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Hawaiian Chicken

This quick and easy Hawaiian chicken recipe will whisk you and your taste buds away to the tropics! It’s a simple marinate-and-cook recipe that elevates pantry staples to your own juicy, sweet and tangy paradisiacal oasis imbued with exotic flavors with unparalleled satisfaction. To make this Hawaiian chicken recipe, simply whisk together pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, Asian sweet chili sauce, ginger and garlic, marinate then grill – that’s it! Zero dishes, zero cleanup and prep ahead friendly for an easy weeknight dinner that’s delicious enough for company and entertaining. This Hawaiian chicken is sensational with grilled pineapple and cilantro lime rice or in salads, sandwiches, wraps and even tacos!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Tropical
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes
Servings 4 6 servings


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs



  • Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a large freezer bag or bowl. Remove 1/4 cup to baste chicken while grilling.
  • Add chicken, remove excess air, seal and turn to coat. Marinate 4-24 hours (marinate up to 12 hours if using chicken breasts).
  • Heat grill to medium-high heat (375-400 degrees F), clean and grease. Add chicken and cook 6-8 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and the chicken registers 165-175 degrees F. Baste the chicken with the reserved 1/4 cup marinade the last 3 minutes.
  • Hawaiian chicken is especially delicious with fresh grilled pineapple and cilantro lime rice.


Tips and Tricks

  • **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.
  • Use chicken thighs.  For the juiciest, most flavorful, succulent Hawaiian chicken, use chicken thighs. I’ve tried both chicken breasts and thighs (as you can see by the photos) and I prefer chicken thighs hands down and HIGHLY encourage you to use them.  Chicken thighs are juicier, more tender, and richer tasting AKA far superior in every way.  Chicken thighs are also hard to overcook which means they’re less likely to dry out initially and stay tender for days even when reheated.
  • Marinate chicken long enough.  The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it will become.  That being said, if you use chicken breasts, take care not to over-marinate as they are more prone to breaking down to an unpleasant texture.
  • Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking.  You always want to let any protein sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking (and larger cuts even longer).  The logic is that room temperature chicken will cook faster if started at a higher temperature which means the outside is less likely to overcook and less time for moisture to be released while cooking.  It also cooks more evenly and you aren’t left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior. 
  • Clean grill before cooking. You should clean your grill grates before and after grilling with a wire grill brush to remove any residue. This will help create beautiful grill marks and help prevent the chicken from sticking.
  • Grease grill or pan very well.  For the grill, generously grease the CLEAN grill with a wad of oiled paper towels using tongs; NEVER use spray oils once the grill is on. For a grill pan, use paper towels to coat in oil; if using a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil before adding the chicken.
  • Don’t add chicken until the grill is hot.  Heat up the grill with the lid closed so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes.  Don’t add the chicken until the grill reaches temperature or it won’t sear as nicely.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.  Always use a meat thermometer so you don’t undercook or overcook your chicken.  A meat thermometer means perfectly cooked, tender, juicy chicken ever time.
  • Let chicken rest.  After chicken is finished cooking, transfer it to a cutting board and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing so it has time to reabsorb the juices that have pushed towards the outside of the chicken. If you cut into the chicken immediately after cooking, valuable, moisture-giving juices will run out.
  • Get creative!  Serve this chicken plain or in grain bowls, salads, pasta salad, wraps, sandwiches, even pizza!  See the post for lots of ideas!


  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Add chicken thighs to the baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165-175 degrees F, flipping chicken half way through and basting.


  • Move oven rack to the top position. Line a baking sheet with foil (not parchment paper or it will burn) and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  • Add chicken thighs to the baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
  • Broil chicken for 6 minutes on each side (12 minutes total), basting before and after you flip the chicken. 


  • Grease an indoor grill pan or heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Working in batches, remove chicken from marinade and let excess marinade drip off. Add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 4-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side.
  • Turn chicken over and cook an addition 4-5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 -175 F.