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Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

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Grilled Huli Huli Chicken uses chicken legs and thighs and marinates them in a tangy sauce. The chicken is grilled to create a tender, juicy piece of meat that can be served with coconut rice and pineapple. Huli Huli Chicken originated in Hawaii and will make you feel like you are escaping to somewhere warm.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on a white plate.

GRILLED HULI HULI CHICKEN

We make grilled chicken a lot in the summer. 

You can often find this Grilled Huli Huli Chicken, Grilled Chicken Thighs with Greek Marinade and this Shish Tawook

I love how juicy and tender grilled chicken is and I can get my whole family to eat it which is always a plus. 

We especially love this Grilled Huli Huli Chicken because of that teriyaki style sauce. It adds so much flavor to the chicken. 

I will often pair it with coconut rice, cilantro and chopped pineapple. 

If you have traveled to Hawaii before you have probably had Huli Huli Chicken. It is a dish you will find in the restaurants there. 

Mike and I went to Maui and Kauai on our honeymoon and fell in love with this chicken! 

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken with pineapple.

WHAT IS HULI HULI CHICKEN?

In 1954, Ernest Morgado, a naval intelligence officer during World War II, and Mike Asagi, a chicken farmer, founded the Pacific Poultry Company in Ewa, Hawaii.

The next year, at a meeting with farmers, Morgado and Asagi first barbecued chicken in a teriyaki-like sauce, Morgado’s mother’s recipe. 

After seeing its popularity, Morgado began cooking huli-huli chicken at fundraisers.

Millions of dollars have been raised over the years for charities by selling huli-huli chicken, according to Morgado’s stepson.

Fundraisers at churches and schools selling huli-huli chicken were common around Hawaii for many years.

Huli is the Hawaiian word for “turn.” As the dish was originally made on a grill with a makeshift spit, onlookers shouted “huli” when the chickens were to be rotated, cooking and basting the other side.

Morgado, through the Pacific Poultry Company, trademarked “huli-huli” in 1967.

If you travel to Hawaii now you will see a lot of restaurants and locals making huli huli chicken. 

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken ingredients.

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE IN HULI HULI CHICKEN?

CHICKEN: I like to use chicken thighs and chicken legs for this recipe but any cut of chicken works great. The marinade is perfect for all types of chicken. 

BROWN SUGAR

KETCHUP

RICE VINEGAR OR WHITE VINEGAR

SOY SAUCE : For a less salty flavor try using low-sodium soy sauce. 

KETCHUP

WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

GINGER : The ginger helps infuse that zesty, teriyaki flavor we all love. 

GARLIC: Fresh, minced garlic is the best to use in this recipe. 

SESAME OIL

OLIVE OIL 

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on a platter.

HOW DO YOU MAKE GRILLED HULI HULI CHICKEN?

Place the chicken in a large zip lock bag.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken marinade in a bowl.

Reserve ½ cup of the marinade in a separate bowl for basting the meat.

Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and shake to coat.

Seal the bag, then place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken in a bag.

Turn the grill on medium heat. Allow to preheat for 5 minutes.

Use olive oil to rub on the grill so the chicken doesn’t stick to the grill.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on the grill.

Place the chicken on the grill and cover.

Allow the meat to get some nice grill marks, then turn them over.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on the grill.

Cook for 25 to 35 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

Baste the chicken with the sauce each time you turn.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken basting brush.

Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Test the thickest part of the meat. Chicken is cooked when it reaches 165° to 175° internal temerpature.

Serve immediately with coconut rice and pineapple.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on white plates.

TIPS FOR MAKING GRILLED HULI HULI CHICKEN

  • MARINADE: Reserve ½ cup of the marinade for basting the chicken as it grills. Make sure not to use the marinade that the chicken was in as that can have bacteria in it. You should always throw away marinade that was used for the chicken. 
  • COOK TIME: Heat the grill to medium heat before placing the chicken on the grill, then cover.  Let the chicken get some nice grill marks before turning.  Then turn the chicken every 5 minutes so it doesn’t burn. You will want to the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165° to 175°.
  • STORAGE: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  You can freeze cooked, cooled meat for up to 3 months.
  • CUT OF CHICKEN: You can use any cut of chicken you like but I find that chicken thighs and chicken legs retain the most moisture and create a juicier piece of chicken because of the warmer meat. 
  • LEFTOVERS: The leftovers of this recipe work perfectly in rice bowls, salads, wraps and quesadillas. 

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on a blue table.

WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH GRILLED HULI HULI CHICKEN?

COCONUT RICE

SUMMER ORZO PASTA SALAD 

MEDITERRANEAN BEAN SALAD 

LEMON ARUGULA SALAD

EASY LEBANESE SALAD 

MEDITERRANEAN ROASTED VEGETABLES 

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken with logo.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken on a white plate.

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Marinade Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken uses chicken legs and thighs and marinates them in a tangy sauce. The chicken is grilled to create a tender, juicy piece of meat that can be served with coconut rice and pineapple. Huli Huli Chicken originated in Hawaii and will make you feel like you are escaping to somewhere warm.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 chicken thighs and legs {about 3-4 pounds}
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar {or white vinegar}
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

    1. Place the chicken in a large zip lock bag.
    2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir well. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade in a separate bowl for basting the meat.
    3. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and shake to coat. Seal the bag, then place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
    4. Turn the grill on medium heat. Allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
    5. Use olive oil to rub on the grill so the chicken doesn't stick to the grill.
    6. Place the chicken on the grill and cover. Allow the meat to get some nice grill marks, then turn them over.
    7. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Baste the chicken with the sauce each time you turn.
    8. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Test the thickest part of the meat. Chicken is cooked when it reaches 165° to 175° internal temerpature.
    9. Serve immediately with coconut rice and pineapple.

Notes

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  You can freeze cooked, cooled meat for up to 3 months.

Persian Tomato Cucumber Salad is a fresh, light salad mixing tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, jalapeño, fresh mint and parsley and topped with an olive oil lemon dressing. This is the perfect side dish to any dinner or a nice lunch with some added chickpeas or grilled chicken. 
Persian Tomato Cucumber Salad
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