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Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  25 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 310
hawaiian chicken kabobs on top of coconut rice topped with flaked coconut next to a baking sheet of Hawaiian chicken kabobs
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Sweet and savory, these super easy pineapple-dotted Hawaiian chicken kabobs are pure summertime fun.

Healthy Chicken Pineapple Kabobs Are a Colorful a Taste of the Tropics

Sweet and juicy, tart and sunny, pineapple is brilliant fresh, but did you know that it’s delicious when thrown on a grill? Grilled pineapple gets a lovely caramelization and its sweet-tartness intensifies into something totally otherworldly. Paired with juicy marinated chicken and skewered onto colorful, veggie-laden kabobs. A trip to Hawaii may not be in the cards this summer, but these Hawaiian chicken kabobs will get you really close—at least they’ll fill your senses with all of those beautiful sweet, salty, rich flavors that you love so much. And best of all? This meal absolutely demands that you mix up a pina colada (or two!).

chicken breast, sweet potatoes, pineapple, bell pepper, red onion and other ingredients in bowls for Hawaiian chicken kabobs

The Best Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs Marinade Also Happens to Be Super Easy!

The key to making boneless skinless chicken breast taste amazing is to treat it like what it is—a fabulous blank canvas for all your wildest flavorsome ideas. Here, we’ve leaned hard into classic Asian pantry ingredients—much of modern Hawaiian cuisine is so influenced by Japanese and Chinese cuisine, so it made sense to use those bold, beautiful ingredients here. Fresh ginger for heat, sugar and ketchup for sweetness, and a bit of vinegar for acid make this marinade perfectly balanced. You can prep and marinate the chicken up to a day ahead of time, too, making these Hawaiian chicken kabobs a terrific make-ahead main dish for your next summer BBQ. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this super yummy marinade:


  • Toasted sesame oil

  • Grated fresh ginger

  • Garlic cloves

  • Soy sauce or tamari

  • Rice vinegar

  • Brown sugar

  • Ketchup

  • Smoked paprika

sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup and smoked paprika in a glass bowl
cut up chicken being tossed with tongs in homemade Hawaiian chicken marinade

What Goes on a Hawaiian Kabob?

For us, a great Hawaii-inspired kabob MUST have pineapple. Beyond that, though, we chose veggies for their deliciousness and healthy qualities, but also for color! When we think of Hawaii, our minds become a cheery kaleidoscope of bright and bold colors! Magenta hibiscus and rainbow plumerias and angular birds of paradise against a turquoise sky, with lapping azure waves and vibrant, lush, tropical forests that stretch across volcanic soil—OK, we’re getting carried away. You know Hawaii is gorgeous. So your Hawaiian kabobs better be gorgeous, too, if they’re going to earn that moniker, right? Here’s what we skewer onto those beautiful grilled chicken kabobs:

  • Chicken breast

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Fresh pineapple

  • Bell peppers

  • Red onion

  • Vegetable oil

  • Flaked coconut

cubed sweet potateos being covered in water in a pot to be balanched before adding to Hawaiian chicken kabobs
skewers being assembled with sweet potatoes, pineapple, bell pepper, chicken and red onion for Hawaiian chicken kabobs

How to Make Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs

If you’re serving these pineapple chicken kabobs as part of a party spread, you might want to get as much of the work done ahead of time as possible, so we’ve called out all of the things that you can get done ahead of time here. You can do a lot ahead of time, which means these Hawaiian skewers are super great party food. A little sweet and a little savory, they’re also always a crowd-pleaser—even kids usually like them, thanks to all the pineapple. Here’s how to make them:

  1. Up to one day before: get the chicken marinating! Whisk together the Hawaiian chicken marinade ingredients. Save about half of the sauce for basting the chicken, and use the rest to marinate the chicken breast pieces. Pop it in the fridge—at least 30 mins, but overnight is best!

  2. The night before: if you’re using bamboo or wooden skewers, you’ll want to soak them in water overnight before loading them with chicken, pineapple and veggies to keep them from burning on the hot grill.

  3. Par-boil the sweet potatoes. You could do this up to a day ahead of time, too, if you’re a work-ahead kind of person! They need a bit of cooking before they hit the grill so that they’re perfectly done right when the chicken is.

  4. Prep the other veggies.

  5. Assemble! Load your skewers with pieces of marinated chicken, onion pieces, bell pepper, sweet potatoes and pineapple.

  6. Grill the Hawaiian chicken kabobs! Grill them for about 2-3 minutes per side. When you turn the chicken skewers, baste the uncooked side with some of the reserved marinade. Your kabobs are done when the chicken pieces register 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.

grilled Hawaiian chicken kabobs on a baking sheet brushed with remaining marinade next to a bowl of additional marinade

What Goes With Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs?

Though Hawaii was the inspiration for these kabobs, these chicken skewers are really a go-with-anything kind of meal. They’re not spicy—AKA they’re great kid food—and they’re super healthy, too. You can enjoy them on their own, maybe with a green salad on the side, to make a low-carb dinner. Or you can pair them with some simple starch—rice is a natural partner. Here are our favorite things to pair them with:

grilled Hawaiian chicken kabobs on a baking sheet brushed with remaining marinade next to a bowl of additional marinade

Tools You’ll Need:

More Easy, Grill-Friendly Kabobs to Try!

hawaiian chicken kabobs on top of coconut rice topped with flaked coconut next to a baking sheet of Hawaiian chicken kabobs

Aloha!

If you make these colorful and yummy chicken kabobs, let us know how you like them! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  25 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 310

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 to 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 small green peppers, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Coconut rice, for serving
  • ¼ cup toasted coconut flakes (optional)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and paprika. Transfer about half of the marinade to a small bowl.

  2. Add the chicken to the marinade in the large bowl and toss to coat well. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

  3. Meanwhile, add the sweet potatoes to a large pot and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and allow any excess to drip off. Tightly thread the chicken, boiled sweet potatoes, pineapple, green peppers, and onions onto 8 skewers, dividing evenly. (see note)

  5. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Oil the grates and add the skewers. Cook, turning and brushing with reserved marinade, until sweet potatoes are lightly charred and chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes total. Serve over coconut rice and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Note: If using wooden skewers, plan ahead and soak them in water for at least one hour before grilling. This will prevent them from burning.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories310
  • Protein36 g
  • Carbohydrates22 g
  • Total Fat10 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol1 mg
  • sodium479 mg
  • Total Sugars8 g

Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Mary

    Any suggestions on cooking times for Air Fryer?

    We have not tested this in an air fryer yet.

  • Reema

    Could I make this in the oven similar to the peanut chicken skewers?

    That should work ok, Reema!

  • Nicole

    I made this exactly like the recipe for some friends this past weekend and it was delicious! I marinated a little too much chicken for 4 people, so we stir -fried it the next night with some peppers and served it over leftover coconut rice and it tasted great that way as well!

    Thank you Nicole, we are so happy that you loved it! The stir fry method sounds delightful, nice idea to use up your left overs!

  • Barbara

    These kebabs are excellent. I did not add sweet potato because I was making a salad with potatoes. My husband and I tested the recipe last night and I will be making it for a big group next weekend. This is great for company because you can prep so much in advance.

    Thanks Barbara so glad you loved it! We love to be able to prep ahead of time before feeding a group!

  • Jess

    This meal was great! Followed the sauce recipe to the letter but may make 1.5x next time so I have more to baste and drizzle. The store was out of fresh pineapple so I bought a can of the biggest chunks I could find. I read on another blog (I did my research after my shop) that you shouldn't use canned because it's too soft and will fall off the skewer. Sounded likely to happen so I decided to caramelize the pineapple in a skillet with butter and a pinch of salt to serve with the kabobs. Not the same as grilled of course, but got some color and didn't taste like straight out of the can pineapple. Would suggest that approach to anyone in the same pinch (or if the fresh pineapple you bought isn't ripe yet) because pineapple is essential to the deliciousness of this recipe!

    Thanks Jess! So glad you enjoyed this recipe! Glad you were able to make the canned pineapple work to go with the meal, nice job!

  • Chris David

    Really delicious recipe. I love it yummy!!! It's really awesome. Will surely try this. You can also try this one

    Thanks! Glad you loved it!

  • Jenn

    These were delicious! Served over white rice and the whole family loved them!

    Thank you Jenn, glad the whole family enjoyed!