With tender boneless chicken thighs cooked in a flavorful sauce made with pineapple juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar, this Hawaiian inspired chicken dish is just what you need for the summer! Enjoy Crock Pot Huli Huli Chicken over rice or noodles for an easy and well-rounded meal!
Huli Huli Chicken is a traditional Hawaiian dish known for its mouthwatering combination of sweet and tangy flavors. The name "Huli Huli" comes from the Hawaiian term "huli," which means "turn" or "flip." It refers to the method of cooking the chicken by continuously flipping it over an open flame. This chicken recipe has become an iconic dish in Hawaiian culture and is often enjoyed for backyard barbecues or special occasions.
While the traditional method of cooking Huli Huli Chicken involves grilling, using a crock pot or slow cooker makes it incredibly easy to recreate this chicken right at home. The slow cooker allows the chicken to become incredibly tender and infused with the flavors of the marinade. As the chicken simmers low and slow, the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and other delicious ingredients marry together, creating a rich and savory sauce that coats every juicy piece of chicken.
This delicious chicken dish is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Serve it over a bed of steamed rice or noodles for a classic Hawaiian plate lunch experience. Or, for a lighter option, shred the chicken and use it as a filling for tacos, sandwiches, or wraps, adding a tropical twist to your favorite handheld meals. No matter how you use it, huli huli chicken in the crock pot is a great go-to recipe for busy weeknights or when you're craving a taste of the islands!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The combination of sweet pineapple juice, savory soy sauce, and tangy vinegar creates a flavor profile that makes each bite of the tender chicken a balance of sweet and tangy goodness.
- The convenience of the crock pot takes all the hassle out of preparing this iconic dish. Simply toss the ingredients together, set the slow cooker, and let it work its magic!
- Whether you serve it over steamed rice, alongside noodles, or even use it as a flavorful filling for tacos or sandwiches, you can't go wrong. This recipe allows you to get creative and tailor it to your own preferences!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs - The star of the dish, the chicken thighs. They provide a lean and tender protein base for the Huli Huli Chicken.
- Pineapple Juice - Adds a naturally sweet and tropical flavor to the marinade, infusing the chicken with a hint of tanginess and enhancing its overall juiciness.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Provides a slight tang and acidity to balance the sweetness of the marinade, creating a well-rounded and flavorful sauce.
- Sesame Oil - Adds a nutty and aromatic element to the marinade, enhancing the overall depth of flavor.
- Soy Sauce - Brings a savory and umami-rich taste to the marinade, contributing to the overall savory profile of the chicken.
- Brown Sugar - Provides sweetness and helps to caramelize the chicken as it cooks, creating a deliciously sticky and slightly caramelized exterior.
- Ketchup - Adds a touch of tanginess and sweetness to the marinade, complementing the other flavors.
- Fresh Ginger - Introduces a warm and zesty flavor to the marinade.
- Garlic - Infuses the marinade with a pungent and aromatic flavor, enhancing the overall savory profile.
- Cornstarch & Water - Used as a thickening agent for the sauce, the mixture of cornstarch and water helps create a luscious and velvety texture, coating the chicken pieces and allowing the sauce to cling to every bite.
How To Make Huli Huli Chicken In The Crock Pot
Prepare the chicken: Trim any excess fat off of the chicken thighs, then pat dry with a paper towel. Place the prepared chicken thighs in the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot.
Assemble the marinade: Add pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, ginger, and garlic to a small bowl. Whisk until well combined and pour over the chicken.
Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the crock pot.
Make the cornstarch slurry: In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Then add to crock pot and stir until well combined.
Coat the chicken: Add the chicken back into the crock pot whole or shred it with two forks before adding it back in. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens for up to 15 minutes. Serve over rice, and enjoy!
- To enhance the flavor of the chicken, marinate it in the sauce overnight or for at least a few hours before cooking. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender chicken.
- If you prefer a thicker sauce, increase the amount of cornstarch in the recipe making additional slurry to add.
- For a hint of smokiness, add a small amount of liquid smoke to the marinade. This will give your chicken an extra layer of complexity and depth of flavor, reminiscent of the traditional grilled version.
- Don't discard the leftover sauce! It makes a fantastic glaze or dipping sauce. Transfer the sauce to a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer until it thickens into a glossy glaze.
- For a spicy kick, add a teaspoon or two of sriracha or hot sauce to the marinade. This will give your Huli Huli chicken a deliciously fiery twist.
- Experiment with different fruit juices for a unique flavor profile. Substitute the pineapple juice with orange juice for a citrusy twist, or try a blend of pineapple and mango juice for tropical flavors.
- Add a tablespoon of honey to the marinade for an extra touch of sweetness. This will enhance the caramelization of the chicken and add a delightful honey undertone to the dish.
- Customize the marinade with your favorite herbs and spices. Try adding a teaspoon of dried thyme or oregano for an herby note.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: To store leftovers, allow the chicken to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing: After the chicken has cooled, place it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the chicken overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through.
Chicken breasts can be used instead of chicken thighs in this recipe. They tend to be more forgiving and remain juicy even with longer cooking times, making them a great option for the slow cooker.
Yes, you can still enjoy Huli Huli Chicken without a slow cooker. Simply marinate the chicken in the sauce for a few hours. Then cook it on the stovetop over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
If you prefer a less sweet version, you can reduce the amount of brown sugar in the recipe. Start with half the amount and adjust to your taste. You can also balance the sweetness by adding a bit more soy sauce or a splash of vinegar for a tangier flavor.
More Crock Pot Chicken Recipes
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
- Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
- Crock Pot Sesame Chicken
- Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken
SHARE IT & RATE IT
Crock Pot Huli Huli Chicken
- Place chicken thighs in the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot.
- Add pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, ginger, and garlic to a small bowl. Whisk until well combined and pour over the chicken.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
- Remove chicken from the crock pot. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Then add to crock pot and stir until well combined.
- You can either add the chicken back into the crock pot whole or shred it with two forks before adding it back in. Continue to cook for 1-15 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
- Serve over rice, and enjoy!
- In this recipe, I went with chicken thighs, but if you're not a fan, you can easily swap them out for chicken breast. It's all about personal preference, so feel free to choose whichever one tickles your taste buds!
- Every now and then, I like to go the extra mile and double the sauce. That way, we have plenty to drizzle over the chicken and rice, ensuring every bite is packed with flavor. It's a simple trick that takes this dish to the next level of deliciousness!
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.