Huli-Huli sauce is a delicious Hawaiian BBQ sauce made with brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, and a few other key ingredients! This copycat teriyaki-style BBQ sauce is sweet, savory, and makes a perfect marinade for chicken!
Best Huli Huli BBQ Sauce
This Hawaiian BBQ sauce is made with a delectable blend of sweet, savory, and salty ingredients! I made this recipe as a copycat of the beloved Hawaiian Huli-Huli sauce that is sometimes difficult to get your hands on depending on your location.
If you ever have the pleasure of visiting sunny Hawaii, you’ll see a version of this sauce mentioned on menus everywhere. It’s a signature flavor, and once you taste it, you’ll understand why!
With this recipe, you can make your own version of Huli-Huli Hawaiian BBQ sauce at home!
This sauce is pretty much a staple in Hawaiian households and has been growing in popularity here in the states. Have your own Hawaiian BBQ at home by slathering this sauce over pulled pork, grilled chicken kabobs, and more!
In 1954 a World War II naval officer named Ernest Morgado founded a poultry company with a chicken farmer in ‘Ewa, Hawaii. At a meeting with farmers the following year, Morgado cooks up some BBQ chicken in a teriyaki-style sauce claiming it was his grandmother’s recipe.
Once Morgado noticed how popular the sauce was, he began making marinated chicken for charity fundraiser events. His BBQ chicken grew in popularity, raising thousands of dollars for local charities over the years!
Morgado has always said the name “Huli-Huli” was created by accident!
Morgado’s chicken was originally roasted on a spit that was turned regularly. “Huli” is the Hawaiian word for “turn” and spectators would often shout “huli huli” as the chicken cooked.
In 1967 Morgado and the Pacific Poultry Company trademarked the name “Huli-Huli”. The dish became a staple in Hawaii and could be found at most roadside stands, gas stations, and restaurants.
It wasn’t until 1986 that Morgado finally decided to bottle the beloved Huli-Huli sauce to be mass-produced and sold in stores!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
It’s Versatile! Use it as a sauce or use it as a marinade, chicken, pork, even beef ribs, it can go with almost anything!
It’s Quick! Make your own delicious BBQ sauce in only 15 minutes!
It’s Flavorful! There’s a reason this sauce is so popular, the pineapple adds just the right amount of sweetness for a BBQ sauce unlike any other!
This recipe requires a handful of simple ingredients you should be able to find at your local grocery store. I often keep frozen ginger cubes on hand for recipes such as this!
- ⅓ cup Ketchup – Any ketchup will do.
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar - Pack the measuring cup to make sure you get the right amount. Dark brown sugar has twice the molasses as light sugar and would skew the taste, so light is preferred.
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce – If you are worried about sodium you can use Low Sodium soy sauce.
- ½ cup Pineapple Juice – This is ½ of one can of pineapple juice.
- 2 tablespoons Mirin - Mirin is similar to Sake but with more sugar and less alcohol. In its place, you could also use a dry Sherry, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
- 1 ½ teaspoons Garlic – This is about 1 ½ cloves of garlic. If you are a garlic lover you can always throw in 2 cloves. They should be minced, or finely grated.
- 1 tablespoon Ginger – The ginger should be grated. If using frozen ginger, you will need 1 cube.
- 1 tablespoon Chili Paste – I use the Sambal Oelek brand.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for ingredients, amounts & instructions!*
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
This awesome sauce is ready in just 4 easy steps! This recipe will make 1 ½ cups BBQ sauce with 2 tablespoons per serving.
- Grate. Use a microplane to finely grate the garlic. If you do not have a microplane, mince the garlic very finely.
- Boil. Add all of the ingredients (⅓ cup ketchup, ½ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup soy sauce, ½ cup pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, and 1 tablespoon chili paste) to a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.
- Thicken. Stir the sauce frequently as it boils- it will begin to thicken. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or your spatula, remove the saucepan from heat.
- Cool. Allow the sauce to cool slightly before serving. Allow the sauce to cool completely if you are going to store it for later use.
💭 Angela's Tips & Recipe Notes
- Keep marinating meat covered and chilled. When using this sauce, marinate meat for at least an hour but up to overnight.
- It works in the slow cooker. If you plan on making crockpot chicken, you can pour in this sauce and it will cook all day. If you want the yummy, caramelized bits like from the grill, pop it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes (but keep a close eye).
- Don’t walk away. Monitor and stir your sauce as it thickens or it may burn.
- Turn and baste! If you’re going for that authentic Huli-Huli flavor, be sure to turn your meat while grilling and baste it with as much sauce as possible.
As mentioned above, allow the sauce to fully cool before storing. It can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
I do not recommend freezing your homemade Hawaiian BBQ sauce.
🍶 Try Some of My Other DIY Sauces!
If you aren’t a fan of pineapple juice, or you’re allergic, you can substitute it for orange juice at a 1:1 ratio. It will change the flavor some, but it will still be delicious.
Mirin is usually on the Asian foods aisle near the soy, tamari, and teriyaki sauces (as is the chili sauce).
If you over-boil your sauce and it reduces too much, you can thin it out by whisking in some broth!
Hawaiian BBQ Sauce (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.
- Bring a saucepan with all of the ingredients (ketchup, light brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, mirin, garlic, ginger, and chili paste) to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.⅓ cup ketchup, ½ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup soy sauce, ½ cup pineapple juice, 2 tablespoon mirin, 1 ½ teaspoon garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon chili paste
- Stir frequently as the sauce boils and thickens. Once the sauce reaches the point where it clings to your spoon or spatula, or your desired thickness, remove it from heat.
- Cool slightly before serving, or cool completely before storing.
- Yields 1 ½ cups of Hawaiian BBQ Sauce (calculated for 2 tablespoons each serving).
- Keep stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a week.
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!