This pineapple chicken stir fry recipe has a deliciously sweet and tangy sauce that perfectly coats the tender chicken, pineapple, and veggies and costs less than takeout!
Why you'll love it
Calling all pineapple lovers! This Chinese style chicken stir fry is a really fantastic option for picky eaters. The bright, sticky, sweet, and savory sauce along with golden, crisp chicken bites is hard to say no to. The pineapple glaze is outrageously tasty, and the whole thing is ready in just over half an hour, meaning it's faster than picking up takeout and fresher too.
Let me tell ya, this quick and easy pineapple chicken is one of those takeout fakeout type recipes that is genuinely comparable to the real deal, and it's far more affordable. You can also control exactly what goes into it, so you can feel good about serving this for your family. Eating this dish with a big bowl of rice is total bliss!
What you'll need
For the stir fry
- Chicken - we're using two boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
- Garlic powder and pepper - to infuse the chicken directly with savory flavor
- Cornstarch - it's what gives the chicken that deliciously browned, crispy exterior and tender inside when pan seared that you crave in takeout chicken
- Olive oil - for stir frying
- Pineapple - we're using unsweetened canned pineapple tidbits packed in juice
- Red bell pepper and onion - for some added crunch. I like using sweet (Vidalia) onions, and you can use any color of pepper
For the sauce
- Pineapple juice - it comes in the cans of pineapple and forms the base of the sauce
- Honey - for a hint of sweetness and to balance everything out
- Soy sauce - a rich, savory staple in Asian cooking. We used the regular kind, but you can use low sodium if that's a consideration
- Rice vinegar - for a little tang and acidity. Apple cider vinegar works fine too.
- Ginger - fresh ginger adds a zip and whole other layer to the sauce. I like to keep it in my freezer, believe it or not, and it grates amazingly from frozen.
- Garlic - is a stir fry a stir fry without garlic? I don't think so. Easily mince it with this garlic press since you don't need to peel the cloves first.
- Cornstarch - it thickens up the sauce
- As with any stir fry, I highly recommend prepping everything before you even turn on the stove, including making the sauce and chopping all the veggies. The cooking part goes quickly, so you don't want to be caught scrambling!
- Love tons of sauce? Go ahead and double the sauce ingredients.
- It's important to keep a pretty high heat to get a good sear on the chicken and veggies when cooking this stir fry.
Some notes on the pineapple
- This recipe does have a fair bit of pineapple, so feel free to use a bit less if you want. The pineapple juice in the sauce is from the cans of pineapple. Two 8-ounce cans or one 20-ounce can should have enough juice, but if it isn't enough, just top it up with water until you reach the 3/4 cup needed for the recipe.
- You can use fresh pineapple, but you'll likely need to buy pineapple juice separately for the sauce if you go that route. The good news is that it comes in convenient cartons you'll find at your grocery store too.
How to make pineapple chicken
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, then set aside. Chop the veggies. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and coat it in the garlic powder, pepper, and cornstarch.
- Pan fry the chicken in olive oil in two batches in a skillet. That way it'll brown up nicely and won't steam by being too crowded. I use cooking tongs to flip the pieces easily and my splatter guard for easy clean-up. Transfer to a plate once cooked to 165F.
- In the skillet, stir fry the pineapple and then the veggies until tender-crisp, and add the chicken back to the pan. Pour in the sauce, and let it bubble until thickened. Serve over rice or noodles with scallions if desired and enjoy!
Substitutions and variations
- You can definitely play around with this one. Use your favorite veggies! Just make sure they're cut roughly the same size. Many readers have successfully added in everything from broccoli to sugar snap peas to cashews.
- If you're craving a little heat, add in some crushed red pepper flakes or sriracha.
- Feel free to swap the chicken breasts with chicken thighs if that's what you've got on hand.
- If you want the sauce to be a little less sweet, cut the honey down from the 3 tablespoons to 1.5 to 2 tbsp.
What to serve with pineapple chicken
- I love serving it over a bed of long grain white rice, specifically jasmine rice. It's just so tasty with that sticky sweet sauce. Brown rice would be great as well.
- Noodles work too! Use your favorite stir fry noodle. I like Udon a lot, but the kind you get in those instant ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet) are good too.
- If you're not feeling the carbs, go ahead and serve this on lettuce wraps.
Leftovers and storage
- If you have any leftovers, store this pineapple chicken for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat slowly over a low heat in a saucepan until warmed through. I'd definitely make fresh rice or noodles to serve with any leftovers.
- I don't recommend freezing this one. The texture, especially the veggies, won't come out the same after being frozen.
Let me know if you've made this pineapple chicken recipe or have any questions in the comments below! You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you made any of my recipes.
Pineapple Chicken (Asian Style)
- 2 chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 (8 fluid ounce) cans pineapple tidbits or chunks drained (but reserve 3/4 cup juice for the sauce)
- 1/2 red bell pepper cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 medium onion sliced or cut into bite-size pieces
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice (from the canned pineapple)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Add the sauce ingredients to a small bowl. If you don't have quite enough pineapple juice to make 3/4 cup, just top the rest up with water. Whisk until smooth.
- Prep your veggies.
- Cut the chicken into 1" pieces and add them to a bowl. Toss them with the garlic powder and some pepper. Add the cornstarch and toss until coated.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pan heat up for a few minutes. Cook the chicken in two batches (don't crowd the pan). Cook the chicken for 4 minutes and then flip (I use tongs to do this quickly) and cook for another 3-4 minutes or so. Chicken should be browned and cooked through (165F). For the second batch, I add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Transfer each batch of the chicken to a plate when it's done.
- If the pan is dry, add a small splash of olive oil (a teaspoon or so), and then add the pineapple. Let it cook without stirring it for about a minute.
- Stir in the peppers and onions and cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Veggies will be tender-crisp. You can cook for a little longer if you wish.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and then stir in the sauce. Let it bubble until it's thickened (about 1-2 minutes), then take the pan off the heat and serve immediately over rice or noodles.
- I buy the canned pineapple that's unsweetened (packed in its own juice).
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.