The Best Chicken Teriyaki
This Chicken Teriyaki (鳥照り焼き) or Teriyaki Chicken is a quick weeknight dinner that’s so easy to make! Tender chicken thighs are cooked in a mouth-watering homemade sweet and savory authentic teriyaki sauce.
There are many variations of Chicken Teriyaki, and this recipe is more authentic with a delicious shiny glaze over the tender chicken.
Having lived in Japan for years, I learned how to make this dish at a cooking school in Tokyo. I have made many Teriyaki recipes, including Teriyaki Shrimp, Teriyaki Salmon and an American-style Teriyaki Chicken.
What is Teriyaki Chicken?
Chicken Teriyaki (鳥照り焼き ) or Teriyaki Chicken is a Japanese dish that uses a cooking technique called Teriyaki. With this technique, the foods are coated with a glaze of soy sauce, Mirin and sugar mixture. Ginger or red pepper flakes are optional. Teri means “to shine”, and yaki means “to grill”. So the traditional Teriyaki Chicken looks shiny with the glaze of Teriyaki sauce.
Originally Teriyaki is a grilled dish, but today it’s more often stir-fried even in Japan.
How to Make Chicken Teriyaki
This Chicken Teriyaki is very easy to make and uses only a handful of ingredients. It’s so much better than takeout, and you will make it again and again…
Step 1: Marinate the Chicken
I used boneless and skin-on chicken thighs for this recipe. Season the chicken with salt and minced ginger. Rub the seasoning into the chicken thighs, and let them marinate in the fridge for more than 30 minutes. When they are done, dry them with paper towels. This marinade process will make your chicken juicy and tender with more flavor.
Step 2: Make Chicken Teriyaki Sauce
The homemade teriyaki sauce is so much better than the store-bought bottles. It’s sweet and savory with fresh ingredients and no preservatives.
There are two widely used recipes for making Teriyaki Sauce. Traditional authentic Teriyaki sauce and a more Americanized Teriyaki Sauce.
Authentic Teriyaki Sauce
The authentic Teriyaki Sauce has 4 basic ingredients: soy sauce, Mirin, sake and sugar. To make it, simply use 1-1-1 ratio rules for the first 3 ingredients. Then you add in sugar to taste. Sake could be replaced with white wine. Ginger and red pepper flakes are optional.
The sauce is thickened by the soy sauce and sugar caramelizing, making it shiny. There is no cornstarch in Japanese teriyaki sauce, as it will cloud the sauce.
Americanized Teriyaki Sauce
As Mirin and sake are sometimes not on hand in many households, many teriyaki sauce recipes from North America call for a few ingredients that are more common here: soy sauce, cider vinegar, sugar, water and cornstarch as the base for the teriyaki sauce, adding ginger and garlic as optional. Although it is not at all traditional and not as shiny, it tastes amazing and is quite addictive.
For this Chicken Teriyaki recipe, I made the authentic teriyaki sauce where I whisk together soy sauce, Mirin, white wine and sugar.
Step 3: Sauté the Chicken
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chicken with skin-side facing down and sauté until the skin turns golden brown. Flip the chicken , cover with lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in teriyaki sauce mix from step 2. Turn the heat to high, and let the sauce boil. Meanwhile, toss the chicken to combine with the sauce, and spoon the sauce onto the chicken to coat evenly.
Note: Start with medium heat so that you won’t burn the outside of your chicken before they are cooked through.
Step 4: Make Teriyaki Glaze
Remove chicken to serving plates, while allowing sauce to continue boiling a few more minutes until it reaches a simmer and thickens. Remove it from heat when it’s done.
How to Serve Chicken Teriyaki
Slice chicken into strips, and serve over rice with broccoli. Drizzle the teriyaki glaze if desired and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. If you want to make your dish healthier, you can serve your chicken teriyaki on brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice. You can even serve it with lettuce wrap.
Tips and Secrets for Making Chicken Teriyaki
- Boneless and skin-on chicken thighs are best for this recipe as they have more moisture than chicken breasts.
- Marinate your chicken with salt and minced ginger will make your chicken much more flavorful.
- Start with medium heat to sauté your chicken, and make sure not to over-cook it. Turn the heat up after you add in teriyaki sauce so that it thickens fast.
- If your chicken is already cooked through when the sauce is not thick enough, remove the chicken and continue to cook the sauce. Keep an eye on your sauce so that it won’t get burned.
How to Store Leftover Chicken Teriyaki
Chicken Teriyaki stores well in the fridge and is a great option for meal prep. Store it in an airtight container and it will last for up to 4 days.
Ingredients I Used for Making this Chicken Teriyaki
Chicken: I used chicken thighs for this recipe, as the thigh meat is tender and delicious, and therefore preferred in Japan. It has more moisture with more flavor than the white meat.
Mirin: Mirin is a Japanese cooking rice wine with subtle sweet accents. You can find it in Asian grocery stores or online. If you cannot find it, you can substitute it with dry white wine and sugar.
Sake: I used to use sake to make Teriyaki recipes when I lived in Japan. In this recipe, I used white wine to substitute.
Soy Sauce: I used low-sodium soy sauce, and Kikkoman is my favorite brand.
Broccoli: I served my Chicken Teriyaki with steamed rice and broccoli. Many other vegetables go well with this recipe such as carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers and green beans.
- 1 pound chicken thighs, boneless skin-on
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh ginger , minced
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp Mirin
- 1 tbsp white wine , or Sake
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Season the chicken with salt and minced ginger. Rub the seasoning into the chicken thighs, and let them marinate in the fridge for more than 30 minutes.
- When they are done, dry them with paper towels.
- In a small-medium sized bowl, mix together Mirin, white wine, soy sauce and sugar
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chicken with skin-side facing down and sauté until the skin turns golden brown. Flip the chicken, cover with the lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Remove the lid and stir in teriyaki sauce mix. Turn the heat to high, and let the sauce boil. Meanwhile, toss the chicken to combine with the sauce, and spoon the sauce onto the chicken to coat evenly.
- Remove chicken to serving plates, while allowing the sauce to continue boiling a few more minutes until it reaches a simmer and thickens. Remove it from heat when it’s done.
Please read our nutrition disclaimer.
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