You haven’t lived until you’ve tried an authentic Hawaiian Huli Huli chicken recipe. 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. It was invented in 1955 by Ernest Morgado, who decided to grill his famous teriyaki chicken outdoors. It’s been a popular Hawaiian barbecue recipe ever since.
Of course, I had to recreate this delicious huli huli chicken recipe when I got home.
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.
This Hawaiian BBQ chicken is so easy to make, and really is bursting with flavor. First, prepare your Huli Huli BBQ chicken marinade the day before you plan to grill. Though you can prepare this on a rotisserie, the results are more flavorful when you cut chicken into pieces. This recipe uses a flavorful marinade that includes brown sugar, honey, pineapple juice, sesame oil, fresh grated ginger and crushed garlic.
When cooking Huli Huli chicken, consider using a smoker or smoker box. For authentic Hawaiian BBQ, use kiawe wood (known in the U.S. as mesquite chips).
Once the marinade has soaked into the meat overnight, remove from the refrigerator and cook 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. The smaller pieces will cook more quickly than the larger breast pieces.
Serve this Huli Huli Chicken recipe with your favorite mac salad, cole slaw and white rice for a delicious plate lunch!
Huli Huli Chicken Recipe
- 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
- Mesquite chips for smoking the chicken
Huli Huli 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
- 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.
- When cooking BBQ chicken, I like to use my smoker and today I’m using mesquite chips, which is called kiawe in Hawaii. Grill this slowly for about 40 minutes, turning and basting with the sauce as needed.