We first fell in love with a version of Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs in San Pedro, CA. There was an remarkable Hawaiian chicken restaurant that was one of those hole-in-the-wall places that only had two tables and yet there was a line of customers out the door. You know the ones! Ever since then, I was on a quest to make grilled Hawaiian chicken so I could enjoy it at home without spending a lot of money eating out!
This isn’t exactly like the one we found in the restaurant, but it is darned close. Hawaiian chicken marinades tend to have the staple ingredients of ginger, soy sauce, and garlic. From there, the ingredients deviate quite a bit with ketchup, vinegars, sugars, pineapple juice. I even tried one recently using my Instapot, but it crashed and burned. I tell you this as your creativity will definitely add some of your personal tastes to this dish.
Preparing Hawaiian Chicken Marinade
This recipe requires you to marinade it for about two hours prior to grilling. Don’t go too much over that as there is a chemical reaction with the pineapple and the chicken that causes the chicken to break down. I like to marinade my kebabs in a zip lock bag for easy clean up, but a glass dish works just fine as well.
Going a little deeper here, pineapple has protein digesting enzymes called bromelain that causes a breakdown in collagen in meats. It is an ingredient in many meat tenderizers. I bet you thought we just used pineapple for the delicious taste! (Don’t tell anyone, but we do!!!)
If you want to brush the marinade over the chicken mid-grill, remember to reserve some marinade before sticking the raw chicken in it to avoid cross contamination.
What kind of chicken to use?
You can use either chicken breasts or thighs for this recipe successfully. The key is to keep you cubes about the same size so you aren’t overcooking/undercooking due to size difference.
You’ll find that boneless cuts of chicken make the cubing process much easier. It costs a bit more, but I think it is worth it.
Let’s Grill Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs on the Big Green Egg
Set up the Big Green Egg for direct heat and bring it up to 475 degrees. Once you reach the temperature, you can slightly close the top and bottom vents to bring the temperature down to 375 degrees. Place the kebabs on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes each side. If you reserved marinade before you marinated the chicken, brush it on a couple times after turning.
Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs on the Big Green Egg
- 3 tbs soy sauce
- 3 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts cut into 2 inch cubes
- Whole pineapple cut into cubes
- In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic powder. Reserve about 1/4 c of marinade to drizzle on later.
- Place marinade in a zip lock bag with chicken in fridge for 2 hours.
- Preheat grill to 350-375 degrees.
- Thread the skewers with the chicken alternating with the pineapple cubes.
- Oil grill grate and place skewers on grill.
- Grill 5-7 minutes each side or until chicken in completely done and juices run clear.
- Brush reserved marinade over the top of skewers the last 3-4 minutes on each side.