Having A Luau? Here’s The Easiest Hawaiian Huli-Huli Chicken Recipe Ever
As popular as this grilled chicken is in Hawaii, it is surprising that the dish hasn’t swept across the mainland. Let’s change that!
The story of Huli-Huli Chicken is fascinating, and I tell it on the page devoted to the recipe for the sauce. It reminds me of the story of Cornell Chicken, another regional marinade and recipe that is required at every cookout and fundraiser in the region.
Huli-Huli Sauce was originally a teriyaki sauce, which in Japan, is a simple blend of soy sauce, mirin (a sweet rice wine), and a little sugar reduced to a glaze. But nowadays there are scores of variations on the theme. It is allowed to truly shined in this grilled chicken recipe.
If you've never experienced Hawaiian huli-huli chicken then you don't know what you've been missing! Here's how to get it done without leaving the mainland.
Serve with: a pina colada.
Servings: 4 people
About the chicken. It's cheaper to buy a whole chicken and cut it into parts yourself. Or you could just use 2 pounds chicken parts instead.
Prep. Make the sauce first. Pour it in a large bowl, or better still, into a large zipper bag. Cut up the chicken into parts. Add the chicken parts to the marinade and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours or as long as 24 hours. As you can see in my article on marinades, they do not penetrate far. But if you have read my article on brines, you know they do penetrate. The fun part of this recipe is that the Huli-Huli sauce contains a lot of soy sauce, which is salty. So some of it will penetrate like a brine. And it also makes a nice glaze when basted on during cooking. Fire up. Set up the grill for 2-zone cooking and preheat it so the indirect side is about 325°F.
Cook. Pour the marinade into a sauce pan and bring to a boil to pasteurize it so it can be used for basting. Keep cooking until it reduces significantly, perhaps to 25 percent.
Roast the chicken parts with the lid down on the indirect side of the grill. Huli it (turn it) frequently so the sugar in the sauce doesn't blacken. After turning each time, paint the upper surface with a layer of the sauce.
Check the internal temperature of the chicken and as it approaches 150°F, after about 30 minutes, stop basting so you don't contaminate the cooked meat with juices in the marinade from the brush. Discard the sauce. Move the meat over the direct heat, skin side down to crisp the skin. Flip it every minute or two to make sure it is not burning. When the white meat is 160°F and the dark meat 170 to 175°F, you're ready for your luau.
Serve. Plate and serve the chicken immediately.
Published On: 9/29/2013
Last Modified: 3/26/2021
Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.