Pineapple Chicken (with Video!)

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

pile of pineapple chicken and grilled pineapple on white serving plate

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.

Ingredient Variations

  • 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.
pile of pineapple chicken and grilled pineapple on white serving plate

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:

  1. 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!
  2. Add ⅓ cup of the pineapple chicken marinade to a large freezer bag and whisk in ¼ cup olive oil.
  3. Add the chicken and marinate 2-4 hours in the refrigerator. Refrigerate the remaining marinade (will become your Glaze) separately.
  4. Cook chicken on grill or stove top according to directions.
  5. Add cornstarch to remaining marinade and simmer for a few minutes to thicken then slather all over your chicken.
  6. Devour.

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.
close up view of pile of pineapple chicken and grilled pineapple

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.
two pieces of grilled pineapple chicken on bed of rice in white bowl

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:

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Stove Top or Grilled Brown Sugar Pineapple Chicken - just 10 minutes prep for this easy, flavor bursting chicken! The sweet and tangy flavor is amazing with just the right amount of chili kick and the marinade doubles as an incredible glaze that I love adding to my rice! This is the BEST Hawaiian Chicken!

Pineapple Chicken

Stove Top or Grilled Pineapple Chicken - just 10 minutes prep for this easy, flavor bursting chicken! The sweet and tangy flavor is amazing with just the right amount of chili kick and the marinade doubles as an incredible glaze for no double work! This Pineapple Chicken makes a winning stress free entertaining favorite but is easy enough for back to school dinners. It 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 glaze/sauce is everything!
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins OR skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Marinade/Glaze

Garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • 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).

Notes

Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!
Total time does not include marinating as this will vary between individuals. **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.

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Reader Interactions

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40 Comments

  1. Katie says

    School has gotten earlier and earlier every year! The kids start next week and the moans and groans have already started – on both ends 🙂 This chicken looks fabulous though, just what I need for an easy meal. Thanks Jen, I love your recipes!

    • Jen says

      Hi Katie, I hope this chicken helps with at least your moans and groans 🙂 I love hearing that you are enjoying my recipes – thank you so much! I hope this becomes a new favorite!

      • Jack Mulder says

        Hi Jen!
        Your chicken dishes just blow me away! Haven’t tried everyone yet but I am working on it and I truely can not say I have a single favorite!! They are ALL MY FAVORITE!! Thank you ever so much. Hope you got my card. Thanks again,
        Jack in Carlsbad

        • Jen says

          Hi Jack! I am so happy you commented because in our move I misplaced your card and haven’t been able to respond- but thank you so much- that was seriously so extra thoughtful of you! And thank you so much for your wonderful comment- it brings me so much joy thinking you are making and loving so many of my recipes – yay! I wish you all the best Jack!

  2. Susan P says

    Oh my, your food always looks so delicious. I got a new grill and I’m looking for some new recipes. Definitely going to try this one. Thanks!

    • Jen says

      HI Susan, this is perfect for your new grill, so fun! I hope you have breaking in your grill with many new delicious recipes! Enjoy!

  3. Alaina @ A Not So Quiet Kitchen says

    This chicken sounds so good! I LOVE grilled pineapple! The grill marks on your chicken are just perfect! I usually make my hubby do the grilling cause honestly the grill intimidates me just a bit haha

    • Jen says

      Hi Alaina, Thanks for your comment! If you love pineapple, I think you will love this chicken! I used to be in the same boat and my husband did all the grilling too but once I started, I realized how easy it is – you can do it! 🙂

  4. Suzanne says

    I think I’ll try this but make it as a stir fry instead. So still marinate, then cook chicken, then I’ll do veggies and then combine everything together with the leftover marinade and serve over rice. Does this sound like it will work?

    • Jen says

      Hi Suzanne, yes, that is exactly how I would do it – yum! Enjoy!

  5. Anna says

    Oh wow, i absolutely need this in my life! Dinner is my favorite meal of the day. bookmarked :)) thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Anna, it is so nice to “meet” you! I explored your blog a little bit and your adventures look incredible! Congrats on all your success and fun doing what you love!

  6. Tammy says

    Hi Jen, i was going to cook this tonight, but forgot to buy pineapple juice, i am so sad. is there anything else i could use instead..re:juice? help..This looks amazing, been wanting to do it for weeks now.. Thank you Tammy

    • Jen says

      Hi Tammy, I am so sorry for my late response. I got pneumonia and have been a wet noodle. I hope you were able to get the pineapple juice and loved it!

    • Arianne W says

      I know this response is way late, but I used a combination of pineapple and orange juice, and it was delicious!

      • Margaret Wickert says

        Hmmmm…….I’ve made this before and loved it so I’m making it as a take in for a new mom:) I’ll try using orange and pineapple:)

  7. Katlyn says

    This looks so delicious! How many tenderloins would you say is 2 lbs? I cant wait to try this, I love cooked pineapple!

    • Jen says

      Hi Katlyn! I would say about 10-12. Hope you love it!

      • Katlyn says

        We had this last night for dinner and it was a huge hit! I mixed it with a veggie stir fry and served over rice. My very picky toddler kept asking for more and my husband said “you can make this again!” Lol thanks!

        • Jen says

          Thanks Katlyn, I am so happy your family enjoyed it! I love the idea of making veggie stir fry with it – yum! I would want it again too 🙂

  8. Stay Lee says

    Looks fabulous! ! I do have a question….where would I find the Asian Chili Sauce, and what does it taste like? If I cannot find it, do you recommend a substitute? I seriously can’t wait to try this!

    • Jen says

      Hi Stay, Sweet Asian Chili Sauce is my favorite – I am so excited for you to try it! You can find it in virtualy any grocery store- even super Wal-Mart. It will look something like (the one I use this) this or this.

  9. Jamie says

    Hey! Just had this for dinner! It was delicious! I was curious though, what is the caloric intake for this?!

  10. Cheri says

    I’m so excited to give this a try. Got all the ingredients and am making it right now. I’m sure it’s just me, but do I add the oil to the 1/3 C marinate and whisk it in the bag? I assume I am adding the chicken to the bag and reserving the larger amount for the glaze? Can’t wait to taste all the goodness. Thanks

    • Jen says

      Hi Cheri! Yes, the 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup marinade get whisked together in the bag and then you add your chicken. Hope this helps, enjoy!

  11. Betty says

    Wow! Delicious!!! My husband said I can make this every night!! Thanks for sharing…

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Betty! I’m so glad it was such a hit! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  12. Khawla says

    Is this reciepe diet ?!!!

    • Jen says

      It depends on your diet 🙂 Low in fat but it does have a good amount of brown sugar.

  13. Kate Thompson says

    Could i do this in the crockpot?

    • Jen says

      Hi Kate, I have never tried it that way but it should work fine – I would definitely still thicken the sauce on the stove then add it to uncooked chicken in the crockpot. Enjoy!

  14. Irene says

    What size can of pineapple juice?

    • Jen says

      Hi Irene! 1 cup pineapple juice would be a 8 ounces.

  15. Carol Hixson says

    Out of lemons. What do you think may happen if I use fresh lime juice, and if acceptable (?), should I use less of it than I would have if the lemon? Thank you for giving a guess.

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay, just got home from an Alaskan cruse and was without internet! You’ve probably already made this but I would have said to go ahead with the lime. I hope you liked it!

  16. Annika Flewelling says

    I have a problem with cornstarch, every time I try to whisk it into dishes it clumps up, could I use flour instead?

    • Jen says

      Hi Annika, for cornstarch, you just need to whisk, whisk! If you want to substitute flour, you will need double the amount. Flour can leave a flour after taste when not cooked out, so that is why I prefer cornstarch.

  17. Ashley says

    The image shows you serving this over grilled pineapple, but it isn’t listed in the recipe. If I wanted to add the pineapple, would I marinate it or use the glaze or just grill it by itself?

    Thanks! Excited to try this!

    • Jen says

      Hi Ashley, I would just grill it by itself, enjoy!