huli huli chicken

huli huli chicken

There are “huli huli chicken” stands all over the island of Maui. We saw them everywhere as we made our way all over the shores this last July during our trip to this lovely island. Knowing how very sweet this chicken was, we never actually stopped since we were saving our sweet tooth for desserts on this trip instead.

The smell as you drove past the stands was intoxicating and hard to pass up, so once we got home, I knew it was a must to recreate! In Hawaiian, the word huli means “turn” which totally makes sense for the name of this recipe. While grilling the chicken, it is turned over and over again to lock in the juices with the sauce – hence the name “huli huli chicken” – it’s so perfect!

huli huli chicken

While this variation is not nearly as sweet as it’s island cousin, it’s still crazy delicious and umami packed. We suggest eating with your hands, so you can lick every last drop off goodness of your fingers. The marinade is sweetened with only a few dates and the natural sweetness of pineapple juice (hello Whole30 compliant,) so it’s perfect for other things as well! How do huli huli burgers or huli huli fish sound?! Yes, it’s also scrumptious right!!! Last time we made this we opted to whirl up a double batch of the marinade – not sorry about it!!

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do and that you might find yourself daydreaming of being on a sandy beach with an ocean breeze fluttering by as you eat every last bite!

tasty side dishes that pair well with HULI HULI CHICKEN:

A few of our other grilled recipes:

huli huli chicken

Recipe by MichelleCourse: Main Dish, Recipes, Whole30Difficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • fresh lemon wedges, for after grilling

  • marinade
  • 1 cup pineapple juice

  • ½ cup Primal Kitchen ketchup

  • ½ cup Big Tree Farms coconut aminos

  • 2 tbls apple cider vinegar

  • 4-6 medjoul dates, pitted

  • quarter sized fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

  • 1 tblsp Red Boat Fish Sauce

  • 2 tsp sesame oil

  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt


  • Add all marinade ingredients to a high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth and all dates are pureed. Alternatively you can use an immersion blender.
  • Place chicken in a non reactive container or zipper bag, pour 1½ cups of marinade over it (reserving the rest.) Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours or even better overnight, in the refrigerator.
  • Remove chicken from the refrigerator about 30-40 minutes before grilling. Pre-heat your grill. When ready, place chicken on grates, and begin grilling.
  • About every 4-5 minutes, turn chicken over and using half of the reserved marinade, brush and coat each piece of chicken. Continue this way until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove chicken and allow to rest before serving.
  • Serve chicken with lemon wedges and remaining sauce.


  1. This was delicious! We served it with a pineapple slaw. So good. My husband and I are brainstorming other applications for that amazing sauce!

    • Hi there Kimmy! So very happy you enjoy this recipe, thank you for taking the time to come back and say so! Hope this sauce finds it’s way into many dishes!! ~Michelle

  2. Making this for the second time! My toddler and I loved it. Do you think I could freeze the extra sauce for later use?

    • Hi there Antonella – this makes us so happy to hear! Yay!!! I’m thinking it could freeze well, but haven’t tried it so can’t say for sure. Maybe try freezing a 1/4 cup initially so you’re not wasting it if you don’t like the texture after it’s thawed out. Aloha!!! ~Michelle

  3. Loree Schubert

    What was in the skewers and was it sesame seeds you garnished with?

  4. This was amazing! 5stars! Easy to make and loved that it was Whole30! Can’t wait to make again. ❤️

  5. Jennifer R

    Hands down, this is the best-tasting chicken I have ever made. Will make again and again!

    • Hi there Jennifer – so very happy you enjoyed this recipe – it’s becoming a new family favorite over here! Thanks for leaving such a nice comment!! Enjoy! ~Michelle

  6. SO GOOD! I’m halfway through my Whole30 and this is just what I needed. I made a ton and can’t wait to eat the leftovers!

    • oh YAY!! so very happy you enjoy this recipe and thanks for taking the time to come back and leave such a nice comment! Truly means so much & good luck on the rest of your Whole30!!! ~Michelle

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  8. Renee L Franck

    This chicken was probably some of the best tasting we have ever had. My husband could not quite eating it! It was easy and super taste. We all loved it. thanks

    • Hi there Renee! We are so happy you enjoy this recipe, it’s truly so yummy & fast becoming a family favorite over here! Thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice comment & for enjoying our recipes! ~Michelle

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  10. Laura Shipman

    Oh wow, this is so very tasty! Came together quickly and has a really great flavor! Will be making this on the regular. Thank you!

  11. Jennifer Pasimio

    I’m so glad I doubled the sauce for later! So yummy, and will definitely be in our regular meal rotation!

  12. Christina

    This was one of the best chicken recipes I have ever eaten! Even better, everyone in the house loved it (including two kids and grandma). This will definitely be a weekly recipe here this summer! We used a can of pineapple slices in it’s own juice. I got the cup of pineapple juice from there and then grilled the pineapple rings with the chicken. Yum!! Thank you!

    • Hi there Christina – thank you so very much for taking the time to leave such a nice comment. Love the use of canned pineapple rings for the juice & then the rings for grilling!! Brilliant!! So happy to be a part of your summer plans & on your dinner table! ~Michelle

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  17. Hi there! This recipe sounds amazing…but I’ve had bad luck with marinating in pineapple juice…it breaks down the texture of the chicken and makes it kind of funky…did anyone experience that with this recipe? Don’t want to make a yummy glaze to find out it happened again. Maybe I’ll skip the marinating and just paint the sauce on as I grill. Looks delicious!

    • Hi there Ilene – great questions…I’ve never had this problem with the marinade. I think because there are more ingredients mingling with the pineapple juice, it’s not as intense on the chicken in terms of the pineapple juice making it funky. Hope you enjoyed it painted on the chicken if that’s the route you ended up going! Enjoy!! ~Michelle

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