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 stand 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.
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 anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation, and 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.
Calories in Teriyaki Chicken
Each serving of our recipe provides around 484 calories, more than 40% of which comes 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 less-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 thigh 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 proteins for salads.
The chicken wing is often divided into three smaller components: drumette, wingette, and wingtip, all of which are white meat. It’s 17.5% protein, 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/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 among the other ones. It’s 16% protein, up to 17% fat, but hey, we’ve got the healthy part covered for you.
Besides, licking your finger after having hot wings is fun, but using that hand to hold utensils is just inconvenient. To avoid that, you can remove the bones 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, it’s often seen deep-fried.
Sauce for Teriyaki Chicken
Since bottled sauce often contains preservatives, 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 followings:
Marinate: Add ingredients in, marinade for about 10 minutes or so. Yes, it’s this quick.
Grill: Prepare your baking tray like so, and place the chicken on. Slide it into a preheated oven (280°F) and bake for 30 minutes.
Broil: Add onions on to the foil and bake for another 5 minutes at 338°F or until golden.
Reduce the sauce: Take the chicken out and allow the pieces to rest. Meanwhile, pour all of the sauce into a pan and reduce on low heat for 2 minutes.
Serve: Either slice your chicken up into strips or leave them whole. Sprinkle sesame seeds, black pepper, and a touch of sliced leek/spring onion.
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 foil with the sides folding up.
If you use chicken legs instead of thighs, be sure to rotate them halfway through. We need all of the fat rendered out and all of its side to be 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. To this teriyaki chicken recipe, its tender texture makes itself 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 whie bread, burger buns, or even hotdog sandwiches.
Rice may be an all-time favourite addition to teriyaki chicken, but let’s visualize stir-fried noodles with veg in teriyaki sauce. Yummy!
I like my noodles with bell pepper, carrots, and cabbage, cut into slices and cooked 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 compliment 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
- 12 oz boneless chicken thigh
- 4 oz onions sliced
- 3 1/3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (3 tbsp + 1 tsp)
- 2 tbsp cooking mirin
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 0.5 oz ginger minced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 cup uncooked medium-grain rice (should yield 3 cups cooked)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 0.5 oz leek sliced into thin strips
- 1 tsp black pepper
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- Turn the oven to 280°F.
- In a large bowl, mix soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Put in the chicken and onions to marinate for about 10 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with foil. Fold the sides of the foil upward so it can hold the sauce. Place the chicken in and bake for 15 minutes at 280°F.
- Take the tray out and turn your oven to 338°F. Brush the marinade sauce onto each piece of chicken, add onions and pop them back in for another 5 minutes.
- Place the chickens on a tray to rest.
- Pour the marinade from the bowl into a pot/saucepan. Add meat juice from the foil along with the onions and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until thickens.
- Serve the chicken with hot rice, and drizzle the sauce on top.
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