Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

4.97 from 96 votes

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This Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken recipe is the real deal. The homemade Hawaiian teriyaki sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy and is and SO easy to make.

grilled teriyaki chicken thighs, whole
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
  2. The Secret to Perfect Teriyaki Chicken
  3. Homemade Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce
  4. Teriyaki Marinade Variations
  5. Different Cooking Methods To Try
  6. What to Serve With Teriyaki Chicken
  7. Frequently Asked Questions about Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
  8. Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Plate Lunch
  9. Hawaiian Plate Lunch Recipes
  10. More Hawaiian Favorites
  11. How to Make Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
  12. Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Recipe

This Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken reminds me of the authentic teriyaki chicken that I ate all the time when I lived on the island. It is tender, flavorful, and goes great with any Hawaiian dish. Much like fresh pineapple, you almost can’t have a luau or Hawaiian party without having teriyaki chicken or maybe a little spam (insert crying-laughing emoji here because it is funny but totally true.) This delicious Hawaiian chicken is moist, juicy, and pairs perfectly with grilled pineapple spears or an authentic Hawaiian plate lunch.

Ingredients in Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

You’ll love this simple, yet succulent chicken dish and how easy it is to prepare! Here’s what you need:

  • Chicken thighs – boneless, skinless thighs, NOT chicken breast. The dark thigh meat stays juicy, even through the grilling process.
  • Soy sauce – one cup, dark soy sauce. You can use low-sodium or your favorite brand, whatever you have on hand.
  • Brown sugar – balance the soy sauce with sweet dark brown sugar. It gives the perfect blend of sweet and tangy.
  • Pineapple juice – one cup of canned juice.
  • Garlic – start with four cloves, chopped
  • Fresh Ginger – find fresh ginger root in the produce section of the grocery store. It’ll stay fresh in the freezer for months!
grilled chicken teriyaki, sliced

The Secret to Perfect Teriyaki Chicken

Some people can’t quite seem to get grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken right. The trick to having good, authentic, chicken teriyaki is using the right cut of chicken. You always want to use chicken thighs. I promise, if you want AUTHENTIC teriyaki chicken, chicken breasts just won’t cut it. No matter how you cook the chicken breasts, it will not be the same. They are two completely different cuts of meat. Just like how a beef roast cut is completely different from a beef filet (not that I am comparing chicken thighs to a filet). If you have been making teriyaki chicken using chicken breasts and have wondered why it isn’t quite right, this is why.

teriyaki chicken on a grill

Homemade Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce

It is SUPER EASY to make your own teriyaki sauce at home. This sauce recipe is so simple and it can be used as both the marinade AND to drizzle over the chicken as a sauce. You can actually use the same batch for BOTH. I learned this method while living in Hawaii and thought it was genius. Don’t discard your marinade! So many people discard the marinade and it is totally unnecessary and wasting a perfectly good sauce! Instead, put the marinade in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. This will make it safe to use as a glaze or sauce after the chicken is fully cooked.

teriyaki marinade in a pot on the stove

Teriyaki Marinade Variations

Want to switch it up with some different flavors? Try some of these fun teriyaki marinade variations:

  • Sesame Oil: A small amount of toasted sesame oil can enhance the nutty and aromatic qualities of the marinade.
  • Soy Sauce Variations: Instead of traditional soy sauce, you can use low-sodium soy sauce or even try a different type like tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option.
  • Honey: To increase the sweetness, try honey instead of brown sugar. It not only balances the flavors but also helps with caramelization during grilling.
  • Chili Flakes or Sriracha: If you prefer a bit of heat, incorporate crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of Sriracha sauce for a spicy kick.
  • Citrus Zest: Try adding the zest of an orange, lemon, or lime for a citrusy twist. This adds brightness to the marinade.
  • Green Onions: Chopped green onions can contribute a mild onion flavor and vibrant color to the marinade.
  • Sake or Rice Wine: A splash of sake or rice wine can add complexity and a subtle hint of rice wine vinegar.
  • Coconut Milk: For a unique Hawaiian twist, mix in some coconut milk or cream to create a creamy teriyaki marinade.
  • Cilantro or Basil: Chopped cilantro or Thai basil can provide a refreshing herbal note to the marinade.

Different Cooking Methods To Try

Want teriyaki chicken but don’t want to pull out the ol’ grill? No worries, there are several different ways you can prepare it:

  • Stir Fry – If I can’t grill the chicken, my next favorite way to prepare teriyaki chicken is to cut it into bite sized pieces and stir-fry it in a large wok or skillet. Add a little sesame oil to the skillet over medium-high heat, add the chicken and sauté until white on the outside, and then add the sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through. 
  • Stove Top – Similar to stir fry, but keep the chicken pieces whole. In a large skillet, sear each chicken thigh on each side until golden brown then add sauce and simmer until sauce has reduced (similar to Shoyu Chicken).
  • Crock Pot / Instant Pot – The slow or pressure cooked methods are my least preferred methods because the sauce seems to get watered down. If you do these methods, simmer the sauce down in a separate pot on the stove until it thickens (about 20-30 minutes). You can serve the chicken whole or shred it. 
  • Baked – Place chicken pieces in a baking dish and pour about 1-2 cups of the homemade teriyaki sauce over the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until chicken has cooked through (165-degrees F).

No matter how you prepare it, serve with extra teriyaki sauce and maybe a few sesame seeds and some diced green onion for garnish.

sliced teriyaki chicken over rice

What to Serve With Teriyaki Chicken

Of course, this Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken is incredible on its own or with simple sides such as white rice, brown rice, grilled zucchini or steamed vegetables, but it is also amazing when added to other dishes. Our favorite way to serve teriyaki chicken is as part of a plate lunch (see notes below) but you can also put it over salad or add it to a Hawaiian rice bowl. If you want to serve it more “Panda Express” style, you can serve it with fried rice and/or lo mien noodles. You can also try it “fusion” style and slice it and serve it in a sandwich, or serve in a pasta like our Chicken Stir Fry Over Noodles. There are so many possibilities!

Frequently Asked Questions about Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

Is grilled teriyaki chicken healthy?

The chicken is a good source of protein and other nutrients, but be careful of the added sugar and sodium in the teriyaki sauce. The trick is to eat teriyaki chicken in moderation and pair it with other nutrient-dense foods.

What does grilled teriyaki chicken taste like?

You’ll find the flavor of teriyaki sauce is salty, sweet and slightly citrus-y. A perfect blend of flavors with tender chicken.

Does teriyaki sauce go on before or after cooking?

Use the homemade teriyaki sauce as a marinade, then brush the sauce on while it’s being cooked, then as a dipping sauce after.

READ MORE: 50+ Best and Delicious Grill Recipes

Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Plate Lunch

My favorite way to have Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken is as part of a plate lunch. I can honestly say, a good Hawaiian plate lunch may just be my favorite meal of all time, and that is saying something. In Hawaii, a plate lunch typically consists of rice (usually calrose rice or similar), Hawaiian Mac Salad, and some protein of some sort. Usually the protein is any combination of teriyaki chicken, Kalua pork, and beef teriyaki. You can have all of one kind of meat, pick two, or a little of each one. I almost always opt for the latter. I love having a little bit of each!

Grilled Hawaiian teriyaki chicken with white rice, macaroni salad, and pork on the side all on a white plate.

Hawaiian Plate Lunch Recipes

Lucky for you, we have the recipes for everything you need to make a Hawaiian Plate Lunch:

  • Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki: Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki is a favorite of mine from when I lived in Hawaii. The teriyaki sauce is out of this world good. Great with a plate lunch!
  • Kalua Pork with Cabbage: Kalua Pork with Cabbage is a Hawaiian dish often served at Luaus. This version is made in the slow cooker and tastes just like authentic shredded Kalua Pig.
  • Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad: This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is the real deal. A no-frills, creamy mac salad that is the perfect side dish for any BBQ or Luau!

More Hawaiian Favorites

How to Make Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

sliced grilled chicken teriyaki on a plate

Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

4.97 from 96 votes
This Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken is the real deal. The sweet and savory Hawaiian teriyaki sauce is THE best and SO easy to make.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinate 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 35 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Grill/BBQ, Hawaiian
Servings 5



  • Outdoor Barbecue Grill



  • Place chicken thighs in a bowl or large resealable plastic bag. Set aside.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix until sugar dissolves. Pour marinade over the chicken and seal tightly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
    teriyaki chicken in marinade
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and set aside. Do not discard marinade. Pour the marinade into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
    teriyaki marinade in a pot on the stove
  • Pour some of the hot marinade into a separate bowl. Place chicken on a grill and brush some of the hot marinade from the separate bowl over the top. Do not place the brush back in the main bowl of marinade after brushing the chicken. Grill chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
    teriyaki chicken on a grill
  • Place cooked chicken in a baking dish and pour the remaining hot teriyaki marinade over the top. Serve immediately.
    grilled chicken teriyaki, sliced

Nutrition Information

Calories: 523kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 27gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 2711mgPotassium: 507mgFiber: 1gSugar: 48gVitamin A: 105IUVitamin C: 5.4mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 2.5mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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  1. 5 stars
    This was delish! We had a family luau with this chicken, your mac salad, a few other sides, and your guava cake. My husband lived in Hawaii for a few years (served his mission) and he loved everything and said it was great! Thanks for the recipes!!

  2. I can’t use my grill where I live since it’s winter here; what would be the best non-grilling way to cook this? I often cook teriyaki in the oven, but would skillet frying be better for the texture? (I unfortunately don’t have a grill pan or press) thanks 🙏

    1. I would use a skillet over baking in the oven — just be aware that the sugars have a tendency to burn quickly (whether in the oven or in the skillet) so just keep an eye on it. I would also slice the chicken so it is VERY thin, that way there is more opportunity for it to cook through without it burning. Hope this helps!

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