Huli Huli BBQ Chicken Recipe

You haven’t lived until you’ve had authentic Hawaiian Huli Huli BBQ chicken. I had my first taste of this specialty on the North Shore of Oahu at one of the famous roadside huli huli chicken stands — Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken. Huli Huli, which means “turn, turn,” refers to flipping the chicken on the grill. The Huli Huli BBQ chicken recipe was invented in 1955 by Ernest Morgado, who decided to grill his famous teriyaki chicken outdoors. It’s been a popular Hawaiian barbecue entree ever since.

When preparing this Huli Huli BBQ Chicken recipe, consider using a smoker, or smoker box. For authentic Hawaiian BBQ, use kiawe wood (known in America as mesquite chips). You’ll need one whole chicken for this recipe, which I’ve cut into eight pieces. Check out my video on how to cut a chicken if you’re not sure how to do this.  

Serve this with your favorite mac salad, cole slaw and white rice.

Huli Huli BBQ Chicken Recipe

Serving Size: 4-6


  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Mesquite chips, for smoking the chicken
  • BBQ Chicken Marinade
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Hawaiian honey or regular honey
  • 1/4 cup concentrated frozen pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic-shallot puree, or 3 cloves of mashed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • Salt to taste


  1. Prepare your BBQ chicken marinade the day before you plan to grill. Sometimes I like to toss in a couple drops of Sriracha sauce into the marinade for a spicier flavor. Mix the marinade ingredients well and place into a Ziploc bag or baking pan covered in plastic wrap. Marinate chicken pieces for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  2. When cooking BBQ chicken, I like to use mesquite chips, which is called kiawe in Hawaii. Grill over high heat, skin side down, turning a couple times. Then, move to the low burner and shut the lid, where it will slowly cook and smoke for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Turn and baste the chicken as needed during the cooking process. The smaller pieces will cook more quickly than the larger breast pieces.

Recipe by Jason Hill /