Pineapple Marinated Chicken

Hello everyone! Welcome to Djalali Cooks. Today’s recipe is a really great way to prepare chicken breast. We often do whole chickens, so we are fine with breasts, but typically when I do a recipe that is just pieces of chicken, I always go for thighs. Well, I wanted to try this recipe I found on the New York Times Cooking site because it promises to deliver a tender, juicy chicken breast. I was skeptical. So we are doing it here today; let’s see how this Pineapple Marinated Chicken goes!

Pineapple Marinated Chicken over rice with pineapple salsa


Let’s get prepped! Measure out and prep all of your ingredients. and grab one large bowl and one medium bowl.

Pineapple Marinated Chicken ingredients

We have pineapple prepped in two ways: 1 cup of diced pineapple which will be in the salsa topping; and we have 2 tablespoons of grated pineapple for the marinade. You can use a rasp-style grater to grate pineapple slices. Alternatively, you can use a knife to cut it super-fine, so it resembles a chunky puree.

mixing the Pineapple Marinade

In the large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, fish sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, Kosher salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

Transfer 1 tablespoon of this marinade mixture to the medium size bowl. And set the rest of the marinade in the large bowl aside. Add the diced pineapple to the medium bowl. Then, the finely-diced red onion. And the chopped cilantro. Mix well to coat everything in the 1 tablespoon of marinade.

With the pineapple salsa prepared, set that aside and let’s get back to the marinade.

Pineapple Marinade

To the marinade in the large bowl, add the two tablespoons of grated pineapple and mix well. Then, add the chicken breast chunks to the marinade and stir well to coat all the chicken in the marinade. Set a timer for 15 minutes. The short marinating time is important because the enzymes (Bromelain) in the pineapple that help to tenderize the tougher breast meat will begin to break down the meat too much, resulting in the chicken falling apart and becoming mushy. I am serving this with white rice, so I put that on to cook when I started the marinating.

When there are just a few minutes left on the marinating, heat just enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken pieces to the skillet, leaving the marinade behind. Spread out the chicken pieces in a single layer across the pan and let cook, undisturbed for about 4-5 minutes, until the bottoms are browned.

You can see how much liquid is coming out of the chicken. When the chicken begins to brown on the bottom, stir and keep cooking until the liquid cooks off and caramelizes, at this point the chicken should no longer be pink inside (about 3-4 more minutes). Dark fond will develop on the pan, scrape and stir that into the chicken.

Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl. We have our jasmine rice and pineapple salsa; we’re ready to serve!

ready to serve Pineapple Marinated Chicken

Pineapple Marinated Chicken

Portion some rice into a shallow bowl, spoon on some chicken and top with pineapple salsa.

Pineapple Marinated Chicken over rice with pineapple salsa

This dish is really good. The flavors are so bright and fresh with the fresh pineapple and cilantro in the salsa. The chicken is tender and the cooked, caramelized marinade gives it a teriyaki flavor: sweet, salty and full of umami richness.

My takeaway is this: 1) next time I will try this with thigh meat, just because I think it will have more chicken flavor that way; and 2) I am going to take this to the grill for the next round. I think the pineapple marinade will be fantastic with the charring and charcoal flavor imparted by the grill. A nice fond did develop in the pan, but I wanted more caramelization.

Pineapple Marinated Chicken over rice with pineapple salsa

This dish is quick and easy; it’s great for summer, when fresh and cool tropical flavors are just the ticket. Definitely give this one a try, and let me know if you do it just like this, or if you try it with dark meat, or take it to the grill. Reach out on Instagram or facebook to let me know how you do this Pineapple Marinated Chicken! If you’re looking for another chicken and pineapple recipe, try my Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Pineapple and Peppers. Take care and be well everyone, see you Wednesday! xo Kelly

Pineapple Marinated Chicken

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Dinner, Main Course American
By Adapted from Eric Kim, NY Times Serves: 2
Prep Time: 25 Minutes (includes 15 minute marinade) Cooking Time: 7-10 minutes Total Time: ~30 Minutes

Tender bites of chicken breast have a lightly caramelized exterior, with a teriyaki-like flavor – sweet and savory. Served with a fresh pineapple salsa with onions and cilantro.


  • 3 Packed tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar (I used light because it's all I had)
  • 2 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Fish Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Ground Cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Diced Fresh Pineapple (1/2-inch chunks)
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Red Onion
  • 2 tbsp. Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. Finely Grated Fresh Pineapple, including accumulated juices
  • 1.5 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Cooked white rice, for serving



In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, garlic powder, ground cayenne and black pepper.


Transfer 1 tablespoon of the marinade mixture to a medium bowl to make the salsa. To this 2 tablespoon of the marinade, add the diced pineapple, red onion and cilantro. Toss until well mixed and set aside.


To the rest of the marinade in the large bowl, add the grated pineapple and its juices, stir to combine. Then, add the chicken pieces, toss to coat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes (and no longer).


When the chicken has about 2 minutes to go on the marinating time, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.


Add the chicken pieces, leaving any marinade behind, in a single layer and let cook until the bottoms are browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.


Cook until browned on all sides and no longer pink on the inside, 3 to 4 minutes more.


Serve the chicken over rice and top with the pineapple salsa.

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  • JoAnne
    June 14, 2021 at 9:59 am

    For the marinade that requires grated pineapple, can you use the pineapple core?

    • Kelly Djalali
      June 14, 2021 at 10:30 am

      Hi JoAnne, Good question. I wouldn’t use the core only because the core tends to be drier than the pineapple flesh, and we want some of that juice we get from the grated flesh to really help those enzymes to tenderize the meat. I hope that sheds some light, Thanks so much for asking! Let me know how this turns out for you! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    June 14, 2021 at 10:42 am

    This sounds amazing, I’ am making it tonight
    I’ll keep you posted ❤️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      June 14, 2021 at 11:12 am

      I think you’ll like this recipe, Mom. Give it a go, and let me know how it goes. xo Kelly

  • Suzanne smith
    June 14, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Sounds good! I get grilling it will be fabulous. I make a similar dish but I usually add some vinegar for a kind of sweet and sour flavor. And then I add water chestnuts to that. This sounds easy and delicious

    • Kelly Djalali
      June 14, 2021 at 3:42 pm

      Yes, I think grilling is the way to go with this one. I like the sweet/sour idea, love that flavor combo. Water chestnuts is another great addition, for crunch. I was thinking chopped peanuts would be good too! Thank you so much for stopping by today! xo Kelly