Juicy Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken

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Take your dinner on a tropical vacation with this Hawaiian-inspired pineapple chicken, stewed the slow cooker with a homemade brown sugar & honey glaze that tastes just like teriyaki. Plump pineapple chunks and bell pepper caramelize in the tangy sauce until they’re bursting with sweet-and-sour flavor.

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The magic of this dish, like all of our dog-eared slow cooker chicken recipes, is that almost all of the effort happens in just 15 minutes of prep in the morning. Then forget about dinner all day while your chicken is slowly tenderizing, and all you have to do is finish up the sauce when you get home. (Say “Mahalo” to us later.)

If you already have chicken breasts in your fridge, they’ll still taste amazing — but we chose chicken thighs because they’re actually better suited to slow cooking. (Compared to breasts, the thighs have more collagen, which converts to gelatin in the crockpot, which equals mouthwateringly moist chicken.)

For a truly tropical meal, serve this with fragrant coconut rice, or make it island-style with a traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad on the side.

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Chef’s Tips

  • One 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks and their reserved liquid will provide an ideal amount of fruit and juice for this recipe. If you prefer fresh pineapple, that works too (measurements are provided below) — but you will need to buy the pineapple juice separately.
  • For meat that’s even more flavorful and juicy, season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper the night before you plan to make the dish. (But we don’t always have the time or foresight to plan tomorrow night’s dinner, so this step is completely optional.)

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Juicy Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken


Makes 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks, or one (20 oz) can
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice (or reserved liquid from canned pineapple)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, or more to taste (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium soy sauce is OK)
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2-3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional garnish)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation

  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Either use the chicken immediately, or cover it and let it season in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In a 6-quart slow cooker, add the pineapple chunks and diced onions. Add the pineapple juice, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, chili flakes (if using), honey, soy sauce, and vinegar. Stir everything to combine.
  3. Place the chicken thighs into the slow cooker and stir to coat the chicken in sauce.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours or on high heat for 2-3 hours. If you’re able to, spoon some of the sauce over the chicken every hour or so.
  5. When the chicken is finished cooking, remove the chicken thighs from the slow cooker and set them aside on a plate.
  6. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of the cornstarch and water mixture and the bell peppers, then return the chicken to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30-60 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. (If needed, use an additional tablespoon of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce further).
  7. If you like your chicken with browned skin, remove the cooked chicken thighs from the slow cooker, place them on a baking sheet lined with foil, and brown them under the broiler for a few minutes. (You can do this while the sauce is thickening and then put the chicken back into the slow cooker until the sauce is finished, or you can wait until just before serving.)
  8. Serve with rice and garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro, if desired.

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What are your fave crockpot chicken recipes?