Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs (+ Video!)

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs threaded with juicy, flavorful chicken, caramelized pineapple and crunchy veggies then slathered with sweet and tangy Hawaiian Sauce that is out of this world!

These Chicken Kabobs need to make it to you “Must Make List” now!  They are so tantalizing delicious, I’ve included instructions for both grilling and broiling so you can make them year round.  These sizzling chicken kabobs are wonderfully easy to make with a marinade that doubles as the glaze but deliver a huge explosion of flavor in each paradisaical bite. 

CHICKEN KABOBS RECIPE VIDEO

close up shot of four chicken pineapple kabobs on rice

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs Recipe

These Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs were actually inspired by my Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe.  With hundreds of positive reviews, many saying it is the “best sweet and sour chicken ever,” I knew that with just a few adjustments, that sweet and sour sauce would lend itself beautifully to sweet and tangy Hawaiian Sauce. 

And I was right. Patrick devoured six Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs in one sitting and I was transported to sweet and tangy island perfection.

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Kabobs Ingredients

The ingredients needed for these chicken pineapple kabobs are simple!

  • Chicken breasts: Be sure to cut the chicken into even-sized cubes so it cooks at the same rate.
  • Fresh pineapple: Fresh pineapple is a must. Do not use canned, as it’s too soft to grill.
  • Bell peppers: I used a red and a green bell pepper. Use whatever you’d like.
  • Onion: Any variety of onion can be used to make these grilled chicken kabobs.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil prevents the kabobs from sticking to the grill.
  • Cornstarch: Helps thicken the reserved marinade and transforms it into a sweet and sour glaze that gets brushed onto the chicken shish kabobs just before serving them.

And here’s what you’ll need for the Hawaiian chicken kabob marinade:

  • Canned pineapple juice: DO NOT USE fresh pineapple juice as it contains the enzyme bromelain, which will leave your chicken mushy.  In CANNED pineapple, however, the bromelain is extracted so the juice will infuse your chicken with flavor without becoming mushy.
  • Red wine vinegar: Adds the fruity tang which works with the pineapple juice to create the “sour” effect. 
  • Sugar: Granulated (plain white sugar) sugar provides the balancing “sweet” to the sour. 
  • Ketchup: Try to get your hands on an organic ketchup or one that hasn’t been sweetened with corn syrup.
  • Soy sauce: Use reduced sodium soy sauce so we can control the salt.
  • Salt: You need a little salt to balance out the sweetness of the sauce.
  • Spices: Garlic powder, ginger powder, and red pepper flakes kick up the flavor without adding heat.

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs - this is my new favorite grill recipe! the chicken is so juicy and flavorful and the sweet and sour Hawaiian Sauce (that doubles as a marinade) is out of this world!
How to Make Chicken Kabobs

These chicken pineapple kabobs are a breeze to make! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Whisk together the sweet and tangy marinade ingredients.
  2. Add ¼ cup of this marinade to a large freezer bag along with chicken and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to evenly coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 1-4 hours.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons Marinade to a large bowl along with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add pineapple and veggies and toss to coat. Refrigerate.
  4. When ready to cook, drain marinade from chicken and thread chicken, peppers and onions onto skewers.
  5. Grill or oven broil the chicken kabobs until done (I’ve given detailed instructions for both cooking methods in the recipe card below).
  6. Add reserved marinade to a small saucepan and whisk in 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Bring to a boil and simmer until slightly thickened.
  7. Brush thickened glaze over cooked kabobs. Enjoy!

How Long to Cook Chicken Kabobs

When you’re ready to grill, take care to grease the surface of the grill with vegetable oil using a grilling brush immediately before adding your kabobs – other wise they will stick.

Heat grill to medium-high heat and make sure it is nice and hot — you should hear a “sizzle” when you add your chicken kebabs.  Grill chicken kabobs for 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally until lightly charred and chicken is cooked through and you have juicy, tender, flavorful chicken, sweet, caramelized pineapple, crisp-tender peppers and charred onions.  

four grilled chicken kabobs on bed of rice with fresh pineapple slices

Tips for Making Chicken Shish Kabobs

Chicken Kabobs are pretty straight forward, but there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.

  • Skewers.  You can use metal or wood skewers but just take care you soak your wood skewers for at least 30 minutes otherwise they can catch fire!  For this chicken kabob recipe, I recommend soaking your skewers when you start marinating your chicken.
  • Chopping:  Cut your chicken into 1 ½ inch cubes in order to keep them juicy.  Avoid cutting the chicken too small or it can easily overcook. Try and chop the chicken roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Marinate Chicken: The difference between a great chicken kabob and an okay chicken kabob is marinating.  Marinating not only tenderizes the chicken but helps it stay juicy and moist while cooking and infuses it with flavor all at the same time.   The best part about these Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs is the glaze, so they are get a double dose of it both in the marinade that also doubles as the glaze.  
  • Marinate veggies and pineapple:  We also want extra flavorful veggies and pineapple so we toss them with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons marinade.  This easy, simple step elevates these chicken kabobs to a whole new level by adding moisture, flavor and helps keep them from sticking to the grill – winning! 
  • Thread chicken kabobs:  Thread the chicken, fresh pineapple, peppers and onions onto your in alternating fashion.  If you don’t want to worry about alternating the ingredients, you can make all chicken skewers, all pineapple skewers, all bell pepper skewers and all pineapple skewers.
  • How much space? As far as spacing, there are two schools of thought.  Some like to leave a little space in between the items so heat can circulate evenly while they cook.  Others, me included, like to pack everything pretty close together –  not smashed together, but touching.  With the cubes this close, the kabobs will take longer to cook because the heat isn’t reaching all sides of the food at once which can prevent overcooking and promote juicier chicken kabobs.

Hawaiian Chicken Kabob Variations

  • Chicken.  I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts but you are also welcome to use chicken thighs, just keep in mind that light meat will cook faster than dark meat so it isn’t a good idea to combine on one skewer.  Chicken breasts have a bad reputation for being dry but with our  marinade, cutting the chicken into 1 1/2″ cubes and not overcooking, you have a winner winner chicken dinner.
  • Veggies. You’re welcome to mix and match the veggies on these grilled chicken kabobs as you see fit. Zucchini, mushrooms, and more would all be tasty additions!
  • Oven Broiled. You can grill these chicken kabobs or broil them in the oven. The flavor is very similar, so use whichever cooking method is best for you!
three hawaiian chicken kabobs on bed of rice with fresh pineapple slices

Can I Prep Chicken Kabobs in Advance?

The only thing you can prep in advance is the sweet and tangy glaze. It’ll keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. Everything else needs to be prepped day of.

How to Store Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Leftover kabobs should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll last up to 4 days.

How to Reheat Chicken Shish Kabobs

You can gently reheat these chicken pineapple kabobs on the grill, or you can remove the chicken and veggies from the skewers and reheat leftovers in a skillet (like a stir-fry!).

close up of hawaiian chicken kabobs

What to Serve with Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Chicken shish kabobs are best with all your favorite potluck foods!  You can go as simple as chips and watermelon or amp it up with pasta salad, fruit salad and grilled corn.  Here are some of our favorite sides to serve with kabobs:

Looking for More Kabob Recipes?

You might also like these summer recipes:

Want to try these Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs?

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs - this is my new favorite grill recipe! the chicken is so juicy and flavorful and the sweet and sour Hawaiian Sauce (that doubles as a marinade) is out of this world!

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs threaded with juicy, flavorful chicken, caramelized pineapple and crispy veggies then slathered with sweet and tangy Hawaiian Sauce for the ultimate taste of tropical paradise!  These sizzling chicken kabobs are wonderfully easy with a marinade that doubles as the glaze but deliver a huge explosion of flavor in each paradisaical bite. 
Servings: 10 -12 kabobs
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts chopped into 1 1/2″ cubes (4-6 chicken breasts)
  • 1 fresh pineapple, chopped into 1 1/2” pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Sweet and Tangy Marinade/Glaze

Instructions

  • Note: If using wooden skewers, soak for at least 30 minutes in water before grilling or broiling.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk Sweet and Tangy Marinade/Glaze ingredients together. Add ¼ cup of this Marinade to a large freezer bag along with chicken and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to evenly coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 1-4 hours.
  • Add 2 tablespoons Marinade to a large bowl along with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add pineapple and veggies and toss to coat. Refrigerate. Refrigerate remaining Glaze separately (“Reserved Glaze”).
  • When ready to cook, drain marinade from chicken and thread chicken, peppers and onions onto skewers.
  • Add reserved Sweet and Tangy Glaze to a small saucepan and whisk in 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Bring to a boil (either on grill or stovetop) and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes (it will continue to thicken upon standing). Set aside.
  • TO GRILL: Generously grease grill and heat to medium-high heat. Grill chicken kabobs for approximately 12-15 minutes, rotating every couple minutes until nicely browned and slightly charred on each side and chicken is cooked through. Brush kabobs with Sweet and Tangy Glaze.
  • TO OVEN BROIL: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the chicken kabobs in a single layer and broil, turning every 5 minutes until cooked through, about 10- 15 minutes depending on thickness of chicken. Brush cooked chicken with Sweet and Tangy Glaze.
  • Serve with rice.

Video

Notes

Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
***DO NOT USE fresh pineapple juice as it contains the enzyme bromelain which will leave your chicken mushy.  In CANNED pineapple, however, the bromelain is extracted so the juice will infuse your chicken with flavor without becoming mushy.

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41 Comments

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Shiva, I hope you love them!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Anna, I am obsessed with grilled pineapple too! I have to force myself not to use it in every recipe I make 🙂

  1. Dianne says

    New to your site. But growing up my grandma always cooked us sweet and sour hamburger and sweet and sour chicken. Since her passing Ive yet to make her recipe which I loved growing up. Why I have no idea. Maybe a memory of missing her . Although I tried this recipe tonight it was really good. Loved putting it on the smoker. Husband even says it was good and light and easy in the belly. Thanks I’m sure I’ll be back again to see what else you have.

    • Dianne says

      I should say it reminded me a lot of her recipe!!

    • Jen says

      How fun to find a recipe that reminds you of your grandma and her recipes! So happy both you and your husband enjoyed it and it sounds delicious on the smoker! I hope you have fun exploring my site, have a wonderful week!

  2. Valerie says

    It looks delicious…but would the glaze work with less sugar or a substitute of some kind? I can’t wait to try this and so many other recipes on your website! Great Job!

    • Jen says

      Hi Valerie! You could possibly substitute honey but you definitely need some sort of sweetness to balance out the acidity. Thank you for visiting my site, I hope enjoy trying my recipes!

  3. Diane says

    Have you tried this with shrimp? Looking to do a chicken and shrimp dinner with separate kabobs for cooking time only. Wondered how this would be on shrimp as well over coconut rice.

    • Jen says

      Hi Diane, sorry for my delayed response as I am just getting back from Lake Powell without any service. I haven’t tried this with shrimp, but I think it would be absolutely delicious!

  4. Nikki says

    LOVE LOVE this recipe, made it for the second time last night this time with boneless skinless thighs ((cleaning out the freezer) both were delicious.

    Thank you

    • Jen says

      Awesome Nikki! I am thrilled you love it so much! Thank you so much for making my day!

  5. Sherri says

    The Sweet & Tangy kabob recipe is to die for. I’ve made these repeatedly over the last month and I’m doing them again tonight.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Sherri, I’m thrilled you love it so much!

  6. Judy says

    Made these last nights get and they were delicious. The thickened glaze at the end is a must! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Judy, so happy to hear it was a winner! And yes, the glaze, mmmmmm! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  7. Jordan says

    We’ve tried this recipe three times and absolutely loved it the first time. The next two times the chicken was very mushy and Chalky. At first we just thought it was the chicken but then after our third attempt and doing some google searching I believe we found the root cause of the issue. We were using fresh pineapple and fresh pinnapple juice in the marinate which appartently contains bromelain – an enzyme that digests proteins. The bromelain in cannned pinnapple is extracted in the canning process so you won’t have issues.

    The first time we made these we didn’t have time to marinate – the other two we marinated for 30+ mins – using fresh pinnapple each time. Lesson we learned, either use canned pinnapple, leave out the fresh pinnapple juice, or don’t marinate. Hope this helps others avoid our chalky, mushy, chicken mistake! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Jordan, that is fascinating and new to me – I really appreciate you sharing! I have only ever used canned pineapple juice so I never had the mush problem. I will change the recipe to indicate that. Thank you!

  8. Bernie says

    I am doing a post football tailgate party. These look like they would fit what I am looking for but I will be serving them cold. How do you think they would be grilled, stored and served cold or room temperature?

    • Jen says

      Hi Bernie, I would go with room temperature – should still taste good – not as good as warm but still good 🙂 Have fun!

  9. Rachel says

    Can I prepare ahead of time and freeze these? Any suggestions or ideas?

  10. Jenny says

    Can I marinate this over night?

    • Jen says

      No, I don’t recommend marinating this overnight – the chicken will get mushy.

  11. Retno says

    I really want to make Hawaiian salmon and this marinade sounds amazing. Do you think this marinade will work with salmon? How would you suggest I make a salmon version of this. Thanks in advance.

    • Jen says

      I think it would be great on salmon but I wouldn’t marinate it longer than 30 minutes. Enjoy!

  12. Julie says

    The marinade is so good you honestly don’t even need the glaze. When I make it again I will use less vinegar and a little more spice, just personal preference, but the whole family loved it.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Julie! I’m honored the chicken kabobs are stand alone delicious and the whole family loved it!

  13. Mobasir Hassan says

    I like most because you describe everything so easily. It make a great sense. Love all your recipes. I have tried this one at a coffee shop restaurant. Every body like it

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you find my recipes easy to follow and delicious!

  14. Belinda Voss says

    These kabobs were amazing. We made so many for a very large group of campers and they were a big hit. We kept the chicken a bit bigger and put 4 pcs on a skewer with the veggies and pineapple. The chicken was so juicy and flavorful and the way the pineapple candies after being bbqed was amazing!

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thanks so much for making my day Belinda! I’m thrilled the chicken kabobs were such a hit – what a fun camping food!

  15. Bianca Moya says

    Hey! I would love to make this, but I want to oven broil, what should I sent my oven to? (In Fahrenheit)

    • Jen says

      Hi Biana, you an bake instead of broil: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide chicken between baking sheets. Bake 15-20 minutes OR until chicken is cooked through being careful not to overcook or chicken will not be as tender (internal temp of 165 degrees F).

  16. Christina Hurt says

    Can you use canned pineapple for the recipe?

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! Canned pineapple tends to fall of skewers easier because it’s softer so just be aware of that.

  17. Krissi Komar says

    Super simple recipe that was absolutely scrumptious! We loved pouring some sauce on top of the rice, so we doubled the glaze/marinade. So finger licking good!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Krissi, I lovo hearing it was such a hit!

  18. Pat Zuzack says

    Can I start marinating day before?

    • Jen says

      No, marinating too long will make the chicken mushy. Sorry!

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