Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

4.95 from 58 votes

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This Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken is the real deal. The sweet and savory Hawaiian teriyaki sauce is THE best and SO easy to make.

grilled teriyaki chicken thighs, whole


Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken was one of my favorite things to eat in Hawaii. It is tender, flavorful, and goes great with any Hawaiian dish. You almost can’t have a luau or Hawaiian party without having teriyaki chicken… and maybe some Spam. <insert crying-laughing emoji here because it is funny.. but totally true> Some people can’t quite seem to get grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken right, and let me tell you why…

grilled chicken teriyaki, sliced


The Secret to Perfect Teriyaki Chicken

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 teri 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. Okay, I think I have made my point.

teriyaki chicken on a grill


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 the 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

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.

Close up of several pieces of Grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken

 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 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 mein 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 Noddles. There are so many possibilities!

sliced teriyaki chicken over rice

 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. Here are the direct links:

  • 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!
sliced grilled chicken teriyaki on a plate

Hawaiian Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

4.95 from 58 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 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Marinate 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 35 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Grill/BBQ, Hawaiian
Servings 5



  • Outdoor Barbecue Grill



  • Place chicken thighs in a bowl or gallon-sized Ziploc bag, set aside.
    Combine remaining ingredients in medium-sized mixing bowl and mix until sugar dissolves.
    Pour marinade over chicken, press air out of bag, and seal tightly (or cover the bowl and make it as air-tight as possible).
    Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours). Remove chicken from bag and set aside. Do NOT discard marinade.
    teriyaki chicken in marinade
  • In a medium saucepan, bring marinade to a simmer and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
    teriyaki marinade in a pot on the stove
  • Place chicken on grill and brush some of the hot marinade over the top (do not place brush back in marinade after brushing the chicken).
    Continue to grill chicken until done (165 degrees internal temp).
    teriyaki chicken on a grill
  • Place cooked chicken in a baking dish and pour 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
    Love this. Made it multiple times and always rave reviews. I would recommend halving or cutting by a third all marinade/sauce ingredients. We had a TON leftover the first time. It was perfect the 2nd time when cutting back.

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! I used 3T of fresh squeezed ginger juice instead of the 2T of grated ginger. I wanted a liquid based marinade that was free of solids. I noticed the marinade was slightly over-salty. The 1 part pineapple juice shpuld have been 2. Using canned juice may have saved my chicken. Lastly, i added 3 green onions to the marinade. Its important to generously massage the chicken in the marinade before placing in tbe refrigerator. A minimum of 4hrs is a must!

  3. 5 stars
    Decided to try this recipe last minute and it didn’t disappoint. My little kids and husband loved it which is a win win for me! So thank you for this delicious recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for the second time tonight! Delish!
    I used a can of pineapple instead of fresh and no garlic (my husband is allergic to it) in addition to the other ingredients.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

  5. This was so good, the flavor was so delicious and it was easy to make. I noticed the texture of the chicken was a little off. The chicken marinated for about 6 hours and I could tell the enzymes in the pineapple had started to cook the chicken. I only had fresh pineapple on hand and I juiced it myself, I’m wondering if using fresh juice speeded up the process. Next time, I’ll leave the pineapple out of the marinade until about 1 hour before grilling.
    Reducing down the sauce was such a good idea and I basted the chicken frequently.

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