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Take your tastebuds on a vacation to the Hawaiian Islands with this deliciously tangy Instant Pot Huli Huli Chicken recipe. It combines juicy chicken thighs, pineapple, soy sauce and ketchup to create just the right balance of sweet and savory flavors that you crave. Use your pressure cooker to make this easy dish in just 30 minutes, with either fresh or frozen chicken!Jump to Recipe
Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken
Going to the Hawaiian Islands has become an annual tradition for our family. Over the years, we have celebrated many special occasions on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawai’i. Some years, we go just to relax and soak in the island vibe.
Aside from getting a chance to kick back and unwind, one of the many reasons we keep traveling to Hawaii is all of the amazing food. From Macadamia Nut Herb-Crusted Fish to Hula Pie, we love it all and continue craving these dishes long after we’ve left the islands. Which is why I just had to turn the very popular Huli Huli Chicken into a pressure cooker meal made right in the Instant Pot!
What is Huli Huli Chicken?
Huli-huli chicken is a classic Hawaiian grilled chicken that’s coated with a sweet and tangy sauce. Huli is the Hawaiian word for “turn.” The dish was originally prepared by spit-roasting whole chickens over open fire pits. Onlookers would shout “Huli!” when the chickens were to be rotated and basted the other side. Today, huli-huli chicken can be found around Hawaii, in restaurants, road-side stands, mini-marts and drive-ins.
In this recipe I’ve greatly simplified the classic cooking process by making Huli Huli chicken easily in the Instant Pot. It has the same salty, sweet, and bright tanginess that the traditional Huli Huli chicken recipe is known and loved for, but is made in a fraction of the time thanks to the magic of the pressure cooker.
New to Instant Pot pressure cooking? Read this first.
Give it a try for a delicious, hassle-free dinner and enjoy a taste of the islands anytime!
Ingredients Needed to Make Hawaiian Chicken
This recipe includes a great combination of pantry staples and fresh ingredients that can be found in any season.
Here’s is everything you need to make Huli Huli Chicken in the Instant Pot:
- Canned crushed pineapple is a must-have for making this classic Hawaiian dish
- Ketchup adds a hint of acidity and lovely tomato taste
- Soy sauce balances the sweetness of the pineapple
- Honey is perfect for caramelizing the chicken in the pressure cooker
- Fresh lime juice adds another note of acid to bring the sweet and salty flavors together
- Garlic – because nearly every good dish includes minced garlic
- Chicken thighs that are either fresh or frozen (see notes in the recipe card or FAQ below if using frozen chicken thighs)
I also like to serve Huli Huli chicken with either chopped parsley or green scallions for a pop of flavor and color.
How to Make Instant Pot Huli Huli Chicken Thighs
I am serious when I say that this Hawaiian chicken thighs recipe could not be any easier to make. It is a perfect “dump and set” dinner that’s ready in only about 30 minutes!
Follow these 3 easy steps for the most flavorful Huli Huli chicken with a perfectly sweet and savory sauce:
- Firstly, combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken together in a bowl, and set aside.
- Next, place the fresh or frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Close and seal the lid, and pressure cook on HIGH for 10 minutes.
- Then do a natural pressure release for another 10 minutes, and then do a manual quick release for the remaining pressure.
Serve Huli Huli chicken while warm, with lots of yummy sauce.
Leftovers will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
See the Full Hawaiian Chicken Recipe Below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Frozen chicken can be used in this recipe, but it tends to thin the sauce. This can be remedied by removing the chicken from the pot and using the sauté function until the sauce has thickened.
I myself prefer to make Huli Huli chicken without soy sauce by swapping with soy-free coconut aminos.
Yes, just substitute 3 Tablespoons of sugar for the honey.
Serve juicy Hawaiian chicken thighs over white or brown rice. However, for a low carb dish you can enjoy with cauliflower rice.
Here’s the Full Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken Recipe:
Instant Pot Huli Huli Chicken
- Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker)
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium (I substitute this with coconut aminos)
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs *for frozen chicken, see notes below*
- 1/2 cup green onions, sliced thinly, green parts only
Make the sauce:
- In a small bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
To prepare the chicken:
- Place the chicken into the Instant Pot (or electric pressure cooker). Pour over the sauce. Close the lid (and turn sealing lever, if needed) and pressure cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Allow pressure cooker to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then initiate a quick release. Serve with rice and top with sliced green onions.