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Huli Huli Chicken

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

To tell you the plain truth, I never had to MAKE my own sauce for Huli Chicken!  In Hawai’i you find the bottled stuff at any market.  Not to mention that just about any weekend you’ll see those huge smoke plumes with those ONO birds grilling away. 

So with that said, I searched the NET and found these articles; all of these recipes sound about right to me, other than using the chilis, that’s not really one of the typical flavor profiles, IMHO.  The real stuff is done with Kiawe wood to give that aroma.  I think that Mesquite would be pretty close.  I myself have a gas grill, so the taste will not be quite the same, but we’ll give it a go.

Now that gonenfishin (Dan, thanks by the way) has brought this all up, I’m going to have to make some Huli Huli Chicken myself and then we can compare notes.



From Hawai’i Magazine . com

Turn! Turn! Turn! How to make Huli-Huli Chicken.

by: John Heckathorn
posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009


How can I obtain the original Ernie Morgado recipe—not the bottled stuff— for authentic Huli-Huli Chicken? Can you send it to me?

First off, we'll just say that we understand Walter's desire for the recipe.
Huli-Huli Chicken is one of those great "only-in-Hawaii" foods. In 1955, Ernest Morgado of Pacific Poultry barbecued his version of teriyaki chicken for a farmers gathering.
The chicken was such a hit, it became a favorite Hawaii fundraiser, raising perhaps millions over the ensuing years for schools, softball teams and hula halau (hula groups).
The chicken was cooked between two grills. The grills had to be flipped over. And since huli is the Hawaiian word for turn, thus was born the name Huli-Huli Chicken.
Huli-Huli chicken all but disappeared after Morgado asserted his rights to the trademark, and started marketing a bottled sauce under that name. 
Of course, you can still buy Huli-Huli-style chicken in the Islands, practically anywhere you see billows of great-smelling smoke emanating from a large roadside grill. It won’t be called Huli-Huli Chicken. But that's pretty much what it is.
Morgado’s exact recipe is a trade secret. But here’s my personal recipe, which, if you ask me, is better.
This is a marinade recipe, so don’t be fussy about measuring. Jus’ do ‘em to taste.
The recipe is enough for about three chickens, split in half.  You can use chicken pieces if that’s what you have. Marinate your chicken for at least a half-hour.

                               1/3 cup ketchup
                               1/3 cup soy sauce
                               1/4 cup brown sugar
                               1/4 cup honey
                               1/4 cup sherry
                               1-2 Tbsp. sesame oil
                               1-2-more pieces ginger root, crushed
                               3 cloves garlic, crushed
                               Worchestershire sauce to taste
                               Sriracha or Asian chili paste (or red pepper flakes) to taste
                               Squeeze a lemon in if you've got one

Brush the chicken with the remaining marinade while cooking over a grill. And don't forget to huli the chicken.



From About . com Hawaii Travel

By John Fischer

Variation 1


  • 4-5 lbs chicken pieces
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 piece ginger root, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed


Combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, ginger root, and garlic. Stir well. Place chicken, skin side up, on the rack of broiler pan about 6 inches from the heat or preferably on an outdoor grill. Baste the chicken frequently and continue broiling or grilling for about 10 minutes on each side or until chicken appears done.

Variation 2

Courtesy of Local Kine Recipes. University of Hawaii.


  • 3 broken fryers, split or quartered
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate.
  • pinch of fresh or dried ginger.
  • drop or two of Worcestershire sauce.


Mix ingredients in bowl, brush over chicken pieces. Grill over barbecue, turning and basting with sauce until it is done (about 40 minutes).



post #2 of 11

Huli Huli Chicken street vendors in Honolulu China Town during Chinese New Year.




huli huli 1.jpghuli huli 2.jpg

Edited by pohaku - 2/5/12 at 5:14pm
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Oh My Gosh!!Dude!!  Are you kidding me?!  My mouth is SOOOO watering! 

I can just smell the smoke, Pohaku!!

Okay, so I made "variation 1" with boneless-skinless thighs (that's what I have on hand)

and I wish I also had some "hard wood" chips for smoke

Both my husband and I agree it's the smoke, man!!

There is a "ranchers supply" store down the road a piece from us, I'm sure that he would have

some Mesquite chips and we'll try again

Not to mention that the next time I go to the "asian market" in town I'll pick up some bottled sauce, I don't think these are "IT"


Huli Huli Chicken 008.JPG

post #4 of 11

I still don't have a recipe I'm happy with.  I think the pineapple juice helps though.

post #5 of 11

    Hey hey...thanks for starting the thread, Kanohegirlinaz!


   I'll be trying some recipes too!  I haven't had the pleasure of going to Hawaii to have Huli Huli chicken, but the bottled sauce and chicken that I have had really left me with a good impression, the flavors were soooooo good.  Maybe someday I'll have the pleasure of having some street side Huli Huli chicken!


   Thanks again for the thread....


post #6 of 11

Yes, you definitely need the smoke, so Keawe or Mesquite charcoal or chips are pretty essential.  I've used kind of a combo of the above recipes - basically recipe variation 1 with 1/3 cup pineapple concentrate, 1 tsp salt (or to taste), 3 garlic cloves (instead of 1) and 1/2 cup shoyu (instead of 1/3 cup).  Marinate overnight.  I thought variation 1 and 2 were kind of bland.  You do want chicken with the skin still on if you can, since you get much better flavor if you grill with the skin on, and that is how it is usually done - half or whole chickens.  Spatchcocked chickens work perfectly for this of course.  Still not perfect (compared to how I remember it tastes), but close.   Add kimchee and rice.  Ono.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I agree with not being happy with the recipe yet.  This was a bit bland and tasted more like Teriyaki than Huli.  I think I will try it with the pineapple, one recipe I saw was just pineapple cincentrate and shoyu, no garlic or ginger.  But the smoke I think is the key ingredient,  Try, try again!

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I brought a bottle home in my suitcase!!


Hawaii May 2012, this is THE Huli Huli Chicken marinade, if you can find it, get it!!

post #9 of 11
I was told at a local asian store that used to carry it that they stopped making it. We will be having words tomorrow.
Did you get your Mac salad fix at Zippys?
Edited by Isolated01 - 6/8/12 at 5:41pm
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

I did bring this back from Hawaii, not sure where you are?  this is stuff is the best!!  I have yet to get the recipe for home made right ...

post #11 of 11
Sacramento, California.
They carry lots of Hawaiian food and beverages.
They do a good job on poke too. Love the hurricane popcorn.
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