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I love making my family's favorite Asian foods at home, like slow-cooked teriyaki chicken, shrimp tempura roll, and this hearty chicken yakitori.
Every time we go to our local Japanese restaurant, I have to order the yakitori. These grilled meat skewers are very tasty and fun to eat, too! I learned how to make this classic recipe at home, and I have to say that my version is as good as what you would get in a restaurant.
What is yakitori?
Yakitori is grilled skewers made from all parts of the chicken, including chicken breast, chicken drumsticks, chicken hearts, and gizzards. The meat is twisted into sticks and cooked while dipped in a homemade sauce throughout the process. The sauce is called tara, and is somewhat similar to teriyaki sauce with a sweet and salty element. These chicken kabobs are generally served as an appetizer, though they are hearty enough to serve as a complete meal with a few other dishes on the side.
How is yakitori made?
The first step in this recipe is to make your sauce. Place soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, honey, and rice vinegar in a skillet. Bring the pan to a simmer, then add the cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Cut the chicken thighs into small pieces, then place the chicken pieces on wooden skewers. Grill or broil the chicken, drizzling the sauce several times. Add a pinch of sesame seeds and green onions on top, then serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect chicken.
- I like to use chicken drumsticks for this recipe because they are tastier and less likely to dry on the grill. However, you can use chicken breasts if you prefer. Or you can turn things around and try cubes of pork tenderloin or sirloin steak.
- Soak your wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes so they don't burn on the grill.
- The sauce can be prepared up to 5 days in advance and can be stored in the refrigerator. You can even double-batch the sauce and freeze a little for later use.
- These skewers can be cooked on an outdoor grill, in a pan, or in the oven. I prefer to grill them whenever possible because I find the sauce caramelizes best in the heat of the grill.
What goes well with yakitori?
You can serve these yakitori alone as an appetizer, or combine them with different starch and vegetable options to make a complete meal. Some of these ideas are not necessarily traditional Japanese food, but the flavors work well with chicken.
- Vegetarian Fried Rice
- Grilled mushrooms
- Fried Rice with Cauliflower
- Grilled Asparagus
Grilled chicken skewers
While yakitori are often made on a grill, you can also cook them in the oven if you prefer. Place the chicken skewers in a pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Grill for 4 minutes per side, then drizzle with sauce and roast for an additional 4 minutes. Spray again, then roast for 2 more minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion, then serve.
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You'll be amazed at how delicious this yakitori is – all the great restaurant flavors in the comfort of your home!
Asian Food Favorites
- Stir-fried noodles
- General Tso's Chicken
- Mongolian meat
- Thai fried rice
- Kung Pao Chicken
This yakitori recipe consists of small pieces of grilled chicken on skewers and topped with a sweet and salty frosting. A unique and unexpected appetizer or a main course option that always receives rave reviews from family and friends.
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Total time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings Calories: 333kcal
For the skewers
- 1 1/4 pounds chicken drumsticks, cut into small pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sliced green onion
For the sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the sauce
- Place soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, honey, sesame oil, and rice vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water until dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce and boil for 1-2 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
For the chicken
- Spread the chicken pieces on skewers that have been soaked in cold water. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then brush the vegetable oil over the skewers.
- Preheat a grill or outside skillet over medium heat.
- Cook chicken for 4 minutes per side. Brush the sauce over the chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes per side.
- Brush more sauce over the chicken, then cook for another minute per side.
- Brush a final layer of sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion, then serve.
Calories :: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 20 g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 725 mg | Potassium: 340mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 126 IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1 mg