Sweet meets savory in this mouthwatering Pineapple Chicken recipe. An Asian-inspired stir fry that comes together in just 25 minutes, you’ll love the sticky sauce, juicy chicken, and the combination of tender bell pepper and crisp water chestnuts. So easy too!
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Why You’ll Love This Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry Recipe
- The Perfect Sticky Sauce. What makes Chinese takeout stir fries so great is that sticky sauce that coats each bite and clings to every grain of rice. This simple pineapple chicken recipe replicates that fantastic sticky consistency at home. (So does this General Tso Chicken!)
- A Weeknight Winner. In under 30 minutes, you’ll have a satisfying restaurant-style meal on the table ready to eat! Like Kung Pao Shrimp and Sesame Chicken, it’s legitimately faster than ordering takeout—and healthier, too.
- Family-Friendly. The sweetness of the pineapple pairs perfectly with the savory chicken, making this recipe a crowd-pleaser for all ages. If you have picky eaters in your family, omit the red pepper flakes when you’re cooking and let everyone add their own at the table.
- That Pineapple, Though. Whether it’s Sweet and Sour Chicken (or Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken) or this sticky pineapple chicken recipe, heating pineapple and pairing it with savory elements really makes that natural sweetness pop.
How to Make Pineapple Chicken
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs. Pineapple chicken thighs will be a little juicer than pineapple chicken breasts (dark meat is juicier than white), but either way, the recipe will still be delish and come together fast.
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper. Always essential.
- Pineapple Chunks. Canned in juice, not syrup! We’ll put the juice to use (hey, it rhymes!) in the sauce.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce. Use tamari for a gluten-free pineapple chicken sauce.
- Honey. For some natural sweetness that’s not cloying.
- Cornstarch. The key to the sauce’s stickiness.
- Garlic and Ginger. Fresh garlic and ginger bring lots of flavor to the table.
- Red Pepper Flakes. Adjust the amount as needed!
- Canola Oil. Or another neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point.
- Red Bell Peppers. Orange or yellow are also fabulous; you can use a green pepper if you like for a slightly sharper flavor.
- Water Chestnuts. Here for the crunch. A polarizing ingredient, so feel free to omit these if you’re not a fan!
- Green Onions. A multitasker that adds flavor, texture, and a pop of color to our Chinese pineapple chicken.
- Sesame Seeds. White sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, or a combination of both.
- Brown Rice, Quinoa, or Cauliflower Rice. For serving.
- Prepare. Season the chicken, then whisk together the pineapple juice with the rest of the sauce ingredients.
- Cook the Chicken. Add oil to a hot wok set over medium-high heat, then cook the chicken until it’s golden brown on all sides.
- Stir-Fry the Pineapple and Peppers. Cook until they’re blistered in a few places.
- Add Back the Chicken. Stir in the water chestnuts, too.
- Pour in the Sauce. Stir and cook the pineapple chicken until the sauce reduces and has that nice sticky consistency.
- Finish. Add the green onions and sesame seeds, then season to taste and serve over rice. ENJOY!
- Use Another Protein. Pork, steak, or shrimp would all be delicious in place of the chicken. Keep in mind, though, that each of these proteins will have different cooking times.
- Make It Vegetarian. To make this dish vegetarian, swap the chicken for pressed and drained extra-firm tofu. (For more tofu tips, see my post on How to Cook Tofu.) Or, take a cue from my General Tso’s Chickpeas and use chickpeas.
- Switch Up the Veggies. Don’t like bell peppers? Feel free to swap them out for other veggies like snow peas or snap peas, carrots, or broccoli.
- Add Something Unexpected. Cashews or slivered almonds will add some crunch to the mix, as will crispy wonton strips. If you want to go really unexpected, thinly slice some kumquats (rind and all!) and add those with the pineapple and peppers. They add a little citrusy punch to stir fries—and let’s be real, how many opportunities do you have to use kumquats in your cooking?
- Make it in the Slow Cooker. Check out my Crockpot Pineapple Chicken.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover pineapple chicken in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave until heated through.
- To Freeze. Freeze pineapple chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
Meal Prep Tip
Cut the green onions and bell peppers up to two days in advance and refrigerate them in an airtight container. You can also cut the chicken into pieces and whisk together the sauce ingredients the day before.
What to Serve with Pineapple Stir Fry
- Asian-Inspired Apps. Make a takeout fakeout feast with Air Fryer Egg Rolls and Asian Cucumber Salad.
- Grains. White rice or brown rice (or Instant Pot Brown Rice) are the classic choices, but farro or couscous are also fantastic with a stir fry—try one for something new.
- Fried Rice. Cauliflower Fried Rice, Egg Fried Rice, or Pork Fried Rice would all be great pairings with this Chinese pineapple chicken recipe.
- Noodles. Instead of serving your pineapple chicken over rice, you can add noodles to the skillet a la this Stir Fry Noodles recipe.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Non-Stick Skillet. Because you want the sauce to stick to the chicken, not the pan!
- Small Whisk. I like the size of this whisk for small jobs like mixing stir fry sauces.
- Measuring Spoons. My absolute favorite because they’re double-sided and magnetic.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Start the Rice Before You Start the Pineapple Chicken. If you’re making brown rice, it needs about 50 minutes on the stovetop, so plan accordingly! (White rice, on the other hand, will take just about as long as the pineapple chicken, so start it before you begin prepping ingredients.)
- Don’t Overcrowd the Pan. You want to give everything plenty of room to cook evenly and develop those delicious caramelized edges that make stir fries so irresistible.
- Have All of Your Ingredients Ready to Go. Stir fries move quickly, so you don’t want to be scrambling to chop veggies or measure ingredients while your food is (over-)cooking. Having everything prepped and ready next to the stovetop will make the cooking process go much more smoothly.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 (8-ounce) cans pineapple chunks in 100% pineapple juice (not in syrup)
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce plus additional to taste
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic about 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes plus additional to taste
- 1 tablespoon canola oil or other neutral cooking oil, divided
- 2 red bell peppers cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts drained
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions about 2, plus additional for serving
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- Prepared brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice
- Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Drain the juice from the pineapple cans into a large liquid measuring cup with a spout (you should have about 2/3 cup juice). Whisk in the soy sauce, honey, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Set near the stove.
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot and shimmering, add the chicken. Cook on all sides until it’s light golden brown and the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove to a plate.
- Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Add the bell peppers and pineapple chunks from the cans. Cook until the peppers are crisp-tender and likely blistered in a few places, about 5 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the water chestnuts. Pour the sauce over the top and stir to coat. Let cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced and everything is wonderfully coated and sticky—1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the green onions and sesame seeds. Taste and add additional salt or soy sauce, so that it is seasoned to your liking. Enjoy hot with rice and an additional sprinkle of green onions.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover pineapple chicken in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave until heated through.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze pineapple chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
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