This yakitori recipe is bite sized pieces of chicken that are grilled on skewers and coated in a sweet and savory glaze. A unique and unexpected appetizer or main course option that always gets rave reviews from family and friends.

I love to make my family’s favorite Asian foods at home, including slow cooker teriyaki chicken, shrimp tempura roll and this hearty chicken yakitori.

Chicken Yakitori Recipe | Grilled Chicken #chicken #grilling #dinner #dinneratthezoo Chicken Yakitori Recipe | Grilled Chicken #chicken #grilling #dinner #dinneratthezoo

A plate of grilled chicken yakitori topped with sesame seeds and green onions.

Whenever we go to our local Japanese restaurant, I have to order the yakitori. These grilled skewers of meat are so flavorful, and are fun to eat too! I’ve learned how to make this classic recipe at home, and I have to say, my version is just as good as what you’d get at a restaurant.

What is yakitori?

Yakitori is grilled skewers made from all parts of the chicken, including chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken hearts and gizzards. The meat is threaded onto sticks and cooked while being basted with a homemade sauce throughout the process. The sauce is called tare, and is somewhat similar to teriyaki sauce with both a sweet and salty element. These chicken skewers are typically served as an appetizer, although they’re hearty enough to serve as a full meal with some other dishes on the side.

Raw chicken threaded onto skewers.

How do you make yakitori?

The first step in this recipe is to make your sauce. Place soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, honey and rice vinegar in a pan. Bring the pan to a simmer, then add cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Cut chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, then place the chicken pieces onto wood skewers. Grill or broil the chicken, basting it multiple times with the sauce. Add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and green onions on top, then serve and enjoy.

A sweet and savory sauce in a mixing bowl.

Tips for the perfect chicken

  • I like to use chicken thighs for this recipe because they are more flavorful and are less likely to dry out on the grill. However, you can use chicken breasts if you prefer. Or you can switch things up and try cubes of pork tenderloin or sirloin steak.
  • Soak your wood skewers in cold water for 30 minutes so that they don’t burn on the grill.
  • The sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge. You can even make a double batch of the sauce, and freeze some for later use.
  • These skewers can be cooked on an outdoor grill, inside on a grill pan, or in the oven. I prefer to grill them whenever possible because I find that the sauce caramelizes the best over the high heat of the grill.

A basting brush putting sauce onto grilled chicken yakitori..

What goes well with yakitori?

You can serve these yakitori on their own as an appetizer, or pair them with different starch and vegetable options to make a complete meal. Some of these ideas aren’t necessarily traditional Japanese food, but the flavors work well with the chicken.

Broiled chicken skewers

While yakitori are often made on a grill, you can also cook them in the oven if you prefer. Place the chicken skewers on a sheet pan lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Broil for 4 minutes per side, then baste with sauce and broil for an additional 4 minutes. Baste again, then broil for 2 more minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions, then serve.

Yakitori skewers served over steamed rice with asparagus.

You’ll be amazed at how delicious this yakitori is – all the great restaurant flavors in the comfort of your own home!

More asian food favorites

Yakitori Video

5 from 15 votes

Yakitori Recipe

AuthorSara Welch
A plate of grilled chicken yakitori topped with sesame seeds and green onions.
This yakitori recipe is bite sized pieces of chicken that are grilled on skewers and coated in a sweet and savory glaze. A unique and unexpected appetizer or main course option that always gets rave reviews from family and friends.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Serves 4 servings


For the skewers

  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon green onions sliced

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch


For the sauce

  • Place the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, honey, sesame oil and rice vinegar in a small pot over medium high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  • Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water until dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and boil for 1-2 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

For the chicken

  • Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers that have been soaked in cold water. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then brush the vegetable oil over the skewers.
  • Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium heat.
  • Cook the chicken for 4 minutes per side. Brush the sauce over the chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes per side.
  • Brush more sauce over the chicken, then cook for another minute per side.
  • Brush a final layer of sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions, then serve.


Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 725mg | Potassium: 340mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 126IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Made these tonight. Used prawns with the chicken & cooked outside on the hibachi. Mum said it was heaven on a stick.
    Posted on a fb page I’m on & was told it looked like it was from a restaurant.
    Can’t wait to make again.

    P.S. tagged dinneratthezoo on insta

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for the tip of soaking the skewers! No wonder mine always burned before. My whole family loved this chicken on a stick! Made dinner fun!

  3. 5 stars
    With lock down and the inability to travel, I have been dreaming of going back to Japan so decided if I can’t go there I’ll make something that reminds me of Japan. This dish did not disappoint, I don’t often leave comments but this is well worth it! I lowered the carbs by using keto brown sugar but besides that kept it as it was, wouldn’t change a thing! Yum!

  4. 5 stars
    This is delicious! We love it. I was wondering if anyone has either used it on whole grilled thighs or breasts? Or cut the meat up and skipped the skewers, only sauteeing the pieces? Looking to skip threading the skewers!

  5. The yakitori I have been making for years has mirin in it and is amazing, I will try this out since you always have such wonderful recipes. Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    I made these Yakitori’s, they were so yummy my whole family loved them. Will be making these again for sure.