Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken is full of the Hawaiian flavors we love. Marinated in a flavorful sauce of pineapple, soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar and air fried until juicy and tender. This easy recipe is great for weeknights and meal prepping.
If you are looking for tropical flavor infused chicken, this is the dish for you! The chicken is tangy from the pineapple and soy sauce, but also carries a little sweet and from the other ingredients in the marinade.
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Our first taste of Huli Huli chicken was during a family trip to Kauai. Always interested in trying local flavors, we grabbed a bottle of this flavorful marinade for one of our grilled dinners. It was so good we ended up using it for two more dinners during that stay.
While I can’t find bottled Huli Huli sauce at my grocery store, this homemade version is pretty darn close to what we had in Hawaii. And I’ve made this recipe easier by cooking the chicken thighs in the air fryer. But you can also cook on the grill or bake them if that’s your preference.
One reason I love this easy chicken recipe is the bold flavor that it provides. Sometimes chicken can be dry or bland but you don’t have to worry about that with this flavorful marinade. Our air fried boneless chicken thighs with honey glaze is another flavor bomb chicken recipe.
The cooked chicken also reheats well, so it’s great for leftovers or packing lunches through the week. When you change up the side dishes you won’t have to worry about eating the same combo twice.
Huli Huli Chicken Ingredients
- crushed pineapple
- soy sauce – we use reduced sodium
- light brown sugar
- ground ginger
- minced garlic
- red chili flakes
- boneless, skinless chicken thighs
How to Make Hawaiian Chicken in the Air Fryer
Pour the crushed pineapple into a blender jar, and pulse until it’s pureed. Measure out a half-cup and save the rest for another use, like a smoothie.
Add the pineapple puree, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and chili flakes and pulse until blended. Or add marinade ingredients to a bowl or zip top plastic bag then whisk together or securely close the bag and shake so the ingredients are combined. Reserve 1 cup for later use,
Place the boneless skinless chicken thighs in the pineapple marinade and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Shake off excess marinade before adding the chicken to the basket, leaving a little space between each piece. Depending on the size of your air fryer basket, you may have to cook in batches.
To keep the chicken warm while you are cooking in batches, set your oven to the lowest setting. Place the cooked chicken on a baking pan, cover with foil and place in the oven until you have finished cooking.
Cook for 18 minutes, flipping each piece of chicken halfway thru.
About 2 minutes before the chicken is ready to come out, brush it with the sauce that was reserved earlier and allow it to finish cooking. DO NOT baste the chicken with leftover marinade because it was in came in contact with raw meat and we don’t want to contaminate the cooked chicken.
Take the Hawaiian chicken thighs out of the basket, and let them rest a few minutes before serving.
Do You Have To Marinate The Chicken?
Yes! Marinating the chicken for an extended period of time helps to tenderize it and lock in the flavors.
What’s The Best Cut Of Chicken To Use?
We use thighs because they have more flavor and tend to cook up juicy and tender. You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they could end up a little drier. Chicken legs are another option as well.
Cooking times may need to be adjusted if you use other cuts of chicken. No matter which cut you choose, check to make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees F before serving (we use this meat thermometer).
Other Ways to Cook Huli Huli Chicken
My favorite way to cook this chicken is in the air fryer, but you can also grill it whole or chop it up and place it on skewers.
Feel free to try Huli Huli chicken in the oven too. Place chicken on a foil or parchment lined sheet pan, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil, baste with a little reserved sauce and cook for another 10-15 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH HAWAIIAN CHICKEN
- This air fryer recipe goes with just about any side dish. If you are serving a crowd or having a barbeque I highly recommend Country Style Potato Salad or Simple Southern Coleslaw.
- For family dinners we like to pair it with Broccoli Salad with Bacon & Cranberries, Air Fried Potato Wedges and Katie’s Cornbread Casserole.
- You can also serve it over rice, noodles, cauliflower rice, or with a side of veggies.
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Once cooked chicken has cooled completely you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight before reheating.
To reheat, just place the chicken back in the air fryer for a few minutes or microwave.
More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes to Try
Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken
- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
- 3/4 cup soy sauce we use reduced sodium
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons ground ginger
- 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon red chili flakes
- 3 pounds chicken thighs, boneless skinless
- Rinse chicken and pat dry. Trim away any excess fat.
- Place crushed pineapple in a blender jar and blend until pureed. Measure out ½ cup of puree.
- Add the 1/2 cup pineapple puree, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red chili flakes to the blender jar and pulse a few times until combined. Alternatively, combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl or gallon size ziptop bag and whisk to combine. Remove 1 cup of sauce and reserve for later use.
- Add the chicken thighs to the sauce mixture and turn to evenly coat the chicken. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours or overnight.
- Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees F. Spritz the air fryer basket with a light coating of oil and place the chicken in the air fryer basket, leaving a bit of room between the pieces. Depending on how many pieces you’re cooking, you may need to cook in a couple of batches.
- Cook for 9 minutes, turn the chicken and continue cooking for up to 9 more minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Brush the chicken with the reserved sauce about 2 minutes before it’s done cooking and continue cooking.
- Remove cooked chicken and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.
- Can be made with chicken breasts or legs. Cooking time will need to be adjusted.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- This recipe is great for meal prepping.
Because every air fryer is different, we recommend checking your food at the halfway point and adjusting the cooking time if necessary.
Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.