The Best Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

The Best Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

The Best Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

Have you ever tried chicken teriyaki? If not, then this blog post is for you! Japanese teriyaki chicken is a dish that originates from Japan and it’s typically made with chicken thighs or chicken breast meat. It has a sweet and savory flavor, thanks to the sauce which typically consists of soy sauce, ginger, and sugar. Today, I am going to share how to make chicken teriyaki from scratch!

Teriyaki sauce poured over Teriyaki Chicken on the oval plate

One of my daughter’s favorite dishes to order when we go to a Japanese restaurant is teriyaki chicken. It’s definitely one of her go-to comfort meals.

What’s not to love about chicken that is tender and juicy on the inside with a sweet glaze on top?

But recently, my daughter asked me if I could make chicken teriyaki at home- just like she orders it at her favorite spot in town. She said she missed it because her favorite Japanese restaurant had closed down.

When we’re craving something really delicious, homemade usually tastes better than someplace else. So I decided to make chicken teriyaki from scratch!

Here’s how you can make it too.

It tastes even better than takeout and doesn’t take much effort at all. Not only will I share my recipe with you, but I’ll give you some tips so that your teriyaki chicken is tender, juicy, and extra delicious.

What Is Teriyaki Chicken?
We can thank Japanese immigrants that settled in Hawaii for creating this deliciously sweet and savory dish. They combined the umami flavor of soy sauce with locally sourced pineapple juice and brown sugar. The result is a thick and sweet marinade that tastes perfect on chicken, pork, and even just drizzled on rice.

Ingredients Used In This Chicken Teriyaki Recipe
There are two simple ingredients in this recipe – the chicken and the marinade.

chicken thigh vs chicken breast meat
The best type of chicken for teriyaki chicken is chicken thighs.

In order to make juicy and classic Japanese teriyaki chicken, you need chicken thigh with the skin on. Chicken thigh has more flavor and the chicken breast meat is too dry for this recipe.

If you want to use chicken breast, I suggest marinating it in some teriyaki sauce overnight so it isn’t as dry.

homemade teriyaki sauce

The other ingredient is the homemade teriyaki sauce. It’s an easy condiment to make and it can be stored for a month refrigerated. It only requires 4 ingredients:

Soy sauce
If you love Japanese food and cook authentic Japanese food, you may already have all 4 ingredients in your pantry. It is definitely worthwhile to make your own.

Tip: Check out this post for my authentic Japanese teriyaki sauce recipe.

8 photographs showing the first 8 steps of making Teriyaki Chicken
How To Make Japanese Teriyaki Chicken From Scratch
It might surprise you just how easy this is to make. All you do is cook the chicken thighs in your skillet. Then, pour the teriyaki sauce on the chicken until it thickens up.

I have some tips below and all the exact steps (including how to make sure the chicken cooks evenly) are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

3 Tips To Make The Perfect Teriyaki Chicken
Here are some tips that will help you make the perfect teriyaki chicken every single time.

1. pan-fry skin side first without oil
Score the chicken thigh to make the meat even. Heat the frying pan over medium heat and don’t add any oil because the chicken skin will produce more than enough oil.

2. remove extra oil with a paper towel
Remove excess oil with kitchen paper while pan-frying, otherwise, the oil will separate the sauce from the chicken meat.

3. reduce teriyaki sauce in the pan
Pour over the teriyaki sauce and reduce the teriyaki sauce a little bit. You can tell by looking at the bubble the teriyaki sauce creates.

What To Serve With Teriyaki Chicken
As you already know, you can use teriyaki chicken as rolled sushi fillings and for other dishes like teriyaki chicken don (teriyaki chicken bowl), teriyaki burgers, sandwiches, etc.

Previously, I chopped up the chicken thigh into small pieces to be able to eat it easily with a pair of chopsticks. You can cut the chicken thigh before cooking but if you do, you need to add oil to the pan.

This small bite-sized chicken recipe is great for Teriyaki Chicken Donburi (rice bowl) with a side of Asian cucumber salad. The acidity of the salad perfectly balanced out the sweetness from the teriyaki sauce!

Teriyaki Chicken served on an oval plate with a bowl of plain rice

Before I get to the recipe card at the bottom of this post, here are some questions people often have about teriyaki chicken.

How do you store leftover teriyaki chicken?
Store leftover teriyaki chicken in an airtight food storage container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 4 days.

Can I use the sauce as a marinade?
Yes, my homemade teriyaki sauce is perfect to use as a marinade. You can use it on pork too.

Are boneless or bone-in chicken thighs best?
Either boneless or bone-in works. I prefer boneless because it is easier to cut when I pan fry it.

Can I make this in the slow cooker?
Yes, it is possible to make teriyaki chicken in the slow cooker, but I do not recommend it. I prefer pan-frying because it makes the chicken skin nice and crispy. When you make food in the slow cooker, the texture is a lot softer. If you don’t mind soft chicken, then it’s totally fine to use the slow cooker.

Teriyaki chicken served as teriyaki donburi. Teriyaki chicken served on a bed of plain white rice
Related Recipes
If you enjoyed this teriyaki chicken recipe, here are some more Japanese chicken recipes you might want to try next. They are some of my favorites!

Teriyaki Chicken


▢1 Chicken thigh the thigh just has more flavour 500g
▢50 ml Teriyaki sauce
Score the chicken thigh meat and open up to make the meat thickness even.
Poke the chicken thigh skin with a fork in order to allow the sauce to go through easily.
Heat a large frying pan on high heat (you do not need oil)
Once the pan has heated, place the chicken meat on the pan with the skin side down
Brown the side and make the skin crisp for about 5 minutes. Remove any oil produced from the skin as much as possible.
When the skin is crisped, turn the meat over and cook the other side.

Pour the teriyaki sauce over the chicken meat. Keep pouring sauce over the chicken meat with a spoon until the teriyaki sauce has reduced a little bit.
When the sauce starts to make bigger bubbles around the chicken and the sauce has thickened, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat.
Slice the chicken thigh about 2 cm thick to serve with your choice of vegetables.
Chicken breast can be used, but you may need to use a little bit of oil to cook in a frying pan.