Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

5 from 15 votes
11 Comments

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Introducing our favorite Hawaiian dish: Huli Huli chicken! This popular dish features chicken thighs marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and grilled to perfection.

grilled huli huli chicken with pineapple

We’ve tried just about every way to prepare chicken, but this Huli Huli Chicken recipe is the only one that’s ever left us craving more. The Huli Huli Sauce is so good, we spoon it over everything on our plates. We even put it on our rice and pineapple, and we’ve even drizzled some on our mac salad! Switch up plain, boring chicken nights with this recipe and your family will thank you!

Ingredients in Huli Huli Chicken

  • Chicken Thighs – Like Shoyu Chicken, you definitely want to go with chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for this recipe. They will just turn out better, I promise.
  • Huli Huli Sauce – The sauce is made with simple ingredients including fresh pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, garlic, and ginger. It is a delicious combination of flavors that create the perfect Hawaiian chicken glaze.
  • Green Onions – optional for garnish
huli huli chicken on a platter


Origin of Huli Huli Chicken

This is the best huli huli chicken recipe and it comes with a cool back story! Ernest Morgando, a naval intelligence officer in World War II, and Mike Asagi, a chicken farmer, founded the Pacific Poultry Company in Hawaii in the late fifties. The next year, the pair first barbecued chicken in a teriyaki-like sauce. It then became a popular dish at various school and business fundraisers and has since raised millions of dollars. You can now find the sauce in several stores, restaurants, road-side stands and drive-ins on the Hawaiian islands.

Where did Huli Huli Chicken get its Name?

“Huli” means to “turn” or “reverse” in Hawaiian, so “huli huli chicken” refers to the chicken being turned over in a rotisserie roaster. Since we don’t have a rotisserie roaster, we opt for the grilled version (which still applies in my opinion because the chicken is being turned over on the grill several times). Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken’s sweet and savory sauce is made from the marinade that mainly contains pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar. The result is a mouthwatering combination of flavors that’s hard to beat!

chicken being brushed with huli huli sauce

Method to Marinating

  1. Place chicken thighs in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag.
  2. Combine Huli Huli sauce ingredients and pour over chicken.
  3. Marinate at least 2 hours and up to 20 hours (no more than 20 because the sauce is so acidic it will break down the chicken)
  4. Grill over medium heat to an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Simmer the sauce in a pan while chicken is cooking.
  5. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with rice and/or your favorite Hawaiian side dishes.
chicken on the grill with pineapple

Tips for this Chicken Dish

  • Don’t throw out that marinade! Simmer the sauce on the stove top and make a delicious glaze to pour over the top or use to glaze the chicken on the grill. If you simmer the sauce in a big enough pot you can just throw the grilled chicken in while it is still simmering. This is something I learned in Hawaii and it makes the chicken SO GOOD.
  • Grill up the pineapple slices and serve along with the chicken on a charcoal or gas grill over medium-high heat. You won’t be sorry about adding grilled pineapple!
  • Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. This keeps your chicken nice and juicy. If you cut it open to check for pink, the juices will run out and your chicken will be dry.
  • If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can use a cast iron grill on the stovetop.
  • Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. Wrap it in foil after grilling and just let it sit. The chicken will relax and become more tender and the juices will stay put.
huli huli chicken with rice and pineapple

Five-Star Reviews for Huli Huli Chicken

Yum! This sauce is so delightfully tangy and the chicken turns out so delicious and moist!

Betsy

I love grilled pineapple! It goes perfectly with this chicken! So tasty!

Ashley

My whole family loves this yummy chicken! It has quickly become a favorite when we grill!

Wilhelmina

Frequently Asked Questions

What is huli huli sauce made of?

Huli huli marinade is a simple mixture of brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Tastes delicious on pork or chicken.

Is huli huli the same as teriyaki?

Although similar to the sweet and savory flavor of teriyaki sauce, huli huli sauce has its own unique flavor.

What should I do with leftovers?

Keep any leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Re-heat in an oven or air fryer. Try to avoid re-heating in the microwave.

Read Next: Easy BBQ and Grilling Recipes

More Hawaiian Dishes

Because this is a traditional Hawaiian dish, you can’t go wrong with plain, white rice, coconut rice, sticky rice (Calrose rice). You can also serve with pineapple slices. We use the juice from the pineapple slices in the recipe and then grill the pineapple up with the chicken (SO good). If that’s not quite enough to complete your meal, you can also try one of our delicious Hawaiian side dishes and desserts.

How to Make Huli Huli Chicken

A platter of huli huli chicken with grilled pineapple slices on the side

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

5 from 15 votes
Huli Huli Chicken is a popular Hawaiian dish consisting of chicken thighs marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and grilled to perfection.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 6 servings

Video

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place chicken thighs in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag.
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour sauce into the bag over the chicken. Press air out of the bag and seal.
  • Marinate at least 2 hours and up to 20 hours.
  • Drain marinade into a medium-sized sauce pan and remove chicken to grill. Simmer sauce over medium heat while chicken is being grilled (about 15 minutes). Stir often. When sauce has thickened a little bit, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Grill chicken for 5-7 minutes per side over medium heat.
  • When internal temperature reaches 165-degrees, remove from heat and cover with foil for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  • Place chicken in a large serving bowl and pour sauce over the chicken, toss to cover in sauce.
  • Serve with pineapple slices, rice and/or side dishes mentioned above.

Notes

Recipe Tips:

  • Don’t throw out that marinade! Simmer the sauce on the stove top and make a delicious glaze to pour over the top or use to glaze the chicken on the grill. If you simmer the sauce in a big enough pot you can just throw the grilled chicken in while it is still simmering. This is something I learned in Hawaii and it makes the chicken SO GOOD.
  • Grill up the pineapple slices and serve along with the chicken. You won’t be sorry.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. This keeps your chicken nice and juicy. If you cut it open to check for pink, the juices will run out and your chicken will be dry.
  • Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. Wrap it in foil after grilling and just let it sit. The chicken will relax and become more tender and the juices will stay put.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 264kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 24gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 1369mgPotassium: 466mgFiber: 1gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 130IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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5 from 15 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was looking to make some the traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad to go with Kalua pork and came across this recipe. I did this along with the pork and macaroni sald (and rice of course) and it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it. I would totally make this again, and again. I didn’t make any adjustments either, which to me is the sign of a great recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this chicken last night. They loved it!! Delicious!! I didn’t have chicken thighs or a grill; so I used chicken legs and baked them in the oven on 425° but still turned and basted them while cooking. They turned out great and the sauce was phenomenal. I paired it with the macaroni salad, also delicious. I also had mashed potatoes as a side since I have some that don’t really care for macaroni salad. So simple to add to any chicken dinner night. Thanks for this recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    sounds great I have had this in Hawaii where our kids live. How would I cook it if I don’t have a grill

  4. 5 stars
    I mix it and boil the sauce ingredients first. I pour in just enough to coat the chicken, rotate it several times while it marinates. I like to cook extra so we have leftovers mixed with pineapple, rice and snow peas, chop up the leftover chicken and mix in a bit of the sauce. My husband loves this. We also use the sauce for left over chicken on its own. It keeps for quite awhile in the fridge.

  5. 5 stars
    Looks great! Can’t wait to try it. One question…..should you be using the marinade after it’s had raw chicken in it? Or is it safe after you’ve boiled it?

    Thanks