My Pineapple Chicken recipe first appeared over at Real Housemoms where I’m a contributor.
Pineapple Chicken bursting with sweet and tangy tropical flavors with just the right amount of chili kick and only 10 minutes of hands-on prep!
This Pineapple Chicken is wonderfully juicy, and bursting with flavor from a marinade that doubles as a glaze for no double work! It makes a winning stress free entertaining favorite but is easy enough for back to school dinners. This Pineapple Chicken can be grilled or cooked on the stovetop and even turned into a delectable stir fry (as many readers have done and loved) because the sauce is everything!
PINEAPPLE CHICKEN RECIPE VIDEO
Easy Pineapple Chicken Recipe
I was scrolling through Instagram and couldn’t believe how many “back to school” pics I saw – so cute – but shocking! When I was in school, many moons ago, we always started school the Thursday after Labor Day and it still felt way too soon.
So with the hustle and bustle of of back-to-school either in full swing or coming shortly, and the accompanying moans and groans, I bring you an easy grilled pineapple chicken with only one dish to wash so you can escape into should-be-summer dreams with every juicy bite.
Pineapple Chicken Ingredients
The pineapple chicken marinade is the star of this dish! See my notes below for how to get the most out of this recipe.
- Chicken tenderloins: Chicken tenderloins cook quickly and evenly.
- Olive oil: ¼ cup is mixed into the marinade.
- Cornstarch: Thickens the sauce to create the gorgeous silky consistency.
- Pineapple juice: Canned pineapple juice will infuse your chicken with flavor without leaving it mushy. Fresh pineapple juice still contains enzymes that could break down your chicken.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar provides the balancing “sweet” to the sour.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed or bottled juice will work.
- Ketchup: Try to buy an organic ketchup or one that isn’t sweetened with corn syrup.
- Red wine vinegar: Provides the fruity, tangy balance to the soy sauce.
- Soy sauce: Use reduced sodium soy sauce or your pineapple chicken will be too salty.
- Dijon mustard: I’m sure you could use yellow mustard as well, but it won’t give the same depth of flavor.
- Asian chili paste: It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. You want something like Sambal Oelek.
- Spices: Garlic, ginger, and onion powders round out the flavors of the pineapple chicken marinade.
- Chicken breasts can also be used to make this grilled pineapple chicken recipe. Just be sure to pound them to an even thickness.
- You may substitute with rice wine vinegar or white vinegar if that’s all you have on hand. White vinegar has more acidic than apple cider vinegar, so only use 1 tablespoon.
- If you’re gluten-free, feel free to use a gluten-free soy sauce or soy sauce alternative.
How to make Pineapple Chicken
You are going to loooooove how easy this Pineapple Chicken is! The sticky sweet and tangy pineapple chicken is marinated in a delectable pineapple marinade that becomes the tantalizing Brown Sugar Pineapple Glaze that you brush all over your chicken after grilling. To make:
- Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. That is almost all your prep work for a total of maybe 5 minutes AND you only have one bowl to throw in the dishwasher!
- Add ⅓ cup of the pineapple chicken marinade to a large freezer bag and whisk in ¼ cup olive oil.
- Add the chicken and marinate 2-4 hours in the refrigerator. Refrigerate the remaining marinade (will become your Glaze) separately.
- Cook chicken on grill or stove top according to directions.
- Add cornstarch to remaining marinade and simmer for a few minutes to thicken then slather all over your chicken.
This is one of my favorite methods of cooking – to reserve some of the marinade, thicken it with cornstarch and it instantly becomes your glaze – double the flavor WITHOUT double work! You can taste where I’ve done this in my: Sweet Chili Shrimp, Cajun Honey Mustard Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, and Asian BBQ Salmon, all of which would be delectable summer staples!
Tips for Making Pineapple Chicken
- CANNED Pineapple Juice. Please use only CANNED pineapple juice! Canned pineapple juice will infuse your chicken with flavor without leaving it mushy if it’s not marinated too long. Fresh pineapple juice still contains enzymes that could break down your chicken and more likely to leave it mushy in a short amount of time.
- No mushy chicken. This marinade contains a lot of acid from both th pineapple juice and lemon juice so don’t marinate your chicken more than 4 hour or your chicken will become mushy.
- Asian Chili Paste. The Asian Chili Paste/sauce is a must in this recipe as it adds a depth of flavor and balance. I use the brand Sambal Oelek with the green jar. Please don’t skip it!
Pineapple Chicken Variations
- Sweeter Chicken. As written, this Pineapple Chicken is no overly sweet. If you would like a sweeter chicken, then I would increase the brown sugar to ½ cup.
- Chicken types. I looove chicken tenderloins in this recipe because as the name implies – they are sooo tender! But of course, you can substitute whatever cut of chicken you prefer from skinless chicken thighs to chicken breasts and adjust cooking time accordingly, just take care your chicken is pounded to an even thickness so it cooks evenly.
- Add veggies. Feel free to soak some veggies (like bell peppers, onions, etc.) in some of the marinade and grill them alongside the chicken.
Can I Prep Pineapple Chicken in Advance?
You can whisk together the pineapple chicken marinade a few days in advance, but you shouldn’t let the chicken marinate in the sauce for too long as the acidic pineapple juice will break down the meat over time and result in rubbery grilled chicken.
How to Store Pineapple Chicken
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Reheat Pineapple Chicken
- Reheating on the stove: Leftovers are best reheated on the stove, even if they are small portions. To reheat, heat a drizzle of vegetable or olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken, flipping occasionally until warmed through.
- Reheating in microwave: Microwaving leftovers is not advised as the chicken can become rubbery.
Can I Freeze Pineapple Chicken?
Yes! You can freeze either the pineapple chicken marinade or the cooked pineapple chicken.
- Marinade: Whisk together, add to a freezer bag, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Chicken: After you have cooked the chicken, let it cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for 2 to 3 months.
What to Serve with Pineapple Chicken
This Pineapple Chicken recipe is bursting with flavor so you don’t need much to complete your meal. I love serving my Pineapple Chicken with rice to soak up the extra glaze (because otherwise you will be licking it from the pan), some veggies (grilled bell peppers, onions, zucchini), and caramelized juicy pineapple.
Here are some more side dish options:
- Salad. Wedge Salad, Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad, Strawberry Salad, Spinach Berry Salad, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Southwest Salad and Corn Salad.
- Pasta Salad. Italian Tortellini Salad, Greek Pasta Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Cowboy Pasta Salad Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad and Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad.
- Fruit. Grilled Pineapple, Creamy Grape Salad, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit Salador Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone.
- Veggies. Roasted Parmesan Asparagus, Roasted Broccoli Roasted Carrots, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Root Vegetables or Roasted Squash.
Looking for More Pineapple Recipes?
- Caramelized Grilled Pineapple
- Pineapple Coconut Cashew Rice
- Teriyaki Chicken Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Pear Salsa
- Hawaiians Chicken Kabobs
- Sticky Pineapple Ginger Chicken
- Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Want to try this Pineapple Chicken Recipe?
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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
- 1 cup CANNED pineapple juice
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 for less tangy)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons Asian chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)
- 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic pwdr, ginger pwdr
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- chopped green onions
- additional Asian chili sauce to taste
- Whisk the Marinade/Glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add ⅓ cup to a large freezer bag and whisk in ¼ cup olive oil. Add the chicken and marinate 2-4 hours in the refrigerator. Refrigerate the remaining marinade (will become your Glaze) separately.
- When ready to cook, let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.
- GRILL DIRECTIONS: Meanwhile, grease and preheat grill to medium heat, 375 to 450°F. Drain chicken from the marinade and pat dry.
- Grill the chicken undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F when chicken is done.)
- Meanwhile, add reserved glaze to a small saucepan and whisk in 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Place covered saucepan on the grill (or stove), and bring to a simmer (this can be done after chicken is cooked if you don't have room on your grill). Once simmering, remove lid and whisk until thickened. Brush cooked chicken with glaze and serve any extra as a sauce for rice.
- Garnish chicken with lemon zest and green onions and additional chili sauce to taste (optional).
- STOVE TOP DIRECTIONS: Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, drain chicken from marinade, pat dry and add to skillet. Cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 3-5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate and tent with foil.
- Whisk 2 teaspoons cornstarch to reserved Glaze and add to now empty skillet. Bring to a simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add chicken to Glaze and toss to coat. Garnish chicken with lemon zest and green onions and additional chili sauce to taste (optional).
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