Is there anything better than a quick chicken stir-fry recipe for dinner? Probably not. Equal parts sweet, spicy, and a little sticky, this is the perfect easy pineapple chicken recipe that makes every age run to the dinner table. Best of all, it takes less than 30 minutes to make. By the time the rice is cooked, dinner is officially ready.
Of course, if you want to make Pineapple Chicken in the crock pot, instructions are down below, too. Also included is an easy-to-make Pineapple Chicken baked recipe. (It takes a little longer, but it frees up your stove.)
This Pineapple Chicken recipe uses chicken thighs to keep things nice and juicy, but feel free to use chicken breast, if you like. Canned pineapple works best here—a can or two stored in the pantry is always a good idea in case of a food emergency—plus it gives you the pineapple juice for that fabulous sauce.
Pineapple Chicken Chinese-style is meant to be piled on top of steaming hot rice, with scallions and a squeeze of lime. But you could throw a handful of salted roasted cashews over the top just before serving. Or roasted shelled peanuts, or even sesame seeds. Some cooks get extra and serve Pineapple Chicken in hollowed out pineapple halves, but don’t worry about all that if you’re hungry.
Making a double batch for leftovers? Smart! Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How to make Pineapple Chicken:
First, get some rice cooking. If you really want the real deal, try my vegetable fried rice. You’ll want it with pineapple chicken!
Then, whip up a sauce. Combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and chopped jalapeño in a saucepan and simmer until the brown sugar is dissolved. Mix the cornstarch slurry into the sauce and whisk until fully incorporated and somewhat thickened. Remove it from the heat.
Next, brown the chicken in a skillet with a little olive oil. Stir in the red pepper and cook until just tender. Add the sauce and let everything simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the cashews and pineapple. And that’s all there is to it!
Pineapple Chicken Crockpot Recipe:
- Place chicken, bell pepper, and pineapple chunks in the crockpot.
- Add the sauce ingredients: pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and jalapeño. Stir in the slurry of cornstarch and water. No need to simmer these together—they’ll cook in the crock pot!
- Cover and cook on HIGH in the crockpot for 4-5 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours.
- Add cashews and scallions just before serving.
How to make baked Pineapple Chicken:
You can make Pineapple Chicken baked using boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts. Bone-in chicken may take longer to cook through, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in cornstarch.
- Arrange chicken pieces in a 9-by 13- inch baking dish. Scatter pineapple chunks and cashews over chicken.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together pineapple chicken sauce ingredients: pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and jalapeño. Gently pour sauce over chicken.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until chicken is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes longer, basting with pan juices several times, until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165 degrees.
- Add scallions just before serving.
How to make Pineapple Chicken healthy:
No matter what, making your own meals is always better than relying on restaurant food, which can be loaded with oils, fats, sodium, and sugar. You can control the ingredients you use and limit those sneaky hidden calories, too. There are lots of effortless ways to make this recipe even more healthy.
Make cauliflower rice instead of rice to up your daily veggie intake and lower your carbs. Riced cauliflower can often be found in the frozen food section, or make your own at home.
Use date sugar in place of brown sugar.
Switch out low-sodium soy sauce for regular soy sauce.
Serve Pineapple Chicken with lots of fresh steamed broccoli or snow peas on the side.
Pineapple Chicken Recipe
For the sauce:
- 3/4 cup canned pineapple juice from 1 (15 ounce) can pineapple
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeño seeded and minced (or omit, see notes)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the chicken:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup pineapple chunks from 1 (15 ounce) can pineapple
- 1/4 cup roasted cashews
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 cups cooked white rice for serving
- 1 lime cut into wedges, for serving
To make the sauce:
- In a small saucepan, combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and jalapeños and bring to a simmer.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons water and cornstarch until combined (this is called a "slurry"). Whisk into sauce pan and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
To make the chicken:
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in bell pepper and cook until just tender, 3 minutes more. Add sauce and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in pineapple and cashews.
- Garnish with scallions and serve with rice and lime wedges.
- If you like spicy food, add one or more jalapeños. Omit if you don't like spicy food (the dish will still be super flavorful and delicious). Adding 1/2 jalapeño will not add any noticeable heat to the dish.
- Do not substitute fresh pineapple because 1). the pineapple will not soften sufficiently in the amount of time it takes to make this recipe, and 2). you would have to buy pineapple juice separately, and who wants to do that?