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Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken

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Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken is full of the Hawaiian flavors we love. Marinated in a flavorful sauce made with fresh 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 it’s also a little sweet from the other ingredients in the marinade.

Two pieces of Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken on a plate with broccoli and white rice next to fork and knife.

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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 trip.

While I can’t find bottled Huli Huli sauce at my grocery store (bummer!), 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.

Our air fried boneless chicken thighs with honey glaze is another flavor bomb chicken recipe. Or try air fryer orange chicken if you like bright citrus flavors.

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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.

The cooked chicken also reheats well, so it’s great for leftovers or packing lunches through the week. And when you change up the side dishes you won’t have to worry about eating the same combo twice.

Ingredients labeled to make Huli Huli chicken in the air fryer.

Huli Huli Chicken Ingredients

  • crushed pineapple – helps to tenderize the meat
  • soy sauce – we use reduced sodium
  • ketchup – helps to create the glaze
  • light brown sugar – you’ll want to pack it down when measuring
  • seasonings – ground ginger, minced garlic
  • red chili flakes – adds a tiny bit of heat
  • boneless, skinless chicken thighs

How to Make Huli Huli Chicken in the Air Fryer

Transfer the crushed pineapple into a blender container and blend until it reaches a pureed consistency. Measure out half a cup for the recipe and save the rest for future use, such as for a smoothie.

Add the ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and chili flakes to the pureed pineapple and blend until the ingredients are well combined. Alternatively, you could combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together or a tightly sealed zip-top plastic bag, shaking until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Set aside 1 cup of this marinade for future use.

Mixing up the huli huli chicken marinade and adding it to the top of the chicken breasts in a glass dish.

Immerse the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the pineapple marinade, then refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, or leave them to marinate overnight.

Set your air fryer to preheat to 380 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the basket by lightly misting it with oil, or alternatively, use a parchment paper liner. Remember to add the liner just before you place the chicken in the basket.

Before placing the chicken into the basket, shake off any excess marinade. Place each piece of chicken in the basket, leaving a bit of space between the pieces. Depending on the dimensions of your air fryer basket, you may need to cook in batches.

Pro Tip!

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.

Hawaiian chicken in the air fryer basket before and after cooking.

Cook the chicken for 18 minutes, flipping each piece of chicken halfway thru. 

Approximately two minutes before the chicken is fully cooked, brush on the reserved sauce and let it continue to cook. DO NOT glaze the chicken with any leftover marinade as it has been in contact with raw meat, which could potentially contaminate the cooked chicken.

Take the Hawaiian chicken thighs out of the basket, and let them rest for 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 for Hawaiian chicken?

We like to 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).

A bite of air fryer Huli Huli chicken on a fork.

More 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 the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.


WHAT TO SERVE WITH HAWAIIAN CHICKEN THIGHS


Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Air Fryer Hawaiian Chicken

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. 

Once the cooked chicken has cooled completely you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

To reheat, just place the chicken back in the air fryer for a few minutes or microwave until heated through..


DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START?

Grab the free guide to Air Fryer Cooking Times Cheat Sheet & say goodbye to the guesswork.


Air fryer Huli Huli chicken on a plate with rice and broccoli with text overlay.

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This recipe was originally published on 3/10/22 and updated on 3/18/24.

Two pieces of Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken on a plate with broccoli and white rice next to fork and knife.

Air Fryer Huli Huli Chicken

This classic Hawaiian recipe features tender, juicy chicken with a sweet and tangy glaze and is air fried to perfection. Oven directions are also included.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Hawaiian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Marinating Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 28 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 301kcal
Author: Lori @ I Heart Air Frying

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.
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Nutritional Estimate

Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 1119mg | Potassium: 578mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

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