Huli-huli chicken is a super delicious Hawaiian BBQ chicken recipe that is wonderful to enjoy when the days are warmer and we’re outside grilling allot. Huli-huli chicken is an easy recipe that reminds me of fabulous family vacations in one of my favorite parts of the world.
We’d often pick up some huli-huli chicken at road stands or local grocery stores and picnic at the beach. The name huli-huli chicken somehow makes me think of Hawaiian hula dancers cooking up chicken ha ha! The words huli-huli mean “turn turn” in the Hawaiian language. It refers to the method of cooking the chicken between two grills. The chicken is flipped over or turned.
Huli-huli chicken starts with an easy marinade. It contains a fusion of flavors that just say Hawaii. It reflects the fusion of cultures that make Hawaii so wonderful. It’s sweet, fruity, savory and can be a bit spicy too depending on your tastes. Serve it with pineapple rings and chopped scallions for a fresh burst of complimentary flavor. Great side dishes to go with huli-huli chicken include: a simple garden salad, cooked rice or grilled vegetables. It’s also delicious with a simple stir fry of fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, cabbage and onions.
I usually use chicken thighs for huli-huli chicken. However, you can also spatch-cock a whole chicken and slow cook it on the BBQ over indirect heat. Using a Weber charcoal grill will result in an amazing smokey flavor and tender meat. It’s an alternative method to using the propane grill but using the same great recipe.
Spatchcocking a chicken
This refers to splitting and flattening the chicken prior to cooking. Simply place a whole chicken breast side down on your butcher block. Cut the chicken in half up along both sides of the backbone of the chicken. It’s best to use kitchen shears for this task. Then flip the chicken over and press down on it. This opens it up and flattens it allowing for more surface area during roasting for a nice even cook and crispy skin.
Are you feeling a little bit like a taste of Hawaii? Then cook up some huli-huli chicken today. I think you’ll love this recipe. Let me know in the comments below if you gave it a try. I’d love to hear your feedback.
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Huli-huli BBQ chicken
Enjoy a little taste of Hawaii with huli-huli BBQ chicken. It’s sweet, fruity, savory and can be a bit spicy too depending on your tastes. Serve it with pineapple rings and chopped scallions for a fresh burst of complimentary flavor.
- 2 – 2.5 lbs chicken thighs
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or gluten free Tamari
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup sherry or mirin (rice wine)
- 1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 pinch red chili pepper flakes or Sriracha (to taste)
- 2 scallions, chopped for garnish
- pineapple rings for garnish
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and stir until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside 1/4 cup of this liquid (refrigerate it).
- Add the chicken to the bowl and coat it well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours (four hours or overnight). Turn the chicken a couple times during this time frame.
- Grill the chicken until it is browned and reaches an internal temperature of 160 F. Turn the chicken a couple times during grilling and baste it each turn with liquid from the 1/4 cup of marinade that was set aside. Move chicken pieces away from hot spots on the grill to avoid flare-ups.
- Garnish with the scallions and pineapple rings for serving.
Prep time above includes four hours marinating time.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave me a comment on this recipe’s blog page.
12 thoughts on “Huli-huli chicken”
This sounds so good and I can’t wait to make it. I don’t have a BBQ and I will bake in the oven. They should turn out, right? Love the marinate.
Hi Andy, Yes, you can bake. They just won’t have the extra smokiness you get from the BBQ. But they’ll still be tasty.
I did a chicken/pineapple dish the other night, but this looks a lot tastier than what I came up with!
Hi Crystal. Ahhh thank you! Chicken is so versatile. Goes great with these flavors.
This chicken is right up my alley! I love sweet savory and spicy together! I love your photos with the stones. It makes me feel like I’m on a beach eating this delicious chicken!
Thanks Beth! Mmmn, I think you’ll like the huli-huli chicken. Super tasty.
I love fruit with savoury dishes, the flavours of this all sound delicious together, wonderfully well balanced!
Thanks Brian, This dish is sweet, spicy and savory. It’s so good! Thanks for your comment.
That marinade sounds SO delicious! I’m a vegetarian and I would love to try it with some tofu! Pinning!
Hi Amanda. Thank you for your comment. Yes, it would probably be great on tofu! You certainly wouldn’t have to marinate it very long either. Thanks!
Very interesting recipe. I have never been to Hawaii, but now at least I can taste it