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Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken with Toasted Coconut Rice- Gluten Free

This Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken with Toasted Coconut Rice is a perfect way to get ready for summer! This rich and delicious chicken is full of sweet pineapple and savory flavors near everyone will enjoy!

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple on wood board with banana leaf
Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple

I’ve been eager to try my hand at making Huli Huli Chicken for quite some time, and I’m thrilled to say it was completely worth the wait! For those unfamiliar with Huli Huli Chicken, let’s dive into a bit of its fascinating background. Originating from the Hawaiian Islands, this delightful dish is a staple at local roadside food stands. While my marinade turned out fantastic, nothing quite matches the authentic flavor that comes from traditional wood-fired cooking in Hawaii. As someone who prefers convenience, I stick to using a gas grill.

The Cultural Roots of Huli Huli Chicken:

The Hawaiian Islands are a remarkable cultural melting pot, showcasing a unique blend of American and original Polynesian influences, with significant contributions from Japanese and Portuguese cuisines. In my view, Huli Huli Chicken wonderfully encapsulates this diverse cultural heritage. Interestingly, despite being an iconic dish in Hawaii today, Huli Huli Chicken is relatively modern, having been created in the 1950s by a Portuguese-American businessman according to Wikipedia. This dish not only offers a taste of local tradition but also tells a story of cultural integration.

Plate of huli huli with toasted coconut chicken
Plate of huli huli with toasted coconut chicken

Is Huli huli Chicken the same as Teriyaki Chicken?

Though Huli Huli Chicken shares some ingredients with traditional Japanese teriyaki—like soy sauce, ginger, mirin, and brown sugar—it also boasts a unique twist with additions like pineapple juice, ketchup, smoked paprika, white wine, and apple cider vinegar. The ketchup, a quintessential American condiment, clearly reflects the U.S. influence on this dish. Each bite of Huli Huli Chicken isn’t just delicious; it’s a sensory journey to the heart of Hawaii.

Toasted Coconut Rice in a serving bowl
Toasted Coconut Rice in a serving bowl

Toasted Coconut Rice

Toasted coconut rice is the perfect tropical complement to Huli Huli Chicken! Unlike many recipes that use coconut milk, substituting with coconut water keeps the rice light and fluffy—coconut milk tends to make the rice sticky due to its fat and sugar content. For an extra touch of coconut essence and texture, I sprinkle in toasted coconut flakes. Paired with the pineapple’s sweetness and the chicken’s umami, this fragrant rice really ties the whole meal together.

I prefer using Vita Coco Original Pressed Coconut Water, which includes a bit of coconut puree for enhanced flavor. If this isn’t available, a tablespoon of coconut milk can substitute nicely for that extra coconut kick. To further intensify the coconut flavor, I use cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil, which I find on Amazon. If coconut oil isn’t your preference, avocado or canola oil are excellent alternatives.

Mirin grilled pineapple with grilled chicken

Sides for Huli Huli Chicken

Enjoying Toasted Coconut Rice and Huli Huli Chicken? Keep your sides simple to let the main dishes shine. Overly complex sides can overshadow the rich flavors already present on your plate.

Grilled Veggies: Simply halve some zucchinis, summer squash, and mini sweet peppers, lightly oil and salt them, then grill alongside the chicken. The best time to do this is when your chicken is off the grill and resting. This straightforward approach ensures the vegetables complement rather than compete with the main dish.

Mirin Pineapple: Don’t miss out on adding a tropical twist with grilled pineapple! It’s quick and easy, bursting with fresh flavor. Simply remove the pineapple rind, slice it into quarter-inch pieces, and forget about coring—the high heat makes the core tender. In a measuring cup, mix some mirin and sugar, then douse the pineapple slices. Allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes. Grill each side for 3 minutes on high heat, and you’ll have a delectable treat!

Besides being incredibly tasty, grilled pineapple offers numerous health benefits, such as boosting immunity and aiding digestion, according to Healthline.com. Treat yourself to this nutritious delight!

Huli Huli Chicken with Mirin Grilled Pineapple Board
Huli Huli Chicken with Mirin Grilled Pineapple Board

Tips and Tricks for Huli Huli Chicken

Let Your Meat Rest: Always let your meat rest after cooking—the longer it rests undisturbed, the juicier and more tender it will become. This is my secret to irresistibly juicy meat, whatever the type. For a deeper dive into the science behind this, Salt Sear Savor offers an excellent explanation on their website.

Prep Ahead for Convenience: This meal is perfect for prepping ahead of time! You can marinate your Huli Huli chicken for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. While the pineapple can be sliced ahead, avoid marinating it for too long to prevent it from over-ripening; a few hours is sufficient. Also, you can prepare the coconut rice a day in advance—just reheat it in the microwave with a splash of water to bring back its freshness.

Ensuring Perfectly Cooked Chicken: It’s crucial to cook your chicken thoroughly. The general guideline is to reach an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure safety without drying out the meat. While some cooks can estimate the right temperature through experience, I recommend using a reliable thermometer for accuracy. After trying various models, my top choice is the Javelin Pro Duo. It’s fast, reliable, simple to use, and easy to clean. If you’re in the market for one, give it a try!

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Huli Huli Chicken with Mirin Grilled Pineapple Board

Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken with Toasted Coconut Rice- Gluten Free

This tropical chicken and rice dish is easy and mind blowingly delicious! Get ready for summer!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 26 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 6
Calories 732 kcal


Huli Huli Chicken

  • 3 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs or Breasts
  • 1-1/2 Cups Canned Pineapple Juice
  • ½ Cup Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ¼ Cup Tamari or gluten free soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Fresh Garlic- Crushed
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Grated Ginger
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt ½ tsp Sea or Table Salt
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Avocado Oil or Canola Oil

Grilled Mirin Pineapple

  • ½ Pineapple- Sliced in ½ in halves Rind Removed and Core Remaining
  • ½ Cup Mirin
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated White Sugar

Toasted Coconut Rice

  • ¾ Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes- Toasted
  • 1-1/2 Cups Jasmine Rice
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Avocado, or Canola Oil
  • 3 Cups Pressed Coconut Water If only unpressed coconut water is available, add a 2 Tbsp Coconut Milk
  • ¾ Cup Water
  • 1-1/4 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt ¾ tsp Table or Sea Salt


  • Green Onions
  • Flaky Sea Salt
  • Sriracha Mayo


Toasted Coconut Rice

  • Rinse and strain your rice until most water has been drained off.
  • In a medium sized pot, add your oil and rice. Set the heat to medium/high and mix the rice and oil together until all grains have been covered with oil. Continue cooking and stirring until the grains of rice start turning translucent.
  • Add your coconut water, water, and salt. Stir occasionally until the rice has reached a full boil.
  • At the full boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot with the lid tilted slightly to let some steam escape.
  • Stir once or twice in the first 5-10 minutes. Continue cooking until the moisture has all evaporated and the rice is tender. If your rice still isn’t tender, add ¼ cup of additional water at a time and continue cooking. Total cooking time should be approximately 20 minutes, give or take a couple minutes.
  • Once cooked, let the rice cool to just warm to touch uncovered for 30 minutes. Once it’s thoroughly cooled, carefully fluff in the toasted coconut.

Grilled Mirin Pineapple

  • Combine the mirin and sugar. Then add the pineapple and let it marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  • Grill on high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.

Huli Huli Chicken

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients except the chicken. Mix thoroughly, then add the chicken. Refrigerate the marinating chicken anywhere from 4-48 hrs.
  • Turn the grill to high heat and let it warm up to 450-500°F. Cook the chicken for approximately 5 minutes on each side, baste on more sauce before and after flipping the chicken. Your internal temperature should be 165°F. Your chicken will continue to cook up to an additional 5 degrees once removed from the heat. Let the chicken rest for minimally 8 minutes (preferably 10+ minutes) before any slicing or poking.
  • If you would like to make a sauce out of the additional marinade, place the marinade in a small pot and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce it to a medium simmer and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with the toasted coconut rice, grilled mirin pineapple, and garnish with some green onions and flaky salt! ENJOY!


Calories: 732kcalCarbohydrates: 88gProtein: 48gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 1582mgPotassium: 1227mgFiber: 5gSugar: 63gVitamin A: 215IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 119mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Chicken, Gluten Free, Hawaiian, Huli Huli, Pineapple, Rice, Toasted Coconut
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