Huli Huli Chicken

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Transport yourself to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands with this recipe for Huli Huli Chicken. Huli Huli, which translates to “turn turn” in Hawaiian, refers to the way the chicken is cooked. Basically, you flip it a bunch to get every side perfectly caramelized and bursting with flavor. Fire it up for a backyard bash, throw it together for a casual weeknight dinner, or impress your friends with a Hawaiian-themed potluck dish.

Why You’ll Love Huli Huli Chicken

  • Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy: This recipe is perfect for beginner cooks or busy weeknights because it requires minimal prep work.
  • Flavortown, USA: Get ready for a flavor explosion with the sweet, savory, and slightly spicy marinade.
  • Grill Master Status: There’s something awesome about cooking over an open flame, and this chicken is no exception!
  • Mealtime Made Easy: Huli Huli Chicken is super versatile and can be served with a bunch of different sides, making it a great option for any occasion.
  • Aloha Vibes: Bring the taste of Hawaii right to your dinner table with this flavorful dish.

Ingredients Needed To Make Huli Huli Chicken

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (bone-in thighs work too, just cook them a little longer)
  • Pineapple juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Korean chili paste (gochujang – this might sound fancy, but you can find it at most grocery stores!)
  • Brown sugar
  • Ginger paste or ground ginger
  • Minced garlic
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine – you can sub rice vinegar in a pinch)
  • Rice vinegar (or mirin, see above!)
  • Grilled pineapple (for serving)
  • Green onions (for serving)
  • Cooked rice (for serving)

How To Make Huli Huli Chicken

  1. Grab your biggest bowl and whisk together all the ingredients (except the chicken, grilled pineapple, green onions, and cooked rice) to create your marinade. Make sure to save about half a cup of the marinade for later.
  2. Add the chicken thighs to the marinade, making sure they’re totally coated in that delicious goodness. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and shove it in the fridge for at least 24 hours, but ideally 48 hours. The longer the chicken chills in the marinade, the more flavorful it will be!
  1. Get your grill fired up to medium-high heat, aiming for around 400-450°F. Brush the grates with some oil to prevent any sticky situations – nobody wants a chicken stuck to their grill!
  2. Take out your marinated chicken and give it a good shake to get rid of any excess marinade. Place the chicken thighs on the preheated grill and cook for 4-6 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are. You’re looking for them to be about halfway cooked through at this point.
  3. Remember that marinade you set aside earlier? This is its big moment! While the chicken is grilling, use a brush to baste it with the reserved marinade. This will add extra flavor and keep the chicken nice and moist.
  4. Cook the chicken for an additional 3-5 minutes per side, or until the inside reaches 165°F (75°C) when measured with a meat thermometer. Don’t skip this step! It’s important to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through for safety reasons.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a platter and let it rest for a few minutesbefore slicing and serving. This lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat, making it even more flavorful and tender. Trust us, that resting time is worth it! 
  6. Pile that delicious Huli Huli chicken on a plate with some fluffy cooked rice, sliced grilled pineapple (because what’s Hawaiian food without pineapple?), and a sprinkle of chopped green onions for some freshness. Boom! You’ve got yourself a backyard Hawaiian getaway on a plate.

Variations & Substitutions

  • Veggie Extravaganza: Throw some sliced bell peppers and onions onto the grill alongside the chicken for a colorful and flavorful side dish.
  • Citrus Twist: Substitute orange juice for the pineapple juice in the marinade for a slightly different citrus flavor.
  • Spice It Up: Want a bit more heat? Increase the amount of Korean chili paste in the marinade, or add a dash of your favorite hot sauce.
  • Grains for Gains: Serve your Huli Huli Chicken with quinoa or couscous instead of rice for a healthier option.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs?

You can definitely use chicken breasts if that’s what you have on hand. However, chicken thighs tend to be juicier and more flavorful, especially when grilled. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate Huli Huli Chicken experience, thighs are the way to go!

Can I marinate the chicken for less than 24 hours?

Sure, you can marinate the chicken for as little as 2 hours if you’re short on time. But the longer you marinate it, the more the flavors will develop and soak into the chicken. So, if you can swing it, aim for at least 24 hours for the most flavorful results.

How do I store and reheat leftover huli huli chicken?

While this Huli Huli Chicken is best enjoyed fresh off the grill, you can store leftovers for future meals. Let the chicken cool completely before storing to prevent bacteria growth. Once cool, transfer leftover chicken to an airtight container to prevent drying out or absorbing fridge smells. Leftover Huli Huli Chicken will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to reheat, you can either use the microwave on medium power for individual portions, or heat the chicken in a skillet over medium-low heat with a splash of chicken broth or pineapple juice for a more even and flavorful reheat. No matter which method you choose, be sure to reheat the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C) for safety.

Huli Huli Chicken

I love all the flavors this chicken brings! Its sweet, spicy and ridiculously good!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Keyword: huli huli chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl
  • grill
  • Brush for oiling grill grates
  • Tongs
  • Meat thermometer
  • Serving platter

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp Korean chili paste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste or ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • cup soy sauce
  • cup ketchup
  • cup mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Grilled pineapple green onions, and cooked rice for serving

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the chicken. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade for basting while grilling.
  • Add the chicken thighs to the marinade, ensuring they are fully coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 24-48 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (about 400-450°F). Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Grill the chicken thighs for 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, or until they are almost halfway cooked through.
  • Brush the reserved marinade onto the chicken while grilling to add extra flavor.
  • Continue grilling the chicken for an additional 3-5 minutes on each side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C) when tested with a meat thermometer.
  • Once cooked through, transfer the chicken thighs to a serving platter and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve the Huli Huli chicken with grilled pineapple, sliced green onions, and cooked rice.
  • Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Variations:
  • Add sliced bell peppers and onions to the grill alongside the chicken for a colorful and flavorful side dish.
  • Substitute pineapple juice with orange juice for a slightly different citrus flavor.
  • For a spicier kick, increase the amount of Korean chili paste or add a dash of hot sauce to the marinade.
  • Serve the Huli Huli chicken with quinoa or couscous instead of rice for a healthier option.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g
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