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Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

Bring on barbecue season with Hawaiian grilled huli huli chicken! A simple chicken recipe with a delicious pineapple-soy glaze.

Huli Huli chicken with pineapple and rice.
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Hawaiian Chicken Recipe

Get ready to enjoy a classic Hawaiian huli huli chicken recipe that’s sure to be a hit at any barbecue or family dinner. Marinated in a sweet and tangy sauce, and then grilled to perfection, this recipe offers a tropical twist to grilled chicken!

Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or new to grilling recipes, this grilled chicken recipe is straightforward, making it an ideal choice for a hassle-free dinner brimming with flavor.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Unforgettable flavor: Combining soy sauce, pineapple juice, and a hint of ginger, this recipe for huli huli chicken delivers a taste that’s both sweet and savory.
  • Versatile & easy: This easy grilled huli huli chicken recipe is ideal for grilling outdoors or indoors on a grill pan as an impressive main dish with rice!

Huli Huli Chicken Recipe Ingredients

This is a great recipe to make on the fly! All you need is your meat and a handful of kitchen staples and you’re good to go!

Huli Huli chicken ingredients on the counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Chicken thighs or breasts: Use boneless skinless chicken thighs for more juiciness or chicken breasts for a leaner option.

For the Huli Huli Sauce

  • Canned pineapple juice: The secret to that tropical sweetness. Use canned pineapple as the enzymes in fresh pineapple juice can overly tenderize the meat.
  • Brown sugar and ketchup: These add depth and tanginess to the sauce, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
  • Low sodium soy sauce: Keeps the dish balanced without being too salty.
  • Fresh ginger & minced garlic: Key for authentic huli huli flavor.
  • Rice vinegar and sesame oil: For that touch of acidity and a hint of nuttiness.

Substitutions and Variations

It’s easy to make a few tweaks here and there to customize this recipe to your tastes!

  • Different cut of chicken: You can use chicken breasts, grilled chicken thighs, or even drumsticks based on your preference. 
  • Sauce tweaks: Adjust the sweetness or saltiness by varying the amount of brown sugar and soy sauce.
  • Herb infusions: Fresh cilantro or Thai basil can add a refreshing herbal note to the dish. Mix into the sauce or sprinkle on top before serving.
  • Chicken bowls: Serve in a bowl of coconut rice, topped with grilled pineapple, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a garnish of sliced green onions, and an extra drizzle of Huli Huli sauce for a complete meal in a bowl.

How to Make Huli Huli Chicken

Mix your sauce ingredients in a small bowl then pour sauce over chicken placed in a ziplock bag. Marinate chicken for 2 hours or overnight.

Chicken with marinade in a ziplock bag.

Achieve that perfect char and smokiness by grilling the marinated chicken to perfection. This will take about 6 – 7 minutes per side. Do NOT discard reserved marinade, use it to baste the chicken the last few minutes of grilling.

Grilling huli huli chicken on the grill.

Wrap Hawaiian huli huli chicken in foil then allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Huli Huli chicken with pineapple on a plate.

Recipe Tips

  • Marinating Time. For the best flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight.
  • Grilling. Ensure your grill is properly heated and cleaned for the best grill marks and to prevent sticking.
  • Bone-in chicken. The only adjustment you’ll need to make is to the cooking time. It’ll take a bit longer, but as long as it reads 165°F on a thermometer, it’s ready!
  • Extra sauce. Take the leftover marinade and simmer it on the stove to thicken. Drizzle it over top the chicken for added flavor.

Huli-Huli Chicken Serving Suggestions

Complement this dish with sides like Hawaiian fruit salad, pineapple fried rice, macaroni salad, potato salad, or coconut rice.

Don’t forget the grilled vegetables and Hawaiian rolls for a well-rounded meal.

Huli Huli chicken with pineapple.

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Huli Huli chicken with pineapple.

Huli Huli Chicken Recipe

5 from 1 vote
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Bring on barbecue season with Hawaiian grilled huli huli chicken! A simple chicken recipe with a delicious pineapple-soy glaze.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs , or breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Huli Huli Sauce

  • ¾ cup canned pineapple juice , do not use fresh
  • cup brown sugar
  • cup ketchup
  • cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger , can use the cubes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For serving: rice, grilled pineapple, green onions

    Instructions

    • Marinade: In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce for basting. Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag and pour the remaining sauce over it.
    • Refrigerate: Seal the bag and place in a bowl or pan. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
    • Preheat: When you're ready to cook, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from the fridge and set on a plate 15 minutes, prior to grilling. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Grill: Grill the chicken for about 6-7 minutes per side, or until charred and cooked to 165°F. During the last few minutes of grilling, baste the chicken with the reserved sauce.
    • Serve: Wrap the chicken with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve while warm with rice and pineapple.

    Notes

    Sauce: With the extra sauce you can simmer it down on the stove top 
    Course: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Hawaiian
    Diet: Gluten Free

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

    FAQs

    Where did huli-huli chicken get its name?

    It’s a traditional dish on the island of Hawaii, named “huli” for the turning of the chicken on the grill.

    Can I bake it instead?

    Yes, baking it in the oven is an excellent alternative if grilling isn’t an option. Bake the chicken at 375°F for 30-35 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

    Make sure you baste it every few minutes to keep the meat juicy and tender.

    Can I make the sauce in advance?

    Definitely! The huli huli sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. This can help save time on the day you plan to grill.

    How can I store Hawaiian huli huli chicken?

    Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, making it a fantastic option for meal prep. 

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