Grilled Hawaiian Chicken

The flavor of this tender, juicy grilled Hawaiian chicken is insanely delicious! I can’t stop making it (especially for company!)…and serving it with grilled pineapple and cilantro lime rice. YUM!

Grilled hawaiian chicken on plate with grilled pineapple and rice.

Ok, guys. Meet my new favorite summer meal.

Seriously…SO RIDICULOUSLY DELICIOUS. I can’t get over it.

My sweet empty-nester friend Dee and her husband Wilson, who knew Brian when he was a wee lad himself and they all lived in the Dallas, Texas area, were {very} brave and invited our whole family over for dinner a while ago.

The kids spilled gallons of bubbles in their immaculately curated back yard while Wilson grilled up this Hawaiian chicken. One bite and honestly, I wanted to die – it was the tastiest chicken I’d ever had.

After the kids and I cleaned up the bubbles (ahem, and the other back yard mayhem), I dared ask Dee for the recipe…and I’ve been making this grilled Hawaiian chicken right and left ever since, including for the last three out of four people who’ve joined us for dinner.

Grilled hawaiian chicken thighs on white platter.

Usually after making a recipe that often, I’m kind of done. I need a break. A little time to myself.

But not with this grilled Hawaiian chicken. I could eat it every night for the rest of forever.

Friends, MAKE IT! It’s lifechanging good.

Now here’s the thing. I know you…and you know me. And over the years, I’ve only posted a handful of recipes calling for chicken thighs because quite honestly, they kind of gross me out a little when I prepare them.

So I usually opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. And I love ’em! And definitely prefer them for *most* chicken dishes.

But for this exceptional Hawaiian chicken (although by this point we know that it’s prolly not authentic Hawaiian food, so don’t call me out on that, ok?), I’m using my best bossy voice to strongly encourage you to go for the chicken thighs.

I grab boneless, skinless chicken thighs at Costco, put my big girl apron on, power through it, and trim the heck out of those thighs. It’s worth it.

Grilled hawaiian chicken on plate with grilled pineapple and rice.

It didn’t take us long to realize that while we love this grilled Hawaiian chicken (we loooove it – is this the most redundant post ever or what?), it becomes a meal worthy of epic, widespread attention when served with grilled pineapple and cilantro lime rice (or coconut rice!)

I don’t do anything fancy for the grilled pineapple – just cut it in strips and toss it on the grill with the chicken. You can brush some of the reserved, non-icky-chicken marinade over the pineapple if you so desire. Divine.

The strong, teriyaki-vibe of the marinade is perfect with the tangy-sweet, fresh pineapple and cilantro lime rice.

Anyway, now that I’ve totally fangirled out over this amazing grilled chicken (and tasty little side dishes), I’m really hoping you love it as much as I do.

I probably should have dialed back the excitement a bit – you know, keep the expectations low and all that.

But it’s pretty impossible with something this yummy. ENJOY!

P.S. I haven’t tried this yet (because I’m a grilling fool in the summer), but I’m just waiting for someone to dump this in the Instant Pot and give it a whirl!

Grilled hawaiian chicken thighs on white platter.


Cilantro Lime Rice or Coconut Rice
Grilled pineapple (I just slice it in 1-inch strips and toss it on the grill with the chicken – SO yummy!)
Green salad or roasted veggie

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Grilled Hawaiian Chicken

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (see note)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce (see note)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated or finely minced ginger (or use ginger paste)
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish or in a gallon-size ziploc bag.
  2. Whisk together the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic until the brown sugar is dissolved (or mostly dissolved). Pour half of the marinade over the chicken in the bag so the chicken is evenly coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Refrigerate the remaining marinade until the chicken is ready to be grilled.
  4. Preheat grill to medium- or medium-high (I use 400 degrees on my pellet grill).
  5. Bring the refrigerated reserved marinade to a simmer in a small saucepan on the stove. Simmer for 5-10 minutes (the longer it simmers the more reduced and slightly thickened it will be).
  6. Place the chicken on the preheated grill (discard the marinade in the bag/dish) and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F at the thickest part, about 7-8 minutes per side. During the last 3-4 minutes of cooking, baste the chicken liberally with the simmered sauce/marinade.
  7. Serve the cooked chicken with the warm marinade (to be drizzled over – it’s especially yummy if serving this chicken with cilantro lime rice or coconut rice).

Notes:

If you are like me, the thought of using chicken thighs may not be super exciting. I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts 99% of the time when chicken is called for in a recipe, but I’ve tried both chicken breasts and chicken thighs in this recipe, and chicken thighs are far, far, far superior. The flavor is deeper and the chicken is so incredibly juicy and tender. I buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs from Costco and trim as much fast as I can before using. 

I’ve only made this recipe with low-sodium soy sauce. I have a feeling it would work quite well with tamari or coconut aminos (but I haven’t tried it myself yet). 

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Recipe Source: introduced to me by my friend Dee N. (she got it from FavFamilyRecipes and I adapted it from there!)