If you love Japanese cuisine, having a teriyaki chicken recipe is a must. This traditional grilled chicken is glossy, juicy, super aromatic, and goes really well with rice.
What Is Teriyaki?
Teriyaki (照り焼き) is literally “glossy grilling”, translated word-by-word. It’s one of the many famous Japanese delicacies.
The meat is marinated and grilled with a sweetened soy-sauce-based marinade. As you reduce the sauce, it becomes shiny and smooth.
Despite the name, teriyaki chicken recipes sometimes involve no grilling. Chicken is marinated, then slowly roasted in an oven until the skin becomes golden and the meat is cooked.
If you do have a BBQ set-up and the occasion presents itself, grill your chicken on that. Nothing beats the charred marks of the grilling flame.
If you do it right, the teriyaki chicken should come out with somewhat crisp skin and moist meat. When you take a bite, its fragrance will come rushing in, as the umami sauce coats your palate.
Check out this similar chicken recipe that’s also super fragrant and umami: sesame chicken recipe.
Is Teriyaki Chicken Healthy?
Yes, it is. Teriyaki chicken has a lot of healthy ingredients.
First off, ginger. This health-promoting root has medicinal properties, including being anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and a reliever of certain ailments.
In addition to ginger, our teriyaki chicken recipe also uses sesame oil and seeds. They are rich in good fats that cut cholesterol, and low in saturated fats (the kind that’s bad for you).
We also used honey and reduced-sodium soy sauce. Honey contains trace amounts of minerals and is a better choice of sweetener than granulated sugar, while using less-sodium soy sauce helps reduce the risks of high blood pressure (and more).
Calories in Teriyaki Chicken
Each serving of our recipe provides around 495 calories, more than 40% of which come from healthy fats and protein.
The amount of saturated fat per serving is less than 5 grams, which mainly comes from the chicken fat. You can use leaner parts of the chicken for a lower-fat meal.
Types of Chicken Meat
Chicken has two types of meat: dark and white.
Dark meat has a darker hue than white meat due to difference in muscle structure. It is found in the thighs and legs, and is preferable because it’s juicier.
White meat, on the other hand, is lighter in tone. It’s in the animal’s breast and wings, and despite not being as juicy, it’s still beloved for many reasons.
We often use this part of the chicken (minus the skin) as the main source of protein for salads.
Chicken wings are often divided into three smaller components: drumette, wingette, and wingtip, all of which are white meat. It’s 17.5% protein, with 3% more fat than the chicken breast, and it’s often prepared skin-on.
Besides the to-die-for hot wings, there are a lot of ways to cook chicken wings. We find that this cut is best stir-fried or grilled, then reduced in some kind of savory sauce.
We’re using thighs in our teriyaki chicken recipe, because they’re the most flavorful cut when compared to the other ones. It’s 16% protein, and up to 17% fat, but hey, we’ve got the healthy part covered for you.
To avoid having to deal with bones, you can remove them before baking the chicken, or simply look for boneless thighs.
At around 16% protein and 16% fat, chicken leg is not popular for being lean, but for being tasty and juicy. By removing the skin and trimming visible excess fat, you’d cut off up to 12% unhealthy fat from your meal.
Chicken legs can be used in many ways. However, they’re often seen deep-fried.
Sauce for Teriyaki Chicken
Since bottled sauce often contains preservatives, excess sodium and other additives, we want to make as many things from scratch as possible. The sauce in this teriyaki chicken recipe is no exception.
The first ingredient you’ll need is mirin. Mirin is a kind of sweet rice wine (14% alcohol), super aromatic and is often used in Japanese cuisine.
If you prefer your teriyaki chicken less sweet and a bit more fragrant, substitute mirin with cooking sake. Cooking sake is sake, but with a little bit of salt, to prevent kids from buying it as a beverage.
Next up, we have dashi (出汁). To make dashi, you’ll need to cook katsuobushi (鰹節) with water until the flavors come out.
Katsuobushi is dried, fermented, and smoked tuna shaved into “flakes”. It can be used to make dashi or crushed and sprinkled onto some dishes to add a bit of umami.
You can find katsuobushi in most Japanese or Asian grocery stores. In case you can’t, use chicken broth instead, like our recipe does.
The rest of the ingredients are soy sauce, honey, ginger, sesame oil, and rice vinegar for a little tanginess. Thanks to honey, your sauce will become glossy, shiny, and coat your chicken nicely as it reduces.
How to Make Teriyaki Chicken
Our easy, quick-to-make teriyaki chicken recipe only needs you to do the following:
- Marinade the chicken
- Make the sauce
- Sear the chicken
- Cook the onions
- Cook chicken with sauce
- Add onions and turn off the heat
- Serve the chicken with cooked rice
Tips for This Easy Teriyaki Chicken
As the chicken cooks, moisture will definitely come out, and you want to collect this juice to make your sauce flavorful. You can place the chicken in a baking dish, or on a piece of foil with the sides folding up.
If you use chicken legs instead of thighs, be sure to rotate them halfway through. It helps to render out all of the fat and get each side golden.
Since we’re reducing the sauce, the amount of sauce is also “reduced”. If you prefer your teriyaki chicken to have more sauce, add more water, along with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
The cornstarch will act as a thickening agent, leaving you with glossy, flavorful pieces of chicken.
What Goes with Teriyaki Chicken?
Traditionally, teriyaki chicken is served along with rice. It’s the main source of carbohydrates in Asian cuisine, and it has a neutral flavor that’s so versatile.
You can use white rice, like we do, or brown rice for a more sophisticated nutritional profile.
Steamed broccoli is one of the healthiest additions to any main dish. In this teriyaki chicken recipe, its tender texture and savory flavor makes it the perfect accompaniment.
Besides rice, this glossy dish also goes well with bread. You can arrange the chicken, sauce and veg between two slices of white bread, burger buns, or even hotdog sandwiches, or you can use wholewheat or multigrain bread for a healthier option.
Rice may be an all-time favourite addition to teriyaki chicken, but how about stir-fried noodles with veg in teriyaki sauce. Yummy!
We like our noodles with bell pepper, carrots, and cabbage, cut into slices and cooked quick so it’s still crunchy. How about you?
What to Serve with Teriyaki Chicken
A typical Japanese meal, like many other Asian meals, includes several side dishes surrounding the main dish. They complement each other and create a variety of flavor and texture, and an overall wholesome feeling to the meal.
As for this teriyaki chicken, it can be served with miso (味噌) soup, simple yet sophisticated. This is a popular side that you can find at almost any Japanese restaurant or convenience store.
To refresh your palate, a cool, tangy green grape juice is what we recommend. It only requires a juicing machine, and 5 minutes of your time.
Healthy Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
- 16 oz boneless chicken thigh
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp ginger minced
- 1 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tbsp cooking mirin
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar packed
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 4 tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp black pepper divided
- 6 oz onions sliced
- 1 tbsp sesame seed
- 0.5 oz leek thinly sliced
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 3 cups cooked long-grain rice
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- Marinade chicken with salt for 5 minutes.
- Make the sauce by mixing soy sauce, ginger, garlic, mirin, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, water, ⅛ tsp black pepper in a small bowl.
- On a heated skillet over medium-high heat, sear the chicken skin-side-down for 7 minutes. After the fat is rendered out, turn them over and sear for another 3 minutes or until cooked.
- Take the chicken out. Add onions to cook for 3 minutes and take them out too.
- Turn the heat to low. Add the teriyaki sauce and chicken to cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn the chicken over. Add onions to cook for around 1 minute then turn off the stove.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, the remaining pepper, sliced leeks, and sesame oil.
- Serve with hot rice.
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