Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

5 from 2 votes
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Mouthwatering, sweet, savory Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Thighs or breasts are kicking with flavor. Ginger, garlic, pineapple with bbq flavors in every bite. This is my favorite time of year! Grilling season. It’s the best way to get huge flavors into lean protein and pair it with fresh, seasonal veggies.

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Why Make Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Thighs

I truly can’t think of a better combination than ginger, soy sauce, bbq and garlic. This meal really makes me do a happy dance with every bite. The chicken gets a wonderful saucy glaze on it while cooking and it just melts in your mouth.

  • It can be made with breasts or chicken thighs! Both work great with the marinade.
  • Grill, Bake Or Air Fry it. This recipe can be made several different way. I prefer the grill but you can do any way you’d like.
  • Family Approved. Everyone in my family was blown away by this, it’s also great for the kiddos since the flavor is sweet and savory.
  • Versatile with several sides. This Hawaiian BBQ Chicken goes great with BBQ sides, read the recipe pairings section for all my favorites. Also try my Bang Bang Chicken Skewers or Garlic Parmesan Skewers for another favorite.

What makes Hawaiian BBQ different?

Hawaiian BBQ flavors are more tropical and sweet in flavor than traditional bbq. They have pineapple juice mixed into the sauce and marinades. It is like the island-influenced version of a traditional Southern barbecue. This makes it a wonderful summer grill meal to change things up and impress the family or guests.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients in small bowls and measuring ups on a counter.

All other ingredients and measurements can be found in the recipe card towards the bottom of this post. 

  • Chicken Breasts Or Thighs. I use boneless and skinless chicken for this recipe. Both work wonderfully I use both interchangeably.
  • Sesame Oil. This adds a nice nutty flavor to the Hawaiian Chicken Thighs marinade.
  • Soy Sauce. Use low sodium if needed.
  • Pineapple Rings and Juice. You will need both for this recipe, canned works perfect.
  • Brown Sugar. This add a sweetness and a nice glaze.
  • Tomato Paste & Ketchup. Both add a depth of flavor and acidity to the dish.
  • Fresh Ginger. This adds a huge delicious spiced flavor.
  • Garlic. Use fresh garlic or garlic powder.
  • Seasonings. Red pepper flakes, chili powder, nutmeg.
  • Cilantro & or Green Onions. Garnish, optional.

Recipe Variations

Meats. This marinade would be great on steak, salmon or shrimp if you want a different protein.

Make it gluten free. Use tamari or coconut aminos for a soy/gluten free substitute.

Grill or air fry this recipe. You can also bake the Hawaiian BBQ chicken if needed. All cooking instructions will be listed in the recipe card.

Steps To Make This Recipe

Are you ready to cook? Grab some bowls and all the ingredients and let’s get the chicken marinated. You are going to love this easy, full throttle flavored meal.

Steps to make this Hawaiian BBQ in bowls and glass bowl with chicken thighs.

Step One. Prepare the Hawaiian bbq marinade. Add all the ingredients and whisk well. Set aside.

Step Two. Prepare the chicken, pat it dry, add it to a large ziplock bag or deep bowl. Pour 1/2 of the marinade over the chicken. Mix it well to ensure all the chicken is nice and coated. Cover it and set in the fridge for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours to marinate. Refrigerate the remaining marinade until the chicken is ready to be grilled.

Grilling The Chicken

Step Three. Once the chicken has marinated for at least 20 minutes (and when you are ready to cook and serve) Heat the grill up to medium. Be sure to brush grill and clean it before adding the chicken thighs or breasts.

Step Four. Bring the refrigerated leftover 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).

Step Five. Place the chicken on the preheated grill (discard the marinade in the bag/dish) and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, continue to turn the chicken until it reaches 165º internally. Start to baste the chicken liberally on both sides with the thickened marinade. About 8-10 minutes per side (total for cooking). Add the pineapple rings to the grill for the last 4 minutes of cooking.

Step Six. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes and serve over salads, rice or as is with your favorite sides. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Enjoy!

Other Cooking Methods

Air Frying Instructions; add the chicken to the air fryer (you may need to do 2 batches). Cook on 350º for 15-18 minutes. Be sure to stop the timer and baste the chicken with the simmered marinade halfway through the process. Cook until chicken reaches 165º internally. Use the leftover marinade to pour over the chicken once you serve it. Warm the pineapples in a skillet over the stove with 1 tsp of oil or serve them at room temp with the chicken.


Oven Instructions. Preheat oven to 375º. Add the chicken to a non stick baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, baste with the simmered marinade halfway through the cook. Cook until the chicken reaches 165º internally. Warm the pineapples in a skillet over the stove with 1 tsp of oil or serve them at room temp with the chicken.

What To Serve With Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Thighs

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t overcook the chicken! I highly recommend a digital thermometer.
  • Cook the chicken however you are most comfortable. I REALLY recommend the grill but you will enjoy it no matter which way you cook it.
  • Taste the marinade as you go, before pouring over the chicken, just be sure you like the flavors. You can add more brown sugar or soy sauce to make it sweeter or saltier.
Is Hawaiian bbq chicken healthy?

Yes, it’s light and healthy and full of lean protein. Keep it healthy by being mindful of the side!

Which is better breats or chicken thighs for Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

I prefer thighs, they are so forgiving and keep juicy no matter how they are cooked. But breasts are also lovely and delicious. Please use whichever you prefer.

Other BBQ Favorites

If you loved this recipe let me know! Also, follow me on Instagram & Pinterest for even more fun recipes to make you feel good from the inside out. Thanks for being here.

White ceramic bowls with juicy Hawaiian BBQ Chicken over rice and a fork to the side.
5 from 2 votes

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

Mouthwatering, sweet, savory Hawaiian BBQ Chicken thighs or breasts are kicking with flavor. Ginger, garlic, pineapple with bbq flavor.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • large bowl or bag to marinade
  • digital thermometer
  • basting brush

Ingredients 

  • 2 lb chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, breasts work as well! or mix the two like I did
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped , for garnish
  • 3 green onions, chopped , for garish

Marinade

  • 20 oz can pineapple rings + ¾ cup juice
  • cup soy sauce , low sodium is preferred
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Optional Ingredients

  • long grain white rice
  • avocado slices

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Hawaiian bbq marinade. Add all the ingredients and whisk well. Set aside. 
  • Prepare the chicken, pat it dry, add it to a large ziplock bag or deep bowl. Pour 1/2 of the marinade over the chicken. Mix it well to ensure all the chicken is nice and coated. Cover it and set in the fridge for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours to marinate. Refrigerate the remaining marinade until the chicken is ready to be grilled.
  • Once the chicken has marinated for at least 20 minutes (and when you are ready to cook and serve) Heat the grill up to medium. Be sure to brush grill and clean it before adding the chicken thighs or breasts. 
  • Bring the refrigerated leftover 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).

Grilling The Chicken

  • Place the chicken on the preheated grill (discard the marinade in the bag/dish) and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, continue to turn the chicken until it reaches 165º internally. Start to baste the chicken liberally on both sides with the thickened marinade. About 8-10 minutes per side (total for cooking). Add the pineapple rings to the grill for the last 4 minutes of cooking. 
  • Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes and serve over salads, rice or as is with your favorite sides. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green onions. Enjoy! 
  • Air Frying Instructions; add the chicken to the air fryer (you may need to do 2 batches). Cook on 350º for 15-18 minutes. Be sure to stop the timer and baste the chicken with the simmered marinade halfway through the process. Cook until chicken reaches 165º internally. Use the leftover marinade to pour over the chicken once you serve it. Warm the pineapples in a skillet over the stove with 1 tsp of oil or serve them at room temp with the chicken. 
  • Oven Instructions. Preheat oven to 375º. Add the chicken to a non stick baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, baste with the simmered marinade halfway through the cook. Cook until the chicken reaches 165º internally. Warm the pineapples in a skillet over the stove with 1 tsp of oil or serve them at room temp with the chicken. 

Notes

  • Don’t overcook the chicken! I highly recommend a digital thermometer. 
  • Cook the chicken however you are most comfortable. I REALLY recommend the grill but you will enjoy it no matter which way you cook it. 
  • Taste the marinade as you go, before pouring over the chicken, just be sure you like the flavors. You can add more brown sugar or soy sauce to make it sweeter or saltier. 
  • Please note, nutritional info doesn’t include the rice or avocado. Also, the calories  and other values will be less than what it reads since half of the marinade will be discarded from raw chicken marinade and NOT eaten 
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can freeze these for up to 2 months.   

Nutrition

Serving: 3 thighs | Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 1248mg | Potassium: 798mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 572IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Bailey
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 4
Calories: 529
Keyword: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Thighs
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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Easy and simple to make with so much depth of flavor. I couldn’t stop eating this and can’t wait to eat the left overs.