An oval platter of huli huli chicken, grilled and topped with pineapple rings.
Main courses

Huli-huli chicken


Huli-huli chicken is a super delicious Hawaiian BBQ chicken recipe that is wonderful to enjoy when the days are warmer and we’re outside grilling allot. Huli-huli chicken is an easy recipe that reminds me of fabulous family vacations in one of my favorite parts of the world.

An oval platter of huli huli chicken, grilled and topped with pineapple rings.
Sweet and savory huli-huli chicken

We’d often pick up some huli-huli chicken at road stands or local grocery stores and picnic at the beach. The name huli-huli chicken somehow makes me think of Hawaiian hula dancers cooking up chicken ha ha! The words huli-huli mean “turn turn” in the Hawaiian language. It refers to the method of cooking the chicken between two grills. The chicken is flipped over or turned.

Huli huli chicken on a large platter with pineapple and scallions.
Serve with pineapple and scallions

Huli-huli chicken starts with an easy marinade. It contains a fusion of flavors that just say Hawaii. It reflects the fusion of cultures that make Hawaii so wonderful. It’s sweet, fruity, savory and can be a bit spicy too depending on your tastes. Serve it with pineapple rings and chopped scallions for a fresh burst of complimentary flavor. Great side dishes to go with huli-huli chicken include: a simple garden salad, cooked rice or grilled vegetables. It’s also delicious with a simple stir fry of fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, cabbage and onions.

Huli huli chicken served rice and grilled vegetables.
Serve huli huli chicken with rice and vegetables

I usually use chicken thighs for huli-huli chicken. However, you can also spatch-cock a whole chicken and slow cook it on the BBQ over indirect heat. Using a Weber charcoal grill will result in an amazing smokey flavor and tender meat. It’s an alternative method to using the propane grill but using the same great recipe.

Spatchcocking a chicken

This refers to splitting and flattening the chicken prior to cooking. Simply place a whole chicken breast side down on your butcher block. Cut the chicken in half up along both sides of the backbone of the chicken. It’s best to use kitchen shears for this task. Then flip the chicken over and press down on it. This opens it up and flattens it allowing for more surface area during roasting for a nice even cook and crispy skin.

Large platter of huli huli chicken with pineapple rings and scallions.

Are you feeling a little bit like a taste of Hawaii? Then cook up some huli-huli chicken today. I think you’ll love this recipe. Let me know in the comments below if you gave it a try. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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Huli-huli BBQ chicken

Enjoy a little taste of Hawaii with huli-huli BBQ chicken. It’s sweet, fruity, savory and can be a bit spicy too depending on your tastes. Serve it with pineapple rings and chopped scallions for a fresh burst of complimentary flavor.

  • 2 – 2.5 lbs chicken thighs

The marinade

  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or gluten free Tamari
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup sherry or mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 pinch red chili pepper flakes or Sriracha (to taste)

Garnish with

  • 2 scallions, chopped for garnish
  • pineapple rings for garnish
  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and stir until the brown sugar dissolves. Set aside 1/4 cup of this liquid (refrigerate it).
  2. Add the chicken to the bowl and coat it well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours (four hours or overnight). Turn the chicken a couple times during this time frame.
  3. Grill the chicken until it is browned and reaches an internal temperature of 160 F. Turn the chicken a couple times during grilling and baste it each turn with liquid from the 1/4 cup of marinade that was set aside. Move chicken pieces away from hot spots on the grill to avoid flare-ups.
  4. Garnish with the scallions and pineapple rings for serving.

Prep time above includes four hours marinating time.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave me a comment on this recipe’s blog page. Also, subscribe to my weekly email newsletter. No spam, just great recipes.




  1. This sounds so good and I can’t wait to make it. I don’t have a BBQ and I will bake in the oven. They should turn out, right? Love the marinate.

  2. I did a chicken/pineapple dish the other night, but this looks a lot tastier than what I came up with!

  3. This chicken is right up my alley! I love sweet savory and spicy together! I love your photos with the stones. It makes me feel like I’m on a beach eating this delicious chicken!

  4. I love fruit with savoury dishes, the flavours of this all sound delicious together, wonderfully well balanced!

  5. That marinade sounds SO delicious! I’m a vegetarian and I would love to try it with some tofu! Pinning!

  6. Very interesting recipe. I have never been to Hawaii, but now at least I can taste it


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