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Smoked Huli Huli Chicken Recipe

Huli Huli Chicken is one of my favorite summer recipes

I love getting to cook outside any chance I get and my smoked Huli Huli chicken recipe is a family favorite.  While it is great throughout the year, my family loves to make it during the summer to enjoy with sticky white rice and either potato salad or a pasta salad. And as a busy teacher, getting to enjoy time with family is a must during the summer months.

What Is Huli Huli Chicken?

If you aren’t familiar with Huli Huli chicken, it is a Hawaiian inspired BBQ chicken.  Huli Huli translates to “turn, turn” in Hawaiian.  Originally it was cooked on a spit over a fire and people would yell “huli” to turn the chicken so the other side could be basted in the marinade.  

Huli Huli Chicken Marinade Ingredients

The marinade for our family’s Huli Huli chicken is very simple to make.  Simply add the below ingredients together in a bowl and whisk together.  Many people will set aside ⅓ cup of the marinade to baste over the chicken while it’s cooking, but this is a personal preference.  Since the chicken will be marinating for a number of hours, basting is optional, but not mandatory.  

Once the marinade is made, add the chicken and let it sit in a covered bowl or ziplock bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.  Huli Huli chicken makes great leftovers so my family usually martinates 3-4 pounds of chicken thighs for me to cook.  If I am cooking in the evening I simply prepare the chicken in the morning.  If I am cooking in the morning I would prepare the recipe the night before, and let the chicken marinade overnight.

  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ Tbsp ground ginger

How To Cook Huli Huli Chicken

You can prepare Huli Huli chicken baked, grilled, or smoked.  During the summer months we try to use our oven as little as possible to keep our house cooler so smoked Huli Huli chicken is generally our preference.  Regardless, you need to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees for food safety reasons.

I’ll heat up my Louisiana Grill up to an internal temperature of 225.  From there I’ll add the  chicken to the grill and let it cook low and slow.  After 45 minutes I will flip the chicken and make sure all the pieces are cooking evenly.  Some grills will have a temperature difference from one side of the cooking grate to another.  If you want to baste your chicken with the marinade you set aside earlier, now is the time.  

After an hour and a half I will flip the chicken one more time and check the internal temperature.  I will then raise the grill temperature to 275 to get a little bit of a crust on the chicken as the sugar in the marinade begins to cook at a higher temperature.  Once the internal temperature is above 165 degrees I will let it rest for 5 minutes so that the juices can redistribute before serving it.  

Final Thoughts…

If you enjoy BBQ chicken then Huli Huli chicken should definitely be a consideration for your next cookout.  With a cook time under 3 hours, Huli Huli chicken is great for taking to parties or for having at home with friends and family.  Enjoy!

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