Hawaiian Huli Chicken is a popular dish in Hawaii known for its delicious flavors and unique cooking method. The term “huli” comes from the Hawaiian word meaning “to turn,” which refers to the traditional way of cooking the chicken.
The history of Hawaiian Huli Chicken can be traced back to the ancient Hawaiian cooking technique known as “imu.” The imu is an underground oven made by digging a pit in the ground and lining it with rocks. A fire is built in the pit, and once the stones are heated, the fire is extinguished, and the food is placed on top of the rocks. The hole is then covered with banana leaves, burlap sacks, and soil to create an airtight seal, allowing the food to cook slowly in the steam and heat.
In the case of Huli Chicken, the chicken is marinated in a flavorful sauce, typically made with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and various spices. After marinating, the chicken is placed on a grill or over an open fire. As the chicken cooks, it is continuously turned or “huli-ed” to ensure even cooking and to develop a smoky, caramelized exterior. This method imparts a unique flavor and tenderness to the chicken.
While the exact origins of Huli Chicken are unclear, it is believed to have evolved from ancient Polynesian cooking traditions. The technique of cooking food over an open fire and using marinades with local ingredients has been passed down through generations in Hawaii.
Huli Chicken has become a popular dish in Hawaiian cuisine and is often served at luaus, gatherings, and local restaurants. It is enjoyed for its flavorful taste, juicy texture, and smoky essence from the grilling process. Variations of the dish may include additional ingredients or unique spice blends, but the core concept of marinating and grilling the chicken remains the same.
Our Simple Recipe for Hawaiian Huli Chicken
Don’t worry; you don’t need to dig a big pit in your backyard to create this fantastic meal at home! In fact, putting together a Hawaiian-themed meal for your family and friends is simple! The hardest part will be picking out your favorite Hawaiian shirt to wear to dinner.
There are really two things you need to make Hawaiian Huli Chicken: the chicken and a marinade. Putting together a marinade is simple, and you’ll come away looking like a chef!
The star of the show:
- About 4 pounds of TBS boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the marinade:
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 cup canned pineapple juice (stay away from fresh juice–it will break down the meat too much)
- ½ cup light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Fresh or canned pineapple slices
- Sliced scallions for garnishing.
- Macaroni or coleslaw (or both!) as side dishes
- Cooked white or jasmine rice as a side
- And, of course, some olive oil for the grill.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the marinade in a separate container and refrigerate. You’ll use this reserved marinade to baste the chicken with later on. Put the rest of the marinade in a large, resealable bag.
- Add the chicken thighs to the bag and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
- Heat the grill and get cooking! Grill the chicken thighs for 6 minutes, flip over, and grill for another 3 minutes. Use the reserved marinade to baste the chicken, then flip the pieces over to grill for another 1-2 minutes. Baste and repeat. Continue cooking for a total of about 15 minutes until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 175°F.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- While the chicken rests, grill the pineapple slices until you see grill marks.
- Serve over rice and with your choice of sides.
Get everything you need for a backyard luau at The Butcher Shop.
One of the best parts of living in Oregon is having access to fresh and delicious meats and produce. That’s why The Butcher Shop always carries locally sourced meats and produce from farms right here in Southern Oregon. At TBS, you’ll find the perfect cut of meat for your meal, plus fresh-baked loaves of bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, local wine and beers, and even quality food specifically for your canine. Stop by today or call ahead to pre-order your ingredients.