If you’re looking for something deliciously easy, spicy, and summery, then these Grilled Sweet and Spicy Thai Chicken Kabobs will check all of those boxes and then some. Don’t just imagine juicy, moist, plump chicken breasts with both sweet-and-spicy notes that’s served up right alongside grilled pineapple — go grill yourself up some today!
So, yeah, I have a thing for Thai food. Some might even go so far as to say an obsession. It just speaks to me. I love the sweet intermingling with the spicy, the way the sauces can vary widely yet all have a similar taste that’s distinctly Thai, it’s so hard to go wrong with this style of Asian food.
For these kabobs, I wanted the usual — sweet and spicy — but since it’s summer and all, I felt like I would be remiss if I didn’t include some fresh fruit and of course the grill! Pineapple is a fruit my mind immediately goes to when paired with chicken in the summertime because they just go so well together and grilled pineapple is finger-licking good!
Chicken is easy and a lighter meat that is used frequently in Thai food. However, this would also be delicious with salmon too for that matter.
WHAT IS SAMBAL OELEK?
Sambal Oelek is a jelly-like garlic chili paste found in the Asian or ethnic sections of most grocery stores. The chili peppers used can vary and might actually include several different types in the mixture. Other ingredients include garlic, shrimp paste, ginger, shallots, palm sugar, scallions, and lime juice.
It’s amazing when used in Thai foods, and I love using it as a marinade for shrimp (with a little EVOO, salt, pepper, and lime juice too). You can keep it in your fridge I believe for eternity (if it lasts that long). I sometimes also mix it into other condiments, like mayo and barbecue sauce for a little kick.
WHAT IS A GOOD SUBSTITUTE FOR SAMBAL OELEK?
If you don’t have Sambal Oelek or can’t find it at your grocery store (hint, hint, Amazon has it, too), then you can substitute Sriracha. Sriracha isn’t as vinegary but it will still work well. If you don’t have Sriracha, then use whatever chili-based hot sauce you have.
HOW DO YOU GRILL FRUIT?
Grilled fruit is truly one of the best things about summer. I feel like people don’t do it often enough, and I get why: It’s weird. You just don’t think about adding that peach to the grill when you’re about to bite into it or slicing up a pretty, juicy pineapple only to blemish it with black grill marks.
But trust me, you can get past this.
Grilling fruit brings out the juiciness of the fruit and also tastes amazing! First, choose a fruit that is meaty or can be sliced thick (think pineapple, peaches, bananas, mangoes, watermelon). It should be ripe, but not overripe. Use a hot grill to keep the fruits from sticking. If you are grilling citrus fruit, if you put a little sugar on the cut side, it will leave a nice carameling.
Like meat, leave it on for a bit till it gets some grill marks before turning and only turn once if you can help it. Don’t keep flipping back and forth or it’ll get mushy and stick to the grates. About three minutes on each side should do the trick. When it’s done to your liking, take off the grill and enjoy!
Grilled fruit is kind of a sweet and savory thing (or sweet and spicy) and so that’s why I think it goes so great with and in Thai food. A little sweet to cool off the heat.
CAN I MAKE CHICKEN KABOBS IN THE OVEN?
After you’re done skewering the chicken and pineapple, you can absolutely cook these in the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and put the skewers on top. Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165 °F.
Once you get them out of the oven, garnish with chopped green onions and/or cilantro.
Grilled Sweet and Spicy Thai Chicken Kabobs
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs - cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3 cups large pineapple chunks - highly recommend using fresh pineapple, not canned
- chopped green onions or cilantro - for garnish
- 2-3 tablespoons sambal oelek - SEE NOTE
- ⅓ cup honey - or ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cold water + 3 teaspoons corn starch
- In a medium sauce pan bring sambal oelek, honey, rice vinegar, water, and soy sauce to a boil. Stir together cold water and corn starch and stir into boiling sauce. Reduce heat to medium low and stir until thickened. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl and place in the fridge to cool for 5-10 minutes. .
- In a large plastic bag or bowl, combine chicken, pineapple, and half of the marinade. (Reserve remaining marinade for later.) Toss to combine, seal the bag or cover the bowl tightly, and chill for 30 minutes.
- Skewer the chicken and pineapple. Discard used marinade.
- Cook skewers on a preheated and oiled grill for about 5-7 minutes, rotating skewers throughout to ensure even cooking, then brush with remaining marinade and grill about 5-7 minutes longer until chicken is cooked through.
- Garnish with chopped green onions or cilantro and serve.