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With its sweet and savory flavors and tropical ingredients, this slow cooker meal is inspired by the classic Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken—a fix-and-forget meal with a delicious island flare.
Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken – Hawaiian Cuisine Right At Home
My husband and I are spending a week on the Kona Coast, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Thanks to my vacation club points, it’s a trip we’ve made many times in the past. But the fact that we’ve visited so often has done nothing to diminish the excitement and anticipation of a return visit. I’ve been dreaming about this for months!
I’ve been looking forward to warm weather, stargazing, long walks, snorkeling, beachcombing, and simply sitting on the sunny lanai while working on my next book. Something else I’ve been looking forward to is the Hawaiian food.
Juicy and perfectly ripe pineapples and papaya, the world’s freshest fish, and fancy tropical cocktails will be on the menu. So will Huli Huli chicken, made with tender, grilled chicken marinaded in a sweet and savory sauce with pineapple juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
Inspired by this Hawaiian favorite, my Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken lets you enjoy island flavor without booking a plane ticket or firing up the grill. It’s a delicious, convenient, fix-it-and-forget-it meal your family is sure to love.
What You Need To Make For Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken
All the ingredients for this dish can be easily found at your grocery store, including….
- Chicken thighs (Bone-in or boneless. Skin-on is my preference, but skinless works too.)
- Canned pineapple in its own juice
- Tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
- Brown sugar (dark or light)
- Worcestershire sauce
- Apple cider vinegar (can substitute rice vinegar)
- Ginger (fresh grated or paste)
- Oil (sesame or vegetable)
- Bell pepper (optional but a nice addition. Any color of sweet pepper will work.)
How To Make Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken
For the most part, my recipe truly is a fix-and-forget-it proposition.
And isn’t that one of our favorite things about the slow cooker? Whisk up a yummy sauce, pour it over some nice plump and meaty chicken thighs, turn on the slow cooker and six hours later, dinner is served!
But to get the very best flavor, my Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken requires two additional but very simple steps that make a big difference.
The first and most important is to sear the chicken thighs on the stovetop to render some fat, crisp up the skin, and seal the juices into the meat. It only takes a few minutes, and trust me, it’s worth the effort.
I prefer to put a little sesame oil in the pan when searing the chicken, but vegetable or another neutral oil would be fine, too. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan, and be sure to sear the chicken on both sides until it’s slightly golden brown.
Remember, you’re only searing the chicken, not trying to cook it through. The real cooking takes place during those six hours in the crock pot with the sauce.
Final Steps for a Perfect Sauce
And there’s one more step in the final hour of cooking. You’ll take some of the sauce from the slow cooker, whisk cornstarch into it until it’s smooth, then add it back to the cooker. That part isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does help to thicken the sauce a bit.
You’ll also add pineapple chunks and the bell pepper at that time. Putting them into the slow cooker at the end keeps them from getting mushy. It will also help them retain their bright color, so your Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken will look as good as it tastes.
Something else you might want to do in that last hour is fire up your rice cooker.
Because the best way to serve Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken is on a bed of fluffy white rice. It’s a perfect complement to the tender chicken, and soaks up every drop of that yummy sauce!Print
- 8 chicken thighs
- 1 T sesame or vegetable oil
- 20 oz. can pineapple in its own juice (rings or chunks, if rings then cut into chunks)
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce
- 2 T Worcestershire sauce
- 2 T cider vinegar (can sub rice vinegar)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 cup sweet red pepper (optional)
- 1 T cornstarch
- Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with a generous sprinkle of pepper and just a pinch of salt.
- Heat tablespoon of sesame or vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Working in batches, sear the chicken thighs on all side until the skin begins to turn golden brown. Remove seared chicken from skillet and place in the slow cooker.
- Drain one cup of pineapple juice from the can and a medium sized bowl (set the pineapple aside for now). Add the ketchup, brown sugar, tamari, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and ginger and whisk to combine. Pour the sauce into the slow cooker, over the seared chicken.
- Cook on low for six hours.
- In the final hour, skim excess fat from the top of the sauce. Scoop ¼ cup of the hot sauce from it into a small bowl and add a tablespoon of cornstarch, whisk until smooth. Pour mixture back into the slow cooker. Add the reserved pineapple and bell pepper, stir to distribute pineapple, peppers, and cornstarch mixture with the sauce.
- Serve over boiled or steamed rice.