white sugar, or omit!
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs—> Boneless, skinless chicken breasts will also work - grill for just 5 minutes per side. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs will also work - for thighs cook for 20 minutes on the first side, 5 to 10 on the second side. Breasts will take a little less time. Pork tenderloin or chops would also be delicious - 4 minutes per side. Jerk SHRIMP would also be fab - 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  • Jerk Spices—> For the jerk spices, don’t worry about having every single spice. After all, every “jerk spice” blend is different, depending on the way the cook likes it! If you don’t have one or two spices, just omit them, and bump up a couple of the other spices that you do have. It’ll be delicious no matter what!
  • Lime—> Lemons or oranges are a good replacement here. Vinegar won’t be quite the same, but a light colored vinegar like apple cider or rice wine can stand in in a pinch!
  • Red onion—> Any onion will work! Charred scallions or shallot would be wonderful.
  • Serrano/Jalapeño Pepper—> A pinch of red pepper flakes will do the trick if you don’t have a fresh pepper on hand.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil—> Any neutral oil will do the trick instead, but EVOO adds so much flavor!
  • Strawberries—> Pineapple, mango, peaches, nectarines, blueberries - all would be so good here.
  • Avocado—> It’s ok to omit the avocado completely.
  • Cilantro—> 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions. Dill could also be very interesting! Totally different but lovely if you’re a dill person.


  • Start with the coconut rice! Add the rice, coconut milk, water, coconut sugar, and salt to a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 16 to 18 minutes until rice is tender. Stir several times to make sure the coconut milk doesn’t scorch. Remove from heat and let sit until you’re ready to eat, at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. 
  • Place the chicken into a gallon ziplock bag along with the oil, salt, spices, and lime zest and juice. Seal the bag, and shake to coat all of the chicken. 
  • Allow the chicken to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes while you preheat your grill and make the salsa. Note: if you have time to marinate it in the refrigerator overnight, that’s even better! But not necessary to the success of this recipe. 
  • Preheat grill to medium-high.
  • Toss the red onion and jalapeño in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with a big pinch of salt.
  • Place the chicken, red onion slices, and jalapeño on the grill. Note: don’t wash the bowl that the onion and jalapeño were in! You’re going to make your salsa in there and any leftover oil is fine.
  • Now you’ve gotta pay attention! You’re grilling multiple things for different amounts of time. Grill the salsa ingredients for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until quite charred but not burnt! It doesn’t matter if the red onion falls apart, you’re apart to chop it up for the salsa. Remove onion and jalapeño from the grill. Grill the chicken for 6 minutes per side, until the chicken has nice grill marks and is cooked through. Remove from the grill. 
  • Note: if your chicken thighs seem really small and puny, cook for less time! If they seem huge, you might need longer! They can vary so much. If you want to be totally sure, use an internal thermometer and remove from the grill when they hit 160°F (they’ll keep cooking off the heat to reach 165°F).
  • While the chicken is finishing up on the grill, make the salsa. Finely chop the red onion and jalapeño (remove the seeds if you don’t like things spicy!) and place in the big bowl you used already. Squeeze in the lime juice, stir in the strawberries, avocado, cilantro, remaining 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt if desired.
  • Serve chicken over coconut rice with salsa. 


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  • Be sure to stir the rice often, the coconut rice gets really thick and will scorch easily if you don’t! Also, be sure it’s over the lowest heat possible for the creamiest, most perfect rice possible.
Author: Caroline Chambers