Yakitori: How to Make Japanese Skewered Chicken

Chicken yakitori is a basic skewer-served Japanese grilled recipe. The chicken meat is basted as it cooks over a hot barbecue grill with a savory-sweet sauce. It works as a fast appetizer served with a couple of other sides for a crowd or lunch.

The preparation includes skewing the meat with Kushi, a form of skewer typically made from iron, bamboo, or similar materials. They are then cooked over a flame of charcoal. During or after cooking, the meat is generally seasoned with tare sauce or salt. The term is usually used informally in particular for kushiyaki.

Yakitori is typically cooked and designed for convenience and portability. This is the most common method used by yatai, but restaurants can use stationary grills and higher quality binchōtan charcoal, depending on the situation.


  • Author: Romae Chanice B. Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Japanese

The seasonings of Yakitori are divided mainly into two types: salty or salty-sweet. As its main seasoning, the salty type usually uses plain salt. A special sauce composed of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar is used for the salty-sweet variety tare. The whole preparation and cooking time is around 30 minutes. This recipe serves at least four people. 

Japanese Yakitori

Yakitori is one of the most famous appetizers in Japan. Photo credits to: @foodtravelinspired.

Yakitori: Japanese Skewered Chicken Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of mirin
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 2/3 cups of light brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of gingerminced
  • 2 cloves of garlicminced
  • 6 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 3 pounds of chicken thighsboneless, skinless, cut into small pieces
  • 9 bamboo skewerssoaked in water for 30 minutes (or metal skewers)
  • kosher saltas needed for seasoning
  • black pepperas needed for seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds

Yakitori: Japanese Skewered Chicken Instructions

Step 1: Whisk soy sauce, milk, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch together in a medium-sized bowl. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk for about 1 minute until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Step 2: Move the cup of the sauce to a bowl for the chicken to be basted. On skewers, thread cut chicken pieces. Mix with both sides of salt and pepper.

Step 3: Drizzle with a small amount of oil on both sides of the skewers to avoid sticking when cooking. Grill. Preheat over moderate to high heat. To grease the grill, wash the grill and use a paper towel dipped in oil.

Step 4: Remove the skewers once the grill is hot and cook for 4 minutes. Flip over and baste with the sauce on the cooked side. Cook for 5 minutes.

Step 5: Flip the skewer over, add the sauce, and cook covered for 2 minutes. Use the skewer, baste, and cook covered for 2 minutes. Repeat 2 additional times, basting and cooking sealed, with a 16 minutes total cooking time.

Step 6: Sprinkle the chicken yakitori skewers with sesame seeds. Serve chicken skewers with extra sauce immediately.

Yakitori: Japanese Skewered Chicken Additional Information

  • Per stick has at least 315 calories. 
  • Certain common spices, according to one’s tastes, include powdered cayenne pepper, shichimi, Japanese pepper, black pepper, and wasabi.
  • Takes about 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Serves four people.

About Yakitori: Japanese Skewered Chicken Recipe

The sauce yakitori is usually the star of this dish of chicken. It is a blend of umami and spicy spices, soy sauce, mirin sweet cooking wine, sweet brown sugar, acidic rice vinegar, fresh ginger, and garlic.


Yakitori is a common street food, mostly sold from small carts and stalls known as yatai, due to its ease of preparation and portability. Yatai can be found spotted in streets during festivals, among other places, or on heavily trafficked routes during the evening commute where customers enjoy beer and sake with yakitori.

For more Japanese recipes, click here.

Featured Image: @yardbirdyakitori / Instagram, @izakaya_nomad / Instagram