This yakitori donburi is a unique way to enjoy Japanese yakitori. No skewers, just succulent chicken thigh and crunchy vegetables coated in a delicious yakitori-style sauce and served over rice. Delicious!
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What is Yakitori Don?
Yakitori don is a relatively new dish that has gracefully emerged in the contemporary food scene. It is usually served as one of the rice dishes at izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and other restaurants that serve yakitori.
At its core, Yakitori don is mainly made with chicken and green onions, all brought together with the signature yakitori sauce. Yet, its beauty lies in its versatility. With no rigid recipe blueprint to adhere to, each restaurant crafts its own rendition, adding a unique flair and character to the dish.
While yakitori is traditionally recognized as chicken skewered and grilled over a charcoal flame, Yakitori don takes a slight detour. It encapsulates the essence of yakitori, not in skewered form, but as a hearty rice bowl drenched in a sauce reminiscent of the classic yakitori.
How I Developed This Recipe
Ingredients and Substitution Ideas
- Cooked Japanese short-grain rice: Short-grain Japanese rice is the quintessential choice for donburi dishes. For insights on top-rated Japanese rice available in the U.S. and a guide on cooking it in a pot, refer to the How to Cook Japanese Rice Recipe.
- Boneless chicken thigh: While chicken breast is an option, the chicken thigh, especially with skin-on, truly captures the essence of yakitori.
- Cornstarch: Alternatives include potato starch or tapioca starch.
- Zucchini (Courgette): This vegetable introduces an interesting texture to yakitori don. Cucumber is a viable substitute.
- Green onion: Known as "naganegi" in Japanese. If seeking a substitute, opt for regular leeks for this.
- Red bell pepper: I've selected red for its vibrant hue, but other bell pepper colors are equally suitable.
- Grated ginger: Ginger paste is a convenient alternative.
- Soy sauce: Kikkoman soy sauce is a reliable and budget-friendly choice. For a comprehensive understanding of selecting the right soy sauce in Japanese cuisine, refer to our complete soy sauce guide.
- Mirin: When shopping for mirin, "hon mirin" (本みりん) is the gold standard for flavor. Hinode Hon Mirin is both top-quality and wallet-friendly. For more condiment and seasoning suggestions, check out my post on the 20 Most Useful Condiments and Seasonings for Japanese Cooking.
- Sugar: While standard sugar works, I've gravitated towards light brown cane sugar for many dishes.
- Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder: I consistently use Youki's additive-free Garasupu.
- Honey: It imparts a natural sweetness and adds thickness to the sauce.
- Grated garlic: Garlic paste is another convenient choice.
- Shredded nori seaweed (kizami nori): Elevate the dish by sprinkling it atop the rice.
- Chopped green onion: A final garnish to enhance the dish's presentation.
- Shichimi togarashi: Japanese chili pepper, an optional topping that adds an extra element of flavor and a touch of heat.
I have listed my recommended Japanese condiments, tools, and ingredients in the Sudachi Recipes Amazon shop. If you want to keep making various Japanese foods at home, please check it out!
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make delicious Japanese yakitori donburi at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the printable recipe card below.
Take a small bowl and add soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, honey, grated garlic and Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder. Mix until well combined and set by the stove for later.
Cut the chicken into large bitesize pieces and place them in a mixing bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt, pepper and cornstarch and mix until evenly covered.
Roughly cut the zucchini and bell pepper, and cut the green onion into 5cm (2 inch) cylinders. Heat a pan on medium and once hot, add the oil.
Fry the vegetables together until the green onion is lightly charred and then transfer to a plate for later.
Using the same pan, add a little more oil and place the chicken pieces with the skin-side facing down.
Once browned, flip them over and seal on the other side.
Once the chicken is sealed all over, add the vegetables from earlier back to the pan and pour in the homemade yakitori-style sauce.
Mix thoroughly and continue to cook until the sauce becomes thick and glossy.
Once it gets to this point, remove the pan from the heat.
Divide the cooked rice between serving bowls and top with a sprinkle of shredded (kizami) nori.
Divide the chicken and vegetables and place them on top of the rice. Top with chopped green onion and a sprinkle of shichimi (Japanese chili powder).
When you have leftovers, it is not advised to leave the chicken on top of the rice as it can affect the texture and flavor of the rice. I recommend storing leftover rice and chicken separately. For more information about how to store leftover rice, check out my post here.
The yakitori-style chicken and vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and reheated in the microwave. It can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks to extend its shelf life.
I hope you enjoy this delicious chicken yakitori donburi recipe! If you try it out, I'd really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It's also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Donburi Recipes
If you love rice bowls, why not check out some of my other recipes?
And for a complete list, check out my donburi round-up post here!
Yakitori Donburi (Japanese Chicken Rice Bowl)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tbsp grated garlic - or garlic paste
- ½ tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder
- 300 g boneless chicken thigh(s) - skin-on, cut into large bitesize pieces
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- ½ tbsp cornstarch - or potato starch
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 150 g zucchini - roughly cut
- 100 g green onion(s) - cut into 5cm (2") pieces
- 100 g bell pepper(s) - cubed
- 2 portions cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- shredded nori - (kizami nori)
- finely chopped green onion(s)
- Japanese chili powder - (shichimi togarashi) optional
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl (2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin, 2 tbsp sake, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp honey, ½ tbsp grated garlic and ½ tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder) until well combined and set by the stove for later.
- Cut 300 g boneless chicken thigh(s) into large bitesize pieces and place them in a bowl. Add 1 pinch salt and pepper and ½ tbsp cornstarch and mix until evenly coated.
- Heat a large frying pan on medium and add half of the cooking oil (save the other half for later). Once hot, add the 150 g zucchini, 100 g green onion(s) and 100 g bell pepper(s). Stir fry until the green onions are slightly charred and then transfer to a plate.
- In the same pan, add the other half of the oil and place the chicken pieces in with the skin side down. Once browned, turn over and seal on the other side.
- Add the vegetables back to the pan along with the sauce from step 1.
- Mix thoroughly and cook until the sauce becomes thick and glossy, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Divide 2 portions cooked Japanese short-grain rice between serving bowls and sprinkle with shredded nori.
- Divide the chicken and vegetables equally between each serving bowl and top with finely chopped green onion(s) and a sprinkle of Japanese chili powder (optional).