Hawaiian BBQ makes a sweet and savory chicken dish to serve up for dinner any day of the week. If you’re craving the unique Hawaiian flavors of pineapple, soy sauce, and ginger with a little bit of sweetness, then this Hawaiian chicken recipe is for you. Simple ingredients and less than 30 minutes are all it takes to cook up this famous Hawaiian bbq chicken for dinner.
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Recipe
If you’ve ever traveled to Hawaii you might have experienced a real authentic Hawaiin luau, aka bbq put on by many restaurants and hotels. Chances are you may have even tried a taste of Hawaiian-style bbq chicken!
In the continental US there are a few restaurants, such as Ono and L&L, that specialize in Hawaiian style bbq so you can sample the flavors without having to jump on an airplane.
Now, you can experience the delicious flavors of a real authentic Hawaiian luau right at home now with this easy recipe. My family loves this Hawaiian bbq recipe and I’m sure it will be a crowd-pleaser when you serve it up!
Hawaiian grilled chicken is going to have you primed and ready for a little hula dancing in your backyard!
Try Some of My Other Favorite Chicken Recipes
Chicken is such a versatile meat to use in recipes and if you like this bbq chicken recipe I’m almost certain you will love this simple Chicken Legs Recipe or Air Fryer Monterey Chicken. If you prefer to cook in the oven, then this baked chicken thighs recipe will show you how with excellent results!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Hawaiian bbq chicken thighs are the perfect combination of sweet and savory!
- Perfect for summertime grilling and a way to get the whole family outside!
- Everyone is going to love it!
All you need are a handful of ingredients to make this Hawaiian bbq chicken recipe!
- Boneless chicken thighs: Cook up juicy, tender, and moist on the grill or the air fryer.
- BBQ Sauce: To save some time this recipe uses any bbq sauce from the store. Don’t worry we will transform it into the BEST Hawaiian BBQ sauce.
- Pineapple juice: Adds a touch of sweetness and lots of tropical fruit flavor to the sauce.
- Pineapple slices: Grilled Hawaiian pineapple takes this dish to next level of greatness!!
- Soy sauce: Adds saltiness and flavor to the bbq sauce.
- Brown sugar: Gives the sauce more sweetness and a rich molasses flavor.
- Sesame oil: Sesame oil lends a bit of nutty flavor and combines with the soy sauce to infuse the bbq sauce with some traditional Asian flavors which are a part of Hawaiian cuisine.
- Garlic powder and ground ginger: Easy pantry spices that round out the flavors of the homemade sauce.
*see recipe card for detailed measurements
Kitchen Supplies You’ll Need
- Grill or Air Fryer
- Mixing Bowl
- Pastry Brush
How to Make Recipe on the Grill
Step 1: In a large saucepan, whisk together bbq sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic powder until fully combined and the sugar is slightly dissolved.
Step 2: Bring sauce to a boil, cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it reduces. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, the sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.
Step 3: Place your chicken thighs on a tray and use a pastry brush to coat all sides of the chicken thighs evenly.
Step 4: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat then place the chicken thighs on the grill. Brush on more of the bbq sauce and cook for 7 minutes.
Step 5: After cooking, flip each piece of grilled chicken, brush more sauce on and add the pineapples to the grill. Close and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Step 6: Sprinkle diced green onions over the top if desired and serve with a scoop of rice and Hawaiian macaroni salad.
Alternate Cooking Method for the Air Fryer:
Follow steps 1-3 above to prep the chicken.
Step 1: Place half of the thighs into the air fryer basket (cook in two batches to avoid crowding) and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Pull out the basket, flip the thighs and brush on more sauce, add the pineapples to the basket and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
- Be sure to baste the chicken thighs while they are cooking on the grill! This extra step goes a long way in adding more great flavor!
- When cooking in the air fryer be sure not to crowd the pieces of meat. Give them space so they can cook properly. You may need to cook in batches.
- Cooking the sauce thickens it so it will stick to the chicken when brushed on. Plus this step intensifies the flavor of the bbq sauce.
Substitutions and Variations
- Chicken thighs: You can also make this recipe with boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken pieces for an assortment of white and dark meat. If cooking with bone-in chicken, you may need to extend the cooking time.
- Soy sauce: You can also use tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free soy option.
- Garlic powder: Use fresh instead.
- Ground garlic: Swap out with finely grated fresh ginger.
- Want spicy chicken? Add some red chili flakes to the bbq sauce while it’s cooking.
Store in a ziplock baggie or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you make Hawaiian chicken in large batches, it may also be frozen for up to three months. Thaw out the frozen chicken before reheating. Reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
You can. I found that it didn’t really make any difference to marinate these ahead of time versus brushing on the sauce while cooking. But if you want to, I recommend doubling the sauce recipe. Then marinate the chicken in half the sauce and brush on the other half as you grill.
Yes, you do. The sauce is very thin and runny and doesn’t really stick to and glaze the chicken unless you reduce it first and allow it to thicken.
It is a delicious combination of sweet and savory, but in many ways is similar to a traditional bbq sauce. The pineapple juice, soy sauce, and ginger infuse the sauce with the unique flavors found in many Hawaiian recipes.
If you’ve made this recipe or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how they turned out. We love hearing from you! You can also follow along with me on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM to see more colorful recipes!
- Grill or Air Fryer
- Mixing Bowl
- Pastry Brush
- 3 pounds chicken thighs about 8 pieces
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar packed
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 8 ounce pineapple rings canned or fresh
Make the Sauce:
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bbq sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic powder until fully combined.
- Bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it reduces. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, the sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.
- Place your chicken thighs on a tray and use a pastry brush to coat all sides of the chicken thighs evenly.
Directions for Grilling:
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat then place the chicken thighs on the grill, brush on more of the bbq sauce and cook for 7 minutes.
- Next, flip each piece, brush more sauce on and add the pineapples to the grill. Close and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Serve with rice and Hawaiian macaroni salad.
Directions using an Air Fryer:
- Place half of the thighs into the air fryer basket (cook in two batches to avoid crowding) and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Pull out the basket, flip the thighs and brush on more sauce, add the pineapples to the basket and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
This is a family favorite!! Delicious!