Recipes for a Tropical-Inspired Plate Lunch: Hawaiian Chicken, Hawaiian Mac Salad, Coconut Rice, and Cucumber and Carrot Salad

This Hawaiian-inspired meal is still one of our favorites. Try it sometime!

O friend! If you’ve been hanging out with me at MBB for a while, you might already know that my husband (the infamous El Hub!) is from Oahu in Hawaii, and we can go whenever to see our family. , we try to travel.

We had planned trips this year to celebrate some big birthdays for the grandparents, but, as you know, “crying” was like “hahahaha,” so we haven’t been able to make it back in time. Hopefully, soon though (fingers and toes crossed).

We’ve been missing Hawaii a lot lately, so I’m making this Hawaiian lunch plate-inspired meal to make us feel a little more connected to the islands.

Hawaiian Chicken Plate Sides

A Hawaiian lunch plate typically consists of a scoop of rice, a scoop of sweet and savory macaroni salad, some type of protein (such as Spam or teriyaki chicken) and a side of vegetables. El Hub grew up eating them, and I’m still all about them.

Granted, the plate lunches that I, a SF Bay Area girl, make here, probably wouldn’t be considered “authentic” (air quote) by Hawaiian lunch plate culinary die-hard standards, my family really likes them. Babygirl says it has “the tastiest chicken ever” and El Hub has received more than a few requests for this dish in the past month.

Hawaiian Chicken with Sauce
A little sweet, a little salty and all kinds of yum!

The protein in this meal is a Pineapple and Soy Sauce Spicy Hawaiian Chicken, which I cooked My Instant Pot!

I love using the Instant Pot because I can set it and forget it, and the results are consistently fan-frickin-delicious. Chicken is always tender and full of flavor.

You can probably make it stovetop or grill-friendly if you’re more of a cook-incliner, but I haven’t tried any of these yet. But seriously, the Instant Pot is a silly tool for me, so that’s what I use for this meal.

Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken
My favorite Instant Pot!

I make chicken with coconut rice, a creamy Hawaiian mac salad (usually in whatever pasta shape I can find!) a few requests for recipes…

So, here they are below! enjoy.

Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Tender, Juicy Chicken Cooked in the Instant Pot! Sweet pineapple is perfectly balanced with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in this easy, kid-friendly dish.

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 Minutes
  • Total-ish Time: 4-8 hours, depending on how long you marinate the chicken
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or tenders (I use a mix of 1 pound thighs and 1 pound tenders)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 6 cloves finely chopped garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water


Marinate Chicken:

  1. Place chicken thighs and/or tenders in a shallow dish or in a gallon-sized plastic bag.
  2. Whisk pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic until brown sugar is dissolved (or mostly dissolved); Then divide it in half.
  3. Pour half the marinade over the chicken in the bag so that the chicken is evenly coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. Refrigerate the remaining marinade until the chicken is ready to be cooked.

Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot:

  1. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, place the trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot, and layer the chicken evenly over the top. Pour a cup of marinade from the bag, and then add 1/2 cup of broth or water. Cook on manual on high pressure for 12-14 minutes, do a 10-minute natural steam release, and then do a quick release.
  2. You can remove the trivet and shred the chicken directly into the pot to mix in the juices, if you prefer. Or, you can drain them and scoop them out of the pot and juice. I usually take the chicken out, shred it, then pour the sauce over it, but it’s really up to you!

Make Chutney:

  1. Bring the refrigerated reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove. Simmer for 5-10 minutes (the longer it boils, the less and slightly thicker it will be). Pour it over chicken and/or rice when serving.

Hawaiian Chicken Pickle Ingredients

Hawaiian Chicken Pickles
You can also use ground garlic and ginger if you are in a hurry.

Cucumber and Carrot Salad

Crunchy, tangy and just a touch sweet! This easy cucumber salad tastes exactly like what you’d find at your favorite Thai restaurant. I customize ours to suit my four-year-old daughter’s tastes, but I’ve added options below if you want to dial up stronger flavors.

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 5 Minutes
  • Total Time: 20 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 pound Persian cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup red thinly sliced ​​red onion, and 1/3 cup chopped peanuts


  1. Place the peeled and sliced ​​cucumbers in a colander, and sprinkle salt over them.
  2. Toss the cucumbers with the salt to cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Gently pat the cucumber slices dry with a paper towel.
  4. Mix rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds until the sugar dissolves.
  5. Combine the cucumbers and carrots in a large bowl, top with the rice vinegar and sugar mixture and mix.
  6. Optional: At this point, feel free to mix in the cilantro and chopped red onion as well.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  8. If you are using peanuts, sprinkle them just before serving.
Cucumber Carrot Salad
This Cucumber Carrot Salad adds crunch and texture to a meal.

Cucumber Carrot Salad Ingredients

Hawaiian Mac Salad

Creamy, sweet and tangy salad with some crunch. It’s a staple on a typical Hawaiian lunch plate. You can easily adapt this salad to make it your own by adding onions, your favorite protein (eggs or chicken would be good!), or perhaps some sliced, scallops. Totally up to you. When I make this for my family, I omit the raw onion because otherwise my baby won’t touch the stuff, but I’ve added substitutes below if you prefer a more savory flavor.

  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 40 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 8-oz box of pasta (Macaroni is great, but spirals work too! Because L’Hub has celiac and is gluten-free, I use Banza Pasta)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, divided (I used light mayo)
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, plus extra for cooking pasta
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • Optional: 5-7 spring onions, thinly sliced


  1. Add salt to a large pot of water, bring to a boil, and cook your pastries according to the directions on the box. Drain, return to pot and toss with vinegar. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 3/4 cup milk until completely combined. Then add brown sugar, salt and pepper to it.
  3. Stir the cooled pasta into the mayo/milk mixture, and let come to room temperature (I usually wait about 15-20 minutes).
  4. When cool, fold the carrots and celery. If you are using green onions, you can add them at this point. Whisk the remaining mayonnaise and milk, pour over the salad, and toss to coat well. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Keep in the fridge until the pasta cools.
Hawaiian Mac Salad
Creamy, Spicy and Delicious

coconut rice

Mildly sweet and fluffy, this coconut rice is the perfect addition to your Asian-inspired dishes. Long-grain rice like basmati and jasmine work best; However, I’ve used short-grain rice in a pinch, and although it’s “technically” edible, it’s very sticky and sticky, so I don’t recommend it. Also, I like to use the full-fat version of coconut milk because Fam-Bam likes a richer flavor, but you can replace it with a light one if you’d like.

  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25
  • TOTAL TIME: 30
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine or basmati rice
  • 1 can coconut milk, regular or light
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp coarse, kosher salt


  1. Combine rice, coconut milk, broth and salt in a large pan.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the wok.
  3. Reduce the heat, then cover the pot and cook for 16 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, leave the pot covered (don’t lift the lid!), and let it sit on the stove for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork if you like, then serve.
coconut rice ingredients
The start of something delicious!

Coconut Rice Overview

Aloha and enjoy!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,