What’s A Good Jerk Seasoning Substitute?

The famous Jamaican jerk seasoning can turn many a cut of meat and Caribbean meal into something exotic, flavorful, and no doubt spicy. Though, while it’s easy to find at most grocery stores, it’s not for most people a seasoning that’s a no-brainer for the basic spice rack essentials. So where do you turn if a recipe calls for this delicious spice mix? What’s a good jerk seasoning substitute that you can turn to if you want to stay authentic to the dish? Let’s examine your best option.

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Your best bet: Make it yourself

That’s right. You can craft up your own Jamaican jerk seasoning pretty easily. For all its exotic flavor and bold-sounding name, this spice mix can be crafted through a reasonably stocked spice rack.

While recipes vary, you’ll recognize everything here from our PepperScale Jamaican jerk seasoning recipe: brown sugar, allspice, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and ginger. See the recipe for the portions.

In a pinch: Get as close to our recipe as you can…

As mentioned, this is one unique spice mix. Finding a pre-made alternative to jerk seasoning that’s a viable substitute is near impossible. So, if you don’t have all of the ingredients needed to make a homemade jerk mix, pull together what you have and come as close as you can.

Brown sugar is the base of this seasoning, so if you have that there are plenty of ways to come close.

The goal is to get a bold exotic flavor (from the likes of allspice, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon) mixed with a bit of sizzle (provided by cayenne pepper powder or another fiery ground chili) and earthiness (from cumin, thyme, salt, and pepper). Any combo based off of these three flavor priorities can create a viable substitute for jerk seasoning in a pinch.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on December 9, 2022 to include new content.
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