Make the most mouthwatering and easy Teriyaki Chicken recipe with only 5 ingredients - and in under 30 minutes! The family will wonder why you haven't made this sooner as they lick their plates clean & kiss bottled teriyaki sauce goodbyeeee.
Authentic Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
Homemade Teriyaki Chicken is the one of the easiest Chicken Dinners and 30-Minute Meals! This is the perfect for lazy meal prep or busy weeknights because (believe it or not) you only need 4 ingredients for an authentic teriyaki sauce! It's sweet. It's sticky. It's salty... And has all that deliciousness you're craving!
Yes, this teriyaki sauce is minimalist in comparison to store-bought teriyaki sauce, but don't let that fool you. You'll be amazed with the big BOLD flavors that come from such simple ingredients! Plus, you know exactly what's going in your food - no mysterious ingredients or preservatives here 🙂
We're making the BEST Teriyaki Chicken recipe, but if you're in the mood for seafood, Teriyaki Salmon is SO good too! You could even create Japanese takeout at home. Serve your Teriyaki Chicken with crispy Tonkatsu, Chicken Katsu Curry, or Salmon Onigiri!
❤️ Recipe Highlights
- 5 Simple Ingredients: Create BIG flavor with minimal effort! This authentic Japanese Teriyaki Chicken recipe wastes no time to prove there's so much deliciousness in simplicity. It's a quick meal any beginner in the kitchen can easily master!
- Extra Crispy / Extra Tender: Get key tips on making EXTRA crispy skin, and SUPER tender and juicy chicken!
- Cook 30 Minutes. Eat for the Week: This is what to cook when you're tight on time (or lazy, let's be real lol). It's a super easy meal prep or weeknight dinner - without spending all day in the kitchen or pulling out all the fancy gadgets.
This Chicken Teriyaki is an easy dinner recipe that'll make you wonder why you never made it at home sooner! Here are the handful of ingredients you'll need.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce: This is the base of this easy homemade teriyaki sauce recipe! It adds saltiness & umami. Keep in mind that this is light/low sodium soy sauce, NOT regular soy sauce! Using regular soy sauce in the recipe will make the teriyaki sauce wayyy too salty.
- Mirin: This is a Japanese cooking wine that's often used in sauces and marinades because it amplifies their flavors and tenderizes meat. You can easily find it at local Asian and Japanese markets or on Amazon.
- Sake: Sake also enhances the flavors of sauces & marinades, but the main difference between mirin & sake is that mirin is only used for cooking and sake can be used for both cooking and drinking. Sooo, as you cook, don't be shy to pour yourself a shot too 😉
- Brown Sugar: The brown sugar caramelizes for a subtle sweetness and thickens the sauce into a glossy glaze.
See recipe card for quantities.
This easy Chicken Teriyaki recipe is a no-brainer meal that can be prepared a couple of ways to adjust to your taste buds and how much time you have.
- Traditional (with extra crispy skin!): Teriyaki Chicken in Japan is commonly prepared with the chicken directly pan-fried - aka without marinating. When testing, I found that starting off in a cold pan gives the chicken skin more time to render out the fat for an EXTRA crispy skin! This is also a great version if you're tight on time because you'll save 20 minutes of marinating time.
- Marinated (with extra tender meat!): This marinated Teriyaki Chicken has become a popular variation. If you have the extra time to marinate, the sake and mirin work their magic for even more tender and flavorful chicken! When pan-frying though, keep a close eye since the sugars in the teriyaki sauce can easily burn.
Learning how to make Chicken Teriyaki at home is surprisingly easy! Create the sauce, which can easily be used as a delicious Teriyaki Chicken marinade too! Sear the chicken & cook in your own teriyaki sauce until sticky and tender!
Here are the detailed steps - let's get dinner ready!
Step 1: Make the teriyaki sauce in a bowl or airtight container. Combine low-sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, and sake until dissolved. Set aside.
Step 2: Prep chicken by cutting off excess skin & fat, then use a tenderizer/mallet or back of a knife to gently pound the thickest part of the chicken until the chicken lays evenly flat. Pat dry well.
At this point, you can pan-fry chicken directly or marinate for 20 minutes, then pan-fry.
Step 3: Option 1 - Traditional Variation: In a large pan without the heat on, add chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Then, turn heat to medium-high heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is crispy and 80% cooked (it'll finish cooking in the sauce).
Step 3: Option 2 - Marinated Variation: Heat a large skillet or pan on medium-high, then add chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Reserve sauce & cook for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is crispy and 80% cooked (it'll finish cooking in the sauce). Adjust heat if needed to prevent burning.
Step 4: Remove chicken from the pan and wipe down excess oil.
Step 5: Reheat pan to medium heat, add chicken back in SKIN-SIDE UP, then pour sauce in pan. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown & cooked through with syrupy sauce. Spoon sauce on the tops of the chicken until glazed in the sticky sauce. Remove & allow to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into it. Serve with white rice, brown rice, and/or fresh vegetables. Drizzle on any extra teriyaki sauce, then top with toasted sesame seeds & green onions if you're feeling fancy 😉 enjoy!
👩🏽🍳 Key Tips
- Moisture is Your Enemy: To create a beautiful sear/crisp on the chicken teriyaki, eliminate as much moisture as possible. Pat dry chicken well before adding to the pan & work in batches if you need to, so you don't overcrowd. Overlooking these simple steps will steam the chicken skin instead of achieving the delicious results you're looking for!
- Importance of Wiping Down Excess Oil: Oil and teriyaki sauce don't easily mix in this recipe, so if you don't remove the excess oil from the pan and chicken skin, you'll watch that delicious teriyaki sauce slide right off your chicken - instead of coating it. I use tongs and paper towels to quickly and easily wipe everything down!
- Getting That Extra Crispiness: When cooking the unmarinated chicken, you can easily get a crisp you can hear! Cook from a cold pan to render out as much fat as possible from the skin and use the majority of the cooking time skin-side down. Then, only start coating the chicken skin with the teriyaki sauce only once it's thick and syrupy so the chicken skin stays crispy even longer!
- Keeping Chicken Juicy: Once the sticky Teriyaki Chicken is cooked, I know it's looking mouthwatering and you're ready to jump right in - but let it rest for about 5 more minutes before slicing into it! This gives the chicken time to redistribute all of its delicious juice. If you cut into it right away, all that goodness will spill all over the cutting board instead - aka dry chicken sadness.
💭 Recipe FAQs
You can store any leftover Teriyaki Chicken in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until warm.
Chicken Teriyaki is a Japanese dish that translates to "shiny or glossy grilled chicken". This describes that juicy chicken glazed in the sweet and salty teriyaki sauce.
Marinating the chicken in teriyaki sauce is optional. You can directly pan-fry the chicken (without marinating), which creates a crispy skin and saves at least 20 minutes of marinating time.
If you have the extra time, you can marinate the chicken in teriyaki sauce to infuse more flavor and create even more tender meat.
When combining teriyaki sauce ingredients, you'll find the consistency pretty thin. This makes it ideal for marinating, if you decide to.
Once the teriyaki sauce is simmered, it'll begin to thicken from the sugars and turn into a glossy, sticky, and syrupy consistency. This is pure deliciousness to drizzle over your juicy chicken - without making the chicken skin turn soggy.
Teriyaki is from Japanese cuisine. In translation, "teri" means shiny, referring to the glossy teriyaki sauce. "Yaki" is grilled or broiled.
Teriyaki marinade is thinner in consistency, which makes it easier to penetrate into the protein to infuse flavor and tenderize the meat for super juicy chicken.
Teriyaki sauce, on the other hand, is typically thicker in consistency and usually adds instant flavor. You can baste chicken with the sticky teriyaki sauce while it cooks to coat the outside with bold flavor.
It depends. You can use your homemade teriyaki sauce to marinade your protein first to infuse more flavor and tenderize the meat, but this step is optional.
If you decide to skip marinating (which is the more traditional approach) sear the chicken first until the skin is crisp, then add the teriyaki sauce after. Cook until the sauce is sticky and chicken is cooked through.
Let's Get Cooking!
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Easy Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
- 1 pound skin-on boneless chicken thigh pat dry
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds optional for garnish
- 1 green onion thinly sliced, optional for garnish
- In a Ziplock bag or airtight container, combine teriyaki sauce ingredients - low-sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, and sake. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Prepare the chicken. Cut off any excess chicken skin or fat, then flatten the thickest parts of chicken by gently pounding a mallet/tenderizer or back of a knife until chicken lays evenly flat. Pat dry well.
- At this point, you can cook it directly to save time and/or if you prefer crispy chicken skin. OR you can marinate it for 20 minutes for extra tender and flavorful Teriyaki Chicken before moving on to the next step.
- In a large pan, place chicken thigh skin-side down, THEN turn on heat to medium-high. Adding chicken skin to a cold pan will help create a crispier skin. Reserve the rest of the marinade & cook in batches if needed to prevent overcrowding. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until beautifully seared/crisp and about 80% cooked. The chicken should have a little pink in the middle and will finish cooking in the sauce. If you marinated the chicken, keep a close eye and adjust the heat if needed since the sugars can burn easily.
Cooking Method 1 - Unmarinated Chicken:
- In a large pan without the heat on, add chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Then, turn heat to medium-high heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is crispy and 80% cooked (it'll finish cooking in the sauce).
Cooking Method 2 - Marinated Chicken:
- Heat a large skillet or pan on medium-high, then add chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Reserve sauce & cook for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is crispy and 80% cooked (it'll finish cooking in the sauce). Adjust heat if needed to prevent burning.
Finish Cooking in Teriyaki Sauce
- Remove chicken from the pan and wipe down excess oil.
- Reheat the pan at medium, add chicken back SKIN-SIDE UP. Pour sauce into the pan and cook for about 1 - 2 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened into syrupy consistency. Spoon sauce on the top of the chicken until well coated.
- Transfer chicken to a serving plate, drizzle on remaining teriyaki sauce, and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, if you’re feeling fancy. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into it to keep chicken juicy. Enjoy!
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce: The base of our teriyaki sauce! It adds saltiness and umami. Remember, this is the light/low-sodium version, not the regular soy sauce. Using regular soy sauce will make the teriyaki sauce too salty.
- Mirin: This is a Japanese cooking wine that enhances flavors of the sauce and tenderizes meat. You can easily find it at local Asian and Japanese markets or on Amazon.
- Sake:Like mirin, sake enhances the flavors of sauces and marinades. The main difference is that mirin is only for cooking, whereas sake can be used for both cooking and drinking.
- Brown Sugar: This adds sweetness and creates that iconic glossy glaze as it caramelizes!
- Key Tips
- Remove Excess Moisture: To achieve a beautiful sear/crisp on the chicken, remove as much moisture as possible. Pat dry the chicken thoroughly before adding it to the pan & work in batches to avoid overcrowding.
- Importance of Wiping Down Excess Oil: Oil and teriyaki sauce don't mix well in this recipe. Remove excess oil from the pan and chicken skin to ensure the sauce sticks to the chicken.
- Getting That Extra Crispiness: For an extra crispy result, cook the unmarinated chicken in a cold pan. Cook skin-side down for most of the time to render out fat from the skin.
- Keeping Chicken Juicy: Allow the cooked chicken to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. This helps the chicken redistribute its delicious juices for a juicy chicken teriyaki.
Exact calculations may vary. For the most accurate nutritional information, use your preferred nutrition calculator, actual ingredients, and quantities used for the recipe. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if more precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.