Pineapple Chicken

4.91 from 20 votes
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This quick and easy pineapple chicken stir-fry is ready in just 30 minutes! What’s not to love about tender pieces of lean meat, colorful fruit, and healthy vegetables tossed in a sweet and tangy sauce?

For more Asian-inspired meals, try my chicken broccoli stir fry, shrimp stir fry, and cashew chicken stir fry.

Low carb and healthy pineapple chicken stir fry cooking in a wok.

Recipe Science

  • Cooking the chicken in pineapple juice tenderizes the meat due to the enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein fibers.
  • Cooking with pineapple chunks allows the fruit’s natural sugars to caramelize, enhancing the dish with a sweet, tangy flavor.
  • Combining pineapple with savory ingredients creates a balanced flavor profile. The pineapple’s acidity helps keep the chicken moist and flavorful.

Why It Works

Making grilled Hawaiian chicken skewers during the summer is a favorite of mine, but during the rest of the year, I grab my wok and fire up the stove. This easy pineapple chicken recipe is excellent for preparing as a weeknight dinner. The key is to have all components prepared and ready to toss into the pan.

Adding juicy, ripe pineapple pieces provides a sweet and tangy element to each serving. My sweet and sour chicken recipe inspired the sauce used here. Instead of citrus, tangy pineapple juice adds tropical flavor. Pair it with a comforting bowl of steamed rice or chow mein, and you have a complete meal.

Ingredients You’ll Need

A visual list of ingredients required to make this pineapple chicken recipe.
  • Chicken: Use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Choose white meat for a lean option, but keep an eye on cook time as it can dry out quickly. Dark meat has more fat to keep it moist, but trim the excess fat to prevent a greasy meal.
  • Pineapple: A fresh pineapple from the grocery store should smell fragrant and have a golden hue with green lines. To test, pluck one leaf from the center. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe. Check out my step-by-step tips to learn how to cut a pineapple into pieces, about ¾-inch in size. For convenience, canned pineapple chunks can be used.
  • Sauce: A combination of pineapple juice, soy sauce, hoisin, chicken broth, honey, rice vinegar, and cornstarch for thickening the mixture.
  • Vegetables: Fresh-cut pieces of red bell pepper add a crisp texture. Minced ginger and garlic add a wonderful pungency. Sliced green onions add a delicate allium flavor.
  • Oils: A high smoke point cooking oil, like vegetable oil, is used to cook the chicken, while sesame oil seasons the meat. I also garnish with sesame seeds to enhance the flavor.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you know how to make pineapple chicken customize the dish to your liking. Give these delicious options a try:

  • Sweetener: Other sweeteners can be used, like pure maple syrup, brown sugar, or granulated sugar.
  • Spicy: Add red chili flakes, sriracha, or chili oil to add more heat to the sauce.
  • Vegetables: Add blanched broccoli florets, green beans, sugar snap peas, or zucchini for extra fiber.
  • Gluten-free: Purchase gluten-free soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos. Look for a gluten-free hoisin sauce.

How to Make Pineapple Chicken

Whisk inside a small white bowl of stir fry sauce.

Step 1: Make the Stir-fry Sauce

I use a variety of Asian pantry staples to make a stir-fry sauce. Pineapple juice, which is the base seasoning, is delightful and tart. Chicken broth, hoisin, and soy sauce add a salty, umami taste.

Rice vinegar and honey balance the savory ingredients. Cornstarch is added to the liquid mixture to create a glossy, sticky consistency that clings to the meat. Make sure that no white clumps are visible. Whisk it in until it’s fully hydrated.

Pieces of chicken in a bowl with salt, pepper, and sesame oil.

Step 2: Season the Meat

I recommend cutting the chicken into about 1-inch cubes, as the protein will shrink during cooking. I keep the seasoning simple with salt, pepper, and sesame oil. The toasted, nutty flavor and aroma enhance the savory taste of the meat.

Chef’s Tip: If you have at least 15 minutes to marinate the chicken, add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to deepen the umami flavor.

Pieces of seasoned chicken searing in a large cast iron wok.

Step 3: Cook the Chicken

Use medium-high heat to sear the chicken in vegetable oil. Let the pieces sit without moving, forming a golden crust on the surface. This process takes about 1 minute. Continue stir-frying for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked with no remaining pink.

When making stir-fry, a wok is my top choice as the curved shape gives more surface area on the sides and bottom to cook. However, a large nonstick or stainless steel pan also works well.

Big chunks of pineapple placed in a wok with chicken thighs and peppers.

Step 4: Saute the Fruit and Aromatics

Add crunchy pieces of red bell pepper straight to the pan. Stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 1 minute. The pineapple chunks cook until you can smell the fruit, warm but not dried out.

Minced ginger and garlic tossed into the chicken stir fry.

Freshly minced garlic and ginger add a spicy bite to the dish. Just cook until fragrant. You don’t want a burnt and bitter flavor transferred to the dish.

Pouring stir fry sauce into a wok with chicken and pineapple.

Step 5: Thicken the Sauce

Add the stir-fry sauce mixture straight to the pan, then toss to combine. The liquid must boil so the cornstarch can swell and thicken the sauce. The agitation will help to disperse the heat and the starches for quicker thickening.

Thin slices of green onions placed into the stir fry last to preserve their texture.

Add the green onions with the white parts to infuse a delicate allium taste into the dish without tasting sulfurous. The heat from the sauce will gently wilt the onions.

Chicken stir fry served in a pineapple boat with steamed white rice.

Step 6: Garnish and Serve

I like to garnish the pineapple chicken with sesame seeds. If you cut a fresh pineapple, create a visually stunning boat similar to my pineapple fried rice. To do so, cut the pineapple in half down the center lengthwise and remove the flesh and core. Serve the stir-fry in the hollowed pineapple with rice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pineapple chicken made of?

A stir-fried dish consisting of chopped pieces of chicken thighs or breasts, pineapple chucks, red bell peppers, and green onions. The dish is served with a sweet and tangy sauce made from pineapple juice, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth, and cornstarch for thickening. Ginger and garlic add aromatics to the dish.

Can I make it spicy?

To add heat to this pineapple chicken recipe, start with ⅛ teaspoon of red chili flakes, chili oil, chili paste, or sriracha. Increase to desired spice level. Add the spicy ingredient after thickening the sauce.

Can I add nuts?

Yes! For extra crunch and texture, stir in ½ cup of roasted cashews or peanuts at the end with the green onions. This will add a pleasant nutty taste to contrast the sweet and tangy chicken.

Does pineapple tenderize chicken?

Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down protein. Combined with a marinade, it can help tenderize tough pieces of meat like chicken thighs containing more connective tissues. It will also soften chicken breasts, but don’t let it sit too long as the meat will contract, causing moisture loss. Since the pieces in the stir-fry are small and cook fast, there is no need for extra tenderizing with an acidic marinade.

Serve This With

If you tried this Pineapple Chicken, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Pineapple Chicken

Easy pineapple chicken stir-fry, ready in just 30-minutes! Lean meat, colorful fruit, and healthy vegetables tossed in a sweet tangy sauce.
4.91 from 20 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Chinese


Pineapple Stir-Fry Sauce

  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • cup unsalted chicken broth, stock, or water
  • ¼ cup honey, or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, or breast, 1" pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, ¾" dice
  • 1 ½ cup diced pineapple, fresh or canned, ¾" pieces
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • ½ cup sliced green onions, white and green parts, divided
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds


  • Make the Stir-fry Sauce – In a medium bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, chicken broth, honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Set aside.
  • Season the Chicken – In a medium bowl, combine diced chicken, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook the Chicken – Heat a large wok, nonstick pan, or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil. Once hot and shimmering, carefully add the chicken in a single layer. Sear without moving until browned, about 1 minute. Stir-fry until no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Cook the Vegetables – Add the bell peppers, and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 1 minute. Add the pineapple, and stir-fry until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook until aromatic, 30 seconds.
  • Thicken the Sauce – Add the stir-fry sauce and bring it to a boil. Stir and cook until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and stir in ¼ cup of green onions.
  • Plate & Serve – Garnish with the remaining green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice, desired side dishes, or in a pineapple boat.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • Recipe Yield: About 4 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Storing: Cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave on high heat in 15 to 30-second intervals until hot.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos. Purchase gluten-free hoisin sauce. 
  • Make it Spicy: Stir in red chili flakes, sriracha, or chili oil. Add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon at a time until the desired heat level is reached.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 389kcal (19%)Carbohydrates 44g (15%)Protein 36g (72%)Fat 8g (12%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0.03gCholesterol 162mg (54%)Sodium 1087mg (45%)Potassium 750mg (21%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 37g (41%)Vitamin A 1380IU (28%)Vitamin C 62mg (75%)Calcium 58mg (6%)Iron 3mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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8 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Soren Reynolds says

    Just made this for the first time. Can’t wait to make it again! I was short on pineapple juice, only had about 1/4 cup. So I added some blood orange soda that I had in fridge. It worked out great!

  2. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,
    I am making this tomorrow. We can’t wait to try it as we know it will be wonderful! Like all your recipes.
    XO Judy and Timothy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Judy and Timothy! I can’t wait to hear what you think about the pineapple chicken recipe. Will you be serving it in a pineapple boat?

      • Judy says

        Hi Jessica, No we didn’t serve it in a pineapple although that looks beautiful and is a great idea. Timothy has a cuckoo rice cooker so he made rice and I made the Pineapple Chicken. It was delicious. We both loved the pineapple and pineapple juice. We will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much for the continued gorgeous recipes. I also finally realized you have Keto, Paleo and other recipes sectioned under each type of eating plan so I dived into the Keto and Paleo the other day. You are such a good resource for the healthy, the fun, the beautiful. We are starting to invite people over for lunch after church now so I will be searching for recipes to share with them. Take care and our best to you and your family. Judy&Timothy

        • Jessica Gavin says

          I love that you cooked the meal together! Yes, we have lots of keto and paleo options for you! Let me know what you make next.