Authentic Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken and Pineapple skewers are the perfect BBQ recipe! Marinated in the famous one-bowl Huli Huli sauce and brushed on the grill till golden-brown- this chicken is juicy and so, so Ono.
This recipe first appeared as the cover recipe in Whisk by Ami Magazine. Photographed by Malky Levine.
Huli Huli Chicken haș a history in Hawaii, and in my childhood. I fondly remember driving to the North Shore of Kauai with my mom to go to the beach or set up our booth at the famers market, and stopping at a roadside stand for smoking plate lunch trays of Huli Huli Chicken or Chicken Katsu, served with mounds of white rice.
It began in the 1950’s. The first Huli Huli chicken was made at a farmers meeting by a man named Ernest Morgado. People were hungry, so Morgado marinated a whole lot of chickens in a special sauce(known to be his mothers) and threw them on the fire sandwiched between two grills. When the chicken had cooked on one side, someone yelled “HULI!” which means “to turn”, in Hawaiian, and they flipped the chicken together to cook the second side. The chicken was such a hit, and Morgado liked the name “Huli-Huli” so much, that he trademarked it and bottled up the sauce to be exported and sold.
Huli Huli Chicken Now
Over the years, schools and charities in the islands have held fundraisers serving Huli Huli chicken- collecting millions(actual millions, just wait till you try it!) and making this smoking chicken dish a trademark island special. Chances are if you’re in the islands and you see a line of trucks and smoke coming from the side of the road with a delectable, toxicating smell, it’s this.
TIP: You can use this as a marinade for whole chickens, drumsticks, or skewers.
Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken Marinade
Naturally, everyone in Hawaii has their own recipe for this famous chicken, but they all start with the basic ingredients- soy sauce, pineapple juice, some type of alcohol, and the add-ins. In this recipe, I’m giving the choice of whiskey or white wine, but FYI I always use white wine. We always seem to have an open bottle of white that I’m looking to use, so the reason for my choice is pretty basic- use what you have in your pantry!
For the most flavorful Huli Huli Chicken marinate the chicken overnight in the fridge. Add the chicken chunks and marinade(after removing 3/4 cup) to a pyrex container fitted with a lid or use a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. If you are making this day-of, let the chicken sit for AT LEAST 2 hours for the juiciest meat.
This is the chicken BBQ recipe I whip up when people are coming over and I need a solid, mouthwatering, never-fail chicken main. I like to use big chunks of pineapple sandwiched between chicken for the skewers- the pineapple is incredible grilled!
If you don’t like pineapple, you can use sweet red bell pepper instead.
I hope you love this Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken as much as we do! Please leave a review below and share your delicious photos with us on Instagram! Happy Cooking my friends <3
Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken and Pineapple Skewers
- skewers for grilling
- 1.5-2 pounds chicken breast (1 kilo)
- 1 can large pineapple chunks with juice(or fresh cubed pineapple and a small can of pineapple juice)
Huli Huli Marinade and Glaze
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup white wine OR whiskey
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp worcestershire sauce
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 inch piece of ginger root grated
- Place cubed chicken in a large ziplock bag or bowl.
- Open the canned pineapple and reserve the chunks till it is time to thread the skewers- use ¼ cup pineapple juice for the marinade (set the rest aside for later use).
- Whisk together all of the Huli Huli marinade ingredients.
- Reserve ¾ cup of the marinade in a saucepan.
- Pour the rest of the marinade over the cubed chicken, toss to make sure each piece is coated, and set it in the fridge to marinate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Set the saucepan with reserved marinade over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes- it will thicken slightly. This is our sauce for basting when we “Huli” the chicken!
- Prepare the skewers- thread the cubed and marinated chicken and pineapple chunks onto wooden skewers until you have used up all of the chicken. I like to do some skewers with pineapple chunks at the top and bottom(chicken in the centre), and some with pineapple only in the centres.
- Heat up a charcoal grill or gas grill(you could also use a grill pan- but you will lose that smoky flavor you get from charcoal).
Huli and Baste
- Grill the skewers on one side until golden, and “HULI!” flip um’! While the second side is cooking, baste the skewers with the thick Huli Huli sauce we cooked in the saucepan.
- Turn the skewers and repeat, basting the second side and cooking an extra couple minutes- till little bits of the sauce start to bubble and caramelize on the chicken. Baste at least once on each side, with a minute or two on the fire afterwards so the sauce can crisp up.
- Serve with two scoops rice(topped with furikake), and mac salad.