Recreating Houston’s Hawaiian Ribeye

I LOVE Houston’s Restaurant (some locations have been converted to the Hillstone brand). The food is always consistent and I know I won’t be disappointed with the experience. Besides being reliable, there’s also another reason I keep going back. It’s called the Hawaiian Ribeye. I love a simple good steak that is seasoned with nothing more than garlic salt and pepper. But the pineapple and soy sauce marinated Hawaiian ribeye, seared perfectly on the outside and so tender when you cut into it, makes my mouth water even when I’m full. Not sure how many ounces it is but I can never finish the whole thing. It makes a fantastic breakfast the next day when sliced and heated up on the skillet. The aroma fills the entire kitchen. After discovering Costco’s fine selection of prime, choice, and select grade ribeyes, I did a search for the recipe and picked the apple cider vinegar version that had the most positive user reviews. The recipe is easy enough; I already had everything except the apple cider vinegar. After heating up the ingredients in a sauce pan and then marinating the piece for 2 full days in the fridge, it was grilled up last night when 12 people came over for burgers and brats. The steak was gone in seconds. It was sooooo yummy and tasted very close to the real thing. The only changes I will make next time is to use a little less vinegar and more pineapple juice. Houston’s also grills theirs over hardwood. Now that this recipe has been tried and deemed true, I am definitely making this again! By the way, if you aren’t a fan of ribeyes, the Prime Rib French Dip Sandwich served with au jus is also fantastic. I love you Houston’s.

The Marinade (made some adjustments to the original recipe after the first trial)

  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 6 oz can of pineapple juice
  • 1 cup of soy sauce (*light or low sodium, see comments below)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 minced garlic cloves or 2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 2 tsp minced ginger or 1 tsp of ginger powder

*I’ve received quite a few comments from blog readers who said their marinade came out way too salty and ruined the steak. The kind of soy sauce I have at home is lighter in sodium so that may be the cause. To be on the safe side, I’d suggest using light or low sodium soy sauce. Some users also had success after reducing it to 2/3 cup of soy sauce. Salt can always be added later. Also, taste the marinade before adding it to the steak. It should taste slightly salty, slightly sweet.


Combine in a saucepan and heat up slightly to let the flavors come together. saucepan

Let the marinade cool completely. Pour into a quart sized zip lock bag with the ribeye and place in a container in the fridge. Marinate the ribeye for a minimum of 2 days.


grill for 2 min each side for medium rare:

grilled hawaiian ribeye


97 responses to “Recreating Houston’s Hawaiian Ribeye

  1. Pingback: » New Adventures in Grilling #1·

  2. Tried this recipe last week with two 1 1/2 inch ribeye steaks (from Sam’s Club) and it was awesome! No need to go to Houston’s anymore 🙂 I marinaded for approx. 2 1/2 days. This recipe yields plenty of marinade enough for 3 maybe 4 small steaks. Other recipes I’ve tried did not come close! This is the winner.

  3. Woops… Just realized it used 16 oz of pineapple juice instead of 1 6 oz can of pineapple juice. Steaks are marinating as I type… Hopefully this will result in a happy accident?

    • Actually you should be good to go! Recipe uses one 6 oz can, not 16 oz. Hope it turns out well for you!

  4. Is there anything that I can just buy on the shelf that could replace the minced ginger? I’m just not sure where I would find that or how to use it 😦

    • all grocery stores sell ginger root. Just ask someone in produce. Then just mince it up and you’re done!

  5. It’s a very well guarded secret. There’s no joke when it comes to the execution of this marinade. The strictest recipe that’s highly protected by this company generating thousands if not millions annually.

  6. Due to the fact “I” did sign a disclaimer about my association and affiliation with that company years ago I can only say that the recipe is almost correct. I’ll say this, use this recipe and you’ll come near to the product. Not trying to kids you folks, but it’s pretty “dern” close.

  7. What brand soy sauce would you recommend using? I actually tried this recipe using Kikoman and marinated for 2 days. The result was very very salty.

    • I recall the second trial coming out a bit salty as well. Perhaps switching to a lite soy sauce with less sodium.

  8. Just made this.. I was so excited when I came across the recipe because the Hawaiian Ribeye is my favorite. The result, however, was extremely disappointing! Disgustingly salty and not even close to the real thing.. After reading all the reviews, especially the one written by aeonputz, since he was an employee there, I’m wondering if I did something wrong?.. I did marinate it for 3 days, using 2 1-inch steaks.. was that too much marinade for only 2 steaks?
    The soy sauce was definitely overpowering. Should I use less next time? Maybe 1/2 cup?

    • Some soy sauces are a lot saltier than others. I’d suggest using a lite soy sauce or less of what you have. Salt can always be added at the end but sadly cannot be removed. Sorry about your bad experience.

    • Are you putting salt on the steaks first ? Maybe shouldn’t since the soy is salty. That’s all I can figure out.

      • Definitely do not add salt. Also, I cut down on the soy sauce by quite a bit and add crushed pineapple on top of the juice. You can also use low sodium soy sauce. I am a Houston’s junkie and this really does work.

  9. You’re close, but Houston’s uses chinese 5 spice and real pineapple along with the concentrate after the marinate cools. They marinate for 1 day but 2 days is better!

  10. this is the best experience, im from atl, and very blessed to find one in cali,

    medium plus and baked potatoe fully load is what we order

    • I’m from Atl too and let me tell u how much a fan I am of this ribeye 🙂 and how I would fly back to Atl just to go to houstons!!!

  11. I tried this on ribeye steaks and marinated for 3 days. Oh boy, they were delicious!!! My family loved it! Just mixed another batch to try with chicken steaks (I don’t know why they call it chicken steaks). Going to let it marinate for 2 days. Will keep you posted 🙂

  12. LOVED it. This is our go to recipe. I am making another batch right now. No need for me to spend and arm an leg at Houston’s anymore.

  13. Tried this recipe, improvised a little here and there……………………I thought I was at Houston’s back in the late 90’s!


  14. Pingback: houston’s restaurant recipes·

  15. Tried this last night on a couple of ribeyes. Only had one hour to marinade, but still flavorful!! Thank you very much for this.

  16. I’m going with this recipe for the superbowl tomorrow. I think though I will add the soy sauce a tablespoon at a time until I find a nice balance. Another thing is if you are going to use fresh ginger use fresh garlic also.

    Thank you for the wonderful post.

  17. on another page, i read that 3 cups of sugar were used, rather than brown sugar. the comments also mentioned that someone at houstons gave them that piece …so not sure which of these is correct. The 2 day waiting period is a killer when trying to decide heh

  18. Has this last night after marinading for 1 1/2 days and all I can say is WOW. So flavorful and delicous. I’m sure it helps that I had 2 dry-aged ribeyes from a high end market (but at 40% off :-)). I reduced the soy sauce to 3/4 cup and used LITE, which I’ m sure makes a difference opposed to the regular.
    Anyway, thanks for the recipe. It will be my “go to” for now on.

    • Thanks for sharing your revision! I’m glad you enjoyed it! It definitely is one of my favorite steak marinades 🙂

  19. I just cooked this and let me say wow! I use to go to Houston’s and another local restaurant called JMarks..
    I took the advise of light soy sauce and slowly add it. I used 16oz of pinneapple juice and it came out so good. Each bite had the juice in it. I got nice rib eye steaks from a local butcher. My steaks were over an inch thick and there was enough juice to cover the two. I did flip the steaks inside the marinade every 12 hours..
    I highly recommend this marinade!

  20. we were at J Alexanders for our anniversary (been going there for 15 years). Their steak maui is pretty much identical, except that instead of using vinegar, they use honey for their base. Everything else is the same. I am making the batch today using your recipe, substituting honey for the vinegar.

  21. okay I just made this with honey instead of cider vinegar. I doubled it but I only did 1 1/2 c lite soy sauce. It was still so salty…incredibly salty. I had to double the brown sugar, triple the honey & pineapple juice. Next time, I will cut the soy sauce down to probably 1/3 of a cup instead per batch. It’s now marinading. Can’t wait!

    • Let me know how it turned out! Hopefully not too salty. Thanks for the honey advice. I bet that makes it come out a little stickier sweet like the way I like ribs 🙂

  22. Hi, finally I found someone who loves Hawaiian steak at Houston. I think that dish is just great. I used to get it for my birthday. I live in London now and I don’t remember seeing apple cider vinegar in the stores, is there a substitute I can use if I can’t find it or a way to make it. thanks

  23. Thanks for some other informative site. Where else could I get that
    type of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I’m simply now working on, and I’ve been at the glance out for such info.

  24. Do you or anyone else possibly have the recipe to the greatest chicken tenders ever created…(Houston’s chicken tenders..Really need to know how to make that soft batter they make

    • I want the chicken tenders recipe also! It’s not even on their menu anymore but you can still order it. My friend’s husband was just saying the other day how Houston’s chicken tenders are his favorite.

  25. I just ate at Aubrey’s in Cleveland Tennessee where they had Hawaiian Ribeyes that tasted just like Houston’s. It prompted me to come home and search for Houston’s recipe and BAMMMM, here it is. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks Kris

  26. Helpful info. Fortunate me I found your website by accident,
    and I’m shocked why this accident did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  27. Pingback: Hawaiian BBQ Pork Spare Ribs in 40 minutes | Kris the Foodie·

  28. The Hawaiian rib eye marinade is off the scale!!! Thank you for posting this as our local Houston’s has closed. Much better than paying $30.00 for one of theirs.

  29. Thanks a million for the recipe!!! It is as good as it gets. I used La Choy Lite Soy Sauce (Kroger) and a 1:1 ratio for soy sauce and sugar. Also fresh, extracted pineapple juice. All my guests wanted the recipe!

  30. The Hawaiian Ribeye from Houston’s is my absolute favorite! I live about 45 minutes from New Orleans and would drive there just to get the Artichoke & Spinach Dip and the Hawaiian Steak. I found the recipe for the Dip and nailed it!!! I am so glad I found this recipe. I’m trying it tonight. Sure hope it comes out great! Thanks so much!

  31. I’m excited to try this this weekend (already have the ribeyes marinating in the fridge at this moment), but a question came to mind. The standard advice is to make sure the surface of the meat is relatively dry before putting on the grill to ensure proper crisping, but would that apply here? I’m afraid if I try to pat it dry I’d be losing a good deal of the marinade flavor which would be defeating the purpose. I’d like to hear how others have approached this step.

    • After 2-3 days of marinating, the flavor is absorbed into the steak. I’ve always let the steaks dry out a bit and come to room temp before throwing them on the grill for a nice char. Good luck! Hope it turns out well for you.

      • Just gave this recipe a try (although I did cut the soy sauce in half since so many people said it was overly salty) and it turned out DELICIOUS! I’m sure I’ll be returning to this one many more times in the future. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  32. I have tried this recipe three times now and it is really amazing. Like others, I cut the soy sauce to 2/3 cup. One time I only had a couple hours to marinate the steaks and they were still very flavorful. One time I also used canned crushed pineapple (store was out of the juice) and those steaks were probably my favorite.

    I may play with it a little bit and per some of the suggestions, try 5-spice powder as well as real pineapple juice, but really, this recipe is already fantastic and tastes like the real thing. Thank you so much!

      • Vanessa, just a baby can, Dole makes them in 6 oz. I would recommend a combo of juice + 1 can crushed pineapple. It really balances out the soy sauce, which is too strong otherwise.

  33. Its Sunday and I’ve got the steaks marinating until Tuesday after work. Was wondering if these steaks could be made on my George Foreman grill instead of my outdoor grill? There is a chsnce of rain Tuesday and I need a plan b in case my outdoor grill is not an option.

    • Hi Mary, I think the foreman grill will work just fine if it rains. I think another reader baked his meat in the oven and it ended up flavorful. Recipe is mainly for the marinade. Feel free to use whatever cooking method you like.

  34. You don’t have to grill. Look up Alton Brown’s Pan Seared Ribeye Steak to do oven baked technique.

  35. I have made these several times and the steaks always come out extremely flavorful. Sometimes I only have a few hours to marinade. In those cases, I use a fork to poke holes into the steaks. This helps the meat absorb the marinade faster. Thanks so much for this great recipe!

    • I love getting these types of tips! That’s very smart when you’re marinating time is short. Thanks again.

  36. Tried this tonight and it was good, but not close to the one I tried at Hillstone steakhouse (similar to Houstons). I also used 3/4 Cup of Light Soy Sauce and marinaded for 1 1/2 Days and the flavor was more like Teryaki (which was still good). Think I’ll need to add more pineapple and let it marinade for at least 2 days (per the recipe) for the flavor to soak all the way through the meat.

  37. Must say this recipe is exactly like Houston’s. Almost perfect…But will add these tips:
    1)Marinate for 2 hours only. Didn’t need more than that.
    2)Cook at about an ‘8’ temperature in a non-stick pan. Do not use any vegetable oil(I tried this- a bubbling disaster for some reason).
    3)BUT, take 1 tablespoon of the marinade and put it on top of the steak as side 1 cooks- marinade will run off and sear the bottom nicely. Then, after 3 minutes, flip it over and put another 1 tablespoon of the marinate on top of it, that will also run off and sear the bottom again…let it cook for 3 minutes also…

    Remove steak, set aside for 3-5 minutes as it finishes cooking. Serve with very thick blue cheese dressing(I take Trader Joe’s Blue cheese dressing and add and entire container of TJ’s blue cheese to it- it’s not really dressing anymore, more like a mound of blue cheese). YUM.

  38. Aloha marinade sounds good , for those that it is too salty perhaps not only low sodium shoyu but much less marinating time would help, good luck 🙂

  39. Does Anyone know how to begin to replicate their Chicken Tenders? I was born and lived in KC for 30 Yrs there isnt’ anywhere in Chicago that comes close to Houstons Chicken tenders..

  40. I merrinatec my steaks for 20 mins in my vaccum tumbler and they came off the grill very tender. Will do this again.

  41. I could not wait the two days!!!! After reading all of the reviews I could only let it marinate for 6 hours! Lol! It was amazing! I am no chef and I’m surprised I got it right on the first try! I did 1/2 cup of soy and I added a little honey only because I love a sweet taste! I can not thank you enough for the recipe!

  42. I’m trying the recepie now, just taught it was too much for just one steak.
    Can I reduce the quantities or use for two Steaks?
    I end up throwing most of the sauce away in the end.

  43. I have used your marinade recipe numerous times and just love it. I also use this as a chicken marinade. It is so easy to do, with remarkable results. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe!

  44. Thank you for the recipe. I tried another recipe from one of the recipe knock-off sites back in like 2000, and I remember it turning out pretty good. I haven’t cooked in years, and I was at the supermarket the other day when I saw ribeye on sale for 3.99/lb. i bought a couple packages and had no idea what I was going to do with them (I’m not much of a cook, LOL). After a day or two I remembered the Houstons steak I loved so much and typed it into my browser. You know a good recipe when there’s loads of knock-offs in a simple search of the item! I picked yours because you seemed to have tested other recipes, so I finally bought the ingredients and my marinade is cooling as I type. I’m going to marinate 2 steaks and a chicken breast.

    It occured to me while heating the marinade that I probably really love the Houstons steak because it is so much like Korean Kalbi. Korean kalbi marinade is basically garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sometimes scallions and sesame oil, but there’s always a good bit of sweetness of some sort (the recipes vary, calling for everything from brown sugar to Karo’s to Coke or 7 up!). I think Houstons modified a kalbi recipe to their liking, then subbed pineapple for the sweetness and–ba-da-bing! it’s Hawaiian! There are many types of Asians in Hawaii, and the food culture does meld a bit, but yeah… its roots seem evident to me.

    BTW, do you happen to know if it’s ok to freeze the meat after marinating, or does it ruin it? I’m thinking I can make and marinate a whole bunch at a time and take them out of the freezer as needed. Thoughts?

    Thanks so much for your effort and input to hone this recipe, Kris and all the commenters!

    • Thanks for your feedback! I would be a little hesitant marinating the meat for longer than a couple days in the acid/citrus marinade or freezing it. I read that excess acidity will have the opposite effect of tenderizing and turn the meat tough. My Korean kalbi marinade calls for puréed kiwi which helps to break down tough meats. One time I left it in too long and the meat texture didn’t seem quite right. I’m guessing it’s because of the kiwi? Only a guess here as I’ve never frozen the ribeye in marinade before. If you do, I’d love to hear back from you on whether or not it worked!

      • hi Kris, here’s my update…

        first batch of marinade was AWESOME. had hawaiian steak with baked potato & all the fixins, tossed salad, sweet corn on the cob and sourdough garlic bread… WAS AWESOME!!

        i used 3/4 c of lite soy sauce to be cautious, but i think 1 c is fine, too.

        i did add a splash of sesame oil at aeonputz’ behest for just for kicks (love it)

        i tried different marinating durations, it comes out great from 1 day to 3. really can’t go wrong!

        i found out you can freeze steaks at any point in the marinating process, like you could put the marinade in the bag with the steak and throw it in the freezer right away, or have a little marinating time before and after freezing, up to you.

        apparently, marinade is only on the job when it’s in liquid form. although i have found that this marinade does not freeze rock-hard (remains very slightly malleable–maybe it’s the vinegar? or the oil i used?) but since the steak freezes rock-hard, i’m guessing it’s all good.

        cooling another batch of marinade right now and getting hungry. i could eat hawaiian steak any time, day or night, it’s so delicious.

        thanks again!

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