Shoyu Chicken doesn’t get any easier than this!

Sign up for our Polynesian Cultural Center newsletters:

Shoyu Chicken recipe from the kitchen of the Polynesian Cultural Center

CLICK HERE to view our video version of our Shoyu Chicken recipe


Named after a local brand of soy sauce, this chicken dish is a favorite island plate, especially when you and your neighbors are having a luau (potluck) or you just need to please picky eaters. This version comes straight from the Food and Beverage Department of The Polynesian Cultural Center. It may be easy, but that’s part of the beauty of this simple little recipe. It literally fulfills the popular saying “winner, winner, chicken dinner!”

And it’s versatile! A can of pineapple can really add that local Hawaii flavor. Fresh garlic and ginger will give it some ZING. But ask around the North Shore of Oahu and you will find that most people just use the basic ingredients shown below, because in Hawaii, simplicity is a part of ‘living the life’.



Large stew pot

Large spoon for stirring

Ingredients for Shoyu Chicken Recipe from the Polynesian Cultural Center

Ingredients for Shoyu Chicken



  • 4 pounds chicken thighs (about 10 thighs). Other parts can be substituted, if you prefer.
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup brown or white sugar


Optional ingredients:

Add any or all of the following:

  • 1 piece ginger, crushed (1 tablespoon for mild, up to 2 or more if you like it to have a bit more ‘bite’)
  • Crushed garlic, to taste (suggest 1 – 2 tablespoons)
  • Chopped green onion, to taste (suggest 1/4 cup)



  • Add 1 can unsweetened pineapple chunks, with liquid. Reduce soy sauce to ¾ cup.
  • Substitute ¾ cup honey for sugar



for Shoyu Chicken Recipe:


Place soy sauce, sugar and any optional ingredients into a stew pot and bring to a boil.


Bringing the ingredients to a boil in our Shoyu Chicken recipe

Time to boil the chicken!



Add chicken, and cover with a lid

Reduce temperature to simmer, cooking until chicken is nice and tender (usually 45 – 60 minutes). A good sign that the meat is done is that it will separate from the bone easily.


Cooking Shoyu Chicken in a pot

Cook Shoyu Chicken until tender



Serve over rice – 6-8 servings


Optional: Garnish with chopped green onions, macadamia nuts, and/or pineapple slices



Did you try this recipe?

We’d love to hear how it came out and see a picture of your dish! Use the comment section at the bottom of this page.

#eatpolynesia    #polynesianculturalcenter   #shoyuchicken




The Polynesian Cultural Centers online store has the perfect selections for your island themed tableware

You can set the perfect Island Table at Shop Polynesia!
The official store of The Polynesian Cultural Center


Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 40+ years, she volunteers at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of this amazing world

24 Responses to “Shoyu Chicken doesn’t get any easier than this!”

  1. Janice says:

    DELICIOUS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Send more Hawaiian recipes please

  2. Bette J. Kingston says:

    loved the chicken – usually do not like thighs but this was wonderful.

  3. Josephine Gundayao says:

    share some more local recipes please – the simple ones

  4. Cathryn Shearer says:

    I will try this recipe. Please send more. I love Hawaii so much and I love the food and people.

  5. Kevin K says:

    The taste is rich and the perfect balance of sweet, salty and tangy. Keep the delicious recipes coming!

  6. sonnie says:

    A stapled recipe simple but Ono. Good job!
    If you do with beef instead, the pineapple makes for a great substitute while tenderizing the meat or add a can of sprite or coke to marinade over night.

  7. Alvin Crown says:

    I am going to try this in my Dutch Oven on my next campout and let you know how it went.

  8. Jenny says:

    Looks delicious, will definitely try it! One quick comment—as a Japanese-American hapa gal, I believe shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce (not a specific brand name).

    • Nina Jones says:

      Thank you for your input. I’ve researched it, and indeed, Oxford Dictionary states: shoyu – NOUN. A type of Japanese soy sauce.

      I appreciate the clarification. On the islands we do have a soy sauce called Shoyu. Now we know why!

  9. Janet says:

    Mahalo for this recipe. We were just talking about shoyu chicken – very timely! Website suggestion: have a link for a printable version. Thanks!

  10. Kara Miller says:

    Can’t wait to try this! Love how simple it is, we love Hawaiian food!!

  11. Tiffany says:

    We added mushrooms (fresh or canned) and Cornstarch/Water mixture to make gravy with the sauce!! #onolicious

  12. Andy says:

    I was taught to make shoyu chicken with lily flower…anyone else? It is hard to find nowadays.

  13. J says:

    Can we substitute Huli-Huli sauce, which already includes sugar and ginger? If so, what are the proportions? Mahalo!

    • Nina Jones says:

      This is not something we’ve done before. It sounds delicious. Huli-Huli sauce is a bit thicker than this sauce, so consider thinning it down just a little and let us know how it turns out!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Could you do it in a crock pit on low during the day?

    • Nina Jones says:

      Absolutely, as long as you cook it longer (at least 5 – 6 hours) it works out great – also, in a crock pot it really absorbs the flavor.

  15. james says:

    can you save the shoyu marinade with the chicken for left overs? for example if i want to meal prep this as my lunch for a few days?

    • Nina Jones says:

      This is a valid question. I did not feel qualified to answer, so I asked my friend Betty (as in Betty Crocker, lol). Her website says NEVER! However, if the marinade was not kept out on the counter, but always in the fridge AND kept in a sealed plastic container (no metal, even in the lid), I have been known to use it within a couple of days, but only if it was cooked and only if I reheat it. The rule of thumb, however, is that once animal fat has been introduced into it, it’s simply too risky. If I were you, I’d trust Betty!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *