These Hawaiian-inspired Pineapple Chicken Kabobs are glazed with a tropical basting sauce and grilled until tender and caramelized. A fresh, flavorful summer meal!
The sweet, tropical flavor of caramelized chunks of chicken and pineapple combined with bell pepper and red onion is a seriously crave-worthy combination. I’ve already got plans to get these Pineapple Chicken Kabobs on my grill again soon because I can’t get them out of my mind!
Just like my Grilled Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, these easy chicken kabobs are a must-make recipe this grilling season. And, if you love kabobs, you should also give my Greek Chicken Kabobs a try – totally different flavors but absolutely delicious!
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- The chicken and veggies are prepped in advance and the kabobs can be assembled ahead.
- They are a wholesome choice for a deliciously guilt-free summer meal.
- Kabobs loaded with chicken, veggies, and pineapple are a budget-friendly choice.
- Food on a stick is fun! These downright gorgeous chicken skewers are an impressive choice for entertaining.
For the Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1 ½ -inch cubes
- Fresh pineapple – I highly recommend using cubed fresh pineapple. One small to medium pineapple will yield enough for the kabobs with some leftover for snacking or a fruit salad.
- Bell peppers – Cut into 1 ½-inch pieces. Use assorted colors for pretty contrast.
- Red onion – Cut into 1 ½-inch pieces.
- Extra virgin olive oil – You’ll need a little for the veggies plus additional as needed for brushing the grill
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Marinade and Basting Sauce
- Reduced sodium soy sauce
- Canned pineapple juice – You want 100% pineapple juice, not juice that has been sweetened.
- Dark brown sugar – The higher molasses content in dark brown sugar helps create a beautiful caramelized surface on the chicken and pineapple. You can substitute light brown sugar, if you’d like.
- Oil – A little extra virgin olive oil plus sesame oil for that irresistible flavor.
- Minced garlic
- Minced fresh ginger root – Freeze ginger root in a freezer-safe plastic bag and it will be easy as can be to grate into recipes with a citrus zester.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cornstarch and water – A cornstarch slurry thickens some of the reserved marinade so it can be used as a glaze.
How to Make Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
- Marinate – Combine the marinade ingredients in a small mixing bowl then measure out and transfer about half to a small container and refrigerate for the basting sauce you’ll make later. Place the chunks of chicken in a resealable plastic storage bag and pour the remaining marinade over the chicken in the bag. Press out as much air as possible, seal the bag, and transfer it to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour and no more than 3 hours.
- Prep the Pineapple and Veggies – While the grill is heating, place the pineapple, peppers, and onion in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble the Kabobs – Thread equal amounts of chicken, veggies, and pineapple on 10- to 12-inch metal skewers. If using wooden skewers, see the note below. Discard the chicken marinade.
- Grill and Baste – To create the basting sauce, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and place it over medium-low heat. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir, cooking until the mixture has thickened. Grill the kabobs, brushing with the basting sauce, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
If using wooden skewers, soak them in advance to help prevent them from burning on the grill. Place them in a long container, cover with water, and soak them for the entire time the chicken is marinating.
FAQ and Valerie’s Tips
You can substitute chicken thighs or use a combination of thighs and breasts. It may take a little longer to cook chicken thighs so I recommend you use separate skewers for the different types of chicken so you can pull them off the grill at different times, if needed.
You can, although I don’t recommend it for the best result. Using fresh pineapple allows you to cut the pieces to the desired size and it has a better texture and flavor than canned.
Transfer the assembled kabobs to a baking sheet, cover it with foil, and refrigerate them for an hour or two. I don’t recommend allowing the marinated chicken to rest much longer before grilling because the acid in the pineapple juice can begin to affect the texture. Shoot for no more than a total of 4 hours between marinating and grilling the kabobs.
Cook the kabobs until the veggies are tender and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. when checked with an instant read thermometer.
What to Serve with Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
Adding a simple rice or potato side dish is all you need to make these chicken kabobs a complete meal. Here are some great choices.
- Almond Rice Pilaf is my absolute favorite thing to serve with these chicken kabobs. The rice and orzo with crunchy bits of almond make the perfect bed for the chicken, pineapple, and veggies.
- Coconut Rice with Cilantro and Lime has a yummy, coconut flavor that would complement the tropical flavors really well.
- Orzo with Peas and Parmesan is a fresh, yummy choice.
- Lemon Garlic Roasted Potatoes are easy and super versatile.
More Grilled Chicken Recipes
- Grilled Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
- Smoky Grilled Paprika Chicken
- Grilled Greek Chicken
- Pretty Chicken Marinade
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
For the Kabobs
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1 ½ -inch cubes
- 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple, from 1 pineapple (slice 1-inch thick, then cube)
- 2 large or 3 small bell peppers, cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces (use assorted colors for contrast)
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional as needed for brushing the grill
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 wooden or metal skewers, about 10 to 12 inches long
For the Marinade and Basting Sauce
- ⅓ cup reduced sodium soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free
- ⅓ cup canned pineapple juice, 100% juice
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons grated or minced fresh ginger root
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Prepare the Chicken and Marinade
- Place the chicken pieces in a gallon size zippered plastic storage bag and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk together the marinade ingredients through the pepper (reserve water and cornstarch for later). Measure out and transfer ⅔ cup of the marinade (about half) to a small container and refrigerate for later. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken in the bag. Press out as much air as possible, seal the bag, and transfer it to the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 1 hour and no more than 3 hours.
- If using wooden skewers, place 12 in a long container and cover with water. Soak them for the entire time the chicken is marinating to help prevent them from burning on the grill.
Assemble the Skewers
- When ready to cook, prepare the grill (start the coals or preheat a gas grill over MEDIUM heat).
- While the grill is heating, place the pineapple, peppers, and onion in a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Assemble the skewers by threading them with an equal amount of chicken, veggies, and pineapple. Discard the chicken marinade.
Make the Basting Sauce
- Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and place over MEDIUM-LOW heat. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir, cooking until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and set the basting sauce aside.
Grill the Kabobs
- Brush the grill grates with olive oil, if needed. Transfer the skewers to the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until nicely browned. Flip the kabobs, brush the grilled side with the basting sauce, and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Flip them once more and brush with any remaining basting sauce. Transfer the kabobs to a serving platter and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Adapted from Cooking Classy