Skip to Content

Jerk Chicken Drumsticks | Baked or Air Fried

Jerk chicken drumsticks, my take on a Jamaican favourite that sees drummers marinated in a fragrant and spicy paste, then baked or air fried.

Marinade time aside, this spicy drummer recipe takes just 40 minutes to cook and all of it is spent with your feet up!

Close up Jamaican jerk chicken drumstick with green onions.

Easy Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

Gimme a bit of spice and I am a very happy chap, and these easy jerk chicken drumsticks certainly pack a punch of spice.

It ain’t just heat either the heat of scotch bonnet peppers are complemented by a host of fragrant spices. Allspice, cloves and mace are joined by thyme and cinnamon to create a classic Jerk base.

A base that appears in everything from my jerk chicken burgers to jerk salmon, it also shares many flavours with classic Jamaican curry goat.

But like so many of my recipes, these spicy drummers feature a couple of very definite Krumpli twists.

Rather than using brown sugar to add a touch of sweetness I use treacle or molasses. This gives the crust a bittersweet edge, which is perfect with the fruity sweet flavour of scotch bonnet peppers.

I also replace the much more typical lime juice with malt vinegar.

A delicious, vinegar that has an almost caramel back note, which for me makes it the perfect addition to jerk flavours.

One that is not particularly unusual in Jamaican cuisine, it is a common ingredient in escovitch fish.

If you are looking for some slightly less spicy chicken drumstick recipes, check out my sticky chicken drumsticks with a cherry and balsamic glaze, or my beer and honey BBQ chicken drumsticks.

Overhead Jamaican jerk chicken drummers with potato wedges and mango salsa.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Scotch Bonnet Chilli Peppers?

Scotch bonnets are a pepper commonly associated with Caribbean food. They are fiercely hot and have a fruity, almost sweet flavour.

Can I use other types of chilli?

Yes of course! I always recommend that you use a chilli type that you both like and can cope with.

Scotch bonnet peppers have a similar heat level to habanero, so if you are struggling to find them, these are a reasonable substitution.

If you want to swap them because you find them too hot then drop down the scale. The next level down for me would be Thai birds eye, then the next level down would be cayenne peppers.

If you really want mild then use jalapeno peppers.

Do I really have to leave the marinade on so long?

No, but if you really want the full effect then you need to marinate for at least 4 hours. Overnight is even better!

Can I make these in advance?

Yes, although I would serve them cold rather than trying to reheat them because they will dry out. But the flavours work do wonderfully when eaten cool.

Jamaican jerk chicken drumsticks with green onions.

Serving Suggestions

These jerk chicken drumsticks have a fierce heat and I like to serve them with sides that soothe that.

Here I have served them with some simple air fryer potato wedges and a mango salsa that I lifted from my glorious jerk chicken burger. A pineapple salsa would work wonderfully too!

If you wanted to stick with the Caribbean vibe you could add rice and peas on the side.

Although I personally favour finger food as a side for these spicy chicken drummers.

As a result, I would be more likely to recommend something like sweet potato fries or plantain chips.

Jamaican jerk chicken drummers served with mango salsa and potato wedges.

Equipment Used

I only mention specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Oven or air fryer.
  • Baking tray if you are using the oven.
  • Mini blender.
  • Bag or another item to marinade the chicken.
  • Knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Measuring spoons.
  • Quick read meat thermometer. This is optional but I swear by mine!
Jamaican jerk chicken drumsticks served with mango salsa.
Yield: 2 Servings

Jerk Chicken Drumsticks Recipe | Baked or Air Fried

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 50 minutes

These jerk chicken drumsticks are a wonderfully spicy munch rocking the flavours scotch bonnet chilli peppers, allspice, cloves and thyme and I love 'em!


  • 6 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet Chilli Peppers
  • 2 Spring Onions
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 15g (½ Thumb Sized Piece) Ginger
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cloves
  • ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1 Tsp Thyme Leaves
  • 1 Blade of Mace
  • 1 Tbsp Black Treacle, Substitute for molasses
  • 1 Tbsp Malt Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Ground Black Pepper


  1. Cut 4 X 1cm (½") deep slits into the flesh of the chicken thighs then place them into a bag.
  2. Remove the stems from the chilli peppers and add them to a mini blender.
  3. Roughly chop the spring onions and add them to the blender.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and the ginger and add them to the blender.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender then blitz to form a smooth paste.
  6. Pour the jerk paste over the chicken and then massage it into the chicken thighs using the bag to protect you from getting the chilli on your fingers.
  7. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 4 hours but 24 hours is better.

To Bake:

  1. Place the chicken drumsticks on a baking/cooling rack and then onto a baking tray, this helps the chicken cook a little more evenly.
  2. Bake the chicken in a preheated oven at 150°C or 300°F for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn up the heat to 200°C or 395°F and cook for another 20-25 minutes. The temperature of the chicken should reach 73°C or 165°F before serving.

To Air Fry:

  1. Spray the basket of the air fryer with a neutral oil.
  2. Air fry at 150°C or 300°F for 12 minutes.
  3. Flip the chicken and then air fry at 200°C or 395°F for another 20 minutes. The temperature of the chicken should reach 73°C or 165°F before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 618Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 347mgSodium: 1450mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 68g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Teena Dudley

Thursday 21st of September 2023

Can you use jerk seasoning that comes from the store

Brian Jones

Sunday 1st of October 2023

You can, naturally the flavour and heat will vary depending on the brand that you get, but it would work fine.


Thursday 19th of April 2018

it says 2 chicken legs??

Brian Jones

Thursday 19th of April 2018

Yes that's correct, two chicken legs broken into thighs and drumsticks.

Maha Khan

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

Wonderful recipe.I like this and I think this is very delicious. I am going to make this recipe for my family and husband Thanks for sharing

Brian Jones

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

Super Maha, I hope they enjoy it as much as we do :)


Monday 19th of October 2015

Hey Brian. This looks good!! Your photos are amazing. I'm from Trinidad and that scotch bonnet pepper is no joke!!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 21st of October 2015

Thanks Renz... Glad you think I have done a good job on a dish you will be so familiar with. I did grow some Scotch Bonnet Peppers years ago but they go to waste as I don't use them very often. But the fresh Cayenne peppers do an OK job with a fraction less violence ;)

Skip to Recipe