Easy-baked Huli Huli chicken is an instant family favorite! Tender chicken thighs are slathered in a sticky Hawaiian-inspired sauce then baked to perfection. It’s a chicken dinner that will satisfy anyone!
Baked Huli Huli chicken is drenched in a Hawaiian BBQ sauce that’s out of this world!
This incredible baked Huli Huli chicken is the perfect way to switch up weeknight chicken dinners. I start by making a simple homemade Hawaiian BBQ sauce, also known as Huli Huli sauce.
Then, I marinate and baste chicken thighs in this amazing sauce until they’re tender and infused with island flavor! Baking the marinated chicken thighs makes this meal so easy!
It takes about 35 minutes to cook, but the results are so amazing you’ll be licking the plate.
This is a meal your family will be asking for week after week! It’s sticky, saucy, and absolutely delicious.
❤️ Why This Recipe Works!
Amazing Flavor! Marinating the chicken in this incredible Huli Huli sauce infuses it with so much flavor!
So Easy! Baked chicken is such an easy favorite. Pair it with this quick homemade sauce and you have an amazing meal in no time!
It’s Unique! Pineapple juice and chili paste make this sauce so uniquely delicious. One taste will take you right to the beaches of Hawaii!
Most of the ingredients for this delicious Huli Huli baked chicken can be found at your local grocery store! Try your local Asian grocery store if you have trouble finding the specialty ingredients.
Huli Huli Sauce
- ⅓ Cup Ketchup – Ketchup provides a sweet, tangy base for the sauce. Use your favorite brand here!
- ½ Cup Light Brown Sugar – Brown sugar should always be packed when measuring! I prefer the rich flavor brown sugar provides over white sugar.
- ¼ Cup Soy Sauce – You can use low or reduced sodium soy sauce if you prefer.
- ½ Cup Pineapple Juice – Pineapple juice gives the sauce that delicious island flavor! Use canned or fresh pineapple juice if you can find it!
- 2 Tablespoons Mirin – Mirin is a sweetened rice wine used in Japanese and other Asian and Pacific Islander cuisines (See Tips & Recipe Notes).
- 1 ½ Teaspoons Garlic – This is equal to about 2 cloves of garlic! I recommend grating, crushing, or mincing fresh garlic.
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger – The ginger should be peeled and grated to better incorporate into the sauce. You can grate fresh ginger or use a tube of pre-grated ginger!
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Paste – This adds just a little heat without being overwhelming. I like to use Sambal Oelek!
- 2 Pounds Chicken Thighs – I prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs for easy baking!
*Be sure to see the free printable recipe card below for ingredients, exact amounts & instructions with tips!*
🧂 Substitutions & Additions
Want to make this dish gluten-free? Try using a 1:1 amount of Tamari instead of traditional soy sauce.
Huli Huli sauce goes well on anything! Substitute chicken breasts, legs, wings, pork chops, shrimp, or even tofu for the chicken thighs.
Can’t find mirin? You can also use an equal amount of dry Sherry, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
Easy-baked Huli Huli chicken needs no special equipment! Make the sauce and marinate the chicken the day before for the best results.
Huli Huli Sauce
- Grate the ginger & garlic. For the best results in your sauce, grate 1 ½ teaspoons of garlic and 1 tablespoon of peeled ginger on a microplane. This way, your sauce will have a smooth and fine consistency. Alternatively, you can chop them both until they’re very finely minced.
- Mix the sauce. To a large saucepan, add the sauce ingredients: ⅓ cup of ketchup, ½ cup of packed light brown sugar, ¼ cup of soy sauce, ½ cup of pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 ½ teaspoon grated garlic, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, and 1 tablespoon chili paste. Stir to combine, then bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Finish your Huli Huli sauce. Next, let the sauce boil and thicken, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes. Your sauce is ready when it clings to the back of a spoon or spatula. Once the sauce is done, remove from heat and allow it to cool.
- Marinate the chicken. Once your homemade huli huli sauce is cooled, place 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs into a bowl and cover with sauce (save some sauce baste). Then, wrap the bowl with plastic cling film and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes and preferably 8 hours or overnight (no more than 12 hours).
- Prepare. When your chicken has sufficiently marinated, remove it from the fridge while you preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Then, prepare a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet by lining it with a sheet of parchment paper, or coating it lightly with non-stick cooking spray or oil.
- Bake. Next, transfer the marinated chicken to your prepared baking dish and arrange in a single layer. Then bake in the middle of your oven’s center rack for 15 minutes, then flip and brush with more sauce. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, then repeat to apply more sauce.
- Finish and serve. Cook the chicken for a final 5 to 10 minutes after brushing the chicken with sauce one last time. Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) at the thickest portion, it’s done. Then, remove the chicken from the oven and serve immediately.
Huli Huli chicken makes for a perfect dinner when paired with a side of fluffy Jasmine rice. Add a scoop of creamy Hawaiian-style macaroni salad and you’ve got a taste of the Pacific right in your kitchen! Enjoy!
💭 Tips & Notes
- The huli huli sauce recipe yields 1 ½ cups. I recommend using 1 cup for marinating the chicken, then saving the remaining ½ cup for basting.
- A thermometer makes finishing the chicken so easy! Test the meat with a digital meat thermometer to determine doneness of the chicken most accurately.
- Use your broiler to caramelize the sauce. If desired, heat your oven to high broil heat and caramelize the sauce on the chicken for the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
Store cooled leftover chicken pieces in either a plastic storage bag or an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Extend the shelf life of this Huli Huli chicken by freezing for up to 4 months! Make sure to transfer leftovers into a heavy-duty freezer storage bag or a shallow airtight container.
Reheating Baked Huli Huli Chicken
If using frozen chicken, let the pieces defrost in your fridge overnight. Then preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), then place the leftover chicken in a lined or greased baking dish.
Reheat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is heated to your satisfaction.
😋 Other Great Recipes
Absolutely! Heat your grill to 425°F (220°C) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the grill racks are greased, then add on the chicken. Since the grill heat is so direct, flip chicken after 8 minutes then baste with the sauce. Repeat until the chicken is done. You can remove chicken when the internal temperature measures 165°F (74°C) at the thickest portion.
I highly recommend marinating the chicken! It infuses the chicken thighs with all that delicious flavor and tenderizes the meat. If you’re short on time, try marinating for just 30 minutes!
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📖 Recipe Card
Baked Huli Huli Chicken (with easy homemade sauce)
Huli Huli Sauce
- 2 lbs chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
Huli Huli Sauce
- For best results, grate your garlic and peeled ginger on a microplane so that you have a very fine consistency in your sauce. Alternatively, chop them both until they're very finely minced.
- Add all of the ingredients (ketchup, light brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, mirin, garlic, ginger, and chili paste) in a large saucepan, stir to combine, and bring them to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.
- Thicken the sauce, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes. Your sauce is ready when it will cling to your spoon or spatula.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Once your homemade huli huli sauce is cooled, place the chicken into a bowl and cover with the sauce. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes and preferably 8 hours or overnight (no more than 12 hours).
- When your chicken has sufficiently marinated, remove it from the fridge while you preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Prepare a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper, or coating lightly with non-stick cooking spray or oil.
- Transfer the chicken to your prepared baking dish and arrange in a single layer. Bake in the middle of the center rack in your oven for 15 minutes, then flip and brush with more sauce. Cook for an additional 15 minutes then repeat to apply more sauce.
- Cook for a final 5-10 minutes after brushing with sauce one last time. Once the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) at the thickest portion, it's done. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
- Yields 1 ½ cups of Hawaiian BBQ Sauce.
- You can use your preferred chicken pieces (breasts, quarters, thighs, legs, or wings) but rely on the internal temperature of the chicken to judge when they're done.
- If desired, heat your oven to broil and caramelize the sauce on the chicken for the last few minutes of cooking time before serving.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!