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How to Make Huli Huli Sauce

How to make Huli Huli sauce for chicken! Homemade sauce with ginger and garlic is a great marinade or sauce you can use to make our favorite Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken thighs. Add heat to make it spicy or keep it sweet to drizzle over the top of breasts for dinner tonight.

huli huli sauce

Looking for what is the best chicken sauce? I have the answer for you right here, and it is easy to make. I will go over the traditional ingredients and substitutions you can make to enjoy this for dinner, caramelized over your poultry. (affiliate links present)

What does Huli Huli Mean?

“Huli Huli” is a Hawaiian phrase that means to turn, turn in here. It references to the cooking method used to prepare this popular chicken dish on the islands. The name comes from the way the meat is cooked where it’s frequently turned from side to side, on a spit or grill to achieve a shiny caramelized glaze all over the outside.

Why we love this sauce

I grew up, and was born, on Oahu. This was and still is a sauce I remember even though we left when I was just 6. Eating a bowl of “chicken over rice” was something we had at least once a week, it was so good. Even when we moved to the mainland it was a part of our meal planning, and as a mom myself I continue the tradition. It’s even a great dip with Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer for a quick meal?

huli huli sauce ingredients
how to mince ginger

What is huli huli sauce made of?

This has sweet and savory flavors to it with just a touch of heat but that can be adjusted since you are making it from scratch of course. Is huli huli the same as teriyaki? Not really but they can be confused for one another since both are used in cooking when you visit Hawaii.

With that said I have shared how to make homemade teriyaki sauce here because we use both so much, it was time for this one to be published too.

  • Ketchup
  • Pineapple juice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Minced garlic
  • Minced ginger
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Gochujang or use chili paste
  • Sesame seeds

If you wanted something with more of a kick (spicy) for legs or wings I would try our Popeyes Sweet Heat Sauce for that.

Can you make this gluten free?

You would need to use amino acids instead of soy. Choose a variety of chili paste that is safe for those with celiac too. As for the other ingredients you would need to double check the back of the package to ensure it is GF but typically isn’t an issue.

How to Use Huli Huli Sauce

How to Use Huli Huli Sauce

I mean this is typically used during the cooking process for chicken but you can use it on other meats as well. It is so delicious it really shouldn’t be put in a corner in any way y’all. It is best brushed on throughout the grilling process over and over again, but you could make Baked Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with this too, in the oven.

Can you use this as a marinade?

Yes but you would need to make a “clean” batch if you wanted to serve it over the top when done as well. It is not safe to reuse marinade for poultry but this can easily be doubled if you want it both ways. You could marinate pork ahead of time to make our Instant Pot Hawaiian Pulled Pork with it though and OMG so good.

Should you cook raw chicken in sauce?

You can and do with our Hawaiian Lettuce Wraps. Heat the sauce over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Place the raw or browned chicken pieces into the simmering sauce, ensuring they are fully submerged. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked. The cooking time on the stovetop would be;

  • Chicken Breasts 20-30 minutes
  • Chicken Thighs 25-35 minutes
  • Chicken Pieces – cut into chunks 15-20 minutes
how to make huli huli sauce
How long does homemade leftover sauce last?

Homemade Huli Huli sauce will typically last for about 1-2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator, once cooled. Store in an airtight container or jar to maintain its freshness and prevent it from absorbing other odors from the refrigerator.

Is huli huli sauce spicy?

It has a little bit of a kick to it but it is mild to medium I would say. Of course it depends on who made it or the brand you chose at the store but traditionally it is not considered to be a hot sauce at all, more of a sweet and savory chicken sauce.

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Huli Huli Sauce

How to make Huli Huli sauce for chicken homemade! Hawaiian sauce with ginger and garlic is a great marinade or sauce for thighs or breasts.
Course Dip
Cuisine American, hawaiian
Keyword chicken, pineapple, sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 63kcal
Author The Typical Mom




  • In a medium sized sauce pan bring to a boil over medium heat until it reaches a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 5-7 minutes until sauce slightly thickens, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Allow to cool.
  • Huli Huli Marinade – To marinate make this and allow to cool completely. Then place in a leak proof container or bowl with a lid and allow to marinate for 3-4 hours in the fridge for best flavor.
  • Huli Huli Sauce – If using as a sauce over your cooked meat, or as a dip you can serve warm.
  • When storing leftovers, only save what has not touched poultry when it has reached room temperature. Save in a jar with a tight seal for up to 1 week.
Nutrition Facts
Huli Huli Sauce
Amount Per Serving (1 oz)
Calories 63 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2g
Sodium 499mg22%
Potassium 98mg3%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 54IU1%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 23mg2%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Rating

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