Are you ready for another super easy meal prep (or weeknight dinner)? This Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Black Bean Salsa is incredible simple, but still big on summery flavor. The spicy jerk seasoning perfectly compliments the sweet pineapple salsa, and the black beans add bulk and extra protein to the meal without adding a lot to the cost. And even better yet, you can serve this meal hot, or eat the leftovers cold for a nice refreshing summer lunch.
What is Jerk Seasoning?
Jerk seasoning is a spicy, savory, and sweet blend of spices native to Jamaican cuisine. This flavorful blend usually consists of hot peppers (Scotch Bonnet), garlic, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, and other spices. These spices are often used in marinade form for pork, chicken, or seafood, but the dry spice blend can be used to season just about any food. Read more about the history of jerk seasoning here.
Since authentic jerk seasoning contains some items that I don’t usually keep on hand, I purchased a bottle of pre-blended jerk seasoning at the grocery store (see photos below). But if you want to try your hand at making your own, check out this recipe for jerk seasoning from Immaculate Bites.
Can I Substitute the Chicken Breast?
If you don’t have boneless, skinless chicken breast, you could just as easily make this recipe with boneless chicken thighs, shrimp, or even salmon. The beauty of jerk seasoning blend is that it goes great on just about anything! So if you’re concerned about buying some for just this recipe, I promise you’ll get more use out of it.
Can I Substitute the Jasmine Rice?
Feel free to swap out the white jasmine rice that I used here for brown rice, quinoa, or even something like Cumin Lime Coleslaw if you want to up the vegetable content. And if you want to go the extra mile, I think Savory Coconut Rice would be awesome with these flavors!
Meal Prep It!
This meal works great for weekly meal prep. Pack the portions up into single serving containers and they’ll keep in the refrigerator for about four days.
Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Black Bean Salsa
- 4 cups cooked rice ($0.70)
Pineapple Black Bean Salsa
- 2 cups pineapple tidbits* ($0.50)
- 1 15oz. can black beans, well rinsed ($0.89)
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion ($0.16)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro ($0.17)
- 1 lime ($0.75)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste ($0.02)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2/3 lb. each) ($6.42)
- 1 Tbsp jerk seasoning ($0.030)
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
- Begin cooking your rice first. If you plan on packing this for meal prep, transfer the cooked rice to your meal prep containers and refrigerate them as you finish the rest of the recipe, so they can begin to cool down.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the pineapple black bean salsa. Coarsely chop the pineapple tidbits into smaller pieces, similar in size to the black beans. Place the chopped pineapple, rinsed black beans, diced red onion, and chopped cilantro in a large bowl.
- Squeeze the juice of half the lime (about 1 Tbsp) over the ingredients in the bowl. Also add 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional). Stir the ingredients together, give it a taste, and add more salt or lime juice if needed. Any unused lime will be cut into wedges for squeezing over the chicken before serving.
- Next, prepare the jerk chicken. Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken to eliminate splatter, then gently pound the chicken breasts into an even thickness using either a rolling pin or a mallet. Sprinkle the jerk seasoning over both sides of the chicken and use your hands to rub it into the surface, making sure they're completely coated.
- Add the cooking oil to a large skillet, or preheat your grill. Once hot, add the chicken and cook until well browned on both sides, and the chicken is completely cooked through (about 7 minutes each side). It should no longer be pink in the center and the juices should run clear. For extra safety, use an instant read meat thermometer and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
- Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and let it rest for five minutes. After five minutes, slice the chicken into 1/2-wide strips.
- To serve, place about a cup of cooked rice on a plate, or in your meal prep container, top with about a cup of the pineapple black bean salsa, and a few strips of the jerk chicken. Slice the remaining lime into wedges and squeeze fresh juice over the chicken just before eating.
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How to Make Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Black Bean Salsa – Step by Step Photos
Begin by cooking the rice because you’ll be able to prepare a lot of the rest of the recipe as the rice cooks. Cook the rice according to the package directions and if you’re going to be meal prepping this meal, transfer the cooked rice to your containers and refrigerate it as you finish the rest of the recipe so that it can begin to cool.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the pineapple black bean salsa. Roughly chop 2 cups of pineapple tidbits into smaller pieces, about the size of the black beans. I used fresh, but you could also use frozen (thawed, of course), or pineapple canned in juice. Make sure the black beans are well rinsed so they don’t turn the salsa black. Roughly chop about 1/2 cup cilantro, and finely dice about 1/3 cup red onion. Place the pineapple, black beans, cilantro, and red onion in a bowl.
Add the juice of half a lime (about 1 Tbsp), 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional). Give everything a good stir, then taste it and add more salt or lime juice if needed.
Next, start working on the chicken. Pat two chicken breasts dry with paper towel, and if they are particularly thick, place a piece of plastic wrap over top and gently pound them out to an even thickness. This helps them cook evenly (the thin end won’t get all dried out before the thick end cooks through).
This is the jerk seasoning that I picked up a the store a while back. Every brand is going to be a bit different, so make sure to check the label to see if yours contains salt. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to add some salt to the chicken breast as well.
Coat each side of the chicken breasts with jerk seasoning, making sure to rub it in so the surface is completely coated.
You have several options for cooking your chicken. You can do it outdoors on a grill, use a countertop grill like a George Foreman, use a cast iron grill pan, or even just a skillet like I used. To cook it in a skillet, add 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a skillet and heat it over medium. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken and cook on each side until it’s well browned and the chicken is cooked through (about 7 minutes each side). Make sure the chicken is no longer pink inside and the juices are running clear.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and let it rest for five minutes. This is very important because if you cut into it right away all the steam will escape and the chicken will not be as moist. Once it has rested, slice it into 1/2-inch wide strips.
To serve, simply pile about a cup of rice on your plate or bowl, add about a cup of the pineapple black bean salsa, and top with a few strips of the jerk chicken. Slice the remaining lime into wedges so you can squeeze some fresh juice over the chicken just before eating.
Or, pile it all into meal prep containers and pop it in the fridge for later. :) You can eat your leftovers cold, like a salad with grilled chicken strips, or reheat the entire thing (minus the lime wedge).
For more information about meal prepping, how it works, and why I do it, check out Meal Prep 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Prepping and Portioning Meals, or check out my entire Budget-Friendly Meal Prep Archive.