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Chicken Teriyaki

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Chicken teriyaki—succulent marinated chicken glazed in a sweet and savory sauce—is sure to please everyone at the table. Plus, it’s surprisingly simple to prepare!

chicken teriyaki with rice in serving bowl

Finding a meal that gets unanimous thumbs-up from everyone at the table can feel like a small victory. At my house, chicken teriyaki, a popular Japanese dish with tender marinated chicken drizzled in teriyaki sauce, is one of those guaranteed crowd-pleasers. The dish hits all the right notes—sweet, savory, and just the right touch of tang—and the sauce gives the chicken a glossy finish that looks as tempting as it tastes.

What’s more, chicken teriyaki recipe is super flexible and perfect for any weeknight meal—you can throw it on the grill if it’s nice out, or pop it under the broiler if you’re staying in. Just remember to marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour to ensure it’s flavorful, but no more than 4 hours to keep it from becoming too salty. Pair it with steamed broccoli or roasted asparagus and jasmine rice for a simple, delicious dinner your whole crew will love.

“My boyfriend and I made this last night and we loved it! We only marinated it for an hour and it still had plenty of flavor…Easy, quick, and delish!”

Betsy

What You’ll Need To Make Chicken Teriyaki

chicken teriyaki ingredients
  • Soy Sauce: Acts as the base of the teriyaki marinade and sauce, providing a rich, umami flavor that is both salty and savory.
  • Sugar: Balances the saltiness of the soy sauce with sweetness, contributing to the signature taste of teriyaki sauce.
  • Mirin: A sweet Japanese rice wine that adds depth and a slight acidity to the sauce.
  • Asian Sesame Oil: Adds a nutty, aromatic flavor to the dish.
  • Ginger and Garlic: These aromatics contribute a spicy, pungent flavor that complements the sweetness and umami, adding depth to the sauce.
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs: Used for their juiciness and flavor, which stand up well to the bold teriyaki sauce.
  • Cornstarch: Used to thicken the sauce, giving it a glossy, appealing texture that clings to the chicken.
  • Scallions: Adds a fresh, oniony crunch and a pop of color to the finished dish.
  • Sesame Seeds: Adds a subtle nutty flavor and a pretty final touch.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the Teriyaki Marinade:

Combine the soy sauce, sugar, mirin, oil, ginger, garlic, and ½ cup of the water in a blender.

marinade ingredients in blender.

Process until smooth, about 1 minute. It will be foamy; that’s okay.

blended marinade in blender.

Set aside 1 cup of sauce and refrigerate until ready to cook (you’ll use it for serving).

separating marinade and setting some aside for sauce.

Step 2: Marinade the Chicken

Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and add remaining blended teriyaki sauce. Press out the air, seal the bag, and turn to coat the chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours (no longer or the dish will be too salty).

chicken marinating in bag.

Step 3: Grill or Broil the Chicken

You have two options when it comes to cooking the chicken: grilling or broiling. To grill, place the chicken on a medium-high grill and cook, covered, until chicken is lightly charred and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side.

To Broil: Position an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler to high. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with heavy-duty aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Arrange the chicken on the prepared baking sheet.

chicken on foil-lined baking sheet ready to broil

Broil for about 8 minutes on each side, or until it’s well-browned and fully cooked. Keep an eye on the broiler while cooking, as the sugar in the marinade can cause some charring on the foil.

Step 4: Make the Teriyaki Sauce

Thicken the sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk the reserved sauce (be sure it’s cold or room temperature), the remaining ¼ cup water, and cornstarch until completely smooth.

whisking teriyaki sauce marinade with cornstarch in saucepan.

Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

thickened teriyaki sauce

Slice the chicken crosswise about ½-inch thick, if desired, and serve with the teriyaki sauce, scallions, and sesame seeds. Be judicious with the sauce — a little goes a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I marinate the chicken longer than 4 hours?

I don’t recommend marinating the chicken for longer than 4 hours, as it will lead to it becoming too salty due to the soy sauce. It’s best to stick to the recommended marinating time for the most balanced flavor.

Can I make chicken teriyaki ahead of time?

Yes, chicken teriyaki can be made ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve. Store the cooked chicken and sauce separately in the refrigerator. When it’s time to reheat, you can warm the chicken in the microwave or in a 350°F oven covered with foil, while the sauce can be reheated on the stovetop.

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

The juicy, rich nature of thighs makes them a better match for the bold flavor of the teriyaki sauce. However, chicken breasts can be used as an alternative. Just keep in mind that they are leaner and can dry out more easily. To prevent this, pound them to an even 1/2-inch thickness (or use chicken tenderloins, which are naturally tender) before marinating and be careful not to overcook them.

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Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken teriyaki—succulent marinated chicken glazed in a sweet and savory sauce—is sure to please everyone at the table. Plus, it’s surprisingly simple to prepare!

Servings: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus at least 1 hour to marinate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ginger, from a 2-inch knob
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup water, divided
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 scallions, dark green parts only, for serving
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the teriyaki sauce: Combine the soy sauce, sugar, mirin, oil, ginger, garlic, and ½ cup of the water in a blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute. It will be foamy; that's okay. Set aside 1 cup of sauce and refrigerate until ready to cook (you'll use it for serving).
  2. Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and add remaining blended teriyaki sauce. Press out the air, seal the bag, and turn to coat the chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours (no longer or the dish will be too salty).
  3. To Grill: Place the chicken on a medium-high grill and cook, covered, until chicken is lightly charred and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side, rearranging as needed to ensure even browning.
  4. To Broil: Position an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler to high. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with heavy-duty aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Before placing the chicken on the baking sheet, let any excess marinade drip off to reduce charring and smoke during broiling. Arrange the chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Broil for about 8 minutes on each side, or until it's well-browned and fully cooked. Keep an eye on the broiler while cooking, as the sugar in the marinade can cause some charring on the foil.
  5. Thicken the sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk the reserved sauce (be sure it’s cold or room temperature), the remaining ¼ cup water, and cornstarch until completely smooth. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Slice the chicken crosswise about ½-inch thick, if desired, and serve with the teriyaki sauce, scallions, and sesame seeds. Be judicious with the sauce — a little goes a long way.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 326
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 19 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 37 g
  • Sodium: 1913 mg
  • Cholesterol: 160 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Made this last night and it was wonderful. Loved the ginger! We added pineapple for those who like a little something extra.

    • — Shannon C on May 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is a fantastic recipe! It’s also amazingly easy, which I appreciate when I don’t have a lot of time to get dinner on the table. Because the marinade time is flexible and can be as short as one hour, you can decide to make it last minute and still get excellent results. I used boneless thighs and they came out beautifully, but also used chicken tenderloins, which worked out in a pinch. The flavor of the marinade and sauce is restaurant quality. My family devours it!

    • — Lisa on May 1, 2024
    • Reply
  • This recipe was a big hit at my house. My teenager said “Mom, you really stepped up your game!” Ha ha. It did taste like restaurant food. I followed the recipe – except I skipped the mirin and only marinated for 30 min (and it still tasted great). I used the broiler and served it with steamed broccoli and steamed rice, as recommended. I also appreciate the 3 lbs of chicken, because even with 4 people we now have leftovers. Thank you!

    • — Elaine S. on April 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe once with chicken and once with salmon. It was a big hit served both ways. It was the best teriyaki sauce I’ve ever had and far superior to anything you can buy. The dish was not only delicious but looked picture perfect. But the real proof is in the fact that there was nothing left over which was also the saddest part because I would have loved to have some leftovers for lunch!

    • — Andrea on April 22, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was excellent! I am always on the search for great Asian-inspired meals and they don’t always have the rich flavor that you’d hope. This one does! We subbed chix breasts because that’s what we prefer. And we had some extra sauce leftover to use on rice bowls the next day. Thanks for another great recipe!

    • — Jennifer C on April 21, 2024
    • Reply
  • So good!

    • — Theresa Lepeska on April 18, 2024
    • Reply
  • We loved it. My husband can’t stop raving. I did have to make a substitution. We substitute coconut aminos for soy in all recipes calling for soy. Knowing it is sweeter than soy I cut the sugar to 1/2 cup but it was still too sweet for us. Remedied by upping all the other ingredients to balance it. So just a note that unless you like really sweet sauce be careful how much sugar you add if using coconut aminos instead of soy. I think this marinade and sauce might work really well for pork tenderloins.

    • — Kathie on April 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made it tonight, exactly as written, and I loved it. Perfect balance of sweet and savory notes. My husband enjoyed it as well but wondered about using beef next time. What cut would you recommend? & would the cooking method be similar? Much appreciated!

    • — Meliss on April 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you could make this with beef; I’d suggest either a flat iron or flank steak. Broil or grilling would work well and the cook time will be similar to that of the chicken. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2024
      • Reply
  • This recipe was a big hit, and I was surprised at how easy it was! I added shiitake mushrooms because had them in the refrigerator, it was an excellent addition. I also made the asparagus salad as a side. It was delicious as well. Only change I made was to blanch the asparagus, then quickly cool in an ice bath. I then strained and added to the dressing. Excellent Asian themed dinner

    • — Kathleen Roevens on April 11, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Big fan! Is there a substitute for mirin I can use?

    • — Jill on April 11, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Jill, you can just omit it.

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2024
      • Reply
  • OMG! OMG! OMG! DELICIOUS! I’m really trying to stop eating restaurant and processed foods. I made this on Sunday to have in the fridge for the week, and I CANNOT stop eating it. Minor tweak: cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup of brown sugar, doubled the ginger, doubled the garlic. It tastes great! My kids LOVE IT! This is truly a winner! Jen, you never fail to amaze me! Restaurant good food, easily made more healthy in my own home – thank you!

    • — Heather C from CALI! on April 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. Do you think portabella mushrooms would work instead of chicken? Looking at a Vegan option as well.

    • — Sharen on April 9, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yes and I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2024
      • Reply
    • Would this work with chicken breasts/tenderloins? Trying to keep my cholesterol lower. Thank you!

      • — Val on April 11, 2024
      • Reply
      • Sure, I’d go with either tenderloins or pounded breasts. The broiling time will definitely be shorter; I’d give them 2 to 3 minutes per side. I’d love to hear how they turn out white meat!

        • — Jenn on April 12, 2024
        • Reply
  • I made this last night. It was fantastic. Both my husband and son said to keep in the rotation!

    • — Darlene on April 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • My boyfriend and I made this last night and we loved it! We only marinated it for an hour and it still had plenty of flavor! It makes a lot (especially b/c it was just the 2 of us), so I can’t wait to have leftovers tonight. Easy, quick, and delish!

    • — Betsy on April 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • It was fantastic!! I followed your recipe precisely, broiled the chicken and have no suggestions for improvement!! I paid attention to your warning and used just a touch of the boiled sauce. It was rich and delicious, quick and easy!!! Added to our rota for sure!!

    • — Dana on April 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • Delicious! This will be a regular on the dinner table.

    • — Heather on April 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • Will low sodium soy sauce work with this recipe?

    • — Stefanie on April 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Stefanie, Yes, it will work. That said, I did test the recipe with low-sodium soy sauce, and I definitely preferred it with regular.

      • — Jenn on April 9, 2024
      • Reply

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