Huli Huli Chicken: 6 Recipes to Make It (Baked or Grilled)

Editor

Summary of key points

Huli huli chicken, a beloved Hawaiian dish, is an irresistible culinary creation that captures the essence of the islands’ rich flavors and vibrant spirit. This mouthwatering dish is known for its tender and juicy grilled chicken infused with a sweet, tangy, savory, and irresistible glaze.

The name “huli huli” translates to “turn, turn” in Hawaiian, a nod to the traditional method of cooking the chicken on a rotisserie-style grill, constantly rotating to ensure even cooking and a delectable char. With its blend of tropical ingredients like pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar, huli huli chicken embodies the harmonious fusion of Asian and Polynesian influences characteristic of Hawaiian cuisine.

 

Whether enjoyed at a beachside barbecue or in the comfort of your backyard, huli huli chicken transports your taste buds to the sunny shores of Hawaii, offering a mouthwatering experience that will delight both locals and visitors alike.

What is huli huli chicken?

Huli huli chicken is a popular Hawaiian dish with grilled chicken marinated in a flavorful sauce. “Huli huli” refers to the cooking technique of constantly turning or flipping the chicken during grilling. The marinade typically consists of a combination of soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and other seasonings, which infuse the chicken with a sweet and tangy flavor profile. The chicken is typically grilled over an open flame, allowing the marinade to caramelize and create a deliciously charred exterior while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Huli huli chicken is often served with a side of rice and accompanied by tropical fruits, such as pineapple slices or papaya. It is a favorite at Hawaiian barbecues, festivals, and casual gatherings, offering a taste of the island’s culinary heritage and the irresistible flavors of the Pacific.

Huli huli chicken nutrients

Huli huli chicken is a flavorful dish that offers a combination of nutrients. The exact nutrient content may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and the portion size, but here are some general nutrients commonly found in huli huli chicken:

1. Protein: Chicken is a rich source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting muscle growth, and maintaining overall health.

2. Vitamins: Huli huli chicken marinades often contain ingredients like pineapple juice, a good vitamin C source, providing antioxidant benefits and supporting immune health. The marinade may include garlic and ginger, which offer various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, and magnesium.

3. Minerals: Chicken is a good source of minerals such as phosphorus and selenium, which are essential for bone health and antioxidant function.

4. Fat: The fat content in huli huli chicken can vary depending on the cut of chicken used and how it is prepared. Chicken skin contains more fat than lean meat, so opting for skinless cuts or removing the skin before cooking can reduce the overall fat content.

5. Calories: The caloric content of huli huli chicken can vary depending on the portion size and the ingredients used in the marinade. Grilled chicken tends to be lower in calories than fried or breaded chicken.

It’s important to note that the overall nutritional profile of huli huli chicken can be influenced by the cooking method and the specific ingredients used in the marinade. Therefore, referring to a particular recipe or consulting a nutritionist or dietitian for personalized advice is best if you want certain nutrient information.

What does huli huli chicken taste like?

Huli huli chicken has a distinct and delicious flavor profile that combines sweet, tangy, and savory elements. The marinade, which typically includes ingredients like pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger, contributes to the unique taste of huli huli chicken. Here’s a breakdown of the flavors:

1. Sweetness: The marinade’s inclusion of pineapple juice and brown sugar adds a subtle sweetness to the chicken. The sweetness helps balance the savory and tangy components, creating a harmonious flavor profile.

2. Tanginess: The combination of soy sauce and vinegar (such as rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar) in the marinade provides a tangy element to the chicken. The tanginess adds a bright and refreshing note to the overall taste.

3. Savory Umami: The soy sauce in the marinade brings umami, a tasty and rich flavor, to the chicken. Umami enhances the depth and complexity of the dish.

4. Subtle Heat and Aromatics: Some huli huli chicken marinades may include ingredients like garlic and ginger, which impart a mild heat and aromatic quality to the dish. These elements add depth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.

When the chicken is grilled, the marinade caramelizes on the surface, creating a slightly charred and smoky flavor. Combining sweet, tangy, savory, and charred notes results in a delightful and well-balanced taste distinct from huli huli chicken.

Overall, huli huli chicken offers a compelling blend of flavors that captures the essence of Hawaiian cuisine, combining the tropical influences of pineapple with the savory and umami-rich elements of the marinade.

Huli huli chicken recipes

1. Classic Huli Huli Chicken recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients: pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, minced garlic, grated ginger, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are well combined.

2. Place the chicken thighs or breasts in a shallow dish or a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring all pieces are well coated. If using a plastic bag, seal it tightly, removing as much air as possible. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to infuse.

3. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals are hot and covered with ash.

4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess marinade to drip off.

5. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned and slightly crispy. Flip the chicken over and continue grilling for another 5-6 minutes.

6. Baste the chicken with the remaining marinade, using a brush or spoon, to add extra flavor and moisture. Continue grilling for an additional 5-6 minutes, basting and flipping occasionally, until the chicken is cooked and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

7. Once the chicken is cooked, please remove it from the grill and rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and the chicken to become even more tender.

8. Serve the Huli Huli Chicken hot with your sides, such as rice and grilled pineapple slices. Drizzle any remaining marinade over the chicken for added flavor, if desired.

Enjoy the classic and irresistible flavors of Huli Huli Chicken, with its sweet and tangy marinade perfectly complementing the grilled chicken for a delicious meal!

2. Pineapple Huli Huli Chicken Skewers:

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the skewers:

  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients: pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, minced garlic, grated ginger, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are well combined.

2. Place the chicken cubes in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring all pieces are well coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to infuse.

3. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.

4. Thread the marinated chicken, pineapple chunks, red bell pepper pieces, and red onion onto the soaked wooden skewers, alternating between the ingredients.

5. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for about 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked and the pineapple and vegetables are slightly charred.

6. Remove the skewers from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes.

7. Serve the Pineapple Huli Huli Chicken Skewers hot as a main course or as part of a Hawaiian-inspired meal. They can be enjoyed alone or served with rice or a side salad.

These Pineapple Huli Huli Chicken Skewers offer a delightful twist on the classic dish, with the sweet and tangy flavors of the marinade complementing the juicy chicken and the caramelized pineapple. Enjoy the tropical flavors and the fun presentation of these delicious skewers!

3. Huli Huli Chicken Wings:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of chicken wings
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the glaze:

  • Reserved marinade
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients: pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, minced garlic, grated ginger, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are well combined.

2. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the marinade for the glaze. Place the chicken wings in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish, and pour the remaining marinade over the wings. Make sure all the wings are well coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to infuse.

3. Preheat your grill to medium heat.

4. Remove the chicken wings from the marinade, allowing any excess marinade to drip off. Season the wings with salt and pepper.

5. Grill the wings for about 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and have a nice char on the outside.

6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the reserved marinade, honey, and sesame oil (if using). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes until it thickens slightly and becomes a glaze consistency.

7. Once the wings are cooked, brush them with the glaze, turning them to ensure they are coated evenly. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to let the glaze caramelize.

8. Remove the wings from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

9. Serve the Huli Huli Chicken Wings hot as an appetizer or as part of a meal. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired.

These Huli Huli Chicken Wings are sticky, sweet, and tangy, with a delicious glaze that brings out the marinade flavors. Enjoy them as a finger-licking appetizer, or pair them with your favorite side dishes for a satisfying meal.

4. Huli Huli Chicken Stir-Fry:

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Instructions:

1. To make the sauce, whisk together the soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and chicken broth in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Season the sliced chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken slices until they are browned and cooked through about 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.

4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the bell peppers, onion, broccoli, snap peas, garlic, and grated ginger. Stir-fry the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until they are crisp-tender.

5. Return the cooked chicken to the skillet with the vegetables. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, stirring to coat everything evenly.

6. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken and vegetables are well-coated.

7. Remove from heat and let it rest for a minute.

8. Serve the Huli Huli Chicken Stir-Fry hot over steamed rice or noodles.

This Huli Huli Chicken Stir-Fry combines tender chicken, crisp vegetables, and a flavorful sauce for a quick and delicious meal. The sweet and tangy Huli Huli sauce adds a unique twist to the classic stir-fry, making it a crowd-pleasing dish that can be enjoyed any day of the week.

5. Huli Huli Chicken Pizza:

Ingredients for the pizza dough:

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the toppings:

  • 1 cup Huli Huli Chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup Huli Huli sauce (reserved from the chicken marinade)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until the dough comes together.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball.

4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm area for about 1-2 hours or until it doubles.

5. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while preheating.

6. Punch down the risen dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into your desired pizza shape and thickness.

7. Carefully transfer the rolled-out dough onto a baking sheet or pizza peel lined with parchment paper.

8. Spread the Huli Huli sauce evenly over the pizza dough, leaving a small border around the edges.

9. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce.

10. Distribute the cooked and shredded Huli Huli Chicken, pineapple chunks, and sliced red onion over the cheese.

11. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

12. Transfer the pizza to the preheated oven (or onto the preheated pizza stone if using). Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

13. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

14. Let the pizza cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Enjoy the unique and delicious combination of Huli Huli Chicken, pineapple, and cheese on a homemade pizza crust. This Huli Huli Chicken Pizza is a delightful twist on a classic favorite and will impress with its sweet and tangy flavors.

6. Huli Huli Chicken Bowl:

Ingredients for the Huli Huli Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger

For the bowl:

  • Cooked rice or quinoa
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Shredded carrots
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced scallions or green onions
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Huli Huli sauce (reserved from the chicken marinade)
  • Optional: additional toppings such as edamame, pickled ginger, or sesame dressing

Instructions:

1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

2. Whisk together the soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, vegetable oil, minced garlic, and grated ginger to make the Huli Huli sauce in a bowl.

3. Pour half of the Huli Huli sauce over the chicken breasts, reserving the remaining sauce for later. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or ideally, refrigerate overnight for maximum flavor.

4. Preheat your grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the marinated chicken breasts for 6-8 minutes per side or until cooked through and juices clear. Alternatively, you can bake the chicken in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for approximately 20-25 minutes.

5. Remove the cooked chicken from the grill or oven and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it into strips.

6. Assemble the bowl by placing a serving of cooked rice or quinoa in a bowl or plate. Arrange the sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, sliced avocado, and sliced scallions on top.

7. Place the sliced Huli Huli Chicken on the bed of rice and vegetables.

8. Drizzle the reserved Huli Huli sauce over the bowl, or use additional toppings like sesame dressing if desired.

9. Garnish with sesame seeds for added texture and flavor.

10. Serve the Huli Huli Chicken Bowl immediately, and enjoy!

This Huli Huli Chicken Bowl offers a balanced and nutritious meal with a combination of tender chicken, fresh vegetables, and flavorful Huli Huli sauce. Customize it with your favorite toppings and enjoy this delicious bowl’s vibrant and satisfying flavors.

Takeaway

Huli Huli Chicken’s tantalizing flavors and rich culinary heritage captivate the senses. Whether enjoyed at a beachside barbecue, a family gathering, or a casual weeknight dinner, Huli Huli Chicken brings a taste of the tropics to your plate. Its sweet and tangy marinade, often featuring pineapple juice, soy sauce, and ginger, creates a perfect balance of flavors that infuses the chicken with tenderness and juiciness.

Grilled to perfection, the charred and smoky notes add depth to the overall experience. In addition, Huli Huli Chicken embodies the spirit of Hawaiian cuisine, offering a delicious fusion of Asian and Polynesian influences that showcases the vibrant flavors of the Pacific. So fire up the grill, savor the enticing aroma, and indulge in the delightful taste of Huli Huli Chicken—it’s a culinary adventure that transports you to the sunny shores of Hawaii with every bite.

Editor
Makayla is a medical expert and editor @ WholeYum.

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