Instant Pot Polynesian Pineapple Chicken

I was recently sitting in my living room taking in (singing) some South Pacific.  It’s really only fitting because not only do I love musicals (are you really that surprised?) but I also LOVE anything tropical/South Pacific/Polynesian/Hawaiian.  I may also have a Tiki Bar obsession.

Due to the big success of my Pineapple Upside Down Cake and my love of pineapples and all things tropical, I was inspired to create a chicken dish that brought out the ultimate flavor in a sweet (but not OVERLY sweet) Polynesian-inspired sauce adorned with pineapple and peppers.  The sauce in itself can be a religion.

Now we all know the Instant Pot cooks chicken like nothing else can; SO moist, tender and fall apart and that’s exactly what you’ll get in this dish – especially since we’re using thighs.  And chicken dishes don’t get any easier than this one, folks.  Not only will you go pineapples over it, whoever shares it with you (kids included) will clear their plates in no time.

So prepare to make something SO easy and SO outrageous, you’ll end up getting lei’d in return!

Here’s How I Made It!:

Grab a couple of red bell peppers…

…and cut them into large chunks.

We’ll also need some boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Now, let’s make this INCREDIBLE sauce directly in the Instant Pot using 3 simple ingredients.

1. Catalina salad dressing

2. Apple cider vinegar
3. Honey

 Whisk together until it becomes a sauce.

Add the red peppers…

…and stir it up with the sauce.

Lay the chicken thighs on top of the sauced peppers, secure the lid and cook at high pressure.

While the chicken’s flying to Bora Bora, take a can of pineapple chunks (in juice, NOT heavy syrup)…

…and drain (you can keep the juice if you wish to use it for a drink…with rum…or for whatever other reason).

And also prepare a cornstarch slurry (Smart tip: you can use the pineapple juice from the can instead of water).

When the chicken’s done, remove with tongs…

…and place in a serving dish.

Heat the pot back up on “Sauté” and add in the drained pineapple chunks…

…and the cornstarch slurry.  Mix well…

…and bring the sauce to a bubble and then turn off the heat so it cools down.

Once the sauce has had a chance to thicken, take a serving spoon…

…and spoon it over the chicken in the serving dish along with all the peppers and pineapple.

Then take a plate for yourself…

…and get lei’d for a job well done!In keeping with that pineapple theme, follow it up with my Pineapple Upside Down Cake for dessert!

Instant Pot Polynesian Pineapple Chicken
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Polynesian Pineapple Chicken

Instant Pot Polynesian Pineapple Chicken

This tropical, sweet and divine chicken dish peppered with pineapple is as gorgeous to look as it is scrumptious to eat. One bit and you'll sweast you were on the shores of the the tropics.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes


  • 2-4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 16 oz bottle of Catalina salad dressing (or California French – same thing)
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup of honey
  • 20 oz can of pineapple chunks (in juice, NOT heavy syrup), drained
  • 3 tbsp of cornstarch + 3 tbsp of water (OR 3 tbsp of the pineapple juice from the can!)


  1. Add the Catalina dressing, apple cider vinegar and honey to the Instant Pot.  Whisk together so it forms a sauce
  2. Add the red bell peppers and mix with the sauce and then lay the chicken thighs on top
  3. Secure the lid and cook on “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 10 minutes.  Quick release when done
  4. Carefully remove the chicken with tongs and place in a serving dish.  Hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then “Sauté” so it’s on the “High” or “More” setting.  Add in the drained pineapple chunks and cornstarch slurry.  Stir very well, giving the bottom of the pan a little scrape (not because anything should be stuck to it, but just to mix in any settled honey or cornstarch).  Let is set for a minute and bring to a bubble.  Once it bubbles for another minute, give it a stir, turn the pot off and let the sauce cool a little. It will thicken nicely
  5. Once the sauce has cooled down some, spoon it (and the peppers and pineapple) over the chicken and serve with a rice of your choice (I STRONGLY suggest pairing it with my now famous Hibachi Fried Rice and making it a true South Pacific theme by ending with my acclaimed Pineapple Upside Down Cake!)
  6. Hula dance

Jeffrey's Tips

The sauce is going to be enough to accommodate up to 4 pounds of chicken.  If only using 2 pounds, you can halve the sauce but I suggest just making it as written and refrigerating or freezing the leftover sauce.  It will go beautifully over my internet sensation Hibachi Fried Rice or over any kind of beef, pork or even a Mahi Mahi!

Give this meal a TRUE theme of the South Pacific and finish with my famous Pineapple Upside Down Cake (but cook that first)!

Don’t care for pineapples or red peppers?  You don’t need to add them!  They just really complement the dish and its flavors perfectly!

Want to use onions or other veggies?  Go for it!

Reader Interactions


  1. Sharane Austin

    We had a local polynesian restaurant (that is now closed) that tasted just like this! Thank you Jeffrey for getting this right.

  2. Kim

    This recipe looks delish!! I plan to make this soon but wanted to know if this recipe could be doubled? If so how would I go about doing that?

  3. Anna Kramer

    Be sure to cover your value when quick releasing. Otherwise you will have sticky red fluid all over your counters and cabinets.

    • Gayle Bodine

      Bless you, for posting this comment–I also had a long-lasting fountain of liquid–also all over the floor, stove, counters, and cabinets. I am off Catilina dressing for life. In the balance, I have loved every other recipe I’ve tried from the three J.E. cookbooks I own.

  4. Kim

    I had splatter all over the place when I did a quick release. What a mess! Would it make a difference if I did a natural release? The recipe is delicious! My husband definitely wants it again. Said it reminds him of eating at Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel

  5. Linda

    This was one of the very first recipes I tried when I got my IP. I cannot say enough about this recipe. I absolutely loved it. Thank You Jeff for not only getting me over my fear of Pressure Cooking but for giving me a wonderful recipe. You are the Best. Hugs from Canada

  6. Don

    I made this tonight with your Hibachi fried rice. I was afraid the husband wouldn’t like it (not into sweet foods) … but I was wrong…loved it. He even put more sauce on the rice! Definitely a repeat meal….thanks!

  7. Sharyn Price

    We made this tonight with small chicken breasts instead of thighs and added onion. It was great, and our family loved it! I have already shared with my family members so they can try it for their families. Thank you for this great and easy recipe!

  8. Melissa Reese

    This was so good! I’ve made several of your recipes and they never fail to impress me. My family is picky, and they all loved it!

  9. Carol

    My dad made this and it’s amazing. My friend’s mom asked for the recipe but she doesn’t have an instant pot. I’m not savvy when it comes to cooking.. can she use regular pots but it’ll just take longer?

  10. Dave S

    Really love this dish, I switch it up though and pressure cook the rice with everything else with added chicken broth and pineapple juice for 8 mins then natural release or slow release.

    I find this really locks the flavor into the rice and comes out moist and already mixed together.

  11. Oneita

    This is one of my all time favorites now. This taste just like a dish I used to get in a Chinese Restaurant with my mother and grandmother as a girl at least 40 years ago. Thanks for the recipe and the trip down memory lane.

    I’ve also been buying your cookbooks to give as Christmas Gifts this year. All of my coworkers will have one in 2 weeks.

  12. Linda

    This is so good! Makes enough for 2 whole meals for my family. We do add a bunch of carrots and onions. There is plenty of sauce for that and more. Thanks for this great family favorite that takes hardly any time!

  13. Nikki

    Another delicious recipe. It was simple to make and a big hit. I appreciate the previous comments about splattering. I made sure to use my 8 quart and had no problems at all.

  14. Stephannie

    This recipe reminded me of a dish that I would have at the golf course of an Air Force base I was stationed at a number of years ago. Theirs had maraschino cherries it. I added 10 oz of drained maraschino cherries and it was just as good! So yummy! Will definitely be making this again!!!

  15. Lori Winters

    I lightened it up with lite Catalina dressing, and it was still really tasty! I also sautéed onion at the beginning and added some garlic! After adding the pineapple and slurry, I added fresh sugar snap peas, which gave it a nice crunch! It was husband approved! Thank you Jeffrey!

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