Teriyaki chicken is the ultimate comfort food.
Teriyaki chicken is one of my faves. This is a a teriyaki chicken bowl to take you to Tokyo. There’s something about that sweet and savory sauce on chicken that gets me every time. A really good bowl of teriyaki chicken reminds me of eating skewer after skewer of yakitori in the narrow back alleys of Tokyo.
Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese food – foods are brushed with a glaze of sake, marin, soy sauce, and sugar, then either grilled or broiled. Teriyaki means glazed and grilled – teri meaning shiny/glazed and yaki meaning grilled. In Japan, traditional teriyaki chicken isn’t as saucy as we know it in North America – it’s simply glazed chicken.
Teriyaki sauce is a simple Japanese sauce made from just 4 ingredients: sake, mirin, soy, and sugar. Traditionally it’s on the thinner side, but still thick enough to glaze. Classic teriyaki sauce thickens naturally because the sugars caramelize. Teriyaki sauce is incredibly easy to make at home and once you make it once, you’ll never get store bough teriyaki sauce again. You can use it with stir fries and for chicken teriyaki, of course.
For teriyaki sauce you’ll need: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Sake, mirin, and soy are three backbone ingredients of Japanese cooking.
Lots of people on the internet will tell you that the mirin you buy isn’t real mirin. What they’re referring to is two different types of mirin: hon mirin and mirin seasoning. Hon mirin is “real” mirin: brewed from sticky rice, koji, and sochu. You’ll find this kind of mirin imported and on the expensive side.
The mirin you see at regular grocery stores is usually aji-mirin or kotteri mirin. It’s technically not mirin because it has a very low alcohol content and gets its sweetness from sugars instead of natural brewing. In the end, if you’re not making a high end dish, I think it doesn’t really matter. It’s kind of like how they tell you to cook with a decent wine, but not the best bottle. Aji-mirin is kind of like that decent wine. You can buy it online or in the Asian aisle of any grocery store.
Traditionally, teriyaki chicken is made with boneless skin on chicken legs (both thigh and drumstick). The skin crisps up nicely and keeps everything juicy. For ease, we’re going to use boneless skin on thighs, which are really easy to find at the grocery store.
You can also use chicken breasts, but they are a lot leaner and will most likely dry out before you get a good sear on the skin because they’re so thick. If you’re going to use breasts, I recommend cutting them up into bite sized pieces, cooking them just until they’re cooked through, then tossing them with the teriyaki sauce.
You’re in luck! We have an instant pot teriyaki chicken recipe right here. It’s not the crispy kind of chicken teriyaki, it’s more saucy but it’s just as good and has loads of sweet and savory teriyaki sauce.
Essentially, all you do is add the sauce ingredients and thighs to the pot, set the pressure on high for 7 minutes, quick release, make a quick cornstarch slurry, thicken the sauce, and you’re done! Click here for the recipe and more details.
To grill teriyaki chicken: grill the thighs, skin side down over medium heat until golden and crispy. Flip and cook on the other side. Remove from the grill. Make the sauce in a pan by adding the soy, mirin, sake, and sugar and bringing to a gentle simmer. Whisk 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and whisk into the sauce. Bring to a simmer and let thicken slightly. Spoon onto the grilled chicken.
For teriyaki chicken stir fry: cook 1-2 inch pieces of chicken in a frying pan over medium high heat until cooked through. Add the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and let the sauce thicken and enjoy.
Bake the the chicken thighs in a oven safe baking sheet with the sauce ingredients, including the cornstarch slurry, at 375°F until cooked though, 30-40 minutes.
Place chicken thighs in the crock pot along with the sauce ingredients, minus the cornstarch slurry. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours. In the last hour of cooking, whisk up the cornstarch slurry and stir into the crock pot.
You can cook the chicken and the sauce in one pan. Cook the thighs, in a dry pan, over medium heat until the skin is brown and crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Drain off any excess fat and then flip the chicken. Add the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and let the sauce thicken, then enjoy!
You only need 6 ingredients to make the best teriyaki chicken of your life.
Add the chicken, skin side down to a dry, non-stick pan. The chicken will render out enough fat that you don’t need to add any extra. Turn the heat on to medium and cook until the skin is brown and crispy, about 15-20 minutes, then flip.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: in a small sauce pan, add the soy, mirin, sake, and sugar and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and whisk into the sauce. Bring to a simmer and let thicken slightly. Set aside.
When the chicken skin is brown and crispy, flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes and check to make sure the chicken is cooked through. Rest on a cutting board for five minutes, then slice into strips and serve with teriyaki sauce with rice, cucumbers, green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 173
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5.4g34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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