This recipe for huli huli chicken creates chicken that is moist and juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. You marinate the chicken in a special Hawaiian-style huli huli sauce for an explosion of flavor. Best of all, you make this recipe in an air fryer for maximum convenience.
What Is Huli Huli Chicken?
Huli huli chicken is a traditional Hawaiian dish made with marinated chicken that’s cooked over an open flame. The name huli huli chicken translates to “turn-turn chicken” in reference to the constant turning of the meat as it cooks.
Huli huli chicken is a great way to add some tropical flair to any meal. And the beauty of making huli huli chicken in an air fryer is that you can get crunchy skin without having to cook it over an open flame.
The rich and flavorful huli huli sauce gives the chicken a sweet-and-savory flavor that’s unlike any other. Recipes for huli huli sauce may include soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, ketchup, or Worcestershire sauce. Many recipes also add pineapple juice or a little white wine for additional flavor. The result is a sweet and sour mix that adds the right balance of flavor to the savory grilled chicken.
Ingredients You’ll Need for this Recipe
- Chicken thighs (with the bone in and skin still on)
- Brown sugar
- Soy sauce (I prefer low sodium)
- Garlic cloves
How to Make Huli Huli Chicken
Prepare the marinade:
- Combine the brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, and minced garlic cloves in a bowl and mix well.
Marinate the chicken:
- Submerge the chicken thighs in the marinade.
- Transfer the chicken and marinade to a Ziploc bag and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours up to overnight.
Cook the chicken:
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil to prevent the chicken from sticking.
- Place the marinated chicken thighs in the basket and cook at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes.
- Serve with white rice, salad, or the greens of your choice.
Tips and Variations for Huli Huli Chicken
Use the following tips and variation ideas to make this dish with ease and enjoy its delicious flavor each time.
- Marinate the chicken overnight for the best results. This will allow for the most flavor to be absorbed into the meat.
- Marinate the chicken in a Ziploc bag. This will allow the chicken to lay flat and be covered by the marinade. But you can use a bowl if you prefer.
- For extra flavor, try adding pineapple juice or your favorite herbs to the marinade. Adding a few slices of pineapple to the air fryer just before serving will help bring out the tropical flavors.
- Adding ginger, sesame oil, and/or jalapeños to the marinade for extra flavor.
- If you want to make your chicken spicier, add chiles or chili paste for an extra kick.
- Preheat the air fryer before adding the chicken for even cooking.
- Don’t forget to spray the air fryer basket or brush it with oil before adding the chicken, or it will stick.
- Make sure the chicken thighs don’t touch so the hot air can circulate and the chicken will get crispy on all sides.
- Flip the chicken once during the cooking time.
- After the chicken has finished cooking, brush on a glaze made from pineapple juice and brown sugar for a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Serve your huli huli chicken over steamed white rice or in pineapple boats for an extra tropical twist.
Huli Huli Chicken FAQs
Can I make this recipe without an air fryer?
Yes, you can cook your chicken over an open flame to follow the Hawaiian tradition. But you can also cook your huli huli chicken in a skillet, on an outdoor grill, or in the oven.
What sides go well with huli huli chicken?
Huli huli chicken pairs well with many different sides. Classic Hawaiian dishes such as poi and macaroni salad are great accompaniments. Other popular sides include steamed white rice, jasmine rice, roasted sweet potatoes, coleslaw, and grilled vegetables. For an authentic Hawaiian experience, serve your huli huli chicken with a side of fresh fruit or papaya-pineapple salsa.
How do I store leftovers of huli huli chicken?
You can store leftover huli huli chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Other Chicken Recipes
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Milanesas de Pollo (Chicken Milanese) in the Air Fryer
- Keto Chicken Parm Casserole
- 2 chicken thighs (with the bone and skin still in)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup soy sauce (low sodium preferably)
- 2 garlic cloves
- Prepare the marinating sauce: In a bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well.
- Submerge the chicken thighs in the sauce.
- Transfer to a ziplock bag and let marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight preferably.
- Spray the basket of your air fryer with some olive oil to prevent the chicken from sticking.
- Place the marinated chicken in the basket and cook for 20 minutes at 374 F /190C
- Serve alongside some white rice, salad, or the greens of your choice.
Using a ziplock bag to marinate the chicken will ensure the chicken can lay flat and be covered by the sauce, so the marinating is more even. However, if you prefer to marinate it in a bowl is still possible.
The chicken is moist and juicy on the inside with a crunchy