Islands Yaki Soft Tacos copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
Zoom image

Islands Yaki Soft Tacos

Score: 5.00. Votes: 4
In stock (1 item available)
  • $0.79

Menu Description: "Three flour tortillas stuffed w/marinated chicken, Teriyaki sauce, Jack cheese, pineapple, lettuce, tomatoes & scallions."

If you love the sweet taste of teriyaki marinated chicken, you'll dig the Yaki Soft tacos at this Hawaiian-themed burger chain. Sure, Islands is famous for its burgers, but many also go for the several choices of soft tacos—and the one I've cloned here is the top-seller. After testing all popular brands of teriyaki sauce on the market, I found that none have the heavy ginger notes of the chain's version, so you'll want to make the sauce from scratch. Which is really no big deal, since it's an easy process and you'll end up with a Teriyaki sauce/marinade that's better than any store version, and you can use it in all sorts of recipes. When you buy the canned pineapple, go for the 20-ounce can or get two 8-ounces cans. You'll need that much since you'll use the pineapple chunks in both the sauce and on the tacos (and you'll even use some of the juice from the can in your Teriyaki sauce). When chopping the chunks, take the time to slice each chunk into quarters (lengthwise, with the grain) so you get thin pineapple pieces that are the exact size of the stuff they use in the restaurant. Or you can find smaller pineapple chunks in some stores (see Tidbits).

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

This recipe is available in

Get This

Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup canned pineapple chunks (chunks sliced into quarters)
  • 1/4 cup juice from can of pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 12 chicken tenderloins
  • 12 6-inch flour tortillas (soft taco size)
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped very thin or shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pineapple chunks, (chunks sliced into quarters)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (about 2 medium tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion (green part only)
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
    • Instructions

      1. Make the Teriyaki sauce by whisking cornstarch into the water in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes or until thicker. Let sauce cool before you use it for marinating.

      2. When the sauce is cool, measure out 1 cup of sauce and set it aside. Use the remaining sauce to pour over chicken tenders in a medium bowl. Cover chicken and let it marinate for at least 6 hours. Overnight is even better. 

      3. When chicken has marinated, preheat a large skillet over medium/low heat. Wipe the pan with a little oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade (and toss out the marinade) and saute chicken in the pan for 8 to 10 or until chicken is cooked through and browned on both sides. Slice each chicken filet into 3 or 4 pieces and spoon all the chicken into a medium bowl.

      4. Add 1 1/2 cups canned pineapple chunks, (sliced into quarters) into the same bowl as the chicken. Microwave the leftover 1 cup of Teriyaki sauce in the oven for 30 to 60 seconds or until it's hot. Pour the sauce over the sliced chicken and pineapple pieces.

      5. When you're ready to build the tacos, preheat another skillet over medium heat. Toss a tortilla into the pan for a minute, then flip it over and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of shredded cheese across the center of the tortilla. Let the tortilla sit in the pan for about a minute or so (until the cheese starts melting) then remove the tortilla and immediately spoon the equivalent of one chicken tender into the tortilla (3 or 4 chunks of chicken). Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of leftover Teriyaki sauce from the cooked chicken bowl over the chicken in each taco.

      6. Arrange about 1/3 cup shredded lettuce over the chicken in each taco. Follow that up with 1 to 2 tablespoons of pineapple chunks, 1 to 2 tablespoons diced tomato, and a couple pinches of chopped green onion. Repeat process for remaining tacos. The restaurant serves 3 tacos with each order.

      12 tacos (4 servings).

      Tidbits: If you can find them, Del Monte offers canned pineapple that's pre-cut into the perfect size for this recipe. And I love the name: They're called "Tidbits." 

Average rating:

Score: 5.00. Votes: 4
Rating of votes (4)
4 customers
0 customers
0 customers
0 customers
0 customers
Jun 26, 2013, 22:00

I always order these yummy tacos when I go to Island's. This recipe recreates it perfectly. Thanks!

Wendy Hampton
Sep 6, 2011, 22:00

I really liked the sauce and will be experimenting with it in other recipes. Thanks so much.

I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

What's Hot
Drop items here to shop
Product has been added to <a href="?target=cart">your cart</a>