This Huli Huli chicken is a unique twist on classic grilled chicken. Marinated in a delicious ketchup-based sauce, this recipe cooks in just 10 minutes.
A simple sauce or marinade can truly transform a simple piece of chicken.
What is huli huli chicken?
Huli Huli chicken is a Hawaiian-style chicken dish. Traditionally cooked over mesquite wood, the chicken is first marinated in a mixture of ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. It’s then grilled on both sides and yields the most flavorful meat.
Why this recipe will be a dinner time staple:
- Always juicy. The long marinating time of the chicken ensures juicy and tender meat every time.
- Full of flavor. There are sweet, savory, spicy, and tangy elements that all go into this dish.
- Great for meal prep. The chicken can sit in the marinade for up to 2 days. Once cooked, you can use this Hawaiian grilled chicken to prep easy lunches for busy days.
- Healthy. Packed with protein and healthy fats, pair it with some salad or rice for a well-balanced meal.
What I love about this chicken recipe is just how easy it is to make! It tastes like something you’d get at an upscale restaurant.
This recipe calls for very simple ingredients. Besides the chicken thighs and some sauces, there isn’t much else that goes into it. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken thighs. Thighs are the best chicken cut for this grilled chicken recipe. Not only do they have a rich chicken flavor but they are also fattier which prevents them from drying out.
- Tomato ketchup. The base of the marinade. Use ketchup that doesn’t have any added sugar.
- Soy sauce. To create a rich umami flavor.
- Brown sugar. To provide the sweet characteristic of this dish.
- Rice vinegar. To balance out the bold flavors of the marinade and create a gorgeous glaze.
- Sriracha. Adds a spicy element to the dish.
- Garlic and ginger. Freshly grated.
- Sesame oil. To add a mild nutty flavor to the marinade.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
How to make huli huli chicken?
If you are short on time, you can do a quick marinade of just 10 minutes. However, we recommend prepping this at least 24 hours beforehand for the best flavor.
Step 1- Marinate the chicken
For the marinade, mix the ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha. Add salt and pepper and mix well.
Pour the marinade over the chicken thighs making sure they are fully coated. Marinate the chicken for at least 10 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
Step 2- Grill the chicken
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and set aside ½ cup of the marinade for basting.
Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden. Baste the chicken with the reserved marinade a couple of times to prevent it from drying out. It should take you around 10 minutes to cook each chicken thigh.
Tips to make the best recipe
- If you don’t have a good tomato-flavored ketchup that you can use for this recipe, use a mixture of water and tomato paste instead.
- Boneless chicken thighs cook faster than bone-in thighs. If you are using boneless and skinless chicken thighs, grill them for around 8 minutes.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness of the chicken. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the cut. Chicken thighs are done if the thermometer reads 165 degrees.
- Allow the chicken thighs to rest when you remove them from the grill. This gives the juices time to redistribute and make the chicken more flavorful.
To store: Place leftovers in a sealable container and store them in the freezer for up to five days.
To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled chicken in a shallow container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating: Microwave the chicken for 20-30 seconds or reheat it in the oven until warm.
What goes with huli huli chicken?
Traditionally, this dish is served with plantains and white rice. However, we love to pair it with some air-fried veggies, and here are our favorites:
Frequently asked questions
You can use this marinade for any chicken cut you like, including chicken breasts, wings, and legs. You can even use a whole chicken for this recipe.
This recipe is gluten-free so long as you use soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ketchup that are manufactured without ingredients that contain gluten. If you can’t find gluten-free soy sauce, try finding gluten-free tamari.
‘Huli’ means turn, which refers to regularly turning the chicken as it cooks.
Huli Huli Chicken
- In a glass bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, except for the chicken.
- Add the chicken and mix until fully coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for at least 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high.
- Set aside ½ cup of the marinade for basting, drain excess from the chicken, and place the chicken on the grill.
- Cook each side for 2-3 min until golden. Baste generously with reserved marinade while cooking, then flip and repeat the process until the thighs are cooked through or reach an internal temperature of 165F.
- Remove the chicken off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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