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Huli Huli Chicken

HAWAII not in the cards this summer? Bring a taste of Hawaii straight to your home with this recipe that will become your go-to for any cook out or to just liven up the work week.

What is Huli Huli Chicken?

Authentic huli huli chicken is usually made with a whole chicken or larger chicken portions and is cooked on a grill filled with mesquite wood, and it is cooked on splits.

It’s rotated while cooking and basted in a sweet, teriyaki-like, huli huli sauce. It was first created over 70 years ago and has been a popular Hawaiian favorite ever since! Did you know the word “huli” means “turn” in Hawaiian?


1/3 cup ketchup (preferably use one without corn syrup

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (or use a half brown sugar, half honey blend)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar (you can sub with apple cider vinegar)

1 Tbsp sriracha (optional)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp sesame oil, or more to taste (try Toasted Sesame from Abingdon Olive Oil Company)

1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat (about 9 pieces)

Vegetable oil (or olive oil) for brushing grill grates

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving: Calories 243, Calories from Fat 63, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 144mg, Sodium 426mg, Potassium 441mg, Carbohydrates 8g, Fiber 1g, Sugar 5g, Protein 30g

How to Make Huli Huli Chicken and Marinade

Mix marinade ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sriracha, Worcestershire, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. Remove 1/4 cup of the marinade to a bowl and refrigerate.

Pour marinade over chicken: Place chicken in a medium bowl or gallon size resealable bag. Pour remaining marinade over chicken then toss to coat then press down into marinade. Seal bag if using a bag.

Rest in refrigerator and let marinate at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

When it’s time to prepare your grill, here is a tip. For grill grates it’s actually not safe to just grease with cooking spray or drizzle with oil, instead:

Preheat a gas grill over medium heat. Soak a ball of paper towels with some vegetable oil (just enough to saturate lightly). Hold the balled up paper towel using long tongs and rub over cleaned grill grates.

Once that is done, place chicken pieces on grill leaving space around each. Cover with lid.

Cook through, basting occasionally: Turning and basting with reserved 1/4 cup marinade occasionally, until it reaches 165 degrees in center, approximately 15 minutes.

Note: If chicken isn’t browning enough you can increase heat near the end of grilling.

Serve warm garnished with green onions, or for extra kick, some fresh jalapenos if desired. Optionally serve with coconut rice, fresh pineapple and grilled mini peppers.

Don’t want the hassle of grilling? Here are the instructions to use for your oven.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place marinated chicken on an oven safe, greased cooling rack set over a foil lined 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.

Cook chicken thighs until they reach 165 degrees in center (about 30 – 35 minutes), basting with the reserved 1/4 cup marinade during last 10 minutes.

Note: If needed tent chicken with foil to reduce excess browning or prevent from drying out. If not browned to your liking you can broil briefly near the end of cook time.


2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 1/2 Tbsp honey can be used if preferred.

This same recipe will work great for 2 lbs of chicken thighs (6 thighs) if you only need 6 servings.

Smaller chicken breasts will work great here too. Just be sure to monitor the temp for doneness (they cook a bit faster). You want to cook just right to 165 degrees in center, otherwise they’ll start to dry out.

TOASTED SESAME Gourmet Oils | $24.99, Nutrient-rich Japanese sesame seeds are roasted slowly and on low heat, then pressed in small batches. Our Dark Toasted Sesame Oil is one of the most flavorful, fragrant oils in the world. Used in many East Asian cuisines because it is able to withstand high heats.


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