These Hawaiian pineapple chicken teriyaki skewers are a tropical twist on a Japanese favorite! This classic homemade teriyaki sauce is jazzed up with sweet pineapple and just the right amount of saltiness. The result is delicious, tender chicken made with simple ingredients, that is an easy weeknight meal too!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Easy homemade teriyaki sauce: Making a classic tangy teriyaki sauce from scratch is not complicated, and does not require any special ingredients. This marinade is as easy as it gets, with no cooking required.
Kid-friendly flavors: These chicken skewers do not have any added spice, which makes them perfect for the whole family. The skewers also make for a fun way to serve chicken to kids with no utensils needed!
No extended marinating time: Pineapple in the marinade helps tenderize the chicken much faster than a regular marinade. Because of this helpful trick, the chicken does not need to sit in the teriyaki sauce for very long. This is a true time saver for busy weeknights!
- Chicken breasts: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the best cut for these skewers. Chicken breasts are meatier, and can be cut into larger chunks to be skewered. Do not worry about the chicken drying out. The marinade and the pineapple will ensure juicy chicken every time.
- Canned pineapple: I use pineapple sliced into rings for this recipe. Canned pineapple is slightly better than fresh pineapple in this recipe as you will get a consistent sweetness each time. The flavor of fresh pineapple depends on how ripe it is, and if it is in season. This means sometimes you will end up with a slightly less flavorful pineapple than other times. Canned pineapple also works as a 2-in-1 since the pineapple juice is used in the marinade.
- Brown sugar: Dark brown sugar works best in this teriyaki sauce. Dark brown sugar has a higher molasses content, which helps to caramelize the chicken while cooking.
- Soy sauce: I recommend using low-sodium soy sauce. This teriyaki sauce is heavily soy sauce-based, so you will get more than enough saltiness with the reduced salt version.
- Chicken breasts: Feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, if that is what you have on hand. You will need a few more thighs, as they do not make the large, thick chunks of meat that chicken breasts give you. I also recommend trimming the extra fat off of the chicken thighs. Chicken tenderloins are a great option which is extra kid-friendly too!
- Canned pineapple: You can use a whole pineapple if you prefer to use fresh. You can also use canned pineapple chunks if you cannot find the sliced rings. Either one will work just fine.
- Brown sugar: Light brown sugar is a good substitute for dark brown sugar. I do not recommend using regular white sugar, as it does not have the same depth of flavor and caramelization that brown sugar has.
- Teriyaki: To save even more time on this recipe, use a bottle of store-bought teriyaki sauce and jazz it up with some pineapple juice. Nothing beats making your own teriyaki sauce, but this is a great time saver for the perfect weeknight meal.
- Ditch the skewers: The great thing about this pineapple teriyaki chicken recipe is that you can use it on any cut of chicken. You can use this sauce on whole chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on breasts, or even whole thighs. The choice is all yours.
- Extra vegetables: Skewer on bite-sized pieces of red bell pepper, green bell pepper, or red onions for extra crunch and vegetables.
- Different cooking methods: There are so many different ways to use this chicken mixture. These skewers are grilled, but you can also use this recipe to make slow cooker teriyaki chicken. If you don't want to grill these skewers, you can also bake them on a baking pan, or even throw these ingredients together into a stir fry for a delicious meal.
- Extra fruitiness: Add a splash of sweetness and citrus flavor with orange juice.
Prep Work Before Cooking
Collecting all ingredients: This will make cooking so much easier. Gather all the spices you will need, and keep them nearby.
Prep the chicken: Cut the chicken breasts into even-sized cubes. You will want the cubes to be approximately 1-1 ½" thick.
Cut the pineapple: Cut the pineapple slices into bite-sized chunks. Keep some of the rings whole to grill separately.
In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the pineapple teriyaki sauce. Whisk to combine until the sugar is completely mixed into the soy sauce. Transfer half of the marinade to a medium mixing bowl, and the other half to a small saucepan.
Add the cubed chicken and pineapple chunks to the mixing bowl with the marinade, and cover. Keep the chicken in the fridge for 20-25 minutes to marinate.
While the chicken marinates, place the saucepan with the teriyaki sauce over medium heat. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, add the cornstarch slurry, and mix well. Turn the heat to low and keep on the heat stirring occasionally. [photo 1]
Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers, alternating between chicken and pineapple chunks. Avoid leaving too much space between the pieces of chicken, as this will help with having moist chicken. [photo 2]
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat, and spray generously with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, sear the skewers on all sides. Baste the chicken skewers with the thickened teriyaki sauce. Grill until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165°F. The chicken should be fully cooked in approximately 15 minutes. [photos 3 & 4]
Do not over-marinate: The chicken does not need much time in the marinade to develop that great flavor you are looking for. If the chicken is left in the pineapple teriyaki sauce for too long, the texture of the chicken will change and become slightly unpleasant.
Cook without a grill pan: If you do not have a grill pan, that's no problem. Cook these chicken skewers in the air fryer at 380°F, or grill on the barbecue outdoors.
Soak the skewers: If you are using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill.
Make Ahead & Storage
The teriyaki sauce can be mixed 2-3 days in advance. Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge until you are ready to use.
Store the cooked chicken in the fridge in an airtight container. Leftover chicken should keep well in the fridge for 2 days. Store the leftover teriyaki sauce separately.
Reheat the cooked teriyaki pineapple chicken in the air fryer wrapped in foil, or in the oven. Wrapping the chicken in foil will help keep it moist.
- Serve cooked chicken skewers on a bed of white rice or brown rice. Go for cauliflower rice to keep things lower carb, or fried rice for extra flavor. Drizzle with extra teriyaki sauce for extra flavor.
- Make these chicken skewers into chicken teriyaki pineapple bowls. Add your favorite veggies like snap peas or edamame, and top with green onions, sesame seeds, and extra teriyaki sauce.
- Round out this Hawaiian-inspired recipe with homemade mac salad, and a baileys piña colada, too!
You can freeze cooked chicken teriyaki in airtight freezer bags, or a freezer-safe container. Thaw the chicken before reheating.
Be sure to add the cornstarch slurry to the teriyaki sauce while simmering, to get a thick, glossy consistency. If you leave the cornstarch out or do not use enough brown sugar, the sauce will have a thinner consistency.
More Chicken Recipes
Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken Teriyaki Skewers
- 1 lb Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, cut into 1-1 ½" cubes)
- 20 oz can Pineapple slices (cut into chunks for skewering)
- ¼ cup Pineapple juice (from canned pineapple)
- 1 tablespoon Fresh ginger (minced)
- 6 cloves Fresh garlic (minced)
- ¼ cup Dark brown sugar
- ½ cup Soy sauce
- In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the pineapple teriyaki sauce. Whisk to combine until the sugar is completely mixed into the soy sauce. Transfer half of the marinade to a medium mixing bowl, and the other half to a small saucepan.20 oz can Pineapple slices, ¼ cup Pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon Fresh ginger, 6 cloves Fresh garlic, ¼ cup Dark brown sugar, ½ cup Soy sauce
- Add the cubed chicken and pineapple chunks to the mixing bowl with the marinade, and cover. Keep the chicken in the fridge for 20-25 minutes to marinate.1 lb Chicken breasts
- While the chicken marinates, place the saucepan with the teriyaki sauce over medium heat. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, add the cornstarch slurry, and mix well. Turn the heat to low and keep on the heat stirring occasionally.
- Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers, alternating between chicken and pineapple chunks. Avoid leaving too much space between the pieces of chicken, as this will help with having moist chicken.
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat, and spray generously with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, sear the skewers on all sides. Baste the chicken skewers with the thickened teriyaki sauce.
- Grill until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165°F. The chicken should be fully cooked in approximately 15 minutes.
- Air fryer: Air fry chicken skewers at 380°F for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through to 165°F internally. Baste the chicken occasionally with the teriyaki sauce.
- Barbecue: Preheat the barbecue to approximately 500°F. Grill on direct heat for 10-13 minutes. Baste while cooking. If the sauce starts to burn, move the skewers to a cooler spot on the grill, or on the top rack.