Japanese Glossy Grilled Chicken (Yakitori)

In the Middle East, these are called shish kebab. In Japan, it’s yakitori. Staying true Japanese form, though, the chicken parts are grilled and glossed with a sweet soy baste. Yakitori shops are everywhere in Japan. Special yakitori grill masters feed numerous hungry businessman and foodies Yakitori fresh off the grill, served with with beer. The combination of tender chicken and the sweet charred glaze is inspired. Yakitori may be happily devoured for lunch, snacks, dinner and, even for breakfast.

Yakitori – Grilled and Glazed Chicken Skewers

This recipe skips the traditional chicken parts and just sticks to the chicken meat. In Japan, the chicken is cooked until it's almost done before the chicken skewers are dipped in the sauce and returned to the grill to be glazed. Chicken can also be brushed with sauce instead of dipped. Yakitori is a nice appetizer and a welcome addition to any cookout.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Snack, Street Food
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large ziploc freezer bag
  • Small saucepan, wooden spoon, wood skewers (soaked 30 minutes)


  • 1 cup Soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Mirin sweet rice wine
  • 2 tbsp Sake or sherry (optional)
  • 2 bunch Scallions, cut into 1½-inch slices, white and semi-white parts only. Save 1 for sauce and garnish.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ⅛-inch Slice ginger root, smashed
  • 1 strip Lemon zest
  • 2 lb Boneless chicken thighs


  • Make Yakitori Sauce – Combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, white part of 1 scallion, garlic, ginger, sugar, and lemon zest in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat to medium-low and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Discard lemon, garlic, ginger, and scallion. Cover.
  • Marinate Chicken – Slice chicken into 1½-inch long and ½-wide pieces. Cut the white and white-green parts of the scallion into pieces the same length as the chicken. Place chicken, scallions, and sauce in a plastic freezer bag. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
  • Grill Chicken – One hour before cooking, soak wood skewers in cold water, if using. Separate chicken and scallions from sauce. Pour marinating sauce back into the saucepan and bring to a boil before removing from heat.
    Heat grill to high. Thread top half of skewers crosswise with alternating pieces of chicken and scallion. Place skewers on the grill with exposed part of the skewer over the near edge. Cook 3 minutes on each side. Brush top side with sauce and flip. Cook about 1-2 minutes to glaze, brush top, and flip to glaze the other side.
    Remove to a serving platter and brush tops once more. Sprinkle chopped scallion green over and served with a green salad and white rice.


Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 2356mg | Potassium: 428mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 198IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg

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