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Hawaiian Style Huli Huli Chicken


Authentic Huli Huli Chicken is continually basted with a sticky-sweet sauce and “huli"-ed, which means “turned" in Hawaiian. We wanted to find a way to make this sweet, smoky, burnished bird at home. Cook's Country has developed a fantastic recipe for this chicken with an easy brine, with aromatics of fresh ginger, fresh garlic and soy sauce. The sauce is incredibly delicious, with pineapple juice, ketchup, ginger, garlic, garlic-chili paste and brown sugar, which is reduced until thick and syrupy. The grilling technique has been adapted so that the chicken won't burn, from all the sugar in the Huli Huli sauce. The end result, for us, was moist chicken with a sticky sweet and spicy sauce that we absolutely loved. Recipe from Cook's Country Magazine June/July 2009

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  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 chicken, split halves* (about 8-pounds total)
  • Split chicken halves are whole chickens that have been split in two through the breastbone.
  • GLAZE:
  • 3 (6-ounce) cans pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons** chili-garlic sauce
  • 2 cups wood chips (see related Key to Bold Flavor), soaked for 15 minutes
  • Note: Chili-garlic sauce can be pretty spicy, so cut in half if you are sensitive to heat.


Servings 4
Preparation time 120mins
Cooking time 180mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Make ahead:

Both the brine and the glaze can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Do not brine the chicken for longer than 8 hours or it will become too salty.

Brine chicken:

Combine water and soy sauce in large bowl.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir into soy sauce mixture.

Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Make glaze:

Combine pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and chili-garlic sauce in empty saucepan and bring to boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy (you should have about 1 cup), 20 to 25 minutes.

Prep grill:

Seal wood chips in foil packet and cut vent holes in top. Open bottom vents on grill. Light about 75 coals. When coals are covered with fine gray ash, spread evenly over bottom of grill. Arrange foil packet directly on coals.

Set cooking grate in place and heat, covered with lid vent open halfway, until wood chips begin to smoke heavily, about 5 minutes.

(For gas grill, place foil packet directly on primary burner. Heat all burners on high, covered, until wood chips begin to smoke heavily, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-low.) Scrape and oil cooking grate.

Grill chicken:

Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Arrange chicken skin-side up on grill (do not place chicken directly above foil packet).

Grill, covered, until chicken is well browned on bottom and meat registers 120°F, 25 to 30 minutes.

Flip chicken skin-side down and continue to grill, covered, until skin is well browned and crisp and thigh meat registers 170 to 175°F, 20 to 25 minutes longer.

Transfer chicken to platter, brush with half of glaze, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining glaze at table.

Flavor notes: Authentic huli huli chicken is grilled over kiawe wood, from a hardwood tree that is a species of mesquite. The test kitchen finds mesquite wood chips too assertive for long-cooked chicken and pork dishes; after an hour or two, the smoke turns the meat bitter. But we liked them in this comparatively quick recipe. Our Huli Huli Chicken recipe will work with any variety of wood chips, but if you care about authenticity, mesquite is the chip of choice.

Suggested side dish: Hawaiian Macaroni Salad and Sticky Rice

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