Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Marinate 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 15 minutes

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken is an easy, flavorful grilled chicken recipe. Marinated in a sweet Teriyaki BBQ sauce and served with grilled pineapple.

Just like my Slow Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pork and Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken Thighs, this grilled Hawaiian Chicken Recipe is full of tropical flavors mixed with savory, juicy meat. This is a perfect BBQ recipe for Summer grilling with family and friends!

Sabrina’s Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Recipe

These sweet and savory BBQ chicken legs with a finger lickin’ good sauce and grilled pineapple are an incredible summer meal. There is a little extra time needed for them to marinate, but the tender, juicy flavorful chicken is worth it. Plan ahead and make this on Friday night for a Saturday family cookout so you get maximum Hawaiian flavor in every bite!

This might be one of the best (and easiest!) BBQ Chicken recipes you’ll ever make. The sweet and savory marinade is made with brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, and fresh ginger. It is served with pineapple tossed in a little sugar and grilled until caramelized. The sweetness and char on the pineapple goes perfectly with the garlicky sweet BBQ-Teriyaki Sauce on the chicken.

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken ingredients spread out on counter in separate prep bowls. Chicken at bottom of frame, pineapple at top.
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  • Chicken Legs Quarters: The leg quarters are the back quarter of the chicken so they have the drumstick, thigh and a bit of the back for lots of juicy, flavorful dark meat. Chicken leg quarters are a great option for grilling because they cook in less than an hour and don’t dry out easily over high heat.
  • Brown Sugar: The 1 cup of brown sugar in the marinade adds a warm sweetness and helps the chicken skin caramelize on the grill.
  • Ketchup: Using ½ cup of ketchup in your BBQ marinade lets you cut down on ingredients because it has tomato sauce, vinegar, and spices all in one.
  • Soy Sauce: The ½ cup of soy sauce adds that signature salty-umami Asian flavor. Use reduced-sodium soy sauce because chicken is already naturally a bit salty.
  • Garlic: I used 5 cloves of garlic for tons of garlicky flavor. Feel free to use more or less, but I wouldn’t use less than 2 cloves or you won’t really taste it.
  • Ginger: I used 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger to add some extra island flavor and give it a little zing. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, but I really recommend using fresh when possible.
  • Pepper:  To help round out all the flavors, I used ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper. I like fresh cracked pepper for more bite.
  • Pineapple: Fresh pineapple wedges are tossed in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and grilled until caramelized for an easy side. Cut ½ a fresh pineapple in round slices about ½ inch thick, then cut each slice into 4 wedges.
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Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Grill: You can use an indoor or outdoor grill for this recipe. I used a cast iron grill pan, but you can use a regular grill or electric grill.
  • Whisk: A whisk helps blend the sugar into the other sauce ingredients smoothly so all the flavors are evenly distributed.
  • Marinating Container: You’ll need a large bowl or container that will fit the chicken pieces easily enough to turn and coat them all over.
  • Plastic Wrap: You never want to marinate food, especially not meat, without covering it. The plastic wrap should be tight to create a seal. You could also use a container with a lid.
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How to Make

Time needed: 9 hours and 15 minutes.

  1. Make the Marinade

    Whisk the brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a large bowl. Transfer half the marinade to a sealed container and place in the fridge.Hawaiian BBQ Chicken marinade ingredients in bowl with whisk before mixing. Top down view.

  2. Coat the Chicken

    Add the chicken legs to the remaining marinade and turn a couple times to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8-12 hours, preferably overnight.Hawaiian BBQ Chicken raw chicken coated in marinade in bowl

  3. Prep the Grill

    Remove the chicken and discard the marinade. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat (or outdoor grill to 400 degrees). Brush oil on the grill grates or spray with cooking spray so the chicken doesn’t stick.

  4. Cook the Chicken

    Place the chicken quarters evenly spaced on the grill so they aren’t touching. Cook, flipping every 10-12 minutes, for about 45-50 minutes total, until the center of the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.Hawaiian BBQ Chicken cooked chicken in grill pan. Bowl of pineapple wedges in top right corner.

  5. Glaze the Chicken

    Brush chicken with reserved marinade and cook one more minute to caramelize the skin. Remove chicken from the grill to rest while you cook the pineapple. Note: Use the reserved half of the marinade that has not touched uncooked chicken to glaze.Hawaiian BBQ Chicken brushing glaze on grilled chicken on grill

  6. Grill the Pineapple

    Toss the pineapple with the brown sugar until coated. Place the pineapple wedges in a single layer on the grill. Grill pineapple for 3-4 minutes on each side, until caramelized.Hawaiian BBQ Chicken grilled pineapple wedges in grill pan

  7. Plate and Serve

    Serve the grilled pineapple and rested chicken with extra glazing sauce. Again, do not serve any sauce that was used for marinating uncooked chicken.Hawaiian BBQ Chicken two plates each with one chicken leg quarter with pineapple wedges and white rice.

Can this be made ahead of time?

You definitely need to plan ahead for the marinade to deeply infuse the chicken with flavor. I would suggest making this recipe the night before, then grilling it fresh. You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours.

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Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 649 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 142mg47%
Sodium 2022mg88%
Potassium 668mg19%
Carbohydrates 84g28%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 74g82%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 334IU7%
Vitamin C 57mg69%
Calcium 93mg9%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Tips

Safe Handling Chicken Marinade

Only use the separated, fresh marinade to baste the cooked chicken because it will not reach a safe internal temperature in the short caramelizing time.

Feeding a Crowd Cheaply

Chicken leg quarters are also one of the least expensive cuts of chicken, so if you double or triple this recipe, you can feed a lot of people insanely good BBQ chicken for cheap!

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Ideas to Serve Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

  • Hawaiian Plate: Serve this BBQ Chicken as a traditional Hawaiian Lunch Plate with a scoop each of Steamed Rice and Hawaiian Macaroni Salad all on top of some shredded cabbage.
  • Sides: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken also goes great with all your favorite barbecue side dishes like Macaroni and Cheese or Potato Salad.
  • Bowls: Make a Hawaiian Rice Bowl by layering white rice, chicken pieces, grilled pineapple, green onions, and more of that delicious teriyaki sauce.
  • Wrap: Turn it into a wrap for an amazing lunch on the go by putting everything into a large flour tortilla. A wrap with whatever fresh veggies you have on hand is a great way to use leftover chicken too!
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How to Store

Store: If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Let the meat cool for at least 15-20 minutes to reabsorb it’s juices before transferring to the container.

Reheat: I recommend reheating the chicken in the oven, in a dish covered with foil, at low heat, around 300 degrees, until it is warmed through. This will heat the chicken slowly to keep the meat from drying out.

Freeze: Once the chicken is cooled completely, place in a freezer safe bag and squeeze out any air. Freeze chicken quarters for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

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Frequent Questions

How is Hawaiian BBQ different from regular BBQ?

Hawaiian BBQ sauces have more of a Japanese influence, closer to a Teriyaki sauce than a Southern BBQ Sauce. It’s a bit sweeter thanks to the brown sugar, but it also packs a punch with lots of garlic and fresh ginger root. The end result is a sticky, sweet and savory sauce pairs perfectly with the smoky char from the grill.

When is chicken done cooking?

Grilled chicken needs to reach 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh before you serve it. Resting your chicken before serving allows the juices to soak back in for extra juicy chicken.

Can I reuse marinade?

No, you need to discard marinade that was used on uncooked meat. Always glaze or baste cooked meat with a fresh, separate marinade that has not touched raw meat.

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Recipe Card

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken is an easy, flavorful grilled chicken recipe. Marinated in a sweet Teriyaki BBQ sauce and served with grilled pineapple.
Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 9 hours 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder



  • 1 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce , reduced-sodium
  • 5 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 4 chicken leg quarters


  • 1/2 pineapple , cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


Hawaiian BBQ Chicken:

  • In a large bowl whisk together brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and black pepper.
  • Reserve half the marinade in a small container in the fridge. This is for glazing later. Keep it separate from the uncooked meat.
  • To the remaining sauce add the chicken legs, turn to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate 8-12 hours.


  • Heat the grill to medium high heat.
  • Add the chicken to an oiled grill and cook for 10-12 minutes, then flip and cook for another 10-12 minutes. Discard the uncooked chicken marinade. (You should have a second marinade that was stored separately)
  • Continue cooking, flipping every 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees, about 45-50 minutestotal.
  • Brush with reserved separated marinade, cook for 1 additional minute to caramelize the glaze. (Do NOT use the uncooked chicken marinade)


  • Add the pineapple to the grill while the chicken is cooking.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until caramelized.
  • Served with steamed rice and pineapple.


Calories: 649kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 2022mg | Potassium: 668mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 74g | Vitamin A: 334IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 3mg

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Meat: You can use the Hawaiian marinade for pretty much any meat you like. Try it with boneless chicken thighs or breasts, or use it on pork chops or skirt steak. Adjust the cooking times to make sure the meat reaches a safe temperature without overcooking.

Kabobs: Make Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Skewers with boneless, skinless chicken breast, fresh pineapple, and veggies like bell peppers and red onions. Cut chicken into large pieces (about 1 ½ inch) and marinate in half the sauce. Marinate the veggies for an hour before grilling and toss pineapple in brown sugar. Alternate chicken, veggies, and pineapple on bamboo skewers and grill until chicken reaches 165 degrees.

Marinade: Adjust the marinade to what you have on hand or your tastes. You can use honey instead of brown sugar, tomato paste for the ketchup, use less garlic etc. Add spicy ingredients like garlic chile sauce or chipotles in adobo sauce for some heat.

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More Delicious Hawaiian Chicken Recipes

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken collage of plated chicken with pineapple and rice, brushing grilled chicken with glaze. Recipe name in yellow and orange banner across middle.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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