Huli huli chicken on the grill is about to become one of your go-to summer grilling recipes! The marinade is so addicting, we have made it three times this week!
What Is Huli Huli Chicken?
When I was growing up, we had a family that moved in next door to us who was from Hawaii. I think they had actually been living in California before moving to Washington, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that even when it was pouring down rain the dad was ALWAYS in shorts or a sarong. To a young girl, I thought it was the craziest thing that he wasn’t freezing cold!
But none of that even mattered once summer rolled around. They’d roast a pig right there in the backyard and grill up huli huli chicken!
Huli Huli chicken originated in the mid-1950s in Hawaii when Ernest Mogado and Mike Asagi began grilling chicken in a sauce similar to teriyaki sauce. They used a makeshift spit and yelled “huli” which means “turn” every time they flipped the chicken and then basted it in the huli huli sauce.
My neighbor’s Hawaiian huli huli chicken smelled so good and tasted even better! So get comfy in some shorts or a sarong and let’s get grilling! It will transport you straight to the beach in Hawaii! Oh and prep a pineapple for some brown sugar grilled pineapple too!
What’s in Huli Huli Chicken?
The star of this recipe is the huli huli chicken marinade. It is packed full of flavor and so easy to make. Here are the simple ingredients you need:
- Brown sugar
- Soy sauce
- Fresh ginger
- Garlic (crushed)
- Pineapple juice
- Rice vinegar
- Ground mustard
And, of course, you’ll need boneless skinless chicken breasts to round off this recipe!
Can I Use Chicken Thighs Instead?
The answer is yes! We love thighs and the flavor they have, but chicken breasts are equally as good! And they are a little healthier too. Make a few of each and see which on you prefer!
How to Make Huli Huli Chicken
- Add all of the huli huli sauce ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and cook it for 3 minutes.
- Allow it to cool, then add 3/4 of it into a Ziploc bag to marinate the chicken for about 30 minutes. Save the other 1/4 of the sauce for basting the grilled chicken.
- Heat your grilled to medium-high heat.
- After the chicken has marinated, add the chicken to the grill. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes.
- Huli (flip) that chicken and let it cook for another 6-7 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
read more: Looking for chicken recipes to make this summer? Try our Pellet Grill Chicken Breast recipe next!
What to Serve With Huli Huli Chicken
I’ve already mentioned the grilled pineapple, but we also love this huli huli chicken with our coconut rice! So good! A few other option for sides are macaroni and cheese, grilled lemon asparagus, or lemon mandarin orange jello salad.
Can Huli Huli Chicken Be Baked?
Absolutely! Here are the steps to making baked huli huli chicken:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Sear the chicken on the stove top over medium high heat with a little bit of olive oil. Sear each piece of chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil and place the seared chicken in the dish.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Brush the chicken with your reserved huli huli sauce and then bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.
How Long Does Huli Huli Chicken Last?
Huli huli chicken will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store it in an airtight container.
You can also freeze it. Place the raw chicken and huli huli sauce in a Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer. It will keep for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to cook it, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then grill it or bake it as stated in this post.
How to Reheat Huli Huli Chicken
Huli huli chicken can be reheated in the microwave or in the oven. If you use the microwave, be sure to not overheat it. To reheat in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit and warm up the chicken for 25-30 minutes. We always like to have extra sauce on hand when we reheat!
Is Huli Huli Chicken Gluten-Free?
Soy sauce is not gluten free, so if you want this huli huli chicken to be gluten free, be sure to use gluten free soy sauce. All the other ingredients, you have a GF green light!
Tips for Making Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken
Note that you can marinate the chicken in the huli huli sauce for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Don’t marinate for more than 2 hours, otherwise you’ll wind up with tough, chewy grilled chicken.
REMEMBER! Letting chicken rest after grilling is KEY to moist chicken.
You can add more sauce to the chicken before serving, or allow people to add the sauce on their own. For me, the more sauce the better!! And we love to top it with some chopped green onions.
You are going to want to make this huli huli chicken over and over again! It is full of flavor and so quick and easy! Huli huli!!
More GRILLED CHICKEN RECIPES:
- Honey Lemon Basil Grilled Chicken
- Mexican Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa
- Asian Ginger Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Chicken with Oregano
- Sticky Asian Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Orange Tarragon Chicken
- Balsamic Glazed Grilled Chicken
- Sticky Honey Lime Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Hawaiian Chicken
- Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Check out all of our grilling recipes!
Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
- 1/3 Cup ketchup
- 1/2 Cup brown sugar
- 1/2 Cup soy sauce
- 1 inch ginger root, fresh
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 Cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 Teaspoon ground mustard
- 6 chicken breasts , boneless skinless, (or thighs)
- green onions, , chopped for garnish
- pineapple, grilled, for serving (optional)
- Crush the garlic with a meat mallet.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add all of the ingredients except the chicken.
- Cook for 3 minutes and then set aside in a bowl to cool.
- Add 3/4 of the sauce to a ziploc bag and add the chicken. Place in the fridge for up to 30 minutes.
- Heat a grill over medium high heat and add the chicken. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes.
- Flip the chicken and cook an additional 6-7 minutes or until cooked through.
- Serve with additional sauce and grilled pineapple.
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I just found your blog and I’m really impressed so far! I was able to sign up for the grilling recipes, but I am unable to sign up for the newsletters.
I’m making the Hulu chicken this weekend. Looks good!
Yay! How was the huli huli chicken? If you signed up for the grilling recipes, you should start getting the newsletters too! Thank you for the support!
I am just preparing Huli Huli Chicken for my family tonight. We don’t want to grill outside because of the cold but I am wondering if there is any reason why we couldn’t broil them in the oven instead of bake them? It seems like it would be more like grilling them would be.
Hey Sandra! I’m sorry I’m probably getting back to you too late, but I think that broiling will cook the outside too quickly without cooking it all the way through. You could definitely bake it until it’s cooked through and then broil for a minute or two to get that char on the outside.
Is there a reason to only let the chicken marinate in the fridge “up to 30 minutes”? I was wanting to prep this ahead of time to marinate for several hours but wasn’t sure if there was a reason to not marinate it that long. Thanks!
oh, I just saw the answer in your Tips section. never mind! 🙂
Haha well I just saw this too! 🙂
Yes you can go longer than 30 minutes. However, the longer it goes the tougher the meat gets. So we like to stop around 30 minutes because it starts to toughen up after that!
Do you slice or chop the ginger root?
We grate it on our little microplane but doing a really fine mince on it works great too!
Your recipe doesn’t say HOW MUCH grated ginger….if it is a 1 inch piece, that’s a LOT of grated ginger! Would like to attempt recipe, it sounds delish!
It ends up being about a teaspoon of grated ginger. It’s my favorite part of the marinade!
Oh that looks so good !!! Can’t wait to try it next week !
Do you think I can pressure cook the chicken in the marinade?
Hi Mae! Yes absolutely!
You know that I am big fan of your blog. Actually your recipe is awesome.
Thank you so much Milly!