Jungle Fever received lukewarm reviews from music critics. In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau cited "Fun Day" and the title track as highlights and referred to Wonder as "a genius even if that's what he's selling". Bill Wyman of Entertainment Weekly felt it lacks memorable hooks and was critical of Wonder's lyrics and style of arrangement, which he said sounds "more and more dated as the years go by". In a positive review, Rolling Stone magazine called Jungle Fever a "welcome return to form" and said that Wonder has not "sounded so freewheeling, confident and engaging" since his 1980 album Hotter Than July. The Chicago Tribune wrote that it is "as direct and consistently tuneful as anything he has done in recent years".
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine cited Jungle Fever as "Wonder's best work in years ... a considerable improvement from his bland late-'80s albums", although he said Wonder can be too sentimental on ballads such as "These Three Words".J. D. Considine wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that it is "lightweight but likeable". In his 2000 Consumer Guide book, Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention, which indicated "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure".