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!
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 while 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!
huli huli chicken
enjoy the flavors of the islands with our paleo huli huli chicken
- 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 Redmond Real Salt
- Add all marinade ingredients to an high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth and all dates are pureed. Alternately 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 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.