This is an authentic Japanese Teriyaki Chicken Recipe prepared with boneless chicken thighs and a handful of pantry ingredients.
This recipe is without cornstarch and ginger.
Momoko, our japanese food expert joined the team a little while back.
She has been helping me film her heritage food and I'm translating her knowledge into useful recipe posts.
What's Chicken Teriyaki?
Chicken Teriyaki is a modern Japanese dish. It got popular in the west where it was eventually modified to adapt to the local palate.
The Japanese version calls for boneless chicken tighs. The chicken is cooked in a pan first.
Then a teriyaki sauce is prepared and the chicken is taken back to the pan to be cooked in the sauce.
Teri means shiny and yaki to stir fry. The Japanese sauce is made of soy sauce, sugar and sake.
How to make it?
This dish comes together really quickly and easily and there is zero marination time!
You can prepare and cook your own Japanese style teriyaki within 20 minutes.
I have roughly outlined the process in 3 steps, find the detailed recipe with ingredient quantities in the recipe card further below.
Season Chicken with Salt
Heat up a pan with oil and wait for it to get super hot.
Shallow fry chicken on all sides until it shows color.
Take chicken from the pan and pat dry with clean kitchen towel to get rid of excess oils.
Wash pan and dry well.
Place teriyaki sauce ingredients into the pan and heat up.
Place chicken into pan, cover and cook in sauce on both sides.
Cut chicken into slices, pour remaining sauce over and serve up hot.
Serving up and Uses
Momoko our Japanese food fairy, said that they usually serve chicken teriyaki cut in slices over lettuce or with a bowl of sushi rice as a donburi lunch meal.
It's a popular takeaway choice!
For meal prepping champs, teriyaki chicken is a common bento lunch box addition.
You can also have it with onigiri rice balls. It's common in Japan to have it that way!
Besides, modern sushi variations use teriyaki chicken pieces too. So, you can also roll the cooked chicken in.
I personally love my chicken teriyaki as an addition to my green salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Or how about a teriyaki sandwich or wrap? You can use burrito wraps, middle eastern flatbread, Chinese bao buns and you can make lettuce wraps too.
Cooked and sliced teriyaki flavored chicken can also be added to fried noodles such as chow mein, yakisoba or udon.
You can try to use other chicken cuts such as boneless breast, wings or drumsticks.
But keep in mind that boneless leg meat is preferred because it has got more flavor and because it can be cooked on skewers over the grill.
If you want to grill your meat, you will have to marinate the chicken with the combined sauce ingredients.
To make it spicy, add some red chili pepper flakes to the sauce ingredients in the pan.
You can add freshly chopped ginger too and garlic.
You can store your cooked teriyaki chicken in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Reheat it for a short time in a skillet. Avoid reheating in the microwave or oven because the meat will dry out.
Freezing isn't a great option because the chicken will be completely cooked in the sauce and thawing and warming it up again would just decrease the meat quality.
Teriyaki chicken is sometimes presented with sesame seeds and red chili pepper flakes. Vegetable garnish such as cooked broccoli florets, carrot, and avocado are common too.
Take a look at your soy sauce label and use one which is labeled as gluten-free.
The sugar in the teriyaki sauce is the main ingredient. It lends the sauce a glossy shine and while you can try to replace it with honey, you can't just skip it. Teri means shiny and skipping sugar wouldn't make it a teri-yaki chicken.
Sweet soy sauce is a variety of soy sauce. You can buy it in Asian stores or large supermarkets. See recipe notes in the recipe card to make it from scratch or instruction on how to use regular kikkoman soy sauce instead.
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Japanese Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
For the Chicken
- 4 Boneless Chicken Thighs *see Notes
- Salt pinch
- 1 Tablespoon Oil *see Notes
For the Chicken
- Season chicken thighs on all sides with salt.
- Heat up a deeper pan with oil. Keep over high heat, the oil needs to be super hot but it shouldn't smoke.
- Place Chicken into hot pan and cook chicken on both sides until it gets some color, for about 2 minutes each side.
- Take chicken out of the pan and place into a tray and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. The chicken needs to be cleared of oil. Wash pan, it has to be clean for the next steps ahead.
For the Teriyaki Sauce
- Heat up clean deep pan. Pour sake or vodka into the pan. Add the sweet soy sauce and the brown sugar.
- Place chicken into the hot teriyaki sauce.
- Cook over high heat covered for a minute each side. Cook on both sides 2 times. The chicken will take in the teriyaki glaze, and the sauce will reduce and get sticky.
- Take from the pan and slice into strips.
- Arrange in serving plate/bowl and pour remaining teriyaki sauce from the pan over the chicken.
- Serve hot with garnish.
- Chicken thighs are preferred because they are more flavorful than breasts. But you can use breasts, wings or drumsticks too.
- Use vegetable or canola oil.
- You can use our homemade teriyaki sauce too instead of the teriyaki sauce ingredients in this recipe.
- Sake is a Japanese clear liquor. If you can't get it (which is ok too), use vodka.
- Sweet soy sauce is a variety of soy sauce. You can make it from scratch by mixing together 1 ½ Tbs soy sauce with ½ Tbs brown sugar or sugar cane. Homemade sweet soy sauce is preferred because the sugar and soy sauce had time to mix up. OR buy the Japanese one (not Indonesian sweet soy sauce). OR use 1 ½ Tbs regular Kikkoman soy sauce and use a total of about 1 Tbs brown sugar in the recipe.
- You can use regular sugar or honey too if you don't have brown sugar. Skip the quantity of sugar in the recipe if you are using regular Kikkoman soy sauce + 1 Tbs sugar (see step 4).