With influences from a recent trip to Hawaii and reading about the Caribbean in a magazine, I figured I’d keep the vacation memories alive with this Tropical Pineapple Chicken Recipe. It all starts with a marinade reminiscent of a jerk sauce. Super flavors and a kiss of heat to surprise the senses.
I’m sharing with you two versions of my Pineapple Chicken Recipe today; one baked and the other grilled. Both are outstanding in tenderness, flavor, and after three attempts, I feel this is the version I wanted to share with you guys.
Originally I made this as a baked dish for our dinner, then I had to attend a meeting and Dave invited some friends over and the meal needed to be doubled. I like this one for the tropical flavors and slow, baked chicken thighs are always a comfort food to me.
So with news of more people coming to dinner I opted to quickly do a grilled version using boneless chicken breasts that I had sliced horizontally. The baked version of this Tropical Pineapple Chicken Recipe uses bone in chicken thighs and takes a little longer to make cooking wise. You choose, but both are delish depending if you’re a white meat or dark meat chicken fan.
I simply purée some fresh (or canned) pineapple, green onions, ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, ginger and brown sugar. Oh and a Scotch Bonnet pepper (or a jalapeño), did I forget that? Need a little heat friends. Pour that over the chicken to marinate and also use to baste as it bakes for a fall apart, tender Tropical Pineapple Chicken Recipe.
Beware this Tropical Pineapple Chicken Recipe is hot stuff if using the Scotch Bonnet peppers, not for the faint of heart with weak tastebuds! Feel free to substitute jalapeño peppers if you like. Lot’s of flavor in this dish, but you can always cut the amount of peppers to suit your tastes and lower the heat factor. I would try this and scale back if need be.
I wrote about the Scotch Bonnet peppers in my Jamican Jerk Pork Ribs, but my tamer One Pan Jerk Chicken and Rice with Oranges is another good one and this Jamaican Pepper Sauce is always welcomed as a condiment, too. This Pineapple Chicken Recipe takes the flavors of jerk seasoning for the marinade and with the grilled pineapples makes one killer dinner.
I had 2 fresh pineapples on hand and made sure I used one as part of the marinade puréed, and while the baked version has pineapple chunks baked in the sauce with the chicken thighs, the grilled chicken breast version has grilled pineapple slices right alongside. LOVE that flavor!
TIP: Did you know that pineapple doesn’t ripen after being picked? So pick one with a rich, sweet fragrance. The produce manager once told me that you need to pick pineapples with green and fresh-looking leaves obviously, but that if you can pull one from the center of the top stem with a little resistance, you’ll know it’s ripe.
Tropical Pineapple Chicken
- 4 in chicken thighs bone and skin on (for Baking)
- 2 in large boneless chicken breasts sliced half horizontally (for Grilling, optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pineapple separated (See Note 1)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Marinade/Jerk Sauce:
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 in green onions ends trimmed, cut half
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 jalapeño peppers or Scotch Bonnet pepper See Note 2
- 2 green onions tops only, chopped
- In a blender add the Marinade/Jerk Sauce ingredients and purée. Add to a large Ziploc freezer bag. Add the chicken and marinate 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.
- Baking: Preheat oven to 400°F. Prior to baking bring chicken to room temperature. To a large cast iron or frying skillet add oil over medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess marinade and reserve. Sear chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until slightly browned.
- Add reserved 3 cups of pineapple over chicken and pour remaining marinade on top. Place skillet in oven and bake, uncovered for 35 minutes. After 20 minutes add chicken stock to pan and baste chicken and once again after baking prior to serving. Chicken is done at 165°F. Garnish with green onions.
- Grilling: Heat grill to 400°F. Prior to grilling bring chicken to room temperature. Sprinkle pineapple slices with brown sugar (See Note 1). Clean the grill. Shake off excess marinade from chicken. Reserve marinade. Grill the chicken and pineapple for 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through depending on thickness (See Notes 3 and 4).
- Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and reserved marinade to a small saucepan and whisk in the cornstarch. Bring to a simmer and whisk until thickened. Brush grilled chicken with glaze and garnish with green onions.
2. Of course you can alter the number of peppers for your desired heat. Just use gloves when slicing and wash hands after. The Scotch Bonnet pepper is HOT.
3. An inserted meat thermometer should read 165°F when chicken is done.
4. Turn each piece every 2 minutes slightly 45° to get cross grill marks. Completely optional.