Teriyaki chicken is an all-time favorite dish at Japanese restaurants, steakhouses and family restaurants. Tender bites of chicken are coated in an aromatic, flavorful sauce boasting a blend of sweet and umami flavors.
Bottled teriyaki sauces are so commonplace in stores that it’s easy to forget that a homemade teriyaki chicken recipe is simple to make. It features many ingredients that are already in your pantry and is quick to pull together. Homemade is also yummier and lets you add more or less of any ingredient as you like.
Key Ingredients in Teriyaki Chicken
These ingredients are the star players in the savory teriyaki sauce. They’re great to keep on hand for this recipe and your favorite Chinese takeout copycat recipes.
Made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce gives this dish lots of salty and savory flavor, as well as a touch of sweetness. It also gives teriyaki sauce its dark color.
This dish is a balance of sweet and savory flavors, and honey is one of the sweet ingredients. It contributes floral notes as well, and the texture helps the sauce thicken up.
Go for fresh garlic cloves over the powdered stuff: their pungent flavor is beautiful in teriyaki sauce. Here are six ways to easily mince fresh garlic.
Keep a bottle in the fridge to have on hand for dishes like this one. Sesame oil has a warm, nutty flavor that pairs well with the aromatics and seasonings of teriyaki chicken.
A little cornstarch added to the simmering sauce thickens it up so that it coats the chicken and rice.
Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
This dish comes together quickly in about 20 minutes and serves six people. See the tips below for side dish ideas.
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup diced scallions
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Step 1: Cook the chicken
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the sliced chicken breast, spreading the pieces out so there’s room between them. Cook the chicken for 5-10 minutes, turning the pieces several times. They should be white or beginning to brown on the outside, but won’t be cooked all the way through yet. Move the chicken to a plate and hold aside.
Step 2: Make the sauce
Add to the skillet the soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, honey, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, grated ginger, black pepper and salt. Whisk everything together and return the pan to medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring often, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Whisk the cold water and cornstarch together in a small bowl or measuring cup, then pour it into the sauce. Whisk to combine this cornstarch slurry with the sauce.
Step 3: Combine the chicken and sauce
Add the chicken pieces back into the skillet. Toss them in the teriyaki sauce, and bring everything back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 more minutes: the sauce should thicken slightly, and the chicken should be cooked through. (Cut a piece in half to check.) Move the pan off the burner.
Step 4: Serve
Spoon the teriyaki chicken and sauce over white rice in shallow bowls. Top each bowl with diced scallions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
Editor’s Tip: For a nuttier flavor and more crunch, toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until they’re fragrant and just beginning to brown.
Tips for Making Teriyaki Chicken
Can you use other cuts of chicken when making teriyaki chicken?
You can make this recipe with cubed, boneless chicken thighs, or use the teriyaki sauce to flavor baked or grilled bone-in chicken pieces.
How can you make sure your teriyaki chicken is juicy?
Since the small pieces cook quickly, it’s easy to inadvertently overcook them, which will leave the meat dry. To avoid this, cook the chicken for just a few minutes at first, enough to sear the outside. The pieces will finish cooking in the teriyaki sauce, giving you juicy bites of flavorful chicken.
What do you serve with teriyaki chicken?
White rice is a classic pairing here, but teriyaki chicken is also delicious with ramen or soba noodles. You can add veggies like snow peas, carrots, broccoli or baby corn to the pan to simmer with the chicken and sauce, or serve the veggies steamed or roasted as a side dish.
How should you store leftover teriyaki chicken?
Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed dish and pop in the fridge for 4-5 days. The leftover, cooked chicken and teriyaki sauce can also be frozen in a freezer-proof dish or resealable bag for up to three months.