Huli-huli chicken

Huli-huli chicken is a grilled chicken dish in Hawaiian cuisine, prepared by barbecuing a chicken over mesquite wood, and basting it with a sweet huli-huli sauce.[1]

Huli-huli chicken
Huli-huli chicken skewers
Place of originHawaii
Created by
  • Ernest Morgado
  • Mike Asagi
Invented1955 (1955)
Main ingredientschicken, pineapple, ginger, soy sauce
Ingredients generally usedketchup, sugar, sesame oil, garlic


In 1954, Ernest Morgado, a naval intelligence officer during World War II, and Mike Asagi, a chicken farmer, founded the Pacific Poultry Company in 'Ewa, Hawaii. The next year, at a meeting with farmers, Morgado and Asagi first barbecued chicken in a teriyaki-like sauce, Morgado's mother's recipe.[2][3][4] After seeing its popularity, Morgado began cooking huli-huli chicken at fundraisers. Millions of dollars have been raised over the years for charities by selling huli-huli chicken, according to Morgado's stepson.[2] Fundraisers at churches and schools selling huli-huli chicken were common around Hawaii for many years.[5]

Huli is the Hawaiian word for "turn."[6] As the dish was originally made on a grill with a makeshift spit, onlookers shouted "huli" when the chickens were to be rotated, cooking and basting the other side.[7][8] Morgado, through the Pacific Poultry Company, trademarked "huli-huli" in 1967.[7][9]

Morgado became famous with his huli-huli chicken recipe. He served on the Hawaii Board of Agriculture,[10] was appointed honorary vice consul of Portugal,[11] and was awarded the Honolulu Portuguese Chamber of Commerce's "Council's Cup" in 1981.[2] Later, beginning in 1986, Morgado bottled and sold huli-huli sauce in stores.[2][7]

Today, huli-huli chicken can be found around Hawaii, in restaurants, road-side stands, mini-marts and drive-ins.[12][13] At many locations, chicken are cooked on racks en masse and sold.[14]


Cooking huli-huli chicken en masse on an outdoor grill

Morgado never released his huli-huli sauce recipe, though other chefs have made approximations.[7]

Most recipes call for a glaze or sauce with ingredients including pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, honey or brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.[1][7][8][15] Some recipes may call for lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha[8] or red pepper flakes,[7] rice wine or sherry vinegar,[15] chicken broth, white wine, or mustard.[16] Some recipes call for brining the chicken in a solution with kosher salt, sugar, bay leaves, garlic,[15] sesame oil, or thyme,[17] before marinating it in the sauce.

The chicken can be cooked on a grill or a rotisserie. While cooking, it is regularly basted with the glaze, and turned over ("huli-ed").[17] Mesquite (kiawe) wood chips are traditionally used to add a smoky flavor.[1]

See also


  1. "Huli Huli Chicken". Cook's Country. June 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  2. Lum, Curtis (7 November 2002). "Huli-Huli chicken creator Ernest Morgado dies at 85". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  3. Ronck 1995, p. 228
  4. "The Companies We Keep". Hawaii Magazine. Vol. 21. 2004. p. 49. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  5. Barron, Natania (16 August 2012). "Eat Like a Geek: Huli Huli Chicken!". Wired. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  6. Mishan, Ligaya (19 March 2012). "Lani Kai". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  7. Heckathorn, John (5 June 2009). "Turn! Turn! Turn! How to make Huli-Huli Chicken". Hawai'i Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  8. Rabine, Rob (13 July 2017). "Recipe — Huli Huli chicken, a trip to the tropics". Shoreline Times. Hearst Media Services Connecticut. Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  9. Morales, Manolo (10 November 2014). "Noh Foods sued over 'Huli-Huli' trademark infringement". KHON2. Nexstar Broadcasting. Archived from the original on 2017-08-10. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  10. United States. Federal Highway Administration (1979). FAP-51, Hanamaulu-Ahukini Cutoff Road, Kauai: Environmental Impact Statement. p. F-28. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  11. Tiym Publishing Company 2005, p. 181
  12. Kessler 2012, p. ?
  13. Nabhan 2006, p. 193
  14. Pomai (6 April 2013). "Hoku's "Huri Huri" Chicken". Tasty Island Honolulu Food Blog. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  15. Fieri, Guy. "Huli Huli Chicken on the Grill". Food Network. Scripps Networks. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  16. Carruthers, Valenciana & Scholl 2016, p. 160
  17. Raichlen 2003, pp. 389–392?
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