Easy Jerk Chicken Pasta Recipe

If you are on the hunt for a crowd pleaser of a meal that will be a hit with kids and adults alike and that packs players from all the food groups into one dish, then you're looking in the right place right now. And this take on jerk chicken from chef, recipe developer, and registered dietician Kristen Carli of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness is not only sure to please those to whom it's served, but will also be welcomed by the cook who has minimal free time to get dinner on the table. "It is pretty straightforward," Carli says, adding: "Just be sure to cook the chicken all the way through."

Ah, but what is "jerk chicken" anyway? According to Britannica: "Jerk refers to a style of cooking in which the main ingredient — which most often is chicken but may also be beef, pork, goat, boar, seafood, or vegetables — is coated in spices and slow-cooked over a fire or grill traditionally composed of green pimento wood positioned over burning coals; the resulting smoke is key to the flavor of the dish." We'll be skipping the slow-cooking over a fire part, but preserving the flavor thanks to a rich blending of spices. Carli says, "The jerked chicken is sweet, savory, and a bit spicy. I love this spice combination because of it's variety."

And so will you, so let's get cooking!

Gather your ingredients

As noted, there is a rich spice blend involved in this recipe. So don't worry too much about what seems like a long list of ingredients — you need only work with most of them inasmuch as a bit of measuring and stirring.

All told, for this recipe you'll need penne pasta, olive oil (divided), chicken tenderloins, sliced red bell pepper and green bell pepper, grated Parmesan cheese, and (here we go) — the following seasonings and spices: salt, pepper, brown sugar, ground cumin, paprika, onion powder, dried thyme, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, cayenne pepper, and ground nutmeg.

Cook the pasta and prep the seasoning

To start things off, bring a large pot of water to a boil, lightly salted if you'd like. Once the boil is rolling, add the pasta and cook it according to package directions. When it's done, drain the noodles and set them aside. If you're making the pasta well in advance and aren't going to move on to the next steps for a while, you can toss the noodles with a bit of oil or butter to keep them from sticking.

In the meantime, as the pasta cooks, make the jerk seasoning. In a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, brown sugar, cumin, paprika, onion powder, dried thyme, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, and nutmeg, and stir well to combine everything together.

Cook and slice the chicken

In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, add the chicken tenderloins. Sprinkle the cooking meat with about half of the jerk seasoning, making sure it covers the pieces of chicken as evenly as possible. 

Cook the tenderloins until they have browned on each side and reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (or are white throughout when sliced), which will take about 15 minutes. Then remove the chicken from heat and slice the tenderloins into strips, or use forks or dedicated shredding claws to rip it into slender pieces.

Sear the peppers then combine all ingredients

In a large pot over a medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then add the sliced red and green bell peppers and the remaining jerk seasoning. Sauté and stir the seasoned vegetables until the bell pepper begins to char.

Next, add the drained pasta, the Parmesan cheese, and the sliced chicken, and finally add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Stir to combine everything, and you're done.

"This dish pairs well with collard greens and grilled pineapple," recommends Carli, adding: "I love it with a side of roasted broccoli, personally."

And should you end up with any leftovers, she tells us, "This keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days [and] it reheats best in the microwave."

Easy Jerk Chicken Pasta Recipe
5 from 37 ratings
Don't be alarmed by the long list of ingredients -- you probably already have just about everything you need to make this super easy jerk chicken with pasta.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
6
Servings
chicken and pasta dish
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the penne and cook it according to the package directions, then drain it and set it aside.
  2. In the meantime, make the jerk seasoning: in a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, brown sugar, cumin, paprika, onion powder, dried thyme, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, and nutmeg, and stir to combine.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken and sprinkle with about half of the jerk seasoning.
  4. Cook until the chicken has browned on each side and the internal temperature reaches 165 F, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken from heat and slice the tenderloins into strips.
  6. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add the sliced bell peppers and remaining jerk seasoning.
  7. Sauté and stir until the bell peppers begin to char.
  8. Add the drained pasta, Parmesan, sliced chicken, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine.
  9. Serve immediately.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 653
Total Fat 25.8 g
Saturated Fat 6.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 39.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 78.6 g
Dietary Fiber 5.0 g
Total Sugars 9.8 g
Sodium 522.8 mg
Protein 26.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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