Asian Recipes/ Dinner/ Japanese/ Recipes

Easy Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

28/01/2021

Ready for juicy grilled chicken with a luscious sweet soy glaze? Packed with flavour, Teriyaki Chicken is an easy weeknight meal for the whole family. Transport yourself back to Japan with this iconic dish, complete with your own homemade teriyaki sauce!

Sliced chicken coated in Japanese teriyaki sauce.

Why We Love This

Teriyaki chicken pairs perfectly with fluffy white rice and steamed veggies for an easy weeknight meal. 

Cook in a pan to catch all the delicious teriyaki sauce, let it reduce as the chicken cooks. The dish looks magic on the plate, with the shiny sweet-soy coating sticking to the chicken perfectly.

The actual cooking time takes only around 10 minutes, so marinate the chicken in advance to make it even easier on the night!

Top view of sliced chicken in a teriyaki sauce with lettuce and chopsticks.

What is Teriyaki Chicken? 

Teriyaki chicken is one of the most popular dishes from Japan. It’s right up there alongside sushi and takoyaki!

Succulent chicken (usually thighs) are marinated and cooked in a glossy teriyaki sauce that reduces down as it cooks. The end result is a juicy, tender chicken in a sticky soy glaze.

The words teri (照= glazed/shiny) and yaki (焼 = grilled/fried) traditionally refer to the cooking method of grilling or frying something with a shiny, glossy sauce or glaze, rather than the dish itself.

This one isn’t to be confused with yakitori chicken, which also uses teriyaki sauce, but is on skewers with spring onion.

Where We Learned This Recipe

Taught to us by our Osaka-Mum Yoshiko years ago, this has become a staple in our household. We usually have it with rice, but sometimes we’ll keep the chicken piece whole and make it into a teriyaki chicken burger!

What You’ll Need

With just a few Japanese pantry items, you’ll have this dish whipped up in no time.

  • Chicken – Thighs are extra juicy, soak up all the flavour and cook perfectly. We don’t usually worry about cutting off all the skin or fat but you can do this if you want. Otherwise, swap for chicken breasts. Slice into small pieces, or cut each breast in half lengthways to create flat steaks. This will help the cut soak up more of the marinade. 
  • Teriyaki Sauce – Make your own or use a store bought brand such as Kikkoman. It uses similar ingredients to what we’ve used in the marinade today, just in different ratios to balance out the flavour. If making your own, feel free to experiment with the quantity of each ingredient until you’ve got it just how you like it.
  • Soy Sauce – For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman brand which has the perfect balance of flavour and salt. Chinese or Korean soy sauces may be too salty or bitter for this recipe, however Japanese tamari works great as a gluten-free option. If you only have dark soy sauce on hand you can still use it, you just may need to balance out the intensity with a little extra sugar. 
  • Cooking Sake – This is a type of rice wine made for cooking. It’s lighter and more delicate in flavour than Chinese cooking wine, but you can use either in this recipe. Look for it at Asian grocers or online. You can substitute with sherry or a blend of 50:50 vodka and water in a pinch, or just use water only and leave out the alcohol completely. If you’re unsure about the alcohol in this recipe, remember that it will evaporate during the cooking process, leaving you with the beautiful flavour and shine only. 
  • Mirin – This is a sweet rice wine for cooking. You can sometimes find it in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online. If you don’t have it, just leave it out and add in an extra 1 tsp of sugar instead. 
  • Oyster Sauce – This is a sweet and salty sauce that gives teriyaki chicken a little extra kick of flavour. Regular oyster sauce is, of course, made from oysters, but it’s possible to get vegetarian “oyster sauce” made from mushroom extract if you prefer. 
  • Garlic – This is an extra ingredient in Yoshiko’s recipe that isn’t always found in other Japanese recipes for teriyaki sauce. We LOVE using it for the extra flavour, and will sometimes add ginger as well. You can use finely chopped/minced, or swap for the powdered versions depending on your preference. 
  • Pepper – This adds a touch of spice to the marinade sauce, another of Yoshiko’s unique tweaks to the recipe that we love. Keep it in or leave it out as you wish.
Ingredients laid out for teriyaki chicken.

How to make Teriyaki Chicken:

  1. In a medium bowl, pop in your chicken thighs and add in the soy sauce, sake, mirin, oyster sauce, garlic and pepper. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
  2. Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan over high heat. Once hot, add your chicken thighs and cook for 3-4 minutes before flipping over to the other side.
  3. Add your teriyaki sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken every couple of minutes or so as the sauce thickens for a nice and even glaze.
  4. Continue to cook until the sauce sticks to the chicken and thickens (around 5 – 10 minutes).
  5. Remove from the pan and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before slicing to serve. Coat or drizzle with any leftover sauce in the pan.
  6. Serve hot with rice and a side of miso soup.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Don’t Skip the Marinade Time – This makes it juicier and more flavourful – especially if you prep it the day before. This will allow all the flavours to soak into the meat and help tenderise it too, so while you could skip it, we definitely don’t recommend missing out!
  • Hot Oil – For a delicious sear, make sure the oil and pan are heated up and ready to go.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pan – Only cook two chicken thighs at a time to avoid losing too much heat. If cooking a big batch, keep the cooked thighs wrapped in aluminium foil in the oven on the lowest temperature to keep warm.
  • Double the Recipe – This recipe is perfect for two people, so double it for a family of four.
  • To Thicken The Sauce – Turn the heat up high so it looks like the sauce is boiling. Keep stirring and wait for it to thicken. When it starts thickening, turn the heat low. If you’re afraid of overcooking the chicken, you can take the chicken out once cooked and continue to cook the sauce in the pan until it reduces further, then pour over the cooked chicken once you’ve plated up.
  • If Cooking with Skin On – Skin side down first for extra char, flavour and to crisp it up. 
  • Keep Basting as You Go – This will ensure the chicken is coated evenly all over.

FAQs

What else can I use teriyaki chicken with?

Pair it with rice bowls (white, brown or sushi rice), noodle bowls, stir fries, with or alongside steamed or stir fried veggies (onion, red pepper, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms). Why not use in gourmet sandwiches, hand-rolled sushi or even in a hamburger. We enjoy it with a simple side salad of colourful veggies in a tangy wafu (Japanese style) dressing.

My teriyaki sauce didn’t reduce and I want to make it thicker. How?

Japanese teriyaki sauce is much runnier than commercial brands, however it becomes thicker when it’s cooked down in the pan. If for some reason it doesn’t, you can make a slurry of 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp cold water and add it to the sauce while cooking to make it thicker.

How long does it last?

It should last up to four days in the fridge.

Can I freeze it?

Sure, pop in an airtight container and it’ll keep for up to three months in the freezer. Freeze in portions for a quick and easy lunch or dinner when you don’t feel like cooking.

Can I cook teriyaki chicken in the oven?

Absolutely! Cook for 20 minutes each side at 200°C / 390°F (for two thighs) or until cooked through. We’d recommend placing the thighs on a lined baking tray or roasting pan and basting them with teriyaki sauce that has been cooked down in a pan until it’s nice and syrupy (just before it REALLY thickens).

Variations

  • Instead of Chicken – Try it with pork, beef, salmon or as meatballs!
  • Optional GarnishShichimi togarashi, sesame seeds, spring onion, chopped cashews or nuts
  • Add ginger – Add 1 tsp of ginger for an extra kick of flavour.
  • Skin On Chicken – Prick all over with a fork to help the oils reduce while cooking, and always start cooking skin side down for extra char and flavour. 
Shiny glaze on sliced teriyaki chicken.

Serve alongside these tasty Japanese creations:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Slices of succulent teriyaki chicken with lettuce and chopsticks.

Easy Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

Ready for juicy grilled chicken with a luscious sweet soy glaze? Packed with flavour, Teriyaki Chicken is an easy weeknight meal for the whole family. Transport yourself back to Japan with this iconic dish, complete with your own homemade teriyaki sauce!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 2 chicken thighs
Calories: 382kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $8

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken thighs 300g / 10 oz

For the marinade

For the sauce glaze

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, pop in your chicken thighs and add in the soy sauce, sake, mirin, oyster sauce, garlic and pepper. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
  • Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan over high heat. Once hot, add your marinated chicken thighs and cook for 3 minutes before flipping over to the other side.
  • Add your teriyaki sauce and cook for another 3 minutes. Flip the chicken every couple of minutes or so as the sauce thickens for a nice and even glaze.
  • Continue to cook until the sauce sticks to the chicken and thickens (around 3-5 minutes).
  • Remove from the pan and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before slicing to serve. Coat or drizzle with any leftover sauce in the pan.
  • Serve hot with rice and a side of miso soup.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Don’t Skip the Marinade Time – This makes it juicier and more flavourful – especially if you prep it the day before. This will allow all the flavours to soak into the meat and help tenderise it too, so while you could skip it, we definitely don’t recommend missing out!
  • Hot Oil – For a delicious sear, make sure the oil and pan are heated up and ready to go.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pan – Only cook two chicken thighs at a time to avoid losing too much heat. If cooking a big batch, keep the cooked thighs wrapped in aluminium foil in the oven on the lowest temperature to keep warm.
  • Double the Recipe – This recipe is perfect for two people, so double it for a family of four.
  • To Thicken The Sauce – Turn the heat up high so it looks like the sauce is boiling. Keep stirring and wait for it to thicken. When it starts thickening, turn the heat low. If you’re afraid of overcooking the chicken, you can take the chicken out once cooked and continue to cook the sauce in the pan until it reduces further, then pour over the cooked chicken once you’ve plated up.
  • If Cooking with Skin On – Skin side down first for extra char, flavour and to crisp it up.
  • Keep Basting as You Go – This will ensure the chicken is coated evenly all over.
  • Ingredients:
    • Chicken – Thighs are extra juicy, soak up all the flavour and cook perfectly. We don’t usually worry about cutting off all the skin or fat but you can do this if you want. Otherwise, swap for chicken breasts. Slice into small pieces, or cut each breast in half lengthways to create flat steaks. This will help the cut soak up more of the marinade. 
    • Teriyaki Sauce – Make your own or use a store bought brand such as Kikkoman. 
    • Soy Sauce – For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman. Sub with tamari for a gluten-free option. 
    • Cooking Sake – Sub with Chinese cooking wine, sherry or a blend of 50:50 vodka and water in a pinch, or just use water only and leave out the alcohol completely.
    • Mirin – Sub with an extra 1 tsp of sugar instead. 

Nutrition

Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 5090mg | Potassium: 523mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 91IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 3mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Easy Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Holly
    31/01/2021 at 3:03 pm

    5 stars
    Looks scrumptious! Homemade teriyaki sauce is always the best. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      01/02/2021 at 10:29 am

      You’re welcome Holly, thanks for letting us know! 😀

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