Hawaiian chicken skewers are an easy grilled recipe loaded with protein, vegetables, and fruit. Tender pieces of chicken thighs get marinated in a pineapple teriyaki sauce for a boost of flavor to the island-inspired dish!
Hawaiian chicken skewers are the perfect solution for an easy to make grilled appetizer or entree with bold island-inspired ingredients. Adding pieces of vibrant, colorful fruits and vegetables like zucchini, bell pepper, red onion, and pineapple chunks deliver flavor and nutrition.
Before the chicken cooks, it gets infused in a pineapple teriyaki marinade to maximize the sweet and tangy notes on the surface. The smoky and lightly charred grilled chicken drizzled with sticky sauce makes for amazing handheld kebobs.
Make sure to marinate!
- The visible flavor on the surface!
- The salt in the soy sauce acts as a brine, helping to move water molecules in the meat, making the meat juicier.
- The natural acid in the pineapple juice and rice vinegar help to tenderize the meat in a short time, minimum 30 minutes.
Thicken the teriyaki sauce
The sauce mixture is divided up into the reserved marinade, leaving the remainder to make a sticky sauce that clings to the Hawaiian chicken. Just a small amount of cornstarch slurry functions as a thickening agent, adding viscosity and richness to the sauce in just minutes.
How to properly skewer the chicken
Who would have thought that there’s a method to threading ingredients onto a skewer? Keep a few tips in mind for grilling success:
- If using wooden skewers soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent quickly burning.
- Cut the protein and vegetables into comparable sizes for even cooking time.
- Thread the ingredients, so they’re similar in shape for even contact with the grill plates.
- Place ingredients close together, with a small amount of space between so that the heat can distribute around the food, especially the chicken.
- Always clean and oil the grill before cooking to help prevent sticking.
- Pre-heat the grill before you place the chicken down.
- Cook until the chicken is no longer pink or reaches 165ºF (74ºC) on an instant-read thermometer.
This recipe is reminiscent of trips to the Hawaiian islands, with the flavors reflecting staple island ingredients. Once I learned the easy method for how to cut a pineapple, the taste of fresh fruit is always preferred over the canned.
The combination of fermented soy sauce, pungent ginger, and garlic for the teriyaki sauce is an excellent base for many island dishes like tuna poke which is also a favorite dish in Hawaii.
Just like you would find on a lunch plate in Hawaii, I would serve these chicken skewers with macaroni or potato salad and rice, or cauliflower rice for a low carb option. It’s an easy chicken recipe that will disappear quickly hot off the grill drizzled with more sauce!
More chicken recipes
Choose the right type of chicken to grill
It’s always a great debate between using chicken breasts or chicken thighs for grilling. Lean pieces of breast meat give nice chunks. However, they can quickly dry out if cooked too long so keep a close eye on doneness. I recommend using pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The slight increase in fat prevents the chicken from drying out as quickly when in contact with the high heat of the grill.
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Hawaiian Chicken Skewers
- 8 skewers
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ¾ cup pineapple juice
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mirin rice wine
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 1 ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup red bell pepper, 1-inch dice
- 2 cups pineapple chunks, 1-inch wedges
- 2 cups zucchini, ½-inch thick slices
- 1 cup diced red onion, 1-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon green onion, thinly sliced
- If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking.
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together soy sauce, pineapple juice, honey, rice vinegar, mirin rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.
- Reserve ½ cup of the teriyaki sauce mixture.
- In a resealable plastic bag, add diced chicken and ½ cup of the reserved teriyaki sauce mixture.
- Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight in a refrigerator.
- Add the remaining teriyaki sauce mixture to a small saucepan, should be about 1 cup.
- In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water to make a cornstarch slurry.
- Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the cornstarch slurry to the boiling sauce, and whisk to combine.
- Continuously stir until a nice and thick sauce coats the back of a spoon, 30 to 60 seconds. Set sauce aside.
- Thread marinated chicken, red bell pepper, pineapple chunks, zucchini, and red onion on the skewers.
- Heat grill to medium-high.
- Add a small amount of vegetable oil on a folded piece of paper towel, and then carefully grease the grill.
- Once the grill is very hot, add the chicken skewers and discard the marinade.
- Cook on one side uncovered for 4 minutes.
- Flip over and cook another 4 minutes.
- Cook on the remaining sides for 2 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Remove chicken from the grill, glaze skewers with more sauce and garnish with green onions.
- Serve extra teriyaki sauce on the side and season chicken skewers with salt and pepper as desired.
- Brown sugar or maple syrup can be substituted for honey.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
- MAKE IT PALEO: Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, maple syrup instead of honey, and 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.
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