Try this Bajan chicken recipe from Barbados-born chef and Smokestak founder David Carter. David says, "Delicate, refined flavours are not the reason you visit Barbados. A piece of a lightly seasoned fish, caught straight off the boat, will never make it on the grill on its own. A cardinal sin by many international chef standards, who celebrate and champion a single ingredient. In Barbados, it has to be ‘seasoned’ (which means marinated in the UK) or ‘juked’ where incisions are made in the fish or meat and bajan seasoning is stuffed inside, especially on larger cuts like whole chickens or legs of pork. The flavours are bold and pungent but equally delicious. Fish, chicken and pork alike get this treatment, even beef and lamb. It’s a religion."

This is a recipe that David shared as part of his guide to Barbados cuisine. Check it out to learn about rum shops, salt fish cakes, grilled mahi mahi and more.

Smokestak’s homage to US-style barbecue has attracted a dedicated following, with diners flocking to the Shoreditch restaurant for dishes such as crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo, and cult brisket buns. Founder David Carter’s roots, however, lie in Barbados, where the likes of rum shops and fish-frys, pepper sauce and salt fish cakes define the island’s food scene.

David's recipe tip: "Scotch bonnet, the key ingredient here, is my favourite hot chilli pepper because it adds a fruitiness and sweetness versus just heat. The local version is balanced with mustard and vinegar along with aromatics such as onion, garlic and turmeric."

Bajan chicken recipe


  • 8 whole chicken legs 4, or thighs and drumsticks


  • 3 large onions
  • 2 bunches chives
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillies
  • 3 tbsp of leaves thyme
  • 2 tbsp of leaves marjoram
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced to make 2 tbsp


  • STEP 1

    For the seasoning, finely chop the onions, chives, garlic, chillies, thyme and marjoram, then mix these with the Worcestershire sauce and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, then pour into a sterilised bottle and chill. It will keep for a month and the flavour will be at its best after about three days.

  • STEP 2

    Make deep cuts into the flesh of each piece of chicken, then tip into a dish. Rub over 2 tbsp of the seasoning and leave to marinate for 1 hour in the fridge.

  • STEP 3

    Heat a grill to high or light a barbecue. Line a grill tray and set the rack in it (or set a barbecue for cooking with indirect heat and wait for the coals to become ashen). Shake any excess seasoning off the chicken and either grill or barbecue the pieces until they are cooked through and nicely browned.

Head here for more chicken leg recipes

Honey and paprika glazed chicken traybake

Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating