Make tender sweet-and-savory shredded chicken in your slow cooker with this simple and flavorful Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken recipe. We love the tender pineapple chicken that emerges, almost effortlessly, when you use your slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook this Hawaiian Chicken recipe. This is also a wonderful freezer-to-crockpot recipe that you can prep ahead of time, store in your freezer for a busy day, and then dump into your slow cooker for an easy-done meal. Prep a few garnishes and serve this Crockpot Pineapple Chicken in a variety of ways, such as in lettuce wraps or collard greens, tucked into a tortilla or taco shells, or served over rice for a delicious Hawaiian dinner bowl.
This post was originally published March 20, 2017. Updated May 11, 2022.
A Taste of the Tropics: Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
This Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken recipe proves that fresh and light foods can come out of your crockpot. We love this method to make a big batch of sweet-and-savory shredded Hawaiian chicken that we can then serve in a variety of ways. Leftovers never get boring because each meal you can make from this Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken is fresh and new. Read on for our suggestions for several ways to enjoy this healthful, super flavorful shredded pineapple chicken recipe.
Ingredients to make crock pot Hawaiian Chicken
Gather these clean, real-food pantry and refrigerator ingredients to get this Crockpot Pineapple Chicken cooking today:
- boneless skinless chicken breast and thighs – we recommend using a combination of chicken thighs and breasts, but you can also just use one or the other
- onion – you’ll need half of a small yellow, white, or red onion, or you could use a shallot
- fresh lime – use the juice of 1 lime; if desired, grab another lime to cut into wedges for serving
- canned crushed pineapple – grab one 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks packed in 100% pineapple juice (not heavy or light syrup); you won’t find any honey, brown sugar, ketchup or other sweeteners – the pineapple provides all the sweet flavors you’ll need!
- coconut aminos – read more about why we recommend using this lower-sodium condiment; may also sub 2 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons water
- ground ginger
- red pepper flakes
- sea salt and black pepper
- for serving – Swiss chard leaves (or other sturdy leaf lettuce), tortillas or taco shells, rice, avocado slices, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, sliced red bell peppers or other veggies, green onions, sliced almonds, fresh cilantro
how to make crockpot hawaiian chicken
This Hawaiian Chicken recipe really couldn’t be easier. Here are the quick steps to bring it to your table for dinner:
- Add ingredients to slow cooker: Place the chicken breast and thighs, diced onion, and minced garlic in the crockpot.
- Make the pineapple sauce: In a small bowl, combine the pineapple (slightly drained with still a little juice), the coconut aminos, lime juice, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir to mix well and then pour over the ingredients in the crockpot.
- Set the slow cooker: Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 3 hours.
- Shred the chicken: Remove the chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir into the sauce. Set the slow cooker to the Keep Warm function until ready to serve.
- Serve it up: Serve the shredded crockpot pineapple chicken in lettuce wraps, as tacos or burritos, salad style, or bowl style with desired garnishes.
- Leftovers? You can store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days and enjoy warm or cold (it’s perfect for lunchtime salads). Leftover cooked and shredded chicken can also be frozen in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.
3 Ways to shred chicken
There are a few different ways you can shred this tender crockpot Hawaiian chicken into perfect pieces to stuff into lettuce wraps, tacos, and more.
- Fork method: This simple way to shred chicken only requires a plate and two forks. After the chicken has cooked in the crockpot and is quite tender, remove the boneless chicken breast and thigh pieces to a plate, then use two forks to gently pull the chicken apart into shreds. We also love using these shredding claws, which make quick work of shredded all types of meat and poultry.
- Hand mixer method: Here’s a quick method that many people swear by for shredding chicken. Leave the cooked chicken in the slow cooker and use a hand mixer on the low setting to gently shred the tender chicken into pieces directly in the crockpot juices.
- Food processor blender: You can also add tender cooked chicken directly to the bowl of your food processor or blender; blend on very low speed in short increments, being careful not to over-blend the chicken into a pate.
can i make crockpot hawaiian chicken in the Instant Pot?
You sure can! Here are the quick steps to make this Hawaiian Chicken Recipe in the Instant Pot instead of the crockpot.
- Saute the onions and garlic: On the Instant Pot, select the ‘Saute’ function. Add 1 tablespoon fat of choice (olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, or coconut oil). When the fat has melted, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until onions start to soften.
- Add remaining ingredients: To the onions and garlic, add the chicken breast and thighs, the slightly drained crushed pineapple, coconut aminos, lime juice, and seasonings. Press ‘Cancel’ to stop the Saute function, then lock the lid in place. Flip the vent valve to ‘Sealing’ position.
- Set the timer: Set to High Pressure cooking for 12 minutes, adding 2 minutes if breasts are really thick or if they’re frozen. When the cooking time is up, manually release the pressure and carefully remove the lid. Note: For High Altitude, allow for 5 minutes of natural pressure release before flipping the valve to ‘Venting’ position.
- Shred and serve: Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot to a plate; shred with two forks and then stir back into the juices in the Instant Pot. Serve as desired.
Freezer-to-Crockpot Directions for this Hawaiian Chicken Recipe
This Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken is a perfect recipe to prep ahead of time, store in a freezer-safe bag or container in your freezer, and then add right to your slow cooker at a later date. You can also use this freezer method to prep this recipe for a sick friend, a new parent, or anyone who would appreciate a healthful, simple meal. Follow these directions to prep Crockpot Pineapple Chicken for the freezer:
- To a freezer-safe bag, add the chicken breasts and thighs, chopped onion, minced garlic, and the pineapple sauce mixture. Seal and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To cook, dump the frozen contents of the bag directly in a slow cooker and cook for 5-6 hours on low, or until the chicken is very tender. Shred the chicken and serve as desired.
How Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken fits in special diets
This simple recipe to make Hawaiian chicken in the slow cooker is a perfect dish to serve if you have people around your table who are following a special diet or have food allergies. Here’s how this Hawaiian Chicken recipe fits in several eating plans:
- Gluten free – this recipe is naturally gluten free, and by using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce or tamari, you ensure there’s not gluten in the sauce
- Grain free – this recipe is naturally grain free, and by serving it in lettuce wraps or bowl style over a bowl of cauliflower rice, it remains a grain-free crockpot recipe
- Dairy free – there is no dairy in this recipe, so it’s naturally dairy free
- Soy free – by using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce or tamari, this is a soy-free crockpot Hawaiian chicken recipe
- Nut free – there are no nuts in this recipe, so it’s a nut-free Hawaiian chicken recipe
- Egg free – this is a naturally egg-free recipe
- Paleo – since this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and legume-free recipe, it is also a Paleo Hawaiian chicken recipe; keep it Paleo by serving it in lettuce wraps, grain-free taco or tortilla shells, or over cauliflower rice
- Whole30 – this crockpot Hawaiian Chicken recipe is Whole30 compliant as long as you use unsweetened canned pineapple, so just be sure to pick up a can of crushed pineapple packed in juices (no added sugars or other sweeteners)
The Many Ways to serve crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
This Crockpot Pineapple Chicken recipe lends itself well to many serving styles. Here are several ways we suggest you enjoy this easy crockpot recipe:
Wrapped in Swiss chard leaves – we love to use sturdy Swiss chard leaves to roll up the cooked, shredded Hawaiian chicken. Lay a Swiss chard leaf flat on a plate, then added the juicy Hawaiian chicken, shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, avocado, and sliced almonds. Then roll tightly into wraps, cut in half and serve with coconut aminos for dipping
As lettuce wraps – or serve this shredded Hawaiian chicken family style and let people assemble their own lettuce wraps. Set out Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves and all the garnishes so everyone can make their own meal
Tacos or burritos – this Hawaiian chicken makes the perfectly flavorful filling for traditional tacos or burritos; for gluten-free and grain-free options, we love the tortillas and taco shells from Siete Foods
Bowl style – let guests make their own dinner bowls by serving the shredded pineapple chicken over rice (or cauliflower rice for a grain-free option) with all the fixins’
Stuffed in a veg – serve the chicken stuffed into an avocado half or bell pepper, or over a cooked sweet potato with as many garnishes as you’d like
Salad style – make a delicious Hawaiian salad by serving the shredded chicken over a bed of greens or shredded cabbage with carrots, cilantro, and avocado
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
- ½ lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ small yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, slightly drained
- ⅓ cup coconut aminos*
- Juice of 1 lime (2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- To make as lettuce wraps: Swiss chard leaves, avocado slices, shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, green onions, sliced almonds, and fresh cilantro
- In the slow cooker, place the chicken breasts and thighs, onions, and garlic.
- In a small bowl, combine the mostly drained pineapple, coconut aminos, lime juice, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir until the sauce is mixed and then pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 3 hours (until the chicken is cooked through). Remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker and place on a plate or cutting board, then shred with two forks.
- Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir it into the juices. Set the slow cooker on the Keep Warm function until ready to serve.
- Assemble Swiss chard wraps or serve as desired (as tacos, over a salad, bowl style, etc) with desired garnishes.
Instant Pot Directions:
- Select the ‘Saute’ function on the Instant Pot. Add 1 tablespoon fat of choice (avocado oil, olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil). When the fat is melted, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add all remaining ingredients (chicken through black pepper). Press the ‘Cancel’ button to stop the Saute function, then lock the Instant Pot lid in place. Flip the vent valve to the ‘Sealing’ position.
- Cook at High Pressure for 12 minutes, adding 2 minutes if the chicken pieces are really thick or frozen. When the cooking time is up, manually release pressure and carefully remove the lid. Note: For High Altitude, allow for 5 minutes of natural release before flipping the valve to ‘Venting’ position.
- Shred the chicken with two forks and serve as desired.
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* We love to use coconut aminos as a low-sodium alternative to soy sauce or tamari (read more about why and how we use coconut aminos and our favorite brands here). You can substitute 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari mixed with 2 tablespoons of water for the coconut aminos, if you don’t need this to be Whole30-friendly, soy free, or gluten-free.
** We prefer a combination of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs in this recipe, but you can use one or other, if you’d like
- Serving Size: 1/6 of the shredded chicken
- Calories: 170
- Fat: 5 g
- (Sat Fat: 1 g)
- Sodium: 574 mg
- Carbohydrate: 9 g
- (Fiber: 0 g
- Sugar: 7 g)
- Protein: 22 g
- Cholesterol: 75 mg
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter.
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