Hawaiian Style BBQ Ribs with Grilled Pineapple

We recently returned home from a fun family vacation in Hawaii.  We’ve taken our kids there a few times now, but we usually stay on Kauai where it’s a little off-the-beaten-path, and not at a big hotel or resort, which is how we like to roll.  This time, my husband had a business event at Aulani, which is a massive Disney resort on Oahu.  (As a side note: I’ve had lots of people ask me what I thought of Aulani- if you’re interested, leave a comment and I can write a post with some photos and an unbiased review of the place.  It wasn’t a sponsored trip or anything, but oh how my wallet wishes it was…)  We met up with good friends there, that we attended grad school with, and it was a blast reconnecting and letting our kids spend time together.  Since my kids had never been to Oahu, we did lots of the tourist-y things like visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (where we got inked- island style) and taking a walk around the beautiful LDS Temple in Laie.

Hawaii 1
We had plenty of beach time to run from little waves and build sand castles,

Hawaii 2 and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings.  That’s one of the wonderful things about Hawaii; you don’t have to “do” a darn thing there because everything around you is breathtakingly beautiful.

Hawaii 3

We also ate lots of yummy food (Like that pineapple-macadamia nut cupcake).   I have always loved tropical flavors; polynesian style recipes are something Kate and I both cook a lot of and we have a great section here on the blog full of our tropical-themed eats.

Hawaii 4

Hawaii, and especially Oahu, has a very heavy Asian influence and it’s obvious in the delicious food.  One of my family’s favorite things are Hawaiian style ribs.  They’re a little different than the traditional bbq ribs that the US south has made famous.

Hawaiian style ribs are what’s called “Flanken Cut”.  They’re cut lengthwise across the ribs instead of horizontally, like you’re probably used to seeing.  You’ll sometimes see them called Korean style short ribs, or Maui ribs, too.  They’re often super thin, like 1/4 in thick.  These ones in my photos are actually the thickest I’ve ever bought, at closer to 1/2 inch thick.  If you don’t see any flanken cut ribs, just ask the butcher at the meat counter and they should be able to help you out.  Where I live (Boise, ID area) I can always find these at WinCo.

Flanken Style Ribs

The great thing with a thin cut of meat is that it soaks up flavor so well.  So I’m using some of my all-time faves in this sweet and savory marinade.  These ingredients have made lots and lots of appearances on this blog!

Hawaiian Ribs Marinade
For the base, we’re using pineapple juice.  You can buy these little cans in the juice aisle of the grocery store (almost always on the bottom shelf.)  They come in a 6-pack and I always keep them on hand because they’re great for marinades and smoothies, and I love that you can open just a little can and not have to use up a big container.  And oh yet- you better believe we visited the Dole plantation in Hawaii and had a nice big cup of Dole Whip! (Basically fresh pineapple soft-serve.  Delish.)

Dole Pineapple Juice

Even though pineapple juice is sweet, we’ll add just a little more- in the form of brown sugar.  It adds a depth of flavor to the sweetness, and more importantly creates the amazing caramelization on the outside of the meat.

Brown Sugar

Then in go the big flavors- lots of fresh garlic and ginger.  Feel free to be generous here, I usually throw in extra!

Ginger and Garlic

And also a little sesame oil, a touch of rice vinegar for acidity, and a big handful of sliced green onions. Mix it up and pour it right over your ribs.  I always use a ziplock bag because it makes it easy to toss and turn the meat during marinading.

Hawaiian Marinade

I’ve also found that loaf pans work great to hold the bag.  they’re kind of the perfect size so they keep everything submerged.

Ribs in loaf pan

I definitely recommend marinading these overnight.  Since there’s not a lot of acidity, the mellow flavors really benefit from a long marinade, especially if your ribs are on the thicker side like mine.  If you try and rush it, they definitely won’t be as flavorful, but if you’ve got a really thin cut you could probably get away with marinading them first thing in the morning for dinner that night.  I recommend mixing it up any time the day before for dinner the next night.

When you’re ready to cook them up, preheat the grill so it’s nice and hot and then turn it down a bit before you add the food.  If you’ve never ready my post on grilling the perfect steak, I highly recommend it- click here to check it out!

For the pineapple, I just brush it lightly (I actually use an olive oil sprayer) with oil and give each slice a little sprinkle of kosher salt.  Just pop them right on the grill along side the ribs.

Hawaiian Ribs on Grill

If your ribs are super thin (like, 1/4 inch) they’ll only take a minute or two on each side to cook.  These thick ones like I have will take more like 4-6 minutes on each side.  Just keep an eye on the pineapple and turn it when it has some nice charring on each side.  I cook both the pineapple and the ribs for the same amount of time usually.

Hawaiian Ribs Cooking on Grill

The natural pineapple juice with caramelize and a well-seasoned grill gives the fruit tons of flavor (which is why you should never grill fruit that will be used for a dessert on a regular bbq grill.  Just ask me about the pineapple bbq chicken cake disaster of 2008.)

Hawaiian Grilled Ribs from Our Best Bites

Serve those ribs hot off the grill along with the pineapple.

Hawaiian Style Ribs with Grilled Pineapple from Our Best Bites

They have a nice chew, while being soft and tender at the same time.  The tropical flavors are perfect when you take a bite together with the pineapple, and even better with some coconut rice, too!

Hawaiian Grilled Pineapple Garlic Ribs from Our Best Bites

So crank up your grill, bust out your hula skirt, and take a little trip to the islands this week.

Hawaiian Style BBQ Ribs with Grilled Pineapple
Need some of the tropics in your menu this week? These Hawaiian Style BBQ Ribs with Grilled Pineapple make a great meal. Bust out the hula skirt!
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  1. up to 2lbs flanken cut ribs
  2. 2 6oz cans pineapple juice (1 1/2 cups)
  3. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  5. 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  6. 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  7. 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  8. 4-5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  9. 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  10. kosher salt and black pepper
  11. 1 whole pineapple, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  1. Place ribs in a ziplock bag and set aside. Combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and green onions in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour mixture over ribs in bag and marinate over night in the fridge. Turn bag occasionally to evenly distribute marinade.
  2. Preheat BBQ grill. Lightly brush pineapple slices with olive or vegetable oil (or a spray works great). Give each slice a very light sprinkle of kosher salt. Place both ribs and pineapple on grill and cook until charred on both sides and evenly done. Steak time will depend on thickness of cut. Extra thin ribs cook for only a couple of minutes per side and thicker cuts (up to 1/2 inch) may take 5-6 minutes per side.
Our Best Bites http://ourbestbites.com/

Here’s some of my favorite sides to serve with this meal:
Coconut Rice (try adding fresh diced mango and sliced green onions)
Lime-Cilantro Rice
Fried Rice
A green salad with Honey-Citrus Vinegrette
Caramelized Green Beans

And if you’d like an umbrella drink to go with it, we have tons of great tropical sips in our beverage section!


Pineapple Garlic Hawaiian Style Ribs from Our Best Bites *Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Yum! My husband just got home from a work trip to Oahu tonight. These are perfect to pretend we got to go too. I would love a review on the Aulani resort!!!

  2. Hawaii is such a fun place to be with kids (the trip over and back, not always…). We were at the Marriott Ko’Olina (right next door to the Aulani) at the end of May. We loved the Marriott property! Looks like your trip was very fun, too, and I’m interested in what you thought of the Aulani. We walked along the beach past it, but never went onto the main property.

    Oh, and thanks for the ribs recipe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Hi Sara-I have been to Hawaii two times and I know why they call in “paradise”. Our little dinner group is getting together for a Luau dinner and I got picked to do the vegetable. Since you just visited – do you have any suggestions??

    PS – Super huge fan of your blog and cookbooks – LOVE, Love, Love!

  4. OMG these look awesome, can’t wait to try!
    As a note, these are sometimes called “Maui” or “Korean” style short ribs when I’m shopping for them.

  5. These look so yummy!! I would love a Aulani review! My husband and I have been debating taking the kiddos there!!

  6. Holy cow! I may just possibly be addicted to pineappleโ€ฆ and gingerโ€ฆ and ribs. I can see this could lead to a major problem (at least where my tummy fat is concerned). Have you been to Tucanos Brazilian Grill. Their grilled pineapple is seriously like Christmas in your mouth! I donโ€™t know what they put on it to make it so sweet, but it is AH-MAZING! I have tried grilled pineapple on a hamburger, and I loved it. Apparently they do that all the time in Mexico. Canโ€™t wait to try ribs with grilled pineapple! Come on America! Whyโ€™d it take you so long to bring the pineapple fad over here?

  7. We just returned from Oahu! We stayed on Waikiki beach, since my husband had to work one day while there and it was close to the job. I’d love to hear about your experience at Disney’s hotel. We also went to PCC and the Dole plantation …always a must!

    My husband loves those ribs, thanks for the recipe! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Ask for Korean short ribs AKA Kalbi beef at the butcher. They are so much more tender than your traditional rib. Family tradition for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, any day. Yum! I won’t eat any other type of ribs. These just flake off and melt in your mouth. Looks like a fun trip but sadly it will never happen in my lifetime, unless I find a winning lottery ticket.

  9. These look yummy!! I would love w review of the resort. I keep thinking it would be fun to take our daughter, but not sure about the money. Thanks!! Happy Wiggly Worms Wednesday!!!
    P.S. I love your emails & recipes!!

  10. Please send me your review on Aulani. Also, where did you get the striped maxi skirt you’re wearing? Excited to hear back from you!

  11. Oh what a great summer recipe. I love grilled pineapple, especially with brown sugar and cinnamon. Love to have ribs like with with coconut bissmati rice ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I would also like to hear about Aulani! We are headed to the Ko olina beach villas, which are next to Aulani, next month! We debated about Aulani, but we hadn’t heard from anyone who had stayed there.

  13. We were just at Aulani last week! We were all so sad to leave… the kids had so much fun and we adults really appreciated the super fun, quality child care so we could get some alone time. If any one has food allergies, the resort was SO great in terms of providing safe, alternate food options. The chef made me my own gluten-free belgian waffle, which I hadn’t had in AGES!

  14. This looks delicious. But you have me confused about what grill to use or not use for the pineapple. A little clarification would be great! I really don’t want a food disaster when I try this!

    1. I was just saying that you have to be careful grilling fruit on the bbq if you plan to use it for dessert because it can end up tasting like meat ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You can! I was talking about grilling fruit for dessert- you just gotta be careful that you don’t make it taste like steak ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. I would love an Aulani review! My husband is hoping to qualify for the Ironman triathlon world championship in Kona, Hawaii this October. We were thinking we would go over to Aulani for a family vacation after… So I’d love to hear from another mom who’s been there ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. First of all, I love this website and your recipes. We are wanting to take our family to Hawaii and I’m looking into different resorts. Can you give me your reviews on the Aulani resort? Thanks and can’t wait to try the rib recipe, they look delicious!

  17. Can’t wait to try this recipe. If you want to tackle a recipe for those pineapple -macadamia nut cupcakes, I wouldn’t complain. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d love your thoughts on Aulani.

  18. I would love to hear your thoughts about Aulani! I am interested in going, but not sure if it is worth the high price tag.

  19. So, this might be a stupid question but… we just moved and aren’t allowed to operate a grill in the complex. Any suggestions on how to cook this in the oven/stove-top? Looks delicious and I would love to give it a try, thanks!

  20. I would also like to hear about Aulani. My parents are interested in taking my son there for his 8th birthday and so I am wondering if there is enough there to keep him and my parents interested without having to leave the resort.

  21. I would love a review of Aulani.. I’ve been wanting to go but it does seem expensive and would like to know if it’s really much better than staying somewhere else.

  22. Thanks for this recipe. I’m a huge fan of marinades & so this was a perfect one to try. Flank ribs are not so easy to find in my part of the country. So, I thought I would try Pork Feather bones. On sale, I can get them for .99/lb. I marinated over night. AWESOME. Everyone loved them. Next time, I would put more Ginger in the mix. Thanks Again!

  23. Thank you for this recipe. My husband and I spent out honeymoon in Hawaii 8 years ago and loved the islands so much it was hard to leave. We loved this recipe, our 5 year old and 2 year old even devored them, so yummy.

  24. I have these in the marinade for Sunday evening dinner. I added some red pepper flake because my family likes spicy foods. I also hope they forgive me for the ginger (they are not fans). I’m serving with the grilled pineapple (of course!) and coconut rice. For the green vegetable, I’ll sautee some green beans.

  25. Hi Sara! Just wondering if you’ve written your review of the Aulani resort yet and if so, where I can find it on your blog. Your recipes are fantastic and I’m pretty sure we drink more Brazilian limeade than any other family I know. Hello large bag of limes at Costco. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Can you expand this so that it can serve 6 people. And you should put your measurements next to your pictures.

  27. Great web site, lovely family, and ooohhh, BABY! What a kitchen! Keep up the good work!

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