Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pineapple Chicken

Way better than that "Chinese" place that delivers to your house.
When I was little, we always got the sweet and sour chicken when we ordered Chinese food. I loved it, even though it was essentially fried bread dipped in sugar. (Come to think of it, that's probably pretty much WHY I liked it.) These days, I normally don't like sweet and sour chicken, but I do like its equally inauthentic cousins - orange chicken, pineapple chicken, lemon chicken, etc.

Of course, the heavy breading and super-sugary sauces are about as far from paleo as it's possible to be. So, I decided to make a paleo version that bypassed those problems by using pineapple juice in the sauce and arrowroot powder to very lightly coat the chicken so it could be fried in a little coconut oil. The result is a version of pineapple chicken that you can have without worrying that you'll feel like crap in a few hours.

The soy sauce is wheat-free. You could also substitute coconut aminos.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1 red bell pepper
1 20oz. can of pineapple slices in pineapple juice
2 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
salt to taste
About 1/4 cup arrowroot powder (to coat the chicken)
About 1/4 cup coconut oil (for frying)


Draining Rig (I use a rack over a plate. You could also use paper towels)
Small Pot

Start by cutting everything up. You should mince the garlic and the ginger very fine. I use fresh ginger, which doesn't come in convenient teaspoon measurements. I just cut a piece off of the hand that looks about the right size and mince that.

These are going in the sauce, so the finer you can mince them, the better.

Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper, and cut it into strips.

These have such a nice color. Without them, the dish would be pretty much brown.

Cut the chicken into approximately 1.5 inch cubes.

Don't get out a ruler or anything. Instead, just go for "nugget-sized."

Drain the juice from the pineapple and save it for the sauce. Cut the slices into large chunks.

Now that everything is cut up, you should add some coconut oil to a pan and start heating it up over medium-high heat. While that's getting hot, dredge the chicken in the arrowroot powder.

You want a very light coating. You might need to shake the pieces a little to remove any excess.
Fry the chicken in the coconut oil. You may have to do it in multiple batches. Make sure to leave space between the pieces, or they'll stew instead of frying. Give them about a minute on the first side, and if the first side has browned, turn the pieces to a second side. Repeat the turns a few more times until the pieces are browned all over.

This is about the color you want to see.

Remove the chicken from the pan, and allow the pieces to drain. Remove the pan from the heat, and drain off any excess coconut oil.

I like using a rack over a plate. Paper towels also work.

Now is when you should start making the sauce. It's really pretty simple. Pour the pineapple juice from the can, the ginger, the garlic, the soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder to a small pot. Use a whisk to combine everything.

It will pretty much look like a weird gravy. Thankfully, it tastes nothing like that.
Heat the sauce over medium low heat, stirring constantly with the whisk. After a few minutes, the sauce will thicken a lot, and it will turn more translucent. When that happens, turn the heat off. If the sauce gets too hot, the arrowroot powder will disintegrate completely, and the sauce will "break." That's bad.

This is what the sauce looks like when it's ready.

Once the sauce is ready, turn the heat back on to medium-high under the pan. Add the pepper strips to the pan, and let them cook for about a minute.

Don't cook the peppers too much.

Add the chicken and pineapple chunks to the pan and top everything with the sauce. Mix everything in together so that the sauce coats everything evenly. Keep everything over medium-low heat for a minute or two to warm the pineapple chunks. You should also add a few pinches of salt.

Don't leave this over the heat for too long. You just want to make sure that everything is warmed up.

  • My can of pineapple had almost exactly 3/4 cup of juice in it. If your can has less juice for some reason, you may need to reduce the arrowroot powder in the sauce a little bit to compensate.
  • The sauce will be really thick. It's OK. It needs to be thick to properly coat the chicken. It also thins out a little bit as the pineapple chunks release some of their juice when everything is mixed together.
  • I liked the way this tasted, but both Miriam and I thought it would probably be even better with a shot of lemon juice added right at the end.
  • This paired really well with some of the fried cauliflower rice.
  • I wouldn't call this an indulgence, but between the pineapple and the pineapple juice, it isn't super low-carb. I'd avoid serving it with a higher-carb side item.


  1. This was delicious. Maybe a smidgen goopy but the yumminess overrode that. I used the aminos and added the lemon at the end. Thanks!

  2. fantastic dish used Tapioca flour instead which is also derived from a root, as it was all I had at the time, crunchy and nice, thanks!

  3. Thanks for sharing this recipe! ;-) Was very satisfying and filling and tasted great! :-) So worth making! :-)