Slow cooker chicken braised in a savory-sweet pineapple huli huli sauce, then baked and basted with additional sauce. These easy chicken thighs are saucy, sticky, and delicious!
I have to admit that I used to be an overly-complicated cook. I’d do anything to make a great tasting recipe. It didn’t matter how many ingredients it took, how many dirty dishes it produced, or how much time it took to make.
Okay, okay… I still have a little bit of a tendency to overcomplicate recipes. But that is okay for me to do sometimes, since I sort of enjoy it. To see what I’m talking about, check out these AMAZING apple crisp pancakes. Definitely not yo’ mama’s typical pancake, but so worth the extra steps.
Ever since having baby #2 I’ve realized that I really need to simplify our family dinners so that I can spend less time in the kitchen before and after mealtime and more time doing important things (like dancing with the kiddos, their usual post-dinner activity of choice).
Also, we moved into a new apartment this summer that has a much smaller kitchen than our previous apartment, and a much smaller dishwasher than I’m used to (about half the size of our last dishwasher). Basically the fewer steps and ingredients needed in a recipe, the fewer dirty dishes I make, meaning fewer dishes I have to wash after dinner. That’s a big reason for me to start simplifying because I HATE DISHES. Hate ’em, hate em’, HATE THEM.
And also I’m pretty sure David hates doing the dishes for me, though he’d probably never admit it.
So at this point you’re probably like, “AMANDA, some of the most easy, uncomplicated meals are made in a slow cooker.”
Yeah, I totally know that. But you should know that I rarely use my slow cooker. Using a slow-cooker just isn’t my favorite method for cooking food, because I personally think they tend to make overcooked and less flavorful dishes; meats become dry, veggies get mushy, sauces become more liquid-y instead of reducing (like they would in a pot on the stove, or in the oven), and browning— which produces a lot of good flavor— really doesn’t happen in a slow cooker (because the food is essentially steaming).
In other words, I am a little picky about what I cook in my crock pot. BUT I’m on this new mission to simplify my cooking, and because slow cooker meals are sooooooo easy I’ve decided to give more slow cooker recipes a try. I found this particular slow cooker recipe for huli huli chicken over at Fake Ginger. I knew that along with some steamed brown rice and veggies it would make for a healthy family meal.
We just loved this sticky slow-cooker chicken recipe. It may or may not have changed my views of slow cooking… just a little bit. The meat, which is braised (a.k.a meant to be cooked in liquid), was not overcooked at all. It was incredibly moist. It is even more moist if you leave the skin on the chicken thighs. I choose to trim the skin off because I don’t like it and it makes the chicken a little healthier. But taking the skin off is optional, so leave it on if that’s your preference.
If you do take the skin off the top layer of chicken will be, I want to say… a little crispy, but in a good way because it’s slathered with all that yummy sweet-and-sour sauce. If you leave the skin on you really won’t be able to enjoy the sauce if you plan on peeling the skin back after cooking (which is another reason why I just choose to take it off altogether). But again, if you like chicken skin and you plan on eating it, it gets a little crispy in the oven.
If you are looking for an easy and delicious dinner, you really should make this soon!
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (approximately 4 pounds)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup pineapple tidbits plus ⅔ cup reserved pineapple juice (from a 20 oz can)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup lime juice (fresh squeezed, from about 3 limes)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp dried ginger or 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
- Line a 6 quart slow cooker with a slow cooker liner, or lightly grease with non-stick cooking spray. At this point you can either leave the skin on the chicken thighs or trim it off. I cut it off. Season the chicken thighs with kosher salt and ground black pepper, and place in an even layer in the slow cooker.
- In a liquid measuring cup combine the ⅔ cup pineapple juice, brown sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and ginger. It should yield two cups.
- Pour ½ of this mixture (1 cup) over the chicken in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
- When chicken is cooked, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Line a quarter baking sheet (9x13") with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Remove chicken thighs from slow cooker onto prepared baking sheet. Discard braising liquid.
- Coarsely chop the ½ cup pineapple tidbits into small pieces. Pour the remaining sauce and the pineapple pieces into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once it begins to simmer, turn the heat to medium-low. Brush the chicken thighs with a bit of the sauce.
- Bake the chicken thighs for 5 minutes. Let the sauce continue to reduce on low heat during this time, stirring occasionally.
- Brush chicken with more sauce, and bake for 5 more minutes. At this time remove the sauce from the heat. It should be slightly reduced, but not too thick.
- Brush chicken with sauce one last time and bake for 5-8 more minutes. When done, the chicken will be a dark amber color and the sauce will be sweet and sticky.
- Serve with steamed brown rice and steamed veggies.