Jamaican Jerk seasoning is intense, spicy, and delicious. In this jerk chicken pasta recipe, I will teach you how to make your own blend of spices so you can use them in this and other recipes.
Jerk recipes are sometimes too hot, but this creamy jerk chicken pasta has a touch of whipping cream, balancing the flavors quite nicely.
Jerk Chicken Alfredo will become one of your favorite recipes for sure, and particularly this copycat Bahama Breeze Jerk Chicken Pasta recipe, AKA Rasta Pasta.
Alfredo is my favorite pasta sauce, and I am always searching for new ways to make it. If you want to learn different and amazing Alfredo recipes, check out Cajun Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli and Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo with Grilled Chicken.
What Is Jerk Chicken Pasta?
Jerk is a Jamaican style of cooking that incorporates several spices to obtain a deliciously hot blend and is usually used to marinate and slow cook chicken and sometimes beef cuts.
Jerk chicken pasta is an adaptation of Alfredo sauce using jerk spice blend and jerk marinated chicken. The pasta sauce is finished with cream to create a spicy, creamy Alfredo sauce.
What Ingredients Do You Need?
For the jerk spice mix, you will need brown sugar, onion and garlic powders, salt, allspice, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper added for spiciness. It is usually made with hot bonnet pepper powder or with habaneros to produce a paste, but in this recipe, we will use cayenne pepper for convenience.
- Chicken breasts – since we make pasta with chicken, we will use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can certainly use thighs if you prefer dark meat. If you were making only grilled jerk chicken, you could use bone-in chicken pieces.
- Penne pasta – you can use any shape you want. I prefer to use penne.
- Olive oil – for frying garlic and making the sauce
- Minced garlic – gives so much flavor to the sauce, don’t skip it.
- Red bell pepper – I add it for looks as well as flavor. I like to have it crunchy and just slightly cooked, but you can cook it along with the garlic if you prefer.
- Chicken stock and white wine are the base of the sauce and help make the sauce “saucy.” If you only added the cream, it would be too heavy of a sauce.
- Lime and cilantro give the sauce a traditional Caribbean Latin taste.
- Whipping cream is essential for making creamy Alfredo sauce and to bring the spice level a bit down.
How To Make Jerk Chicken Pasta?
- First, you have to make the spice mix. In a small bowl, combine all spices and mix them thoroughly. Divide in half.
- With one-half of the spice mix, rub both sides of the chicken breasts, and marinate them for at least an hour.
- You can cook the chicken on the stovetop or grill. I used a cast-iron skillet to cook them. I like the way the cast iron gets hot enough to brown the chicken easily. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Reserve cooked chicken on the side.
- Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat ½ tbsp olive oil and saute garlic. Do not burn the garlic. Add the chicken stock. White wine reserved spice mix and cilantro. Bring to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and pour in the whipping cream. Do not let the sauce boil again. Add the drained pasta, bell peppers, and reserved cooked chicken cut into strips. Cook for a couple of minutes until everything is incorporated and heated through.
- For a spicier version, add jalapeno peppers. You can also add green onions and green bell pepper as well as red.
- For a lactose-free version, try using coconut cream instead of heavy whipping cream.
- Want to add more veggies? Try adding broccoli as well as bell peppers.
- If you want to make your pasta a seafood dish, try substituting the chicken for shrimp.
This dish is a full meal on its own. All it needs is a great dessert, and in keeping with the Caribbean island feel, I recommend Pineapple Juice Cake, Pineapple Dream Dessert, Pineapple Pretzel Fluff, or Pineapple Sunshine Cake and if you are feeling the coconut vibe, try Grandma’s Coconut Cream Pie, Granny Cake with Coconut, or Impossible Coconut Custard Pie. These are all excellent and delicious recipes!
Store and Reheat Instructions
If you have any leftovers, let them cool down to room temperature and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat them in the microwave oven.
If you want to freeze any leftovers, I would recommend only freezing the chicken. Pasta can get soggy when thawed, and the cream sauces can separate when thawed as well.
If you want to make this dish ahead of time, I recommend only making the spice mix and cooking the chicken. Make the sauce and cook the pasta on the same day you want to serve it.
- If you don’t like too much spice, only use ½ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper in your spice mix.
- Do not overcook the pasta. There is nothing worse than mushy pasta. Cook it al dente.
- Please be careful not to boil the pasta sauce after adding the cream, or it will separate.
Other Chicken Pasta Recipes You Might Enjoy
Jerk Chicken and Pasta Recipe
For the jerk spice mix: (divided)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or ½ if you want it milder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
Chicken and Pasta Sauce:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 - 12 oz package penne pasta
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ red bell pepper julienned
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Juice of ½ lime
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup whipping cream
- Make the jerk spice mix by mixing all spices until well combined. Divide spice mix in half.
- Sprinkle chicken breasts on both sides with half of the spice mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- In a large cast-iron skillet or grill, cook chicken breasts until brown and cooked through (about 3-4 minutes on each side)
- Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, saute garlic in ½ tablespoon olive oil and add chicken broth, white wine, cilantro, and the reserved spice mix. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to simmering and pour in the whipping cream. Do not let the sauce boil again.
- Drain cooked penne and add it to the sauce. Cut the reserved chicken breasts in strips and add them to the pot, along with the red bell pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until everything is well incorporated and heated through
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you freeze Jerk Chicken Pasta?
I wouldn’t recommend it. If you want, you can freeze the cooked chicken but make the pasta and sauce on the same day. Cream sauce pasta gets very mushy when thawed, and cream separates.
- What type of chicken should I use?
You can either use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
- Can I use leftover chicken?
You can, but the taste won’t be the same as the original one that uses jerk marinated chicken. I would recommend reheating the leftover chicken in a pan and adding the spices to it.
- How to make it vegetarian?
Use tofu or mushrooms instead of chicken and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.