Sweet, savory and tangy, this Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken has all the flavor of the tropics - chicken thighs sautéed in coconut oil and cooked in a Hawaiian sauce with bell pepper, sweet onion, pineapple and macadamia nuts. My mom has been making this Hawaiian Chicken since I was a little girl and now I have converted it to the Instant Pot so that you can enjoy the tastes of the islands for dinner tonight.

I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe for Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken with you! This one was definitely a labor of love and I’m so glad it’s finally ready to be shared!

Since I was little, my mom would always make a dish she called Pollo Hawaiiano (Hawaiian Chicken). I remember, when I came home from school, if there was an electric skillet on the kitchen counter it meant she was making Hawaiian Chicken!

This Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken recipe has pineapple, onion and colorful peppers in it.

The chicken would sit in that electric skillet all day it seemed until it was time for dinner. The dish was loaded with cubed chicken breasts, pineapple, onions, and peppers. As a young child, I wouldn’t dare eat onions and peppers, EXCEPT when they were in the Hawaiian Chicken. Everything tasted amazing and it wasn’t worth picking anything out of the dish. It was the perfect sweet and savory combination!

This Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken recipe has some wonderful ingredients.

I’ve always wanted to make the Hawaiian Chicken for my family, but if you’ve followed along the blog for a while, then you know, my mom doesn’t do exact recipes, which proves to be a huge challenge for me when trying to recreate her dishes. In addition to her vague recipe instructions, I also had to convert the recipe so it would work in the Instant Pot!

The First Time Was a Mess

OK, I have to admit. This recipe took a few rounds of trial and error.

Ingredients for making Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot.

The macadamia nuts pictured here are toasted. These were the ones I used in this first round of cooking.  I do not recommend the toasted nuts because they burn too easily. You will want to get raw, untoasted macadamia nuts for this recipe.

The first time I made it, the chicken was not brown enough, I burned the macadamia nuts, the vegetables had completely disintegrated and when I released the pressure, foam sprayed everywhere.

Ugh!

Not my idea of perfect Hawaiian Chicken!

But all was not lost!

There was something good that came out of the whole ordeal. The chicken actually tasted amazing! I knew that I couldn’t give up. So, for the second round I made a few adjustments to keep the vegetables from getting too mushy. I also used some tricks I learned from making mac & cheese to help avoid the mess from the pressure release.

The Second Time Was Much Better

The second round was sooo much better! The taste was perfection and the veggies were perfect. Not too soft and not too crisp. Just right.

The color of the chicken was better. And, while the pressure release was much cleaner this time, I thought it could be better. It was worth one more try.

Needless to say, we were eating Hawaiian Chicken all week!

Like They Say: “Third Time’s a Charm”

So, the third time I made a minor adjustment to the way I released the pressure and PERFECTION!

No more mess.

You can learn exactly what I did further below. It could also help with other recipes that can potentially cause a mess.

Kitchen Prep Tools, Utensils & Appliances

Before we get started, here is a list of the kitchen prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.

Prep Tools & Utensils

These are the items I used to prep and make this recipe:

  • For measuring all my ingredients, these measuring bowls are not only convenient but they’re also super cute.
  • Any bulk ingredients (more than 1 cup) I’ll usually keep in these large bowls. They’re light, easy to clean and great for holding chopped vegetables.
  • I can’t live without these metal tongs. Especially when handling raw chicken. I use them for most of my recipes and consider them to be a must-have utensil in any kitchen.
  • These are the measuring spoons I used. Just like the measuring bowls, I love when beauty meets practicality.
Appliances & Cookware

These are the items I used to cook this recipe:

Serving Platters & Dishes
Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories

Don’t forget to check out my post on Must-Have Accessories for the Instant Pot. It’s a complete list of all the top accessories that can be used with the Instant Pot.

Must-Have Instant Pot Cookbooks

I have also put together a list of Must-Have Cookbooks for the Instant Pot.


Making Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot

So, here we go. After a few tries, here is my step-by-step recipe for Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot. It has quickly become a family favorite.

Gather the Ingredients

First, make sure you have everything you need. This recipe is loaded with all kinds of Hawaiian goodies. Chicken, pineapple, onions, peppers, macadamia nuts, coconut oil…yummm!! The full list of ingredients can be found in the recipe box at the bottom of this post.

Pineapple juice for a delicious Instant Pot Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken recipe. Roughly cut onion for Hawaiian Chicken made in the Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken made with macadamia nuts.

This is what your macadamia nuts should look like before sautéing them. These are raw and untoasted

Set the Instant Pot to Sauté

Set your Instant Pot on the Sauté function and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. This is a good time to start cutting your vegetables.

Using the Instant Pot sauté feature to make Hawaiian Chicken.

Prep the Onion and Peppers

I use red and yellow bell peppers and a sweet yellow onion. I rough cut my onion and peppers because I like having larger pieces in this recipe. If you prefer a smaller cut, that will work fine as well.

Colorful bell peppers for Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken made in the Instant Pot.

Add the Coconut Oil to the Instant Pot

First, add coconut oil to the pot. I recommend using coconut oil because it complements the Hawaiian flavors of this recipe.

Coconut oil is great for sautéing the vegetables that go in this Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken recipe.

Allow the oil to heat up for a minute or two.

Slightly browning chicken thighs with coconut oil for Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot.

Sauté the Macadamia Nuts in the Instant Pot

Next, sauté the macadamia nuts in the coconut oil until they begin to brown slightly. In my first trial of this recipe, I accidentally bought toasted macadamia nuts. Once I started sautéing them, they very quickly started burning. This did not occur once I went back to the store and bought the regular raw macadamia nuts. These are usually found in the baking section of the supermarket, next to all the other nuts for baking.

The addition of macadamia nuts in this Hawaiian Chicken recipe adds an extra special Hawaiian touch to this wonderful Instant Pot recipe.

You’ll need to continually stir the nuts while they sauté to ensure that they do not burn.

Toasting macadamia nuts for Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken.

It should take no more than a few minutes for the nuts to start browning. This is what the macadamias should look like when you are done with this step.

Toasted macadamia nuts are staple in many Hawaiian Chicken dishes.

Add the Onion to the Instant Pot

Next, add the onions to the macadamias and sauté them together.

Adding onion to the Instant Pot for this delicious Hawaiian Chicken recipe.

You’ll want to mix them into the nuts and periodically stir the onions and nuts around as they sauté.

How to sauté onion in the Instant Pot.

Once the onions start to brown around the edges like this, you can go on to the next step.

Toasting macadamia nuts and caramelizing onions in the Instant Pot for this delightful Hawaiian Chicken recipe.

Add the Red and Yellow Peppers to the Instant Pot

Now you can add the mixed peppers to the pot.

These peppers add such wonderful color and sweet tastiness to this Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken recipe.

Fully mix them into the onions and macadamia nuts and allow them to sauté until they just start to get tender. This shouldn’t take any longer than 4-6 minutes. Make sure to mix the vegetables periodically.

Hawaiian pineapple chicken recipe made in the Instant Pot.Now is a good time to start preparing the chicken thighs.

Prepare the Chicken Thighs

While the vegetables are sautéing, quarter the chicken thighs. This is a job I leave to Ryan because, as you probably know, I hate raw chicken! I mentioned above that my mom used chicken breasts in her recipe, and she still does. Ryan insisted we use boneless, skinless thighs because of the better flavor in them, and I must say I agree with his choice! You can definitely make it with breasts if you choose though.

Hawaiian Chicken is the perfect recipe for chicken in the Instant Pot.

Remove the Vegetables from the Pot and Set Aside

At this point, you’ll want to remove the sautéed vegetables and set them aside in a large bowl. If you leave them in the pot and cook them with the chicken, they will end up being too soft and almost disintegrate. Which, as I mentioned above, is what happened on my first test run.

This recipe took some trial and error and I truly feel it is the best Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken recipe out there.

This is what the yummy mixture of macadamias and veggies sautéed in coconut oil should look like when you take them out.

Hawaiian pineapple chicken in the Instant Pot.

Add the Chicken Thighs to the Instant Pot

Now you’ll want to add some more coconut oil to the pot which will be used to brown the chicken thighs.

Making Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot.

Allow the oil to get hot and then place the thighs in the pot.

Hawaiian Chicken is such a delicious Instant Pot recipe for chicken thighs.

Don’t move the chicken while it’s sautéing. We just want it to slightly brown on one side. We’re not browning it on all sides, so just let it sit, undisturbed for a few minutes.

Need a recipe idea for cooking chicken thighs in the Instant Pot? Try this Hawaiian Chicken.

After a few minutes, turn the chicken and go to the next step.

Use your Instant Pot to quickly make this Hawaiian Chicken dinner.

The chicken is just slightly browned on the edges.

Add the Soy Sauce to the Chicken

You will now add the soy sauce to the pot and continue to sauté the chicken in the sauce. It is important for the steps to be done in this order so the chicken gets a pretty dark brown color when all is said and done.

How to make Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot.

Pour the soy sauce over the chicken and then mix the chicken into the sauce well so that all the pieces are fully covered in soy sauce.

Making Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot.

Let the chicken continue sautéing in the soy sauce while you prepare the pineapple sauce for the next step.

Hawaiian Chicken is one of the best Instant Pot chicken recipes.

Prepare the Hawaiian Pineapple Sauce

While the chicken sautés in the soy sauce, prepare the pineapple sauce. The mixture includes pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic. For measurements, see the recipe below.

Making a marinade for chicken thighs that will be used to make Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot. Instant Pot Hawaiian recipes with apple cider vinegar. Making a sauce for Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot. A recipe for Hawaiian Chicken sauce for the Instant Pot. How to make Hawaiian Chicken sauce for the Instant Pot.

Mix everything very well together. I like putting the liquids in a large measuring cup like this one and using a whisk to mix everything together. The measuring cup makes it easier to pour when it’s time to do so.

Hawaiian pineapple sauce for Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken.

Add the Pineapple Sauce to the Instant Pot

Once everything is mixed together, you can pour the pineapple sauce over the chicken thighs.

Pouring a sweet Hawaiian Chicken sauce over chicken thighs in the Instant Pot. Hawaiian Chicken recipe made in the Instant Pot.

Add the Pineapple Chunks

Next, you will need to add the pineapple chunks. I like using Dole Pineapple chunks in pineapple juice. Make sure to reserve ¼ cup of the pineapple juice and then drain out the rest.

An Instant Pot recipe for Hawaiian Chicken sauce.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice from the can of pineapple chunks.

Add the drained pineapple chunks to the Instant Pot.

Hawaiian Chicken is one of the tastiest Instant Pot chicken thigh recipes you will find.

There is no need to stir them into the chicken, just let them sit on top.

Hawaiian pineapple recipe for the Instant Pot.

Make a Thickening Agent for the Sauce

Finally, you will take the reserved pineapple juice and add cornstarch to it. Mix well.

Making Hawaiian pineapple sauce for the Instant Pot.

Pour the cornstarch mixture over the chicken and pineapples.

Adding a thickening agent to the Hawaiian chicken thighs in the Instant Pot.

It is important to not mix the cornstarch mixture into the chicken. Just allow it to sit on top. It will naturally mix in during the cooking process. I’ve noticed that this helps to keep the sauce from thickening too quickly and possibly causing issues with the pot not coming to pressure.

Pineapple Chicken made in the Instant Pot.

Start Cooking the Chicken

Now, hit cancel to turn off the Sauté feature, close the pot and set it on Manual High Pressure for 6 minutes.

Instant Pot recipes that use chicken.

The Trick to a “No Mess” Pressure Release

Once cooking has completed, you will need to allow for a 4 minute NPR (Natural Pressure Release). This allows any foam that may have built up from the cornstarch mixture to settle before releasing the pressure. The first time I made this recipe, I did a 10 minute cook time with a QPR (quick pressure release) and it ended up causing a big mess. The foam from the cornstarch spewed out all over the place. Allowing the pot to do a natural pressure release for the 4 minutes has eliminated that issue.

A four minute natural pressure release for one of the best Instant Pot recipes I've tasted.

Another trick I use to help avoid a mess is to do a slow and controlled release after the Instant Pot has completed the 4 minute NPR. I do this by only opening the pressure release valve a half turn instead of opening it up all the way. This really does minimize the chance of making a mess. I also do this when making mac and cheese, and it helps a lot!

Releasing pressure from the Instant Pot with not mess.

This was all that came out of the pressure release valve using the 4 minute NPR with the slow and controlled release.

Open the Instant Pot

Once the pressure has been fully released, and the pin has dropped, open the pot and:

How to make Hawaiian Chicken in the Instant Pot.

Yum!

Look at those pineapples sitting in that delicious sauce. The smell is so sweet and delicious.

Hawaiian pineapple sauce over chicken thighs in the Instant Pot.

Set the Instant Pot on Sauté Once More

Now, set the Instant Pot on the Sauté function once more and allow the pot to come to a boil (usually just a minute or two).

Using the Instant Pot sauté function to sauté vegetables.

Add the Vegetables Back In

Now it’s time to add the mixture of sautéed vegetables back into the pot.

Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken.

Mix them in well and allow them to continue to cook in the pot on Sauté mode for about 5 minutes. This will allow the vegetables to soften up just a bit more. It will also allow the sauce to thicken up a little more as well.

A Hawaiian Chicken recipe for the Instant Pot.

Serve Your Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Now it’s time to serve this mouth-watering chicken over your favorite rice. I prefer using plain white rice since the chicken is so flavorful and the juice makes the rice taste delicious!

Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken served over rice. Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken served over rice.

There you have it folks, Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken! I know it’s not the easiest recipe on my blog, but once you get comfortable with your Instant Pot, it will be so worth it to try this recipe. Definitely a sweet and savory taste of Hawaii in your kitchen!

Cuisine:
  • Hawaiian
Best Served As:
  • Dinner
Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Chicken thighs, bell pepper, sweet onion, pineapple and macadamia nuts in a Hawaiian sauce.

Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken served over rice.

Enjoy the mouthwatering deliciousness of the Hawaiian islands with the sweet, savory and tangy explosion of tropical flavors that this Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken has to offer.

Difficulty:Not too tricky
Cooking Method(s):
  • Instant Pot
Pressure Level:High
Program:Manual / Pressure Cook
Prep Time
30 minutes
Cook Time
6 minutes
Pressure Release
4 minute NPR
Total Time
45 minutes
See More:
  • Chicken & Turkey

Ingredients

 4 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, quartered (approximately 12-16 thighs)
 2 cups sweet onion, rough cut
 2 cups red bell pepper, rough cut
 2 cups yellow bell pepper, rough cut
 1 can pineapple chunks in 100% pineapple juice (20 oz.)
 4 garlic cloves, minced
 ½ cup macadamia nuts, raw and untoasted
 1 ¼ cups pineapple juice
 ¾ cup soy sauce
 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
 2 tbsp coconut oil
 1 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
 2 tbsp corn starch

Directions

1

Turn the Instant Pot on Sauté. Allow it to heat up for a few minutes so that it’s really nice and hot.

2

Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat up.

3

Once the coconut oil is hot, add the half cup of chopped macadamia nuts into the pot and sauté, stirring often, until they begin to brown very slightly (no more than a few minutes). Be careful because they can begin to burn easily. IMPORTANT: When purchasing the macadamia nuts, make sure to get raw, untoasted nuts. The toasted nuts end up burning too easily.

4

Add the 2 cups of roughly cut onion to the pot and mix well into the macadamia nuts. Sauté the onions until they have turned translucent and begin to get golden around the edges (usually 4-6 minutes). Mix periodically.

5

Add the 2 cups of roughly cut red pepper and 2 cups of roughly cut yellow peppers and sauté until they begin to get tender-crisp (4-6 minutes). Mix periodically.

6

While the vegetables sauté, begin quartering the chicken thighs.

7

Remove the vegetable mixture from the pot and set aside.

8

Add 1 more tablespoon of coconut oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat up.

9

Once the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs to the pot and allow them to start browning on the bottom. Do not move them around so that they will brown more easily.

10

After a few minutes of browning, add the ¾ cup of of soy sauce to the pot. Mix into the chicken well so that all of the chicken pieces are covered in the soy sauce. Now is a good time to deglaze the bottom of the pot to make sure that no chicken pieces are stuck to the bottom.

11

Allow the chicken to cook in the soy sauce while preparing the pineapple sauce.

12

To prepare the pineapple sauce measure 1 cup of pineapple juice and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar and 4 cloves of minced garlic. With a whisk, mix all the ingredients very well.

13

Add the pineapple sauce to the Instant Pot and mix into the chicken.

14

Open the can of pineapple chunks and reserve ¼ cup of the pineapple juice from the can. Discard the rest of the pineapple juice from the can and add the pineapple chunks to the pot. There is no need to mix the pineapple chunks into the chicken. Just allow them to sit on top.

15

Prepare a thickening agent by adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the ¼ cup of reserved pineapple juice and mix well.

16

Pour the cornstarch mixture over the top of everything. IMPORTANT: Do not mix the cornstarch mixture into the liquid in the pot. Just pour it over the top. It will naturally mix into the pot during the cooking process. This will help prevent the sauce in the pot from thickening too quickly.

17

Turn off the Sauté feature, close the pot, move the pressure release valve to Sealing and set the Instant Pot on Manual / Pressure Cook, High Pressure for 6 minutes.

18

After the 6 minute cooking time has completed, allow for a 4 minute NPR. This will allow any foam that may have built up in the pot from the cornstarch to settle before releasing the pressure. Additionally, to further ensure that you avoid a mess, after the four minute NPR, do a slow and controlled release. To do this, give the pressure release valve a half turn instead of opening it up all the way.

19

Once the pressure has been fully released and the float valve has dropped, open the pot and set it to Sauté once more. Allow the contents in the pot to start to come to a boil. This should only take a minute or two.

20

Once the pot has started to boil, add the vegetable mix back into the pot the cook for an additional 5 minutes. This will help soften the vegetables a little bit more and allow the sauce to continue thickening.

21

Once the vegetables have finished cooking for 5 minutes, turn the Sauté setting off.

22

Serve this delicious Hawaiian Chicken over your favorite rice and enjoy!

Ingredients

 4 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, quartered (approximately 12-16 thighs)
 2 cups sweet onion, rough cut
 2 cups red bell pepper, rough cut
 2 cups yellow bell pepper, rough cut
 1 can pineapple chunks in 100% pineapple juice (20 oz.)
 4 garlic cloves, minced
 ½ cup macadamia nuts, raw and untoasted
 1 ¼ cups pineapple juice
 ¾ cup soy sauce
 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
 2 tbsp coconut oil
 1 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
 2 tbsp corn starch

Directions

1

Turn the Instant Pot on Sauté. Allow it to heat up for a few minutes so that it’s really nice and hot.

2

Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat up.

3

Once the coconut oil is hot, add the half cup of chopped macadamia nuts into the pot and sauté, stirring often, until they begin to brown very slightly (no more than a few minutes). Be careful because they can begin to burn easily. IMPORTANT: When purchasing the macadamia nuts, make sure to get raw, untoasted nuts. The toasted nuts end up burning too easily.

4

Add the 2 cups of roughly cut onion to the pot and mix well into the macadamia nuts. Sauté the onions until they have turned translucent and begin to get golden around the edges (usually 4-6 minutes). Mix periodically.

5

Add the 2 cups of roughly cut red pepper and 2 cups of roughly cut yellow peppers and sauté until they begin to get tender-crisp (4-6 minutes). Mix periodically.

6

While the vegetables sauté, begin quartering the chicken thighs.

7

Remove the vegetable mixture from the pot and set aside.

8

Add 1 more tablespoon of coconut oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat up.

9

Once the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs to the pot and allow them to start browning on the bottom. Do not move them around so that they will brown more easily.

10

After a few minutes of browning, add the ¾ cup of of soy sauce to the pot. Mix into the chicken well so that all of the chicken pieces are covered in the soy sauce. Now is a good time to deglaze the bottom of the pot to make sure that no chicken pieces are stuck to the bottom.

11

Allow the chicken to cook in the soy sauce while preparing the pineapple sauce.

12

To prepare the pineapple sauce measure 1 cup of pineapple juice and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar and 4 cloves of minced garlic. With a whisk, mix all the ingredients very well.

13

Add the pineapple sauce to the Instant Pot and mix into the chicken.

14

Open the can of pineapple chunks and reserve ¼ cup of the pineapple juice from the can. Discard the rest of the pineapple juice from the can and add the pineapple chunks to the pot. There is no need to mix the pineapple chunks into the chicken. Just allow them to sit on top.

15

Prepare a thickening agent by adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the ¼ cup of reserved pineapple juice and mix well.

16

Pour the cornstarch mixture over the top of everything. IMPORTANT: Do not mix the cornstarch mixture into the liquid in the pot. Just pour it over the top. It will naturally mix into the pot during the cooking process. This will help prevent the sauce in the pot from thickening too quickly.

17

Turn off the Sauté feature, close the pot, move the pressure release valve to Sealing and set the Instant Pot on Manual / Pressure Cook, High Pressure for 6 minutes.

18

After the 6 minute cooking time has completed, allow for a 4 minute NPR. This will allow any foam that may have built up in the pot from the cornstarch to settle before releasing the pressure. Additionally, to further ensure that you avoid a mess, after the four minute NPR, do a slow and controlled release. To do this, give the pressure release valve a half turn instead of opening it up all the way.

19

Once the pressure has been fully released and the float valve has dropped, open the pot and set it to Sauté once more. Allow the contents in the pot to start to come to a boil. This should only take a minute or two.

20

Once the pot has started to boil, add the vegetable mix back into the pot the cook for an additional 5 minutes. This will help soften the vegetables a little bit more and allow the sauce to continue thickening.

21

Once the vegetables have finished cooking for 5 minutes, turn the Sauté setting off.

22

Serve this delicious Hawaiian Chicken over your favorite rice and enjoy!

Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken