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Pulehu Chicken

This Hawaiian-inspired Pulehu Chicken has only 4 ingredients and comes together in 30 minutes. Chicken thighs seasoned with salt, pepper, and ginger are grilled until cooked with crispy, charred edges. This recipe is perfect when you need to get tender meat from the grill to the table fast!

In Hawaiian, “Pulehu” (pronounced pu’-lee-hu) means to “cook over hot coal.” This recipe makes Pulehu-style chicken thighs, and they’re simply delicious! You’ll need chicken thighs, salt, pepper, ginger,soy sauce, and a grill.

Mo’ Bettahs, a fast-casual Hawaiian restaurant, makes fantastic Pulehu chicken. These step-by-step instructions will show you how to make this simple Hawaiian chicken dish at home, which is especially convenient if there are no Mo’ Bettahs locations nearby.

🐔 Ingredients You’ll Need

Chicken Thighs – Dark meat is more tender and flavorful than white meat and doesn’t necessarily need to be marinated to be tender. You can also use chicken breasts (see below).

Marinade – To mimic simple Hawaiian-style flavor, all you’ll need is dried ginger, soy sauce (shoyu), garlic powder, and black pepper. Feel free to use fresh ginger and play with spices to make your own dry rub.

You can also use Ono seasoning; a Hawaiian seasoning made with salt, cracked pepper, ginger, garlic & Alaa salt.

🥣 How To Make Pulehu Chicken

1️⃣ Prep. After trimming the excess fat, pat the thighs dry, then place between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken into a flat, even 1/2″ thickness.

2️⃣ Season. Then, add the thighs to a bowl with the dried seasonings and use your hands to rub the dry spices into the meat, coating well. Let rest for 5 minutes to absorb the flavors. Meanwhile, heat the grill on medium-high.

3️⃣ Grill. Using tongs, place the seasoned chicken onto the hot grill grates and cook for 5-6 minutes with the grill closed. Then, open the grill, flip each piece, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

4️⃣ Rest. Remove from the grill with tongs and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving with your favorite side dishes

💭 Recipe Tips

  • Take the chicken out of the fridge 15-30 minutes in advance to take the chill off, so the chicken cooks evenly.
  • Keep a watchful eye on the grill. If any pieces seem to be cooking quicker, use tongs to move it to a cooler spot on the grill.
  • To make cross-hatch grill marks, make sure the grill grates are HOT. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, then use tongs to rotate the chicken 45 degrees and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then, flip each piece over and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Once the internal temperate is 165 degrees F, immediately take the chicken off the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute and settle back into the meat.

🍽️ Variations & Serving Suggestions

Grilled chicken breasts – The extra fat in thighs makes them inherently easier to grill without becoming drying. Chicken breasts are a little thicker. Make these modifications if you use chicken breasts.

Grilled chicken wings – Coat the wings with dry spices and baking soda and grill as instructed here.

  • Pound chicken breasts to an even 1/2″ thickness.
  • Whisk the Pulehu seasonings with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl, then add the chicken breasts, tossing to coat in oil and spices.
  • Grill on each side for 3-4 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165F. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Sweet and salty marinade – Whisk the Puleuhi spices with olive oil, soy sauce, fish sauce & sesame oil, and add a tablespoon of brown sugar to heighten the umami tastes. Brown sugar also acts as a natural meat tenderizer.

Make it a meal – Mo’ Bettahs serves their meat platters with white rice or brown rice and macaroni salad. The recipes below are great alternatives.

🧊 Storing & Freezing

Storing: To slow down bacterial growth, cooked chicken should not sit out at room temperature longer than 2 hours. To store leftovers, let cool, then keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Freezing: You can also freeze your grilled chicken. Once cool, place the grilled chicken in a freezer-safe airtight container or freezer-safe resealable bag, removing as much air as possible, and store in the freezer for 3-4 months—Thaw in the fridge before reheating.


What is Pulehu chicken from Mo’ Bettah?

The Pulehu chicken at Mo’ Bettahs is grilled chicken thighs seasoned with black pepper, garlic & sea salt. This is one of three chicken preparation options available (teriyaki and Katsu being the other two).

What does Pulehu mean in Hawaiian?

In Hawaiian, “Pulehu” (pronounced pu’-lee-hu) translates to “cook over hot coal.” For this Pulehu chicken, seasoned chicken thighs are cooked over a hot grill.

How long does it take to grill chicken thighs?

The exact time depends on the size and thickness of your chicken thighs. Boneless chicken thighs will cook in about 10 minutes, while bone-in chicken thighs will need a few minutes longer. For consistently juicy grilled chicken, pull it off the grill as soon as the internal temperature reaches 165F.

♨️ More Grilled Recipes

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Pulehu Chicken

Make Hawaiian-inspired Pulehu Chicken! You'll only need 5 ingredients and less than 30 minutes of your time. Juicy chicken thighs are seasoned with simple spices and cooked on a hot grill until the meat is tender with lightly charred edges.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 252kcal


  • 1 pound chicken thighs boneless, skinless
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce shoyu, or tamari
  • ½ teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • With a sharp knife, trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Place a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the thighs on a flat surface. Place the chicken thighs on top, then cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Using a mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken to tenderize the meat and even out the thickness of each piece.
  • Then, add the thighs to a medium-sized bowl with the dried seasonings and soy sauce. Using your hands, rub the dry ingredients into the chicken until fully coated. Let it sit for 5-30 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  • Meanwhile, heat the grill on medium-high heat between 375F and 400F.
  • Using tongs, place the seasoned chicken onto the hot grill grates, cook for 5-6 minutes with the grill closed, then flip the thighs over, and cook for 5-6 more minutes (or until the internal temperature reaches 165F) with the grill open.
  • Remove from the grill with tongs and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving with your favorite side dishes.


Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 88mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 89IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

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