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How to Make Yakitori-Japanese Grilled Chicken Skewers

Updated on November 5, 2014
Yakitori-Japanese Grilled Chicken
Yakitori-Japanese Grilled Chicken

Japanese-Style Grilled Chicken

Sometimes the simplest things can be some of the best things in life. Take the humble Yakitori for instance. Yakitori, or grilled skewered chicken, is one of the simplest things in the repertoire of Japanese cuisine. Yet it's incredibly delicious when done well.

The most basics of Yakitori is plain old pieces of chicken on a skewer, lightly salted during the grilling process. Although the simply salted version is fantastic, many people go for the teriyaki-based ones that are just too hard to resist.

A good Yakitori should never be over-cooked and the sauce should not be too sweet. The combination of char-grilled chicken and savory-sweet sauce is absolutely irresistible.

An easy way to get some veggies in your diet is to add some to the skewers along with the chicken. Yakitori with Negi ( Welsh onion ) are called Negima and is my favorite amongst the variety of Yakitori skewers available. If you can't find them, feel free to substitute it with leeks or another vegetable.

Make sure you make a whole bunch of them because they are sure to disappear fast. They go great with a side of edamame and beer, or served with a bowl of steamed rice for a more proper meal.

Helpful Tips

  • Leave the skin on the chicken like the Japanese do for moist and tender results.
  • Brush the sauce 2-3 times for a nice glaze.
  • If you don't have a grill, feel free to use a frying pan.
  • Serve with some steamed rice and a salad for a complete meal.

Check out some of my other Japanese food recipes here on Squidoo

The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood, and Vegetables
The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood, and Vegetables

If you're ready to add some variety to your grill, try this one. The Skirt Steak with Red Miso and Yuzu Kosho Scallops are definite winners.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 35 min
Yields: 8 skewers


  • 3/4 pound chicken thigh ( cut into bite-sized pieces )
  • 1/2 stalk Negi ( cut into 1-inch blocks )
  • 8 bamboo skewers
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake


  1. Put the ingredients for the glaze into a saucepan and heat on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens ( approximately 10 minutes ), being careful to stir now and then to prevent the sauce from burning.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
  4. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, alternating with the negi.
  5. Grill the chicken skewers on both sides until half cooked through.
  6. Brush the sauce on both sides and continue grilling.
  7. Repeat brushing the sauce on the skewers one more time and grill until chicken is cooked. Do not overcook!

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Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill
Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill

There are so many reasons why I like this indoor grill. First it only takes 10 minutes to heat up and is hot enough to give a nice sear to meats, seafood and vegetables. Non-stick surface makes for easy cleaning and hardly any smoke. Love it!


Visit My Food and Travel Blog

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like my blog Tabieats. Focusing on food and travel with a dose of fun, you'll find unique recipes, food reviews and travel reports.


Are you a fan of yakitori? What's your favorite thing to grill? Let me know. 

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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I do love chicken and when it is served to creatively the meal is even more delightful. I think I am going to have to do some research as to where to buy some of the ingredients but I can't wait to make it soon.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 3 years ago from New York

      I love Yakitori, but haven't made it in a long time. I am pinning your recipe to my "Hawaii - Local Grinds" board on Pinterest

    • Andromachi profile image

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      We are fond of chicken skewers as well. I didn't know about this sauce though. I will definitely try it.

    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago

      This looks just delicious. I really think I could eat grilled chicken every day of my life. Going to give your glaze a try.

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Love chicken and I like this recipe very much. Will be making it as soon as I get some chicken, something I don't have in the deep-freeze at the moment, like Susan we usually have beef, home killed.

    • fibonacci1123 profile image

      fibonacci1123 3 years ago

      Mmmmmmm Yummy! Great lens.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We love steak, but we also love to grill chicken. Usually we just do boneless breasts, but we love chicken thighs and I can't remember ever grilling it. We'll be putting a change to that right away. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I am sure to become the newest fan of yakitori. My favorite thing to grill? Whatever you come up with next. Really.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      You just keep coming up with the most amazing recipes!! Thanks :)

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Irresistible! Looks and sounds wonderful Smine27! A definite must try.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      Why is that whenever I visit one of your articles I find myself completely entranced and ready to devour my computer screen? You truly rule the kitchen my friend. Your recipes and photos are a delight.