Pineapple Chicken

Colorful pantry staples come together to make this aromatic and flavorful pineapple chicken that has the perfect balance of sweet and sour to brighten your day! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Homemade pineapple chicken in a pan

Are you struggling to come up with new meal ideas based on what you have in your pantry? So many people are, and I thought I’d share one of my favorite Chinese dishes to cheer you up. My pineapple chicken recipe is something you can make with things you probably have in your kitchen right now. You just might not realize those things go together. 

If you like sweet and sour chicken from your local Chinese takeout, this will completely satisfy that craving. My version of pineapple chicken makes it healthier with less sugar thanks to the abundant aromatics. The recipe will teach you how to create crispy chicken with less oil and no deep-frying. So you can indulge in these sweet and savory flavors without guilt!

Crispy chicken with pineapple and peppers

Ingredients

My pineapple chicken recipe calls for chicken thighs, though chicken breast can work in a pinch for this. Make sure you thaw it out first! Frozen peppers can be used as-is without thawing, and that can of pineapple you have in the back of the pantry has just been waiting for a moment like this to truly shine. 

When you’re ready to cook, your table should have these ingredients:

Pineapple chicken ingredients

NOTE:

What adds that extra zing to the sauce is the addition of grated fresh ginger. I know it can be difficult to find depending where you live. But when you do find it, you can grate it and freeze it for later use so it won’t go to waste. Now if you can’t find ginger on your next supermarket run, all you need to do is turn to your freezer. You can find all my tips for freezing ginger right here!

Pineapple chicken with peppers close-up

Cooking process

Cooking pineapple chicken is so easy.

  1. Coat the marinated chicken with cornstarch
  2. Pan fry the chicken with a thin layer of oil
  3. Briefly cook the veggies
  4. Thicken the sauce and add back the cooked chicken
How to make pineapple chicken step-by-step

TIPS:

  1. Coat the chicken with cornstarch only when you’re ready to cook, to create the extra crispy effect.
  2. This recipe uses the minimum amount of oil to create extra crispy chicken. It’s important to remove the chicken to let it cool off a bit before adding it back, which will crisp up the coating a bit more.
  3. When you cook the veggies, it’s important to keep the cooking time short so the veggies are not completely cooked through. Because the veggies will continue cooking once you add the sauce.
Pineapple chicken with peppers

Afterthought

So, you have chicken, veggies, and fruit together in one dish. It’s bright and cheerful in appearance and tastes absolutely amazing with steamed white rice

This pineapple chicken dish is so simple and flavorful, and with such easy ingredients, you’ll want to make it again and again!

Takeout-style pineapple chicken

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Colorful pantry staples come together to make this aromatic and flavorful pineapple chicken that has the perfect balance of sweet and sour to brighten your day! Serve it with steamed rice to make a nutritious one-bowl meal. {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Pineapple Chicken

Colorful pantry staples come together to make this aromatic and flavorful pineapple chicken that has the perfect balance of sweet and sour to brighten your day! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}
To make this dish gluten-free, use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine. Use tamari to replace light soy sauce.
4.84 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings
Calories: 399kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 1 lb (450 g) chicken thighs (or breast) , cut into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Stir Fry:

  • 1 cup (about half a 20 oz/565 g can) pineapple slices , cut into 1” (2.5 cm) chunks
  • 1 bell pepper , cut into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , minced

Instructions

  • Add the chicken, salt, and Shaoxing cooking wine in a medium-size bowl, mix well. Let marinate while preparing other ingredients.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  • When you’re ready to cook, add the cornstarch to the marinated chicken and toss it to coat it completely.
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick (or carbon steel) skillet until hot. Shake the excess cornstarch off the chicken and spread the pieces into the pan without overlapping. Cook without touching until the bottom is browned, 2 minutes or so. Flip to cook the other side until browned, another 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a big plate to let it cool.
  • Use a few layers of paper towel held in a pair of tongs to wipe the extra oil from the pan and leave only 1 tablespoon in it. If your pan doesn’t have enough oil, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat the skillet over high heat and add the pineapples and peppers. Add the ginger on top of the veggies. Allow them to cook undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the pineapples caramelize and the peppers begin to blister. Stir a few times.
  • Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely, and pour it into the pan. Cook until the sauce is fully thickened.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the chicken. Toss to coat the chicken with sauce.
  • Serve hot as a main with steamed rice.

Notes

  1. This is how much juice you get from 1 (20 oz/565 g) can of sliced pineapple.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 34.2g | Fat: 15.4g | Saturated Fat: 3.5g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 779mg | Potassium: 476mg | Fiber: 1.4g | Sugar: 13.6g | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

More easy Chinese takeout recipes

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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8 thoughts on “Pineapple Chicken

  1. Roxane

    We loved this recipe — Pineapple Chicken; however, there was nothing in the instructions where to add in the garlic that I so meticulously cut up!! It was wonderful without it, but I think the garlic would have added something that would have made it even better. Please modify instructions! Take care!

    Roxane

    Reply
  2. Jerry Glazman

    5 stars
    Made the Pineapple Chicken tonight and loved it. One problem with the recipe however. The ginger is left out of the cooking directions. Since it’s included in the “Stir Fry” section, I assumed that it was added to the pan along with the pineapple and pepper. Is that correct?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jerry, I’m glad to hear you like the recipe!
      And sorry about the lack of ginger instruction but you did right! I’ve edited the recipe and now it’s correct.

      Reply
  3. Jackie Schad

    5 stars
    Great recipe. Fresh flavors and lightness of recipe make a restaurant quality dish. This one is a keeper for me.

    Reply
  4. ElizaW

    5 stars
    Hello again Maggie!

    Loved when this recipe came in my email. I was thinking I needed another chicken recipe and couldn’t wait to try it.

    When I had the sauce made, I took a sample taste and told my husband that it was going to be spectacular! He being the picky one said he would reserve his review until he teasted it.

    Well, once he tasted the end result he said its a keeper and could not stop raving about it. Told him that every receipe of yours has been a winner!

    I did double the sauce since we like extra and used chunk pineapple since its already cubed and eliminated a step of cutting it up.

    You are amazing! Cannot thank you enough for being such a great teacher.

    Reply
  5. Herman Gersten

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie,
    I just made your Pineapple Chicken with fresh pineapple instead of canned. I made a runny purée in my blender and used that instead of the canned juice., adding a little chicken broth to thin it.
    Great lunch!

    Reply