This recipe for Hawaiian chicken is chicken thighs that are flavored with a tropical coconut marinade then grilled to perfection. An easy dinner option that’s perfect for entertaining.
I love pairing pineapple with chicken for a tropical flavored meal and this Hawaiian chicken is no exception. If you’re a fan of this flavor combination, be sure to try pineapple chicken and Hawaiian chicken kabobs.
My girls are just a bit obsessed with Hawaii right now, mainly due to the movie Lilo & Stitch but also because one of my daughters has developed a fascination with volcanoes. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched videos of lava flow over the past month. I knew that if I served them this recipe for Hawaiian chicken they’d be willing to try it just because of the Hawaii factor. And really, who doesn’t want to feel like they’ve been transported to the tropics?
How do you make Hawaiian chicken?
This recipe is all about the marinade – it’s a combination of soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil and coconut milk. I am a huge fan of marinades, mostly because they’re so easy to put together the night before – your meat will flavor itself as you go about your day and then can be simply cooked at dinner time without a lot of extra fanfare. You can cook this chicken on an outdoor grill or inside on a grill pan.
I really prefer to use chicken thighs for this dish because they’re less likely to dry out on the grill and they have a richer flavor. If you’re not a fan of chicken thighs, you can use chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders instead.
How long do you marinate chicken?
This Hawaiian chicken needs to marinate for at least 2 hours, but I like to leave the chicken in the marinade for up to 24 hours if I have the time.
How long do you grill chicken thighs?
You’ll want to grill your chicken thighs for about 6-7 minutes per side, depending on the size and thickness of your chicken pieces. If you’re not sure if your chicken is cooked through, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. The temperature of the thickest part of the chicken should be at least 165 degrees F.
Pineapple and coconut is a wonderfully popular flavor combination, and I took this one step further by serving this Hawaiian chicken on a bed of coconut rice. You’re going to cook your rice as usual, except instead of water the rice simmers in coconut milk. I add a touch of brown sugar at the end, it doesn’t make the rice sweet at all, it just enhances the flavor of the coconut.
What sides go with Hawaiian chicken?
I like to serve this Hawaiian chicken with a side of coconut rice and grilled pineapple. Other great options for side dishes are
- Tropical Fruit Salad
- Veggie Fried Rice
- Grilled Asparagus in Foil
- Asian Cucumber Salad
- Ramen Noodle Salad
The next time you’re wishing you were on a tropical island (or watching Lilo & Stitch with your kids!), make some of this Hawaiian chicken. It won’t transport you to an exotic vacation destination but it’s the next best thing!
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More delicious chicken recipes
- Mango Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Kabobs
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Tenders
- Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
For the chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1 cup pineapple slices fresh or canned
For the coconut rice
- 1 cup white rice I prefer short grain for this recipe
- 1 1/4 cup light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish optional
- For the chicken: Combine the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, coconut milk and pineapple juice, then pour into a container or resealable bag.
- Add the chicken and marinate anywhere from 2-24 hours.
- Heat the grill to medium. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill for 6-7 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.
- Add the pineapple to the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Arrange the pineapple and chicken on a serving plate.
- For the rice: Bring the coconut milk and water to a boil. Add in the salt and rice. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 18 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar.
- Serve the chicken and pineapple with the coconut rice. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro if desired.
This recipe was originally published on June 14, 2015 and was updated on May 5, 2019 with new content.
I’ve made this numerous times. This is a family favorite. Very delicious!
Flavors are amazing, however, the first time I made it, against my better judgement, I marinated it for 8 hours and the texture of the meat was bad enough to throw it out. Pineapple juice breaks down the meat if left too long. Im making this today and I will leave the pineapple juice out of the marinade until the last hour or two. Very excited to try this again. LIke I said, flavor is amazing.
Are sesame oil and toasted sesame oil interchangeable for this recipe? Would one be better to use than the other or does it make any difference?
Either one will work!
Can you use any oil? I’m allergic to sesame, wondering if it will change the recipe.
You could use canola oil instead.
Just curious – I’ve had this marinating for 24 hours… my family got a stomach bug – is it okay to marinate for 3 days?
I think the texture of the chicken would change after that length of time!
Put some pandan leaf together with rice will have surprise, delicious than this recipe.
So easy & delicious! Glad I stumbled across your page. Yum & cheers!
Love your recipes. Every dinner I make is so delicious. . I cook for others and they can’t get enough. I love cooking. Thankyou.
Canned or boxed coconut milk?
Canned is best!
is the pineapple juice canned or can I use fresh pineapple juice?
Either will work fine!
Do you use toasted sesame oil in this marinade?
Yes that is correct!
This recipe is the bomb! It is in regular rotation in our house – it is good baked in the oven but stellar on the grill! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
This turned out AMAZING! Can’t wait to make it again!
This recipe is the first of its kind that I’ve ever made and it was DELICIOUS!!! The chicken marinaded for almost 2 days cause that’s mom-life😂 The rice was still a bit crunchy after 20 minutes so I’m not sure what to do about that but it still had a great flavor. Definitely will make this again!
This is an amazing and easy recipe. I had some mini sweet peppers hanging out and added to the marinade along with some diced mango. Ended up making a mango pineapple salsa with tortillas as an appetizer. So, so good. 😍