Grilled Huli Huli Chicken is sweet, sticky, and slightly smoky delight! Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii this chicken is marinated in a sweet and savory marinade that is reduced later into a delicous BBQ sauce for basting.
Why this works
- Seriously good - this marinade makes a yummy chicken just like my simple grilled chicken marinade! Be sure to make plenty since your family will keep coming back for more.
- Very easy - the marinade is simple to put together then just combine it with the chicken to let it work its magic. While the chicken marinates you can make some jalapeno poppers or smoked shotgun shells for an appetizer or make some potato salad for a side.
Ingredients you will need
Here is a quick snapshot of the ingredients you'll need for this recipe. Scroll to the recipe card where you will find the exact measurements.
- Chicken - I used half chickens, but you can use any part of the chicken you want for this recipe.
- Dark Brown Sugar - you can also use light brown sugar as well.
How to make this
Step 1: Make the marinade and marinate the chicken
In a medium bowl combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, and rice wine vinegar.
Then add the dark brown sugar, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, pepper, garlic, and fresh ginger. Whisk everything together until completely combined.
Place your chicken halves or chicken pieces in a large shallow container or plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Marinate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Be sure to turn the chicken while it is marinating.
Step 2: Grilling the chicken and making the sauce
Preheat the grill to 375- to 400-degrees. The chicken will cook on indirect heat. This means the burners under the chicken are off but the remaining two to three burners are on. The farthest burner should be on high and the remaining ones should be one about halfway.
Place the chicken on the grill, and reserve the marinade. Turn the chicken frequently during the cooking process. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees.
We are going to make a sauce by boiling the marinade. Boiling the marinade makes the liquid reach a temperature of at least 165-degrees which effectively kills any harmful bacteria.
Bring the marinade to a boil, and leave for a few minutes. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers until it reaches the consistency of a thin BBQ sauce. This usually takes about 45-minutes to an hour.
Towards the end of the cooking process brush the BBQ sauce on the chicken and cook an additional 10-minutes. Remove the Grilled Huli Huli Chicken from the grill and allow to rest for a few minutes prior to serving.
Remember to turn the chicken often to prevent burning as the marinade contains a lot of sugar. Do not use fresh pineapple juice sold in the refrigerated section or make your own. Fresh pineapple contains bromelain which is a strong natural tenderizer that will make your chicken to soft. This chemical is killed in processing pineapple as it is prepared to be shelf stable.
It means turn, or flip.
The Big Island.
Ernest Frank Morgado an American-Portuguese businessman is credited with creating Huli Huli chicken on the island of Honolulu, Hawaii in 1955.
Serve this Grilled Huli Huli Chicken with a cool tomato cucumber salad, griddle potatoes, or some potato salad with some sweet rolls. This is also wonderful with some rice or steamed fresh vegetables or pineapple.
Storage & Reheating
Store up to one week in an airtight container. Reheat in microwave. Can be frozen up to three months, and thawed in refrigerator prior to eating.
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Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
- 4 half chickens or any chicken pieces1
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar can use light brown sugar as well
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce I like to use Cholulala or Crystals
- 2 tablespoons ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Make the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients except the chicken.
- Place the chicken halves into a large airtight container or gallon bags. Pour the marinade over the chicken and place in the refrigerator.
- Marinate for at least 4 hours, and it is actually best to marinate for up to 24 hours.
- Preheat your gas grill to 350-degrees. Place chicken skin side up on indirect heat. Indirect heat means you leave one or two burners on while the chicken cooks off the heat. Reserve the marinade to make BBQ sauce. Add a smoker box with your favorite wood chips for extra depth of flavor.
- Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Be sure to flip the chicken often while cooking.
- Put the reserved marinade in a small sauce pan on the stove over medium heat. Cook until the marinade is reduce by about half and the consistency of BBQ sauce.
- About 10-minutes before you are ready to pull the chicken off the grill turn it skin side up and brush liberally with the BBQ sauce.
- Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to one week. Can be frozen for up to three months then thawed in the refrigerator.