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The tropical flavors of this Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken will transport you to the islands, even in winter! Made with chicken thighs, pineapple and bell pepper, everything is cooked in your slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner recipe.
This Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken has the power to make you feel like you’re sitting beachside with the sun on your skin, even in the dead of winter. Made with a sweet and sticky sauce, juicy pineapple, peppers, and tender chicken thighs, it has everything you need to make you feel those distinct tropical vibes.
Here’s the thing: chicken thighs are never not delicious. You know I love my grilled chicken thighs, pan-seared chicken thighs and of course my air fryer chicken thighs, mostly because they always turn out juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside. They’re always my top choice over other cuts.
Slow cooker Hawaiian chicken cooks the thighs low and slow over several hours so the meat has time to break down and soak up the sweet and sticky sauce. It’s such a low-maintenance recipe and the juices, meat, pineapple, and peppers served over rice taste unlike anything else!
- Each bite is out-of-this-world sweet, sticky, juicy, and tangy.
- The ingredients are simple and loaded with tropical flavors.
- Set it and forget it! Everything is tossed in a crockpot so you don’t have to stress.
- Chicken thighs - Boneless and skinless chicken thighs don’t take as long to cook as bone-in and are less likely to dry out, unlike chicken breasts.
- Pineapple - Fresh pre-cut or canned pineapple are great time-saving options. Make sure to drain the liquid from the canned pineapple beforehand.
- Peppers - I like the pop of color from red peppers but you can use any color of bell pepper you like.
- Coconut sugar - Brown sugar is traditionally used in a Hawaiian chicken recipe but coconut sugar lightens it up a bit.
- Soy sauce and honey - This is where the Hawaiian chicken gets its signature sweet and savory flavor. Feel free to use tamari instead of soy sauce to make this recipe gluten free.
- Arrowroot starch - Cornstarch works just as well.
How to Make Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
Step 1: Season the chicken. Season each chicken thigh with salt and pepper on all sides.
Step 2: Cook in the crockpot. Whisk the soy sauce and honey together in a bowl. Place the chicken, peppers, onion, pineapple, garlic, ginger, and coconut sugar in the crockpot. Pour the soy and honey sauce over top, then cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours.
Step 3: Make the starch slurry. Whisk the arrowroot starch and water together in a bowl and pour it into the crockpot after the 4 or 5 hours are up. Stir it all together and continue cooking.
Step 4: Serve with rice. Serve the slow cooker pineapple chicken over rice or with your favorite vegetables, and garnish with green onion. Enjoy!
Expert tips and FAQs
- Prefer barbecue Hawaiian chicken? Add ½ cup of your favorite bbq sauce in with the other ingredients.
- You’ll know the chicken thighs are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Don’t skip the starch slurry. It will thicken the sauce so it can stick to the chicken and rice.
- Use other cuts of chicken: You can use bone-in chicken thighs or even chicken breasts if you want, just be sure to check on the chicken more frequently, as the cook times will vary (always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature is at 165°F before serving).
- Use different vegetables: Not a fan of bell pepper? No problem! Try using sliced carrots or even green beans instead. With that said, if you're going to use green beans, I recommend adding them in the last hour of cooking so they don't get too mushy.
- Substitute coconut sugar: You can use brown sugar or honey instead of coconut sugar if you prefer. Brown sugar will make it sweeter, whereas honey is a healthier alternative.
- Make it spicy: To make this recipe spicy, simply add sliced jalapeño into the crockpot. If you want it really spicy, throw the jalapeño seeds in as well.
- Make it low carb: Instead of serving this with white rice, try serving it over cauliflower rice or even broccoli rice as a low carb alternative.
What is Hawaiian chicken?
Hawaiian chicken is typically chicken made with pineapple, sugar and other vegetables like bell pepper, carrots or green beans and it's typically served over rice.
What does pineapple do to chicken?
The enzymes in pineapple actually help break down the fibers in the meat, creating outstanding pieces of tender and juicy chicken. Not to mention, the sweet and tangy pineapple juices pair so well with dark meat.
Can this be made in the Instant Pot instead?
Yep! The method is quite similar to my Instant Pot orange chicken recipe. Simply add all of the ingredients EXCEPT the arrowroot, water and green onions to your pressure cooker. Then, pressure cook on high for 5 minutes and naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes before manually releasing the rest.
Last, whisk the arrowroot and water together, then pour the mixture into your Instant Pot and press "sauté" and set the timer for 2 minutes. This will help to thicken the sauce.
What to serve with Crockpot Hawaiian chicken?
To serve, scoop the chicken over white or brown rice, leafy greens, coconut rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or roasted vegetables. You can season each bowl with green onion or even kimchi for a little spice. Cucumber salad, honey sriracha brussels sprouts, and sauteed asparagus would be great on the side.
- Refrigerator - Keep leftover crockpot Hawaiian chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat them for a few minutes in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove until warmed through.
More weeknight chicken dinners
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
- 2 lb. chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- salt and pepper
- 2 red bell peppers sliced, seeds removed
- ½ cup yellow onion diced
- 2 cups pineapple cut into small cubes
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- ¼ cup coconut sugar or sub brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce or sub tamari
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoon green onions or more to taste; chopped
- Spray your crockpot with nonstick spray. Then, season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it into the bottom of the crockpot.
- Add the bell peppers, onion, pineapple, garlic, ginger, and sugar to the crockpot as well. Next, whisk the soy sauce and honey together in a small bowl, then pour that over top of the chicken and veggies.
- Cook the chicken on LOW for 4-5 hours. Then, whisk the arrowroot/cornstarch and water together to create a paste, and pour it into your crockpot, giving everything a good stir. Continue cooking for 30-40 more minutes until the sauce as thickened.
- Serve chicken over rice or with your favorite vegetables and garnish with green onions. Enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in September 2021. It was updated with new text in September 2022.