Delicious Japanese teriyaki chicken made with succulent, skin-on chicken thigh coated in a glossy, sweet and sticky homemade teriyaki glaze. Not only does it taste incredible, but it's ready in just 15 minutes!
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Teriyaki chicken is arguably one of the most well known Japanese dishes in the world, and for good reason! Juicy chicken thigh with crispy skin and a sweet and sticky soy sauce based glaze, what's not to love?
Despite the popularity of the dish, the word "teriyaki" is often a little misunderstood.
What is Teriyaki?
Teriyaki (照り焼き) is actually not the name of the sauce itself, but instead a Japanese method of cooking meat or fish in a sweet, glossy, soy sauce based sauce. Technically "teriyaki sauce" and "teriyaki" are different things.
In Japanese, the word "teri" (照り) means gloss and "yaki" (焼き) means to cook or fry. Because sauces used for teriyaki contain sugar, the sugar melts and makes it into a glaze, almost like caramel.
Ditch the pre-made sauce
You might be surprised to know that you can't really find premade teriyaki sauce in Japan. It's so easy to make using typical ingredients we keep in our cupboards, that there's really no need to buy premade sauce!
Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients
In order to make authentic Japanese teriyaki sauce, you will need 4 key ingredients.
Of course there are variations that add other ingredients too, but these are the four key ingredients that are absolutely essential to make teriyaki sauce. I don't recommend omitting or substituting any of these!
It's not traditional, but in my teriyaki recipe I also like to add two more special ingredients.
- 1 tsp honey (the runny kind)
- 2 tbsp dashi stock (liquid, not powder)
Just these two added ingredients create more umami and depth of flavour in the sauce so I highly recommend adding them if you can! (If you can't use dashi, it's okay to substitute with water to create the same consistency.)
What other things can I cook in Teriyaki Sauce?
Teriyaki is sweet and savory at the same time, so it's very versatile and can be used for many different things.
You can use teriyaki to cook:
- White fish
Teriyaki sauce is most commonly used for chicken and fish (yellowtail is common in Japan) but of course you can use the technique for pretty much anything!
Tips for making the perfect Japanese Chicken Teriyaki
Making teriyaki chicken is simple and quick, but I have a few tips to share to bring it up a level!
Use chicken thigh
Okay this is really down to preference, but for the best results I definitely recommend using boneless, skin-on chicken thigh when making teriyaki chicken.
Not only is it juicer and has better flavour, but the skin becomes crispy and that combined with the teriyaki glaze... well, you can't beat it!
Chicken thigh is quite thick so to ensure it's evenly cooked all the way through, I like to make horizontal cuts on the thickest parts and then fold them out.
Simply turn the chicken over so that the skin is facing down and cut the thickest parts of the underside to make flaps that you can pull out.
If you make a diagonal/horizontal cut, you should be able open out each flap and flatten out the chicken thigh, making it an even thickness all over.
Pierce the skin
By piercing the skin of the chicken, the teriyaki sauce can penetrate the meat making it juicer and more flavourful.
Dry the surface
Patting the surface of the chicken dry before cooking results in a crispier surface that helps the sauce to stick better.
One of my favourite techniques for sauce-based meat dishes is one called "dredging". Dredging means coating your ingredients with a thin layer of flour or starch before cooking and there are a few reasons why this method yields superior results.
- The outside of the meat becomes lightly crispy
- The colour becomes more golden
- More flavour is absorbed on the surface
- The sauce sticks better to the surface
I only dredge the underside of the chicken thigh in this recipe. (The skin becomes crispy enough through drying.)
Cold Frying Pan
I discovered this technique recently and it was quite a surprise for me because I've always learned that you should thoroughly preheat the pan before adding oil or ingredients.
However, when you're trying to achieve the perfect crispy skin on chicken thigh, starting with a cold pan yields the best results!
Gradually bringing up the heat allows the fat to render more slowly and makes the skin extra extra crispy! Not only does it create amazing texture, but the teriyaki sauce sticks better too.
Just note, this technique is specifically for skin-on chicken thigh, so if you're using skin-less or chicken breast, you should preheat your pan as usual.
Check out my other Teriyaki Recipes
If you liked this recipe, you should check out some of my other teriyaki recipes!
- Take-away Style Teriyaki Chicken Pizza
- Pan Fried Teriyaki Salmon
- Teriyaki Cod
- Garlic Teriyaki Chicken Donburi
Technically speaking, teriyaki (照り焼き) is a way of cooking typically using soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar.
Soy sauce is a single ingredient, teriyaki usually contains at least 4 ingredients. (Soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar.)
It's has a savory taste from the soy sauce, yet a sweet and caramelized taste from the sugar.
Yes, indeed! But maybe not as often as you think Japanese people would. It's not really something I personally eat often.
"Teri" (照り) means gloss and "yaki" (焼き) means frying/cooking.
Teriyaki sauce contains soy sauce, but soy sauce on it's own won't be close to tasting like teriyaki.
In Japan, teriyaki sauce is often used for chicken or yellowtail. However, it's a versatile sauce that can be used for any kind of meat or fish.