Making grilled, sweet, and sticky Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs at home, just like those found at your favorite restaurant, is simple and totally doable!
UPDATED: May 9, 2021
Let’s just get this out there. Why is teriyaki so hard to spell?! No matter how hard I try, the spell checker is correcting me. Please tell me it’s not just me! Even though I struggle spelling it, teriyaki sauce tastes so delicious! So, I’m pushing through this for you!
Nothing quite compares to the taste of authentic Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs! As it grills, the sticky and sweet marinade caramelizes and intensifies in flavor. You would never guess how simple it is to make at home.
At least, the toughest part of this recipe is waiting for the chicken to marinate. Though, once that’s done, dinner can be on the table in about 15 minutes of cook time! This recipe for Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs is bound to be your new family favorite!
Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs Ingredients
For the BEST Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken, use chicken thighs not chicken breasts. If you have ever tried to use chicken breast, and wondered why it didn’t taste as good as the restaurants, that’s why!
When using chicken thighs, they are less likely to overcook and dry out. Another reason to use chicken thighs is they are much more flavorful than chicken breasts. For this recipe, I prefer using boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
TIP: Save money by buying chicken thighs with the skin-on and the bone-in and cleaning them yourself. I do this hack all the time! Such a game changer! This 4 minute video from FoodFAQ shows how simple and easy it is to remove the skin and bones from chicken thighs.
Teriyaki Marinade Ingredients
The teriyaki marinade only has 5 ingredients and is so simple to put together. You’ll need: soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger.
TIP: Instead of buying more pineapple juice than you need, buy a can of pineapple rings. Use the juice from the can and save the pineapple for another use like my Sheet Pan Pineapple Chicken Fajitas or Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
Now, I highly recommend using fresh ginger and fresh garlic. The fresh flavors enhance the marinade and give it great depth.
TIP: For easy preparation, freeze the ginger for at least 30 minutes. While the ginger is freezing, peel the skins off of the garlic cloves. Then, using a zester, or the smallest holes of a grater, finely grate the ginger and garlic. Don’t worry about peeling the skin off of the ginger (it contains lots of nutrients)! Plus, because it’s grated, you won’t have to worry about biting into tough skin.
Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs Preparation
To make this Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken, first, prepare the teriyaki sauce. Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, garlic and ginger. Then, add the teriyaki sauce and chicken thighs to a plastic baggie or casserole dish.
Next, marinate the chicken in the fridge at least 4 ours or overnight. Half-way through marinading, flip the chicken over. This allows the chicken to evenly marinate.
After marinating, heat a grill to medium to medium-high heat. You want your grill to be hot, but you don’t want it to be smoking. The goal is to sear the outside of the chicken without burning the sugar.
UPDATE 5/9/21: The original post provided an option to cook the chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet. Since I don’t have a grill, I cook my meat on the stovetop. However, several commenters had issues with the sugar burning in the cast iron. For the best results, grill your chicken rather than using the cast iron.
Once preheated, remove chicken from marinade and cook on each side, for about 5-6 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer to verify the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. This ensures your chicken will be perfectly cooked.
Meanwhile, do not discard the marinade! Add the marinade to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer the marinade for 5-10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Remove 1/2 of the marinade from the saucepan, and use one half of the marinade to baste the chicken as it cooks.
Note: As long as you do not place the Basting Brush back in marinade after brushing the chicken, you will prevent most salmonella poisoning!
Once the chicken is cooked through, add it to a baking dish and add the remaining 1/2 of warm marinade (that was NOT used to baste the chicken).
Complete your Hawaiian Mixed Plate
This teriyaki chicken is great served with a side of Calrose rice and your choice of vegetable.
Alternatively, Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs are great as part of a Hawaiian mixed plate! For other mixed plate ideas, try:
- Slow Cooker Kalua Pork and Cabbage
- Low-Carb Baked Katsu Chicken
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- SPAM Musubi Rolls
- Air Fryer Grilled Pineapple
To complete your celebration, whip up some fresh pineapple water to serve with your mixed plate.
Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
- 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs (Boneless, Skinless)
- 1 cup Soy Sauce
- 1 cup Brown Sugar Packed
- 1 cup Pineapple Juice
- 4 cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 tbsp Ginger Minced
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the teriyaki sauce ingredients; soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, garlic and ginger. Whisk ingredients together until sugar dissolves.
- Add chicken and teriyaki sauce to a plastic baggie, or a casserole dish. Allow to marinate, in the fridge, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Flip the chicken half-way through marinading time.
- Heat a grill to medium to medium-high heat. Once preheated, remove chicken from marinade and cook on each side, for about 5-6 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Meanwhile, add the reserved marinade to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer the marinade for 5-10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Remove 1/2 of the marinade from the saucepan, and use one half of the marinade to baste the cooking chicken.*
- Once the chicken is cooked through, add it to a baking dish and add the remaining 1/2 of warm marinade (that was NOT used to baste the chicken).
- Serve and enjoy!