In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

5 Spice Chicken On The Grill.

Have guys enjoyed the month of grilling? This 5 spice chicken may end up being  the last in the series (for now), so I can get back to more traditional Caribbean dishes. It’s been such fun taking the cooking outdoor, I’m now thinking up other ways to add some excitement to the recipes and cooking videos. Who knows, I may take the show on the road and you may see me on your island very soon. This five spice chicken on the grill is inspired by the huge Chinese influence in the Caribbean, especially in our everyday cuisine. 

Did you know?…

Between 1853 and 1879, 14,000 Chinese laborers were imported to the British Caribbean as part of a larger system of contract labor bound for the sugar plantations. Imported as a contract labor force from China, Chinese settled in three main locations: Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana (now Guyana), initially working on the sugar plantations. Most of the Chinese laborers initially went to British Guiana; however when importation ended in 1879, and the population declined steadily, mostly due to emigration to Trinidad and Suriname. But even before that, Chinese immigration to Cuba started in 1847 when Cantonese contract workers were brought to work in the sugar fields.


You’ll Need…

4 lbs chicken (I used thighs)
1/2 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds)
1 tablespoon vinegar *
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon 5-spice powder
2 scallions chopped

Notes: I used cider vinegar as that’s what I had on hand, you can use your fav type of vinegar. I used fresh scotch bonnet pepper as I love the vibe from the freshness, but you can certainly use 1 teaspoon pepper sauce (hot sauce). If you’re wondering… 5 spice powder is completely different from ‘allspice” powder.

Wash and trim of excess skin and fat off the chicken pieces, then wash and drain dry. I used chicken thighs as I love this meaty piece of dark meat, it absorbs marinades well and the I kept some of the skin to to help keep it moist as it grills. Then chop the scotch bonnet pepper and scallion very fine and crush your garlic as smooth as you can. I used my mortar and pestle for the garlic and with the help of a pinch of salt.. I had a smooth garlic paste. Remember when working with scotch bonnet peppers to wear gloves, wash your hands with soap and don’t use the seeds if you’re concerned about raw heat. The seeds and white area surrounding the seeds is most deadly when it comes to hot peppers.

Basically all you have to do now is pour everything, including the chicken pieces into a zip lock bag (get a strong freezer bag, so you don’t have breakage or leakage). Seal and massage by moving around with your hands. Be sure to get everything mixed properly. Now try to get as much air as you can out of the bag and quickly seal it. By removing all the air, you’ll help to infuse the chicken pieces with that lovely marinade. Place the bag in the fridge for at least 3 hours.. but 5 hours would be best if you had the time.

Before you go out to fire up your grill take the bag with the marinating chicken out of the fridge so it comes back to room temperature. If you don’t have a grill/bbq, you can do this recipe in the oven. Preheat at 375F, place the chicken on a wire rack on a baking tray (so it’s not sitting in it’s own fat as it cooks)  and cook for about 40-45 minutes. You may need to turn on your broiler for the last 5 minutes for it to develop that lovely golden colour.

My grill was between 375 and 400F and I placed them with the skin side up to start. Basically all you’re doing now is grilling as you would normally grill your chicken. So flip every 4-5 minutes (be sure to look of for flare-ups when it’s skin side down) and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until you achieve the way you like. There are 3 burners on my grill, so what I did was… I turned 2 of the burners down to low and the one to the far right I had on high (similar to indirect grilling). This allowed me to keep my grill at the same temperature, while slowly cooking the 5 spice chicken slowly over the low burners.

Do allow the chicken pieces to rest for 3-5 minutes before serving so the meat relaxes back and you get that true juiciness from the 5 spice marinade. This 5 spice chicken is surely a lovely representation of the Chinese influence on our culinary culture and it’s always a hit in our home when it’s served.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.


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  1. February 15, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    I’m wondeing what this would taste like as written but instead if grill in, smoke them with Applewood. Any suggestion on temp and time?

  2. Sunita
    May 8, 2013 / 9:23 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I'm looking for the recipe for Jelly Buns from Trinidad….Can you help?

  3. Lin
    January 14, 2013 / 9:37 pm

    Hi, no salt because of soy sauce?

  4. James
    November 21, 2012 / 8:11 am

    Hi Chris, great recipe. Everyone loved it last night.
    I used white wine vinegar and it worked very well. I also had very little time so only marinated for 30 minutes. That was still great and it penetrated well. Perhaps because I used boneless/skinless chicken thighs (had on hand) so it was easy to permiate with marinade.

    I prefer the taste from a charcoal grill. I cooked indirectly with the charcoal away from the chicken then moved it direct to crisp up at the end. Turned out really good.

    Thanks again!


  5. Birger
    November 12, 2012 / 4:32 am

    This recipe simply rules! Found this site today and it made my day 🙂

  6. September 17, 2012 / 11:52 am

    Made this over the weekend….soooooo good…..although I have regular vinegar, I used balsamic and it came out excellent….wish I made more

  7. Michelle
    August 24, 2012 / 1:42 pm

    Hi Chris, I have a question. Is the 1/2 juice lime listed in the ingredients used for cleaning the chicken separately or did you use it for the marinade?

  8. leonile murray
    July 13, 2012 / 10:35 am

    Chris boy I like this one too. Those five spices wow! I must get put in house now……OOH LA LA

  9. Andrea Barnett
    July 10, 2012 / 1:22 am

    Hi Chris, Thank you for your fabulous site, your wonderful videos and the joy you put into your demonstration has brough light to our home. Your site has become the place where I can 'go to' for all my cooking problems. And for curing my home sickness. I was dreaming of going home to get all the wonderful taste of home cooking. Now that I have discovered your site- I am cured!
    Acknowledgements for your detailed recipes, I follow your instructions and it never fails.
    Your time, effort, research' love-everything you place into your work is creating miracles in the kitchen.
    Much appreciated.
    Trini to the bone,

  10. GlenD
    July 6, 2012 / 9:11 pm

    It's never too hot (or too cold) to grill. Chris, after not being back home since '93, and missing many of the favourites, my family and I relish your dishes and your videos. Thanks a lot.

  11. July 1, 2012 / 3:59 pm

    Chris…always enjoy your posts and cooking ideas. I've had a jar of 5 spice powder in my spice cabinet for a bit and now I'll put it to use in the next day or so…..almost to hot around here to grill out though.

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