Chinese Pineapple Chicken is a quick dinner recipe better than any takeout around. Sweet and tangy sauce with fresh peppers and tender chicken make a meal everyone will love.
Chinese takeout is one of those universally loved meals. Flavorful sauces, rice and noodles, sauteed veggies, it’s easy to crave! But instead of paying high prices for packed boxes of steamed food, I like to whip up my own versions.
This Chinese pineapple chicken is my latest creation. Since I make it at home it’s always hot and fresh, and the pineapple sauce that coats everything is to die for.
Plus, since I make it with fresh veggies and ingredients I trust, it’s way healthier than any deep fried takeout you’ll get. I even make it with wild rice, to add a bit more nutrition, and it tastes way better!
Why you’ll love this Recipe
- Fresh, hot saucy chicken and peppers are made in just 25 minutes. (That’s faster than delivery!)
- Using fresh vegetables and sauteed chicken rather than fried keeps it healthier.
- It’s family friendly with a sweet and tangy sauce that even kids will love.
- Served with wild rice like I recommend gives it healthy protein and antioxidants.
There are no unfamiliar ingredients needed to make a delicious pan of this pineapple chicken. Everything here you’ll be able to find at your local grocery store pretty easily.
- Olive oil – You can use canola or vegetable oil as well.
- Chicken thighs – These are more traditional and flavorful, but breasts can work too.
- Salt & pepper – You’ll need both to season it perfectly.
- Bell pepper – I like to use ½ of a red and ½ of a green pepper, but you can use just 1 of whatever color you like.
- White onion – These onions have a sharper, intense flavor, but yellow will also work. You’ll only need ½ of one.
- Canned pineapple chunks & juice – I recommend canned because it’s prepped and already contains juice. If you use fresh pineapple, you’ll need to buy a can of juice to make the sauce.
- Garlic – Two cloves, finely minced.
- Barbeque sauce – Use your favorite sweet sauce.
- Ground ginger – A small amount of grated fresh ginger could work too.
- Rice vinegar – This light vinegar is traditional, but apple cider vinegar could stand in.
- Cornstarch – This is essential for thickening. Please don’t use cornmeal. If you’re outside the US, it’s sold as corn flour.
I also like sesame seeds and fresh cilantro on hand to garnish before serving. The herbaceous note and slight crunch of the seeds are the perfect finishing touch, but they’re completely optional.
I love that this Chinese pineapple chicken only takes about 10 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking to be ready. All you’ll need is a large saute pan and a sturdy spoon.
Prep your chicken, peppers, and onion by chopping each into cubes or squares. The pineapple chunks and juice can be separated, but reserve ¼ cup of the juice for cooking. Mince the garlic finely.
To get cooking, heat the oil in the pan and add in the chicken chunks first. I seasoned it with about half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper.
Cook for five minutes, or until you no longer see pink, then add in the peppers, onion, and pineapple chunks. Keep stirring and cooking for another five minutes or so, until the veggies are starting to become tender, but still a little crisp.
Next the garlic goes in and cooks for just 30 seconds, or until it’s really fragrant. Make sure to stir to prevent burning.
Then the bbq sauce, pineapple juice, rice vinegar, and ground ginger are added to build the sauce. Give it a stir and then taste it. Add another pinch of salt or pepper if needed.
While that cooks, mix the cornstarch with one tablespoon of water to create a slurry. Then stir that into the sauce. As soon as everything is well coated, serve your pineapple chicken with wild rice, stir-fried noodles, or anything that sounds good to you!
Since I make this with sauteed chicken instead of fried, it reheats really well from the fridge. It’s a great easy lunch the next day.
The recipe makes enough to serve 4 adults, but you could easily double it to serve more, or just to have extra. Simply toss it into a pan to reheat, or use your microwave.
I hope this Asian pineapple chicken is so tasty and easy that it satisfies those takeout cravings for you too. I love making Chinese-inspired dishes at home, so be sure to check out the others on the blog for more inspiration.
- Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry
- Chicken Yakisoba
- Asian Vegetable Stir Fry
- Chinese Bourbon Chicken
- Chinese Garlic Chicken
Chinese Pineapple Chicken
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. (450g) boneless skinless chicken thighs , cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt , or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper , or to taste
- 1 bell pepper (I used ½ red and ½ green) , cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½ white onion , cut into squares
- 1 cup pineapple chunks , canned
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup pineapple juice from the canned pineapple
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- sesame seeds , for garnishing (optional)
- fresh cilantro , for garnishing (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and season it with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper, onion and pineapple chunks to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in BBQ sauce, ground ginger, pineapple juice, and rice vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with one tablespoon of cool water until it's dissolved. Pour this mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce is thickened and coats the chicken and vegetables.
- Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds and fresh cilantro, if desired.