Jerk Burgers

When I first discovered Jamaican Jerk Chicken, I made it at least three times a week. The original technique called for spicing and tenderizing the meat by poking it with holes which were then filled with spices. Today we no longer need to do that to achieve a smoky spicy flavor that I find irresistible.

Jerk Burgers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 burgers
  • 1¼ to 1½ pounds ground turkey or chicken (1 package)
  • 3 scallions, both white and green parts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped jalapeño pepper or Scotch bonnet pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus ½ teaspoon for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus ½ teaspoon for sprinkling
  • ¾ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 lime, quartered
  1. Place the turkey, scallions, jalapeño, garlic, soy sauce, five spice powder, salt, pepper, allspice, thyme and nutmeg in a large bowl and, using your hands, mix until the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  2. Place the mixture on a work surface and divide into 4 balls of equal size. Form each into a patty about ¾ to 1 inch thick, tossing it back and forth between your hands. To ensure more even cooking, make a ½-inch indentation with your thumb in the center of the burger. Handle the patties as little as possible; do not work more than necessary.
  3. Prepare the grill to medium-high. When the coals are glowing red, after 15-20 minutes, cover with the grate.
  4. After 5 minutes, use a wire brush to thoroughly clean the grate. Brush the grate with oil.
  5. When the coals are covered with pale gray ash and you can leave your hand 5 inches above the fire for 2 to 3 second, the coals are ready.
  6. Sprinkle both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper.
  7. Place the burgers on the grate and grill until well seared on both sides, about 5 minutes for medium rare or 6 minutes for medium.
  8. Transfer to buns or a serving platter and serve immediately with lime quarters.
  9. ALTERNATIVELY, place a cast iron skillet over high heat and when it is hot but not smoking add the burgers to the dry pan.
  10. Cook until well seared on both sides, 8 to10 minutes for medium rare or 10-12 minutes for medium.