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Chicken Yakitori skewers on a blue plate.

It is true that I have more than a smattering of recipes that employ the brilliant combination of soy sauce and ginger and scallions and garlic. It is true that I am not the first to have decided that this combination of ingredients is one of the most enticing on the planet. It is true that centuries of Asian people knew this combination of ingredients was a winner before I did.

Chicken Yakitori skewers over rice.

It’s also true that if I want everyone in my family to move their tushes to the dinner table with a certain amount of dispatch, this is the go-to collection of ingredients that guarantees alacrity and enthusiasm. So why the hell wouldn’t I turn to this assortment of flavors over and over again?

Blue dish of Chicken Yakitori skewers.

Marinating Chicken Yakitori

This chicken yakitori recipe doesn’t require marinating because you may just need to get dinner on the table – which is how I first made it. But if you do have extra time, the chicken should be marinated in the yakitori sauce for extra flavor, up to 8 hours in the fridge is a good thing. The flavor will be richer and deeper if you have time to marinate it. Marinate the chicken first, then skewer it all up on the soaked skewers just before cooking.

Chicken Yakitori skewers on a lined baking sheet.

So you could make the recipe up through step 3 in the morning, toss it into the fridge, and then preheat the broiler (or the grill – these would be amazing grilled) and cook the chicken when you get home right before dinner.

Chicken Yakitori skewers in a handled, blue bowl.

Chicken Yakitori is a savory dish with Japanese influences. This dinner comes together quickly and is likely to become a family favorite!

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While traditional Japanese yakitori is grilled on skewers, you could also broil these chunks of chicken on their own, and then serve over rice with skewers or toothpicks. Turn the chunks with tongs halfway through cooking.

Woman removing Chicken Yakitori from a skewer onto a bed of rice.

I love these as an appetizer, with just two or three chunks of chicken skewered up on a smaller stick. Pile them on a small platter and serve during a cocktail hour, or think of these when you want something substantial to nibble when you are having a family movie night, or a card game, or such.

Plate of Chicken Yakitori, rice, and salad.

For as an entree, kebab up a larger amount of chicken and scallions on longer skewers. For dinner, this would be perfect with cooked rice and some simply roasted or steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or asparagus.

Other Japanese Inspired Recipes:

Woman holding a Chicken Yakitori skewer over a plate of rice.

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Chicken Yakitori

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Pretty likely to become a family favorite.


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup less-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin see Note
  • 2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 scallions cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds optional; see Cooking Tip


  • Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Place 16 6-inch wooden skewers or 8 12-inch wooden skewers in a rimmed pan with water to cover and let soak for at least 20 minutes, and up to a day.
  • In a small saucepan combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, oil, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 3 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. (If you are planning to marinate the chicken, let the sauce cool before the next step.)
  • Place the chicken in a bowl, pour over the pot of sauce and toss so that the chicken is evenly coated. Add the scallions and toss again (at this point you can marinate it for up to 8 hours).
  • Thread the chicken and scallions on the soaked skewers. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Broil the skewers for 4 or 5 minutes then turn using tongs, and cook for another 4 minutes or so until nicely browned and cooked through. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds if using and serve with toothpicks or skewers for spearing.


To toast sesame seeds, heat them in a clean pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are lightly colored and fragrant. Watch carefully so that they don’t burn.


Calories: 245.02kcal, Carbohydrates: 11.21g, Protein: 27.18g, Fat: 9.17g, Saturated Fat: 4.42g, Cholesterol: 71.44mg, Sodium: 657.32mg, Potassium: 528.39mg, Fiber: 0.99g, Sugar: 5.79g, Vitamin A: 239.28IU, Vitamin C: 4.98mg, Calcium: 47.88mg, Iron: 1.58mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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