A mouthwatering fusion of tropical and Asian-inspired flavors comes together in this pineapple chicken. Ready in minutes, every bite is sticky, sweet, and irresistible!
Whenever my family requests Chinese takeout, I do one better and make my famous pineapple chicken recipe.
It’s a flavorful yet easy chicken stir fry with a tantalizing tropical twist. I always serve it with rice because it absorbs ALL the sweet and sticky sauce, which is so good that I’d eat it on its own!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- One-pan 20-minute meal. You can have this dish cooked and plated in under 20 minutes. It comes together in one skillet, making clean-up a breeze.
- Healthier than takeout. I like to give this dish a healthier spin by omitting any batter on the chicken and no deep frying. I promise you, you won’t be able to tell the difference!
- Customizable. Add your favorite vegetables to this dish or anything you have in the fridge. When I’m just cooking for myself, I like to add tons of chili for a spicy twist.
What we love about this recipe is that it makes fabulous leftovers. I sometimes make a double batch and portion it out for a quick and easy work lunch or meal prep.
Just a handful of stir fry basics are all you’ll need to make this Chinese pineapple chicken. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken thighs. Boneless and skinless chicken thighs are best because they stay moist and juicy even after cooking in a skillet over high heat.
- Salt and black pepper. To taste.
- Sesame oil and olive oil. The sesame oil gives the chicken a nutty, toasted flavor, while olive oil creates a golden, seared crust around the outside. Do not use all sesame oil, or this dish will have an overwhelming flavor.
- Garlic and ginger. This aromatic duo is key to creating Asian-inspired flavor.
- Red bell pepper. Any color works, but I love red bell peppers for their sweet flavor and pop of red.
- Pineapple. Canned pineapple chunks will speed up the preparation time, but fresh pineapple rings work well, too.
- Pineapple juice. You can use the liquid from the can of pineapple here (as long as it’s packed in juice, NOT syrup).
- Hoisin sauce. To enhance the sweet, savory, and slightly tangy flavors. You can find this in the Asian section of any grocery store.
- Honey. Helps thicken the sauce and balances the tangy sweetness of the pineapple.
- Soy sauce. This elevates the umami complexity of the dish while adding a rich, brown color.
- Chicken broth. Used as a savory flavor base for the sauce. It also keeps the chicken tender and juicy.
- Cornstarch and water. Together, these two help thicken the sauce so it coats every piece of chicken, bell pepper, and pineapple.
- Green onions and sesame seeds. For garnish.
Use certified gluten-free hoisin sauce and tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
How to make pineapple chicken
Brown the chicken: Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then sear them in a hot oiled skillet until browned on all sides.
Sauté the aromatics: Next, cook the garlic, ginger, and bell pepper in the same pan.
Add the pineapple and sauce: Stir in the pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, and chicken broth.
Pour in the slurry: Whisk the cornstarch and water together, then pour the mixture into the skillet.
Simmer: Let everything simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
Garnish and serve: Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds over top, then serve the chicken over a bed of rice or in a pineapple boat.
Can you bake it instead?
Sure! To bake pineapple chicken, brown the seasoned chicken as normal in an oven-safe skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, bell peppers, pineapple, and sauce before transferring the skillet to the oven. Bake at 375°F until the chicken is cooked through.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Prep all your ingredients. This recipe moves quickly and it helps to have all your ingredients measured, chopped, and ready to go before getting started.
- Cut the chicken evenly. Cutting the chicken into uniform 1-inch pieces ensures each piece browns and cooks evenly.
- Taste as you go. After assembling the sauce in the skillet, give it a taste. If it’s too sweet, add more soy sauce; if it’s too tangy, add more honey.
Recipe and flavor variations
We’ve made this dish countless times and each time is different based on what I have on hand or how I change it up to keep things interesting.
Mix and match the veggies. Feel free to use all of your favorite vegetables. Carrots, green bell peppers, eggplant, red onion, snap peas, and broccoli are all great choices.
Give it a spicy kick. Add red pepper flakes, sriracha, or diced jalapeños to the sauce to turn up the fiery flavor.
Pineapple teriyaki chicken. Replace the sticky pineapple sauce with teriyaki sauce for a savory Asian-inspired flavor.
Hawaiian-inspired. Include chopped ham, Spam, or bacon to make sweet and savory Hawaiian chicken.
Use shrimp instead. I often do this in the summer when shrimp is VERY plentiful. The only thing to remember is to cook the shrimp for less time and to add it back to the stir fry at the very end.
To store: Transfer the cooled leftovers to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
To reheat: Place the leftover pineapple chicken in a baking dish and reheat it in a 350°F oven until warmed through. Or, reheat them quickly in the microwave instead.
To freeze: Place the cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
More take-out-inspired chicken recipes
- Hunan Chicken
- Mongolian Chicken
- Firecracker Chicken
- Empress Chicken
- Black Pepper Chicken
- Szechuan Chicken
Frequently asked questions
Sure! Brown the chicken in a skillet before transferring the pieces to a slow cooker along with the garlic, ginger, bell peppers, and pineapple. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl, pour it into the slow cooker, cover with the lid, and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours. Stir in the slurry during the last 30 minutes.
Yes. Just keep in mind that chicken breasts tend to cook faster than thighs. Adjust the cooking time accordingly so the chicken breasts do not end up dry or overcooked.
- 4 chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 red bell pepper
- 20 ounces canned pineapple in natural juices, drained
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon green onions sliced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and stir fry until browned on all sides.
- In the same skillet, add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add the bell pepper and cook for another two minutes.
- Add the pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and chicken broth. Stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the mixture to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Cover the skillet and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
- Remove the pineapple chicken from the heat. Sprinkle with sliced green onions and sesame seeds and serve over rice.
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