This easy jerk chicken recipe with pasta is gluten free, dairy free, protein packed and loaded with fresh veggies and flavour. It’s a one pan meal your whole family will love!
I have had exactly one all inclusive experience – to Jamaica – and even though there were a dozen different restaurants, all serving a variety of foods all day and night, the only thing I ever wanted to eat was Jerk Chicken. I mean, when in Jamaica, right? While I do not want to claim this is authentic Jerk Chicken (it does rely on store-bought seasoning), this easy jerk chicken pasta combines the flavours of the Caribbean with lots of fresh veggies, gluten free chickpea pasta and lean chicken breast – all in one pan! Who doesn’t love that?
Why This Recipe Works
According to good ol’ wikipedia, jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica where meat (usually pork, chicken or goat) is rubbed with a dry or wet spicy marinade then grilled.
Traditionally the characteristic flavours are allspice and scotch bonnet peppers. Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, thyme, nutmeg, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and salt. It’s super flavourful, spicy and really, nothing tastes quite like it.
Chicken Breast– Yes, you could make this vegetarian and use tofu, but of course, jerk is traditional on chicken. You could also use chicken thighs if you prefer, but I wanted to keep this light and lean.
Jerk Seasoning– You can make your own but of course, to make this simple, fast and easy, you can also buy them in the store. They do, however, differ quite a bit I have learned so see my notes below on the jerk seasoning.
Bell Peppers– I love a lot of colour in my pasta, so adding in red, yellow and green pepper adds fibre and colour!
Coconut milk– I prefer to use full fat canned coconut milk but to lighten it up, you can use light (it just won’t be as creamy). If you want it to be super decadent, use just the cream, and if you don’t have coconut milk on hand, try a good quality almond, or cashew milk.
Chicken Broth – This helps loosen up the sauce a bit but you could also use veggie broth in a pinch.
Pasta– I like using chickpea pasta which has about twice the protein and fibre of traditional pasta, and it’s naturally gluten free. But you can use whatever short cut pasta you like.
Spinach and tomatoes– Any time I can sneak in some extra veggies I’m a happy girl! Feel free to skip this if you want, or use your favourite fresh or frozen greens!
How to Make this Recipe
Step 1: Rub the 2 tablespoons of jerk seasoning all over your chicken breasts. Add chicken to a pan and allow to cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Add the onion and sliced peppers to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: Add celery and saute until the veggies are tender.
Step 4: Add the rest of the jerk seasoning, half of the tomatoes, coconut milk and broth. Stir together until the coconut milk begins to bubble.
Step 5: Add the pasta, spinach, and sliced jerk chicken to the pan and stir together.
Jerk seasoning can vary dramatically based on brand or recipe in terms of flavoring, saltiness and heat varies. You will want to play around to find a store-bought one you like, but for a quick homemade version you can assemble in batch that you can keep on hand for months, I love this jerk seasoning by Jo Cooks.
If you’re using chickpea pasta, expect it to foam a bit and I suggest taking it out 2 minutes before the box says. Strain the pasta but never rinse it – simply add it to the pan with the veggies and sauce. The residual starch on the pasta will help further thicken the sauce and also will help the sauce stick to the noodles.
If your pasta isn’t creamy enough or starts to look a little dry, you can add more broth or milk about 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. This also is helpful if you are rewarming the pasta the next day as the starch will thicken the sauce considerably.
This pasta is great for meal prep and batch prepping for the week. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days, or you can freeze it for up to 4 months. For reheating leftovers out of the fridge, add a tablespoon or two of extra liquid (broth or coconut milk), cover it with a damp paper towel in a microwave safe dish, and reheat on 50% heat in a microwave. This will keep the pasta tender without drying out the dish. You can do the same thing after thawing in the fridge after it being in the freezer.
Here are some commonly asked questions about this recipe.
It could be, depending on your jerk seasoning and your kid’s tolerance. If you make your own jerk seasoning, simply omit the scotch bonnet peppers.
If you use a gluten free pasta like chickpea pasta, it is completely gluten free.
Yes, if you use coconut milk and avocado oil, there is no dairy in this meal. It is not, however, vegan, but see my tip on making it vegan below.
This recipe is delicious made with pan-fried tofu or tempeh instead of chicken. Try it out and let me know what you think!
More Easy Pasta Dinner Recipes
If you liked this easy jerk chicken recipe, you might enjoy some of other easy pasta recipes on the blog!
- Mexican Pasta Casserole (Vegan)
- Easy Vegan Minestrone Skillet Pasta (Vegan, Gluten Free)
- Easy Pasta Bake with Sausage, White Bean & Kale (Vegan)
Do you love jerk chicken? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!
Easy Jerk Chicken Recipe with Pasta (Gluten & Dairy Free)
- 1 lb. Chicken Breast thinly sliced and pounded to ¼” thickness
- 2 Tbsp. Jerk Seasoning see above for the seasoning I used
- 1.5 Tbsp. Avocado Oil
- 2-3 Tbsp. Broth or Water as needed
- 1 small Onion sliced (about ½ cup)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper sliced
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper sliced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper sliced
- ⅔ cup sliced Celery
- 1-2 Tbsp. Jerk Seasoning to taste
- ⅔ cup Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 cup canned Coconut Milk
- ¼-⅓ cup Chicken Broth
- 10 oz. Chickpea Pasta
- 1.5 cups Baby Spinach
- 3 Tbsp. sliced Green Onion
- Fresh Parsley or Cilantro to garnish
- Rub the 2 tablespoons of jerk seasoning all over your chicken breasts (add ½ teaspoon of salt to the seasoning blend if your blend is salt-free).
- Heat the avocado oil in a stainless steel pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken to the pan. Allow to cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the bottom of the pan begins to burn, add broth or water 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the chicken from the pan.
- While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare your pasta according to the package instructions. When the pasta is al dente, strain the pasta and set it aside.
- Add the onion and sliced peppers to the pan and saute to bring up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the celery. Saute until the veggies are tender. Add the rest of the jerk seasoning, half of the tomatoes, coconut milk and broth. Stir together until the coconut milk begins to bubble. Add the pasta and spinach to the pan and stir together.
- Slice or dice the chicken and add it to the pan. Gently mix the pasta together until the chicken is warmed and the spinach has wilted. Add the remaining tomatoes to the pan and season with more jerk seasoning or salt to taste. Garnish with sliced green onion and parsley or cilantro and serve.
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.