Grilled Ginger-Passion Chicken (A Quick "Huli-Huli" Style Chicken!)

"Huli" means "turn" in Hawaiian, and the original Huli Huli chicken was the Hawaiian answer to BBQ Chicken. Whole birds were marinated in a teriyaki-like sauce, then slow roasted on the grill rotisserie-style. On the outside, the skin is browned and caramelized. On the inside, the meat is juicy and tender.

However, when it's 100+ degrees outside, I'm not exactly trying to stand around for an extended period of time, waiting for dozens of whole chickens to cook. I came up with this recipe as a "Quick Huli." The marinade and glaze are packed with ginger, freshly squeezed orange juice, and passion fruit juice. Instead of an entire, bone-in chicken, I used boneless and skinless chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs are great for grilling and are a tasty substitute for when you don't want to deal with an entire bird. They don't dry out as quickly as the breasts do, and they have so much flavor.

As for the marinade, the recipe really came together based on the bare essentials I had in my pantry. Less is more, simplicity is key, etc.

Start by grating ginger and garlic cloves.

Then, add a little bit of orange juice.

This is a good time to go for the freshly squeezed stuff. You want that sweet, sweet orange flavor!

Next, a whole cup of passion fruit juice really gives this marinade that extra tropical flair.

Instead of using sriracha, I opted for a spoonful of Korean gochujang. It's a paste made from red chilis and fermented soybeans, with a rich, pungent, and slightly sweet flavor. You can use whichever you have on hand, but I liked how the gochujang didn't have quite the same vinegar-y kick that sriracha has. It worked well for this kind of marinade.

After whisking in the soy sauce and sesame oil, simply pour the mixture over the chicken thighs. Cover with foil or plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (I turned them over halfway through, as well.)

20 minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator.

For the first 2 minutes, grill the thighs over medium-high heat. This is when you want to get those oh-so-desirable grill marks.

Flip, then brush on the glaze, which uses all of the same flavors as the marinade. Cook for another 2 minutes over medium-high heat, letting the fat render and the glaze char.

Once again, "turn" the chicken and brush on more glaze. This time, though, lower the heat, cover with the grill lid, and cook for another couple of minutes. Repeat this turn-glaze-cover step until the chicken is cooked through, about 4-6 more minutes. This cooks the chicken with a more gentle heat, whereas the first steps were to get caramelization on the outside.

The chicken thighs come out sweet and smoky, perfect with rice and your favorite vegetables! In every bite, you can taste the zesty ginger and garlic, the passion fruit and orange, and the savory blend of soy, sesame, and gochujang. The best part, of course, is that the chicken is juicy and yummy!

Serve Grilled Ginger-Passion Chicken at your next backyard BBQ this Summer! You can even shred it up and use it for these Teriyaki Chicken & Mac Salad Sliders, another twist on a Hawaiian favorite!

Grilled Ginger-Passion Chicken (serves 8)

Print Recipe

2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (8 pieces)
2-in segment Fresh Ginger, grated (about 1 1/2 tbsps)
3 Garlic Cloves, grated (about 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

1 cup Passion Fruit Juice
1/2 tbsp Gochujang
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Passion Fruit Juice
1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1/3 cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 tbsp Cornstarch
  1. In a mixing bowl or large measuring cup, combine all of the marinade ingredients. Spread the chicken thighs out in a deep-sided baking dish, then pour the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 20 minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator.
  2. To make the glaze, combine the soy sauce, passion fruit juice, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic powder, and ground ginger in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice and cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the glaze. Lower the heat and simmer until the glaze has thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Grill the chicken thighs over medium-high heat, uncovered, for about 2 minutes on the first side. Turn the chicken over, brush with glaze, and cook for another 2 minutes. Then, lower the heat, turn the chicken again, and brush with more glaze. Cover with the grill lid and cook for another two minutes. Continue to do this flip-brush-cover step until the chicken is cooked through, about 4-6 more minutes.
  4. Serve with rice, and vegetables! Enjoy!