Take your taste buds on vacation with this yummy Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken, also known as Huli Huli chicken! This recipe makes incredibly juicy chicken thighs with a tangy pineapple sauce. Use your pressure cooker to make this easy dish in 30 minutes, using either fresh or frozen chicken!
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Instant Pot Hawaiian 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. We love 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 the amazing food.
One of our favorites is what the Islanders call their Huli Huli chicken recipe. So, I decided to make that delicious pineapple chicken dinner in the Instant Pot.
What is Huli Huli Chicken?
Huli Huli chicken is a classic Hawaiian grilled chicken. It has a sweet and tangy huli huli sauce sauce with ginger and garlic. Huli means turn in Hawaiian.
Traditionally, the dish was prepared by spit-roasting whole chickens over open fire pits. Onlookers would shout “Huli!” when it was time for rotating and basting the chicken.
Today, the grilled dish can be found all over Hawaii, in restaurants, roadside stands, and markets.
I’ve greatly simplified the classic cooking process with this recipe by making the chicken in the Instant Pot. It has the same salty, sweet, and bright tanginess that the traditional version, but needs no chicken marinade or grill. And, it is made in a fraction of the time thanks to the magic of the pressure cooker.
New to Instant Pot pressure cooking? Read this article on how to use the pressure cooker first.
Try this recipe for a delicious, hassle-free dinner, and enjoy a taste of the islands anytime!
Ingredients And Substitutions
This chicken recipe includes a great combination of pantry staples and fresh ingredients found in any season.
Here’s everything you need to make Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken:
- Canned crushed pineapple is a must-have for making this classic Hawaiian dish
- Ketchup adds a hint of acidity and tangy tomato taste
- Soy sauce balances the sweetness of the pineapple
- Honey (or brown sugar) 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 – fresh or frozen chicken pieces (see notes in the recipe card or FAQ below if using frozen chicken thighs)
Garnish with green onions if desired, and grated fresh ginger for a pop of color and zing of flavor.
How to Make Hawaiian Chicken
This pineapple chicken thighs recipe is as easy as it gets. It is a perfect one pot dinner that’s ready in 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.
- Once the pressure cooking is done, leave the pot undisturbed for 10 minutes, then do a manual quick release for the remaining pressure.
Serve Instant Pot Hawaiian chicken while warm, with lots of yummy Huli Huli sauce.
Leftovers will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.
Huli Huli Chicken Recipe FAQ
Swap out the soy sauce and use soy-free coconut aminos instead.
Yes, substitute 3 tablespoons of brown sugar for the honey.
Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken (Huli Huli)
- 1 cup crushed pineapple drained
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons honey or 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6 thighs) *for frozen chicken, see notes below*
- 4 scallions (green onions) green parts only, sliced thinly
Make the huli huli sauce:
- In a small bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients until smooth to make the huli huli sauce. Set aside.
To prepare the Hawaiian chicken:
- Place the chicken thighs in 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 Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Serve with rice and fresh ginger garnished with green onions, if desired.
This post, first published in November 2020, was updated in February 2023.