Huli Huli Chicken
Sweet and savory, with a sticky sauce, and instructions for grilling or baking in the oven, this Huli Huli Chicken is sure to be a fast family favorite.
The prefect chicken dish, bursting with island flavor, from a marinade that is simple, but effective. With a little bit of sweet and little bit of savory taste, this teriyaki inspired Hawaiian, classic is a great family friendly dish for any night of the week.
Take your basic teriyaki chicken and kick it up a notch with chicken marinaded in a simple yet delicious sauce made up of ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and spices. This Huli chicken is perfection in a dish.
I like to make a double batch of Huli Huli Chicken so I can have some on one day and have delicious leftovers awaiting me later in the week. Two nights of dinner prep ready to go is a fabulous thing. Or I freeze one set, and pull it out to thaw and grill up to two months later.
What Is Huli Huli Chicken? Where Did It Come From?
Huli Huli Chicken is like the best friend you never had and never knew you needed until one day you are lucky enough to have it enter into your life. And this is that day my friends.
It’s a chicken dish similar to teriyaki chicken, but it is traditionally grilled over an open flame, and has a slightly different flavor profile. And oh that delicious flavor, it is just magical. A little sweet, a little savory, with just the right stickiness to the sauce.
This recipe goes way beyond a teriyaki dish.
Huli Huli sauce is what makes this magic happen. It consists of a base of soy sauce and brown sugar. Then there are added ingredients like ginger that take it from good to great.
This is the best recipe ever because it takes the base flavors, and amps them up with ginger, garlic, and ketchup for a rich tanginess, that has flavor on so many levels. So so good!
Where Did It Come From?
Huli Huli Chicken originated in Hawaii and we have Ernest Morgado to thank for this treasure.
He cooked this marinaded chicken over a flame, securing the chicken between two grates. He then would call out to his assistant to turn the chicken over. He would shout the word huli which means turn over, hence the name Huli Huli Chicken.
Although Huli Huli Chicken is typically grilled you can cook it in other ways too. And to keep things simple, and make your life easy peasy, I am sharing instructions for flame grilled (like the traditional), but also an oven roasted option.
In a Nutshell: Huli Huli Chicken-
- Coated in a teriyaki like sauce called Huli Huli that doubles as a marinade.
- Originated in Hawaii from Ernest Morgado.
- Traditionally cooked over a flame. Chicken is secured in between 2 grates. But grilling like you would any marinated chicken works well.
- Huli means turn over and Ernest would yell huli so his assistant would know to turn it over.
No matter how you decide to cook this dish, you definitely need some Huli Huli Chicken in your life.
What Do You Need To Make Huli Huli Chicken?
Everyone has their own little twist or variation. Some add pineapple juice, other recipes may differ in the amount of sugar used, and I personally like the addition of ketchup for zing, along with some other additional ingredients.
What You Need To Make This Huli Huli Chicken Recipe:
- Brown Sugar
- Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
- Chicken Broth
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Minced Fresh Ginger
- Minced Garlic
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
A lot of these food items you may already have at home. No crazy or out there ingredients thank you very much.
Steps For Making Huli Huli Chicken:
Huli Huli Chicken can be baked, cooked over the stove top, or grilled. I personally prefer to grill it like the original dish was prepared. However, in a pinch you can use other cooking methods as well.
- Combine Ingredients for Marinade: In a bowl combine all ingredients, except for the chicken of course.
- Reserve Sauce: Reserve 1.5 cups for basting. Cover and refrigerate.
- Marinate Chicken: Place chicken in large resealable plastic bags with the rest of the marinade. Seal bags and turn to coat. Refrigerate for about 8 hours or overnight.
- Grill Chicken: Discard marinade from chicken. Preheat grill and grill chicken covered on oiled rack for 6-8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.
- Baste with Reserved Marinade: When chicken is nearly done, baste with reserved marinade every 5 minutes.
- Serve: Serve immediately. Chicken goes great with rice. This dish is super easy. However this isn’t a dish you make in the spur of the moment, without any planning 30 minutes before dinner time. You need the marinade time.
- The actual prep is really quick, but you need to allow time the chicken to marinate. Do not rob the chicken of soaking in all that delicious Huli flavor.
Note: For more specific instructions, see recipe at the end.
Cooking Options: Grill, Bake, Stove Top.
This recipe can be prepared by grilling, baking or cooking over the stove. However, it is intended specifically for grilling. Follow the recipe instructions at the end for more specific instructions on grilling.
- Grill for 6-8 minutes on each side on medium high heat. Use an internal thermometer to make sure it is cooked through.
- Goal for all methods is to reach an internal temp of 165.
- After chicken is done marinating for 8 hours, pat dry with paper towels. Sear chicken first in a hot pan with a little bit of oil on the stove.
- Plan to cook for about 2-3 minutes so golden crust can form.
- Transfer to a baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes.
- Reserve 1.5 cups of sauce for later.
- Marinate chicken for 8 hours. Get rid of excess drippings.
- Then add oil to the skillet and toss chicken in oil.
- Cook chicken for 3 minutes on each side, searing the exterior, then cook until nearly cooked through.
- Remove chicken.
- Put reserved sauce and desired veggies in pan and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken sauce. Return chicken to coat for about 1 minute. And cook until cooked through. (Internal temp of 165 degrees)
Note: No matter what cooking method chosen, make sure chicken is cooked through. Use cooking thermometer to check that internal temp reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can You Make Ahead?
You absolutely can make Huli Huli Chicken ahead of time. Yay!
Make Ahead Options:
- Make ahead and store in air tight container. Reheat in the microwave. Chicken should stay good for about 3 days. Fresh is of course always best.
- Marinate chicken for up to 24 hour in advance. Then prepare to cook.
- Freeze for later. Will last for up to 2 months. Simply place in marinade, and freeze in marinade, then pull out to defrost about 12-24 hours before you are ready to cook it.
How To Freeze:
This Huli Huli Chicken recipe makes for a fabulous freezer meal. It’s super easy.
- Freeze uncooked chicken covered in marinade for up to 2 months in a gallon sized freezer bag.
- When ready to use thaw the freezer bag overnight in the fridge.
Variations or Substitutions:
I really like this Huli Huli Chicken, but that does not mean there is any harm everyone once in awhile to change things up a bit.
Feel free to add or make the necessary substitutions to fit your needs. Feel free to sub out the chicken thighs for another protein if your heart so desires. Even though the recipe has chicken in the title, it’s okay. I promise.
Variations and Substitutions:
- Chicken Breast—Chicken thighs are more tender, but you could use chicken breast
- Add veggies— peppers, onions etc. and grill or stir fry them
- Add Pineapple.
So many options and choices to make, but first the most important choice is to get going and make this dish. Trust me you will be so happy that you did.
Serve Huli Huli Chicken with rice, and grilled veggies of choice.
Huli Huli Chicken Is A Must Try:
You will love this Huli Huli Chicken. Delicious, tender pieces of chicken marinated in a flavorful, savory sweet Huli sauce. It’s a must have.
Bring some of the island life right into your kitchen with this Huli Huli Chicken recipe.
Other Great Chicken Recipes:
Huli Huli Chicken
- 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup soy sauce reduced-sodium
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger minced
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- In a small bowl, combine sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, chicken broth, cider vinegar, fresh ginger, and minced garlic.
- Reserve 1 and 1/2 cups for basting in an airtight container, or covered bowl and refrigerate.
- Place chicken in a zip top bag, and cover with remaining marinade; seal bag and turn over several times to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- After marinating is finished, drain and discard marinade from chicken.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. (About 350 degrees F)
- Grill chicken on an oiled grill rack for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink and juices run clear, with an internal temperature of 165 degrees F
- While chicken cooks, baste with reserved marinade every minute for the last 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- After marinating, pat chicken dry with paper towels.
- Sear chicken in a hot pan with a little bit of oil, cooking 2-3 minutes until golden crust forms, then transfer to a baking dish.
- Bake chicken at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Add reserved marinade at the end, brushing it over the chicken, and return to oven and broil for 2-3 minutes, watching closely, to caramelize the sauce.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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