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Grilled huli huli chicken is juicy, smoky Hawaiian perfection with a sweet-savory glaze.

Grilled huli huli chicken served on a white plate.

we Love Hawaiian Chicken!

Huli Huli chicken was created back in the 1950s in Hawaii. Originally this chicken was cooked over a pit, thus inheriting the name Huli Huli or “turn turn” chicken.

We first had this at a neighbor’s house in Texas and fell in love! He was from Hawaii and shared the recipe and we’ve been making it every since.

This main dish is perfectly juicy and mostly savory, with a little bit of sweet for a favorite Hawaiian dinner.

We love these because:

  • Prepped in minutes. This huli huli sauce only requires a handful of easy ingredients and all you do is mix! Grilling this chicken recipe is just as simple.
  • For any meat. This yummy easy dinner idea can be made with various cuts of meat!
  • Aloha on your patio. With delicious Hawaiian flavors, you’ve got a taste of paradise on your own patio! It’s a backyard getaway with every delicious bite.
  • Serving variations. This can easily be served alone or on Crock Pot Rice or Garlic Noodles.
Marinade whisked in a glass bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed light or dark brown sugar 
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons ginger or 3-4 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs I prefer boneless skinless chicken thighs because they stay moist when cooked on the grill better than breasts. Without the bone, they are easier to eat. With that said, you can use any cut of chicken. The marinade also tastes great with pork.

How to Make Huli Huli Chicken

  1. Mix brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, broth, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl. Take out 1 cup and reserve for basting (and refrigerate).
  2. Place the rest of the marinade into a large Ziploc bag with the thighs. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Discard marinade from chicken and grill thighs until no longer pink (about 8 minutes per side), basting with the extra marinade as you grill. Serve warm. ENJOY!
  4. MARINATE. Mix marinade in a small bowl. Take out 1 cup and reserve for basting (and refrigerate). Place the rest of the marinade into a large Ziploc bag with the thighs. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. GRILL. Discard marinade from the chicken and grill thighs until no longer pink (about 8 minutes per side), basting with the extra marinade as you grill. Serve warm.

KRISTYN’S Chicken Tips

  • Chicken. Preheat the grill to 400-450°F and use the following as a grilling guide:
    • Boneless chicken thighs. Grill 5-7 minutes per side. 
    • Bone-in chicken thighs. Grill 7-10 minutes per side. If it needs more time, move the thigh to indirect heat and cook until done. 
    • Boneless chicken breast. Pound the chicken into an even thickness throughout and grill for 4-6 minutes per side.
    • Bone in chicken breast. Grill for 6-8 minutes per side. If needed, move the chicken to indirect heat and cook until done. 
    • Drumsticks. Grill the chicken for 20-25 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes or so.
  • Check for doneness. The internal temperature should read 165°F. Take chicken off the grill at 160°F and allow it to rest. The temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees bringing it to a safe 165°F.
    • If you don’t have a meat thermometer, a good indicator is that the juices run clear and the center is no longer pink.
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5 from 72 votes

Huli Huli Chicken

By: Lil’ Luna
Grilled huli huli chicken is the juiciest and most delicious Hawaiian-style chicken you'll ever try! Serve it alone or on rice or noodles!! 
Servings: 6
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes
Marinade: 1 day
Total: 1 day 21 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
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Instructions 

  • Mix brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, broth, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl. Take out 1 cup and reserve for basting (and refrigerate).
  • Place the rest of the marinade into a large Ziploc bag with the thighs. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Discard marinade from chicken and grill thighs until no longer pink (about 8 minutes per side), basting with the extra marinade as you grill. Serve warm. ENJOY!

Video

Notes

Make a freezer meal. Freeze the chicken in the marinade. Use a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Lay flat and freeze for up to 6 months. To use, thaw the bag overnight in the fridge. The chicken will continue to marinate as it thaws and be ready to throw on the grill.
STORE. Leftover authentic huli huli chicken recipe can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
FREEZE in a freezer-safe airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months. Reheat in the microwave or oven. 

Nutrition

Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 214mg, Sodium: 1593mg, Potassium: 764mg, Sugar: 42g, Vitamin A: 210IU, Vitamin C: 2.5mg, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 2.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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Recipe FAQ

  • Peel the skin off and cut it into 1-inch thick slices. Whisk a bit of olive oil, honey, and lime juice together and brush it on the pineapple slices. Oil the grill grates and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with the huli huli chicken. 
  • Garnish the chicken with green onions
  • Add a little heat by sprinkling on red pepper flakes or sriracha.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sear the outside of the chicken in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, then place the chicken on a baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the juices run clear and reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Freeze the chicken in the marinade. Use a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Lay flat and freeze for up to 6 months.
    • To use, thaw the bag overnight in the fridge. The chicken will continue to marinate as it thaws and be ready to throw on the grill.
  • Leftover authentic huli huli chicken recipe can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze in a freezer-safe airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months. Reheat in the microwave or oven. 

For More Recipes:

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




86 Comments

  1. Amy L Huntley says:

    5 stars
    This is the most amazing chicken. The flavor and smell is the BEST! Making this again SOON!

  2. Amy Huntley says:

    5 stars
    THis Chicken is amazing!! Can’t wait to make it again!

  3. Joy says:

    5 stars
    This chicken was amazing!! I loved the flavor & can’t wait to use it in other recipes! Super easy!

  4. James says:

    5 stars
    This would be amazing on a bed of fresh salad leaves. A slight twist on a Caesar’s?!

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      Totally!! Thank for sharing that idea!

  5. Rachel Joines says:

    5 stars
    This was a great recipe! I NEVER leave replies on recipes; however, I couldn’t not sing the praises of this chicken. I am a decent cook, kids have traveled the globe and sampled many recipes. Tonight’s quote from my 13yo foodie: “Mom, this is the best chicken ever!”. Not the best I have made; the best he has eaten. This will be on our menu often! Grilled to perfection, tastes great hot or cold, will be great cooked in large batches and served multiple was as leftovers.

    Also gotta give a shout out for your Cheesy Beef Goulash recipe. I have two competitive swimmers who are teen boys. They get hangry during swim season often. This is great to make for them. I love it also. But easy, filling, and versatile. I can use any pasta, tomato product, and cheese and it always turns out great.

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      You are so sweet!! I am so glad that these recipes pass 🙂 Thank you so much for letting me know!!

  6. Pam S. says:

    5 stars
    We made this dish last week and it was amazing! Made it with thighs, rather than breasts, and it was very moist. I would hesitate to use breasts because they would be drier. The thighs were very flavorful. Instead of basting the chicken, I drizzled the extra marinade over the cooked chicken for extra flavor. Leftovers were equally good!!

    1. Lil' Luna says:

      Sounds great!! I am glad you liked it! Thank you so much!

  7. Bryn says:

    So the ginger is ground and the garlic is fresh? On the menu for the week!

    1. Lil' Luna says:

      Yes – or minced garlic works too!

  8. Lorraine says:

    Is the ginger ground or fresh?

    1. Lil' Luna says:

      I just used ground ginger. I’m sure fresh ginger would be great, too. Hope that helps!! Enjoy!

  9. Kathryn carr says:

    So does this really need to be made with thighs? Have you tried it with breast?

    1. Lil' Luna says:

      I have not, but I don’t see why not?! I’d love to know what you think, if you try it. Thank you!

  10. The Coffee Maven says:

    5 stars
    I live in Hawaii and the smell of this cooking from big food trucks near the beach is incredible!

    1. Lil' Luna says:

      Oh, I bet! That seems wonderful!