Juicy chicken smothered in caramelized pineapple slices fresh off the grill. One bite of this sweet and savory combo will have your tastebuds doing a hula dance!
Grilling fruit seems unlikely, but the high heat transforms pineapple into an incredible flavor booster for chicken. It develops a depth of sweetness and gives the meat a gorgeous char.
This tropically inspired recipe takes advantage of how pineapple tenderizes the chicken while also lending its tangy sweetness. The end result is next-level grilled chicken you just can’t achieve with marinades alone.
I’ve made this grilled pineapple chicken more times than I can count after discovering how amazing the pairing is. The recipe has become a go-to summer hit at barbecues and potlucks.
Let me share my tips and tricks for nailing grilled pineapple chicken at home. You’ll gain the skills to throw an unbelievable Hawaiian-inspired dinner!
Table of Contents
Why Pineapple and Chicken are a Match Made in Heaven
What makes pineapple work so splendidly atop grilled chicken? Let me count the ways!
First, pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps break down protein. So marinating chicken in pineapple juice tenderizes it.
Next, the high heat of the grill caramelizes the pineapple’s sugars, concentrating the flavors. Char marks add a smoky depth.
As the juice from the pineapple bastes the chicken, it infuses its tangy sweetness into the meat. The contrast is phenomenal.
Finally, the juicy chunks of fruit lend moisture to the chicken, keeping it from drying out over the fire.
Together you get chicken that’s incredibly juicy, sweet and smoky with a tropical twist. Let’s break down the ingredients that bring it all together…
Grilled Pineapple Chicken Recipe
Grilled Pineapple Chicken – Sweet & Savory Tropical PerfectionCourse: CookbookCuisine: HawaiianDifficulty: Medium
You don’t need a laundry list of ingredients, the right combo maximizes the flavors
Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Fresh pineapple rings
Olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
How to Make Grilled Pineapple Chicken – Step-by-Step
- Slice 1-2 pineapples into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Core them for even cooking.
- Pound chicken breasts to an even 1/2 inch thickness. Slice thighs if using.
- In a zip top bag or baking dish, combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Add chicken and let marinate 30 minutes up to overnight.
- Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Oil grates.
- Grill chicken 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. Move to indirect heat.
- Grill pineapple slices 2-3 minutes per side until charred.
- Assemble and Serve
- Garnish with chopped scallions, sesame seeds or microgreens.
- Serve immediately with coconut rice and a refreshing drink!
- For marinating, use soy sauce for savoriness, brown sugar to complement the sweet pineapple, and garlic and ginger for aromatic kick.
- Olive oil or other neutral oil helps the marinade coat the chicken fully. Salt and black pepper round it out.
4 servings per container
- Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%
- Cholesterol 75mg 25%
- Sodium 200mg 9%
- Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
- Sugars 11g
- Protein 28g 57%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Tips for Next-Level Grilled Pineapple Chicken
Through plenty of grilling sessions, I’ve honed my techniques for fantastic grilled pineapple chicken:
- Choose ripe, fragrant pineapple for the best flavor – it should give slightly when pressed.
- Core the pineapple slices so they lay flat. Chill them before grilling for extra juiciness.
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness so it cooks evenly.
- Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hrs for most tender meat.
- Use metal skewers to thread chicken and pineapple pieces for easy turning.
- Grill over direct medium-high heat for color, then move to indirect heat to finish cooking.
- Brush pineapple with oil or melted butter to encourage more caramelization on the grill.
- Let chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing for perfectly juicy meat.
With these pro tips, everyone will be begging you for the secrets to your sensational grilled pineapple chicken! Now for some fun flavor variations…
Creative Flavor Twists for Grilled Pineapple Chicken
While the classic version sings, experimenting with global flavors can take your recipe to the next level:
- Mexican – chili powder, cumin, salsa, avocado, cotija cheese
- Thai – red curry paste, coconut milk, basil, peanuts
- Hawaiian – brown sugar glaze, teriyaki, mango salsa
- Moroccan – ras el hanout, lemon, harissa yogurt
- Indian – tandoori paste, mango chutney, chopped cilantro
- Italian – balsamic glaze, figs, prosciutto, Parmesan
- Southern – bourbon BBQ sauce, grilled peaches, pecan crumble
The sweet and savory grilled pineapple chicken is the perfect canvas for your favorite seasonings. Now let’s talk party-ready serving ideas…
How to Serve Grilled Pineapple Chicken
Amp up your dinner or potluck spread with these pairing suggestions:
- Coconut rice or quinoa
- Macaroni salad or pineapple coleslaw
- Roasted vegetables like zucchini or broccoli
- Fresh salad or spinach with vinaigrette
- Citrusy pineapple salsa
- Mango slices, berries or melon
- Garlic bread or buttery Hawaiian rolls
- Frosty pineapple Daiquiris or margaritas
With a diverse spread of sides and tropical drinks, your guests will feel whisked away to a Hawaiian luau!
Let’s recap the key steps and techniques:
Grilled Pineapple Chicken Summary
- Pound chicken for even thickness and marinate in soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger
- Grill over medium-high heat until cooked, then indirect to finish
- Grill pineapple slices until caramelized and charred
- Top grilled chicken with pineapple slices and garnish
- Use fun globally inspired marinades for exciting flavor variations
- Pair with coconut rice, tropical salsas, grilled vegetables and frosty drinks
Some Quick FAQs
Can we eat chicken and pineapple together?
Yes, chicken and pineapple is a classic pairing! Pineapple tenderizes the chicken and provides sweet flavor. Grilling caramelizes the sugars. The sweet and savory combo is delicious.
What is pineapple chicken made of?
Pineapple chicken typically contains boneless chicken (breast or thighs), pineapple rings or chunks, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, oil or butter and seasonings.
Why is grilled pineapple so good?
Grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in pineapple, concentrating its sweetness and giving it a delicious char. The high heat also softens the tropical fruit and brings out its juicy flavor.
Does pineapple juice break down chicken?
Yes, the enzyme bromelain found naturally in pineapple helps break down the proteins in chicken to make it more tender. Marinating chicken in pineapple juice helps soften and flavor it.
What does pineapple do to meat?
Pineapple tenderizes meat due to its bromelain enzymes which break down protein. It also adds sweet and tangy flavor. These effects make it great for marinades.
How long to tenderize meat with pineapple?
For ideal tenderizing, marinate meat in crushed pineapple, pineapple juice or grated pineapple for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours. Beyond that, the fruit can start to break down the meat too much.
How long can you marinate meat with pineapple?
It’s best to marinate meat with fresh pineapple or pineapple juice for 30 minutes minimum up to 8 hours maximum. Too little time won’t be as effective, while too long can make the meat mushy.
What is the fastest way to tenderize meat?
Using a meat mallet to pound meat thin, marinating with an acidic ingredient like pineapple juice, and slicing meat across the grain are some of the fastest ways to tenderize meat before cooking.
Can we eat meat after eating pineapple?
There are no issues or interactions with eating meat after having pineapple. The bromelain enzymes from pineapple are denatured and broken down during digestion, so they won’t affect meat you eat later. Enjoy them together or separately.
What meat goes well with pineapple?
Some meats that pair deliciously with pineapple are chicken, pork, ham, sausage, shrimp and scallops. The sweet and acidic pineapple balances the savory meats. Grilling or roasting work well.
Is pineapple better cooked or raw?
Raw and cooked pineapple both offer great benefits, but cooking via grilling, broiling or roasting enhances pineapple’s natural sweetness through caramelization and draws out its juicy flavors.
Can I eat pineapple at night?
It’s best to avoid eating large portions of pineapple or other fruits before bedtime. The acidity may disrupt sleep. Have a light snack with a small amount of pineapple earlier in the evening.
Is Grilled Pineapple better than raw?
Grilled pineapple is excellent since the high heat caramelizes its sugars, concentrating sweetness and giving it a delicious char. Raw pineapple is still great too, providing enzyme bromelain and hydration benefits.
Why is grilled pineapple so good?
Grilling brings out pineapple’s natural sweetness and adds delicious smoky, charred flavors. The high heat softens and caramelizes the tropical fruit, also releasing its juicy essence.
I hope these tips help you master mouthwatering grilled pineapple chicken and impress your guests! This recipe never fails to satisfy cravings for sweet and savory with a tropical twist.
Let me know if you have any of your own tips or tweaks for fabulous grilled pineapple chicken. If you’re looking for another chicken recipe bursting with flavor, check out my Crazy Delicious Chicken Fajitas De Pollo.
Aloha and happy grilling!