Jerk chicken salad with papaya salsa

killer jerk papaya salsa

Jerk Chicken is one of my husband’s favourite meals and variations of it are made all the time in our household (depending on which ingredients are in stock in our cupboards… Hashed together from the best of a variety of jerk chicken recipes I’ve tried out, I allow a bit of creative license to save me from an extra trip to the supermarket if I’ve forgotten something!).

Based on a style of cooking native to Jamaica, this healthy and hearty jerk chicken salad is full of flavour and the papaya salsa adds a delish sweetness to it. For this you’re going to have to seriously raid your herbs and spices cupboard; it looks like a lot of ingredients, but many of them are reasonably common in most kitchens.

If you can’t find papaya, substitute for another sweet tropical fruit like pineapple or mango and it will be just as tasty. Yum!

Serves 4 people.

killer jerk papaya salsa

  • 400-500g skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tblpsn rosemary*
  • 1 tblspn thyme*
  • 1 tblspn chili, deseeded and finely diced (add more if you prefer it to be spicy!)
  • 1/2 tspn mixed spice
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg
  • 1/2 tspn cloves
  • 1/2 tspn cinnamon
  • 1 tspn ginger, ground or fresh/finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • Several bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar (most kinds of vinegar will be okay)
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (any kind of rum will do)
  • 2 tblspns honey
  • Olive oil


  • 1 ripe papaya/paw paw, diced into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tspn chili, deseeded and finely diced
  • 2 tblspns chopped coriander
  • A splash of lime juice


  • Several handfuls lettuce leaves per person
  • 1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 capsicum, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • Mayonnaise


Halve each chicken breast into two long pieces, drizzle with olive oil and cook on a high heat grill (everything tastes better with grill lines!) or if you have no grill, a hot frying pan is fine. Cook until each side starts to brown up, then remove from heat.

Combine all remaining jerk chicken ingredients until well mixed, turn the chicken over in them and put the chicken and sauce mix into a tightly packed baking dish. Pour any leftover sauce over the top and bake around 20 mins at 180 degrees or until chicken is fully cooked.

*To boost the flavour even further, substitute the dried herbs for a small handful each of fresh herbs.


Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Toss salad ingredients together and divide between serving plates, divide salsa between plates and either sprinkle over the top of the salad or serve on the side. Finally lay the cooked chicken pieces on top (you can choose whether to serve as-is or cut into smaller chunks), add a little of the sauce over the top – there should still be some left in the bottom of the baking dish – and finish off drizzling with a little mayonnaise.

Image / NZ Real Health

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