What to Serve with Jerk Chicken?

I have been thinking about getting the grill ready for summer. I’m happy to make all my family’s usual favorites, but lately, with two of my kids taking culinary classes, we have been trying to broaden our horizons.

So, we have turned our attention to jerk chicken. We love spicy foods and trying new things, so making this Jamaican favorite with some cooling side dishes seems only natural. 

Rice and beans are a traditional pairing, but you may want to lighten it up with fruit like grilled pineapple, mango salsa, or fried plantain. Collard greens, steamed broccoli, and coleslaw bring some color and variety to the dish. Of course, potato salad, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yucca fries also make great additions to the chicken.

And for the kiddos, offer up some macaroni and cheese. It will ease them into trying some new foods.

We have collected ideas for side dishes to go with your jerk chicken. Try some vegetables, rice, bread, and fruits as sides.

There are also serving suggestions for jerk taco toppings, skewer sides and options for jerk chicken wraps.

What is Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken is a sweet, spicy, and smoky Jamaican favorite.

Everyone has their own take on how to make the perfect jerk chicken, but it is essentially chicken that is marinated in spices and chiles and then grilled to perfection.

Naturally, the marinade has other ingredients that vary depending on the chef. Whichever recipe you choose, you need side dishes that complement the flavor of the chicken.

Vegetables to Serve with Jerk Chicken

1. Sweet Potato

You may notice that we recommend several sides that have a bit of sweetness. This is because sweetness pairs well with the spiciness of jerk seasoning. 

The natural sweetness of sweet potato can shine through whether you serve it mashed, baked, roasted, or as fries.

There’s no need to add more sweetener or marshmallows, but that is always an option.

2. Collard Greens

Almost everyone needs more leafy greens in their diet, and adding collard greens to your jerk chicken dinner will do just that.

Collard greens have a subtle flavor that blends well with the seasoning for jerk chicken without competing with it.

3. Zucchini

Green vegetables are not only good for you, but they are also beautiful on the plate. Zucchini is a fan favorite at our house no matter how we prepare it.

If your grill is already hot, split the zucchini longways into quarters.

Coat it with olive oil and season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Grill the zucchini for about 10 minutes just before your serve dinner.

Salad to Serve with Jerk Chicken

Salads are a great way to add a variety of vegetables to a meal.

And since they are endlessly customizable, you are sure to find a salad that you like to serve with your jerk chicken.

4. Potato Salad

If you have grilled up some jerk chicken legs for the backyard barbecue, then potato salad is a natural side dish.

Potato Salad

It is creamy and rich with just a little tang and will set off the flavor of jerk chicken nicely. Try adding bacon, onion, or dill pickles for some crunch.

5. Caribbean Couscous Salad

This delightful cold salad can be made in advance and is a tasty and cool addition to your jerk chicken picnic.

Use Israeli pearl couscous and prepare it according to the package.

Then add diced mango, sweet corn, diced red bell pepper, diced jalapeno, scallions, and some Jamaican jerk marinade. Keep it in the fridge until you are ready to serve. 

6. Cucumber Salad

Make this light yet tangy cucumber salad for a bright summery salad to support your jerk chicken.

Combine sliced cucumber and red onion with a dressing made from apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. Keep it chilled until you are ready to serve this tasty treat.

Rice to Serve with Jerk Chicken

Rice is a traditional side dish to serve with jerk chicken.

Whether you make rice and peas or a bowl of refreshing coconut rice, your spicy jerk chicken will shine along with this filling side dish.

7. Coconut Rice

Try making your white rice with a combination of coconut milk and water for a fluffy side for your jerk chicken.

Follow this recipe to get just the right amount of milk and water and avoid a sticky mess.

8. Red Beans and Rice

Soak your red beans overnight, then slowly cook them with onion, bell pepper, celery, tomato paste, garlic, and cajun seasoning.

Add in your rice and chicken stock and simmer away until the rice is done.

This Louisiana-style dish will work well with Jamaican jerk chicken by adding deep flavors, and you can adjust the spiciness to suit your taste.

Red beans and rice usually has some sausage in it as well. Feel free to leave it in the recipe with the jerk chicken for a Cajun Jamaican fusion dish. 

9. Jamaican Rice and Peas

Jamaican Rice and Peas is an authentic side for jerk chicken.

The dish uses kidney beans (not peas), coconut milk, jerk seasoning, scotch bonnet pepper, onion, garlic, allspice, thyme, salt, and pepper.

For milder flavored rice, carefully remove the seeds from the scotch bonnet peppers or use a milder pepper like a jalapeno.  

Beans to Serve with Jerk Chicken

Any kind of beans are good with jerk chicken. Kidney beans are commonly mixed with rice in Jamaican dishes but try your family favorites.

10. Pigeon Peas

Make up some stewed pigeon peas with brown sugar, coconut milk, and chopped pumpkin.

It’s sure to delight your tastebuds and offer a contrast to your spicy jerk chicken.

11. Black Beans

Cook up a pot of black beans and season them with garlic, onion, and bell peppers. Top it off with avocado just before serving to tie it into your jerk chicken.

12. Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn salad is a cold dish with a little kick that tastes like summer. It is super easy to make ahead so you have time to pay attention to your grill when you cook the jerk chicken.

Simply combine drained and rinsed black beans, corn kernels, chopped red onion, chopped jalapeno, and chopped red bell pepper with a dressing made from cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, honey, chili powder, and cumin.

Top the salad with some avocado right before you serve it for some added freshness.

Bread with Jerk Chicken

You may have jerk chicken with rice and beans in a kind of hearty stew, as a grilled piece of chicken with the bone in, or as shredded chicken in a rich sauce.

However you eat it, you will want some bread to soak up any extra sauce so you get every last delicious bite.

13. Hard Dough (Hardo) Bread

This dense slightly sweet bread is common in Jamaica and is the perfect accompaniment to jerk chicken. Despite the name, it is not hard at all.

It is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Hard dough bread is dense enough to make a great jerk chicken sandwich with a slice of pineapple and a scoop of coleslaw.

If you are having jerk chicken with rice and peas, use a slice to scoop up any leftover bits that remain in the bowl.

14. Coco Bread

Another slightly sweet bread that is popular in Jamaica and is delicious with jerk chicken is coco bread.

It has a similar texture to American dinner rolls. The most notable difference is that it is made with coconut milk.

This bread is often made in a folded half mood shape that can easily be opened and used for a sandwich. Make some the next day to eat up the leftovers from your dinner the day before.

15. Hawaiian Rolls

You may want a store-bought bread rather than making your own.

If so, go for the King’s Hawaiian rolls for the tender sweetness that will offset your spicy jerk chicken.

Sauce to Serve with Jerk Chicken

When you make jerk chicken, you are already marinating it for up to a day in the jerk chicken marinade, so it should be fully flavorful and moist.

However, grilling can cry out foods, especially low-fat meats like chicken, so having an extra sauce on hand to add more moisture is a good plan.

Also, you may want to have a sauce that is cool and sweet as a contrast to the spicy jerk chicken.

16. Cilantro Lime Sauce

If you are making tacos, wraps, or sandwiches with your jerk chicken, you may want to whip up some cilantro lime sauce to finish it off.

This cool, creamy sauce is a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the jerk chicken.

Simply combine sour cream, chopped cilantro, lime juice, honey salt, and a little cayenne pepper. Mix well and keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve.

17. Honey Lime Sauce

The rich spices in jerk chicken cry out for something cool and sweet to balance it out.

This honey lime dipping sauce combines sour cream, lime zest, and local honey to create a refreshing sauce as unique as you are.

18. Walkerswood Hot & Spicy Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Whether you are in a hurry, or the thought of making a sauce from scotch bonnet peppers is intimidating, you can buy a good pre-made bottle of jerk seasoning.

This sauce is made in Jamaica with locally grown ingredients. They also have a mild version if you want the flavor without the heat.

Low Carb Sides for Jerk Chicken

19. Steamed Broccoli

Steaming fresh broccoli is quick and easy. It also helps preserve all the nutrients in the vegetable and adds a splash of color to your jerk chicken dinner. 

20. Caribbean Salad With Honey Lime Dressing

This salad has a little bit of everything in it. Choose your favorite greens and add pineapple, mandarin orange segments, dried cranberries, chopped cilantro, green onions, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and drained and rinsed black beans.

Mix up a jar of dressing with honey, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and a pinch of salt.

Then you can top it off with your jerk chicken for an all-in-one low-calorie delicious meal.

21. Cauliflower Rice

If you are trying to stick to healthy low-carb eating but still want the deliciousness of jerk chicken with rice and peas, try substituting cauliflower rice for regular rice.

You will get more nutrients and fewer carbs than a bowl of rice. And you can add the same seasonings, like cilantro and lime or coconut milk and jerk seasoning.

What to Serve with Jerk Chicken Tacos

22. Mango Salsa

Mango, jalapeno, avocado onion, cumin.

Sweet salsa with just a bit of spiciness adds texture and cools some of the bite of the chiles in your jerk chicken tacos.

23. Maque Choux

Maque Choux is a warm Cajun side dish that combines corn, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, bacon, and heavy cream.

Make up this delicious dish and use it as a topping for jerk chicken tacos. You’ll get all the flavors and textures that make up a good taco in one bite.

24. Jicama Slaw

As long as you are making tacos, you might as well make the fusion between Jamaica and Mexico even stronger.

Top your jerk chicken tacos with jicama slaw. Make this zesty slaw from julienned jicama, red cabbage, red bell pepper, and a vinegar-honey dressing.

What to Serve with Jerk Chicken Wings

Whether you are grilling jerk chicken wings for frying the wings, then tossing them in a jerk chicken sauce, you will want a cool, crunchy vegetable dish to add interest to the meal.

25. Coleslaw

Chicken wings are a party food favorite and you can take yours to another level by making jerk chicken wings.

Coleslaw

You’ll need a contrasting flavor to cool off the heat, so give some coleslaw a try.

Fresh, crisp cabbage and carrots, topped with tangy mayo will give your tastebuds a break from the jerk chicken heat.

26. Grilled Corn on the Cob

As long as you have the grill hot, you should prepare a vegetable on it. Try grilling some corn.

Peel back the husks and remove the corn silks then soak the corn for a couple of hours before grilling.

Grill the corn inside the husk for a smoky flavor or remove the husk if you want to blacken the corn. Keep it simple and serve with butter, salt, and pepper.

27. French Fries

Though it may seem obvious, french fries are the perfect accompaniment to chicken wings. You can make them in the air fryer for a healthier version.

However you make them, you can enjoy your fries with one of the many potential sauces you eat with jerk chicken: honey lime sauce, cilantro lime sauce, extra jerk chicken sauce, and of course, ketchup.

What to Serve with Jerk Chicken Skewers

You may prefer dealing with boneless chicken for the convenience factor.

Cut the chicken into cubes, spear it onto soaked bamboo skewers, then marinate it in your jerk chicken marinate.

Cook your chicken on the grill (or the indoor griddle) for some easy-to-eat backyard party food.

28. Grilled Pineapple

As long as you have the grill on for the skewers, take a moment to grill some slices of fresh pineapple.

Spread a glaze made of butter and brown sugar on the pineapple slices and grill them until the sugar caramelizes.

The sweetness and citrusy flavors contrast with the smoky spiciness of jerk chicken.

29. Yucca Fries

Yucca is also called cassava and manioc depending on where you live. You can make some seasoned yucca fries in your air fryer.

Soak them boil the yucca fries first, then add your favorite seasonings and air fry for about 15 minutes at 380 degrees.

30. Macaroni and Cheese

If your kiddos are not as excited as they should be by beans and rice (one of my teens still turns up her nose at it) make up a pot of macaroni and cheese.

Top it off with a skewer of jerk chicken and vegetables.

The novelty of food on a stick will encourage them to dig into their veggies and chicken, and the familiarity of mac and cheese will ease their troubles.

What to Serve with Jerk Chicken Wraps

A great way to use up leftover jerk chicken (if you have any leftovers) is to chop or shred the chicken, then make up some flatbread wraps.

Use any leftover potato salad or coleslaw as a topping for the wrap, then make some fresh sides to stretch the meal.

31. Plantains

Plantains are a relative of the banana, but they are not as sweet.

Make up some fresh plantain chips by slicing the plantains then sauteing or deep-frying these fruits for a soft and mildly sweet contrast to jerk chicken.

32. Roasted Potatoes

Cut up some Yukon gold or russet potatoes into bite-sized pieces, coat them with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven until they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

You will love the way potatoes help neutralize the spiciness of the chiles in jerk chicken while still adding flavor.

33. Fresh Fruit / Fruit Salad

A platter full of freshly sliced fruits or a fruit salad is always a popular side dish. It is simple to prepare and can be as familiar as some grapes and apples or you can try mango and papaya for more exotic treats.

Final Thoughts

Spicy, smoky jerk chicken is delicious in many recipes and with all kinds of side dishes. Try a traditional rice and peas recipe with a side of hard dough bread or coco bread.

Fresh fruit salad, grilled pineapple, fried plantain chips, or mango salsa add refreshing sweetness to contrast with the spicy jerk chicken seasoning.

Potatoes work well as a side for jerk chicken due to their neutrality. Try them roasted or in potato salad.

Sweet potatoes are a wonderful side as well whether you roast, bake, or mash them.

Finally, try coleslaw, corn salads, steamed veggies, or a variety of beans to round out your jerk chicken adventures.

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