This huli huli chicken is chicken thighs marinated in a mixture of pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and spices, then grilled to tender perfection. A tropical meal that’s easy to make and is sure to please any crowd!
You can never go wrong with chicken and pineapple – it’s a sweet and savory combination that’s always a winner. When I’m craving an island style dinner, I make pineapple chicken, Hawaiian chicken or this easy huli huli chicken.
When the weather is nice, I find myself spending a lot of time outdoors at the grill. This huli huli chicken is one of my all time favorite grilling recipes. The marinade takes just minutes to make, and the end result is the most tender and juicy chicken you’ll ever eat!
What is huli huli chicken?
Huli huli chicken is a Hawaiian dish that consists of marinated chicken that’s grilled and basted with sauce. In Hawaii, you can often find whole chickens cooking on spits over the grill, but in this case we’re using boneless chicken thighs to simplify things a bit.
How do you make huli huli chicken?
This recipe starts with creating a marinade by whisking together pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup and sesame oil. Next, you will add garlic and ginger to the marinade. Place the chicken thighs into the marinade and refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade, then grill it for 6-8 minutes per side or until cooked through. Baste the chicken with reserved marinade while it’s on the grill. After the chicken is done, it’s time to add sliced pineapple to the grill. Finally, plate the chicken and pineapple and garnish with green onions before serving.
Tips for Huli huli chicken
- Don’t have an outdoor grill? You can cook this chicken on a stove top grill pan or in the broiler.
- I typically use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe, but chicken breasts will also work just fine.
- I like to serve my chicken over steamed rice with a steamed vegetable on the side.
- You can freeze your uncooked chicken in a bag of marinade for up to 2 months. Thaw the bag overnight in the refrigerator, then grill as directed.
- Make sure to purchase sliced pineapple that’s packed in juice, not the type that’s packed in heavy syrup.
HOW LONG DO YOU MARINATE CHICKEN?
The chicken needs to marinate for at least 1 hour, but I like to leave the chicken in the marinade for up to 24 hours if I have the time. You don’t want to go past 24 hours as the acid in the pineapple juice will eventually break down the chicken.
WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD CHICKEN BE COOKED TO?
Chicken thighs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The easiest way to gauge if your chicken is done is to insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken. Once you’ve reached the correct temperature, remove the chicken from the heat and let it rest for 3 minutes before you slice it.
I love to serve this chicken for parties – it’s always a big hit and I get tons of requests for the recipe!
More great chicken dinners
Huli Huli Chicken
- 20 ounce can sliced pineapple
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh garlic minced
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup green onions sliced
- Drain the pineapple, reserving 1 cup of the pineapple juice. Save the pineapple slices for later use.
- Place the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup and sesame oil in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade in the refrigerator in a small bowl. This will be used later on to baste the chicken.
- Stir the garlic and ginger into the large bowl of marinade. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium heat.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill. Cook for 6-8 minutes per side or until chicken is done, basting occasionally with the reserved marinade.
- Place the pineapple slices on the grill. Cook for 2 minutes per side.
- Place the pineapple and chicken on a plate. Sprinkle with green onions, then serve.
This recipe sounds wonderful, but I’m not a fan of thighs. How would it do with pork tenderloin? I don’t have a grill, so how do you recommend doing it?
You can bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer registers at least 145 degrees F.
Could I use chicken legs instead of thighs if I removed the skin?
I think it could work but they’ll take a lot longer to cook!
Can I make these with bone in chicken thighs? How long would grilling time be?