Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken (Sweet & Spicy Lava Chicken for a Luau!)

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If you’re throwing a Luau you simply must make this Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken dish for your guests! The sweet and spicy Lava Chicken is packed with so many delicious flavors, and the homemade seasoning and sauce can be used on any cut of chicken (wings would be great for a party!) or even on pork skewers.

I’ve got lots more Luau Party Food recipes for you to try out – right-click and open them in a new tab to read next!

Grilled Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken on a wooden board with pineapple and tomato garnish Photos of the recipe are similar throughout from various angles and with different text overlay, unless otherwise described.

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Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken

The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions and to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required as well as understand the steps and timings involved.

When summer is in full swing we love to light the coals, barbecue ALL the food, and dine al fresco!





This recipe for Hawaiian chicken can be cooked outside on the grill (barbecue) on inside in the oven or under the broiler (grill).

(Don’t you just love the different words for the same thing in America and the UK? I have to try and keep up with the differences all the time on my blog!)

This barbecue chicken is first rubbed with a homemade spice seasoning and marinated (overnight if possible) with pineapple juice.

Then a sweet and spicy homemade sauce is used to baste the chicken while it is cooking on the grill.

Chicken breast is used in this recipe, but the rub and the sauce would work just as well on drumsticks, thighs or wings.

Why not try it on a whole chicken in the oven – that would make for a very delicious and different Sunday Roast! Or if you know how to spatchcock a chicken, then this recipe would work well on that method too!

Oh, and the barbecue rub and sauce could also be used on pork – try it on chops, pork loin, or even cubes of pork skewered to make kebabs (kabobs).

A plate of different spices

Ingredients Used In This Recipe

This Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken recipe uses a lot of store-cupboard ingredients like herbs, spices, and other condiments that you may already have in your kitchen.

For your convenience, I’ve linked any specialized ingredients needed for this recipe to Amazon below.

  • Brown Sugar
  • Sweet Paprikain the UK this is our regular paprika
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Chili Powderuse medium/mild or hot – whatever your spicy heat tolerance is!
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • Ground Cumin
  • Kosher Saltsee my notes about this salt below
  • Soy Sauce
  • Ginger Paste
  • Big Island Lava Saucethis is a sauce made by King’s Hawaiian that you may find in grocery stores or be able to purchase online. However, if you can’t source this a spicy BBQ sauce will work just fine – buy/use one according to your spice tolerance! Here is the info about the King’s Hawaiian sauce from their website: With KING’S HAWAIIAN® Big Island Lava, it’s all about the heat! Heat up your taste buds with the boldness of red jalapeños, spicy island flavor, and a hint of sweetness at the end. 

What is Kosher Salt?

Kosher salt (outside the US called kitchen salt, cooking salt, flake salt, rock salt) is coarse edible salt without common additives such as iodine. It is used in cooking rather than at the table.

The term kosher salt gained common usage in North America because of its use in the Jewish koshering process as the salt draws moisture from meat very well. The salt itself isn’t manufactured under any religious guidelines – although there are brands that are also kosher-certified.

The grains of kosher salt are larger than table salt, but smaller than sea salt. If you can’t source kosher salt then you could use a regular salt, but bear in mind the size of the salt crystals which may take up more or less space on a spoon when measuring by volume.

In the UK a good alternative for kosher salt is Maldon Sea Salt flakes, but you can buy kosher salt online if you would like to try using it in your cooking.

For my UK readers: When I go on vacation to the USA, I like to stock up on my favourite American food products and ingredients, so you’ll find them used in some of the recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog. Luckily, we can buy a lot of American ingredients online these days, and in supermarkets (check the World Foods aisle!) which is awesome! (Although sometimes the price can be on the high side…) When I use American ingredients in recipes that I share on my blog, I always aim to suggest British alternatives or include Amazon affiliate links to where you can buy them online.

More Recipes Using Chicken

Since the main ingredient in this recipe is chicken here are some more recipes using the same:

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Make for a Luau Party! Lava Chicken - Hawaiian Flavors! Three images in one collage: 1 - plate of herbs and spices used in the recipe 2 - chicken grilling on barbecue 3 - finished chicken dish

More Tropical Recipes

Need some more tropical food ideas? Take a look at these recipes next:

How Do I Make Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken?

Just check out the recipe card below with full ingredients, instructions, and demonstration photos. You can print the card out too (don’t worry, the pics don’t print to save your ink!).

Hawaiian BBQ Luau Chicken

Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

The sweet and spicy Hawaiian Barbeuce Chicken is packed with so many delicious flavors, and the homemade seasoning and sauce can be used on any cut of chicken (wings would be great for a party!)

Ingredients

For the Dry Seasoning

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet paprika
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup pineapple juice, divided
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup King's Hawaiian Big Island Lava Sauce
  • 3-4 lbs (1.3-1.8 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast

Instructions

  1. To make the dry seasoning place all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir until well combined. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.
  2. Place your chicken in a large casserole dish and sprinkle with some of the dry seasoning - you can use as much or as little as you like. Make sure to flip the chicken over to coat both sides.
  3. Pour a half-cup of pineapple juice over the chicken then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight if possible.
  4. Chicken breasts coated with dry seasoning mix
  5. To make the sauce place the other half-cup of pineapple juice, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, chicken broth, ginger, and garlic. and whisk together. Stir in the Lava BBQ Sauce. Divide into two lidded containers and keep in the refrigerator until needed. Use one of the sauces to baste during cooking, and the other to coat after cooking. This is to avoid cross-contamination.
  6. When ready to cook, drain the chicken and discard the marinade.
  7. Grill the chicken over medium heat for 12-14 minutes on each side or until cooked through, the juices run clear, and there is no pink in the middle. Cook for longer if required.
  8. chicken cooking on the grill
  9. Baste the chicken occasionally with the sauce every 4 minutes.
  10. Baste the chicken once removed from the heat before serving.
  11. Hawaiian BBQ Luau Chicken
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 523Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 3274mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 7gSugar: 58gProtein: 43g

This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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