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Japanese Chicken Kebabs (Yakitori)

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

In Japan, yakitori (which means “grilled bird” in Japanese) can be made from any part of the chicken, including the liver, heart, and gizzard; this version pairs thighs with a sweet-and-savory soy-ginger marinade, which is also used as a basting sauce that caramelizes on the chicken as it cooks.


  • 1/3 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 3 Tbs. mirin
  • 2 Tbs. coconut or dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 36)
  • 12 medium scallions, white and light green parts cut crosswise into 1-1/2-inch pieces (36 pieces) and dark green parts thinly sliced
  • 36 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 12 12-inch skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden)
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 340
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 90
  • Fat (g): 10
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4
  • Cholesterol (mg): 105
  • Sodium (mg): 1380
  • Carbohydrates (g): 32
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 25


  • Combine the tamari, sake, mirin, sugar, honey, and ginger in a 1-quart saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  • In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the marinade. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare a medium (350°F to 375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire for direct grilling.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade. Return the marinade to the saucepan, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Alternately thread 3 pieces of chicken, 3 shiitake, and 3 pieces of scallion onto each skewer, leaving a little space between pieces. Oil the grill grate. Grill the skewers until grill marks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn, baste the cooked side with the sauce, and continue to grill, turning and basting, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 6 minutes more. Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce and sprinkled with the sesame seeds and sliced scallions.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • The_Inept_Chef | 05/26/2020

    I made this with only the chicken (everything else is just a distraction). Delicious. It reminded me of the yakitori I had in Verona (not that Italy is the mecca of Japanese food, but it was very tasty. Sadly they only served 2 skewers and I could have kept going). This sauce is perfect. And very easy to make. This recipe is going in my summer rotation.

  • Krispie | 09/03/2014

    I thought this was tasty but not as tasty as many of he fine cooking recipes I make, I cut the chicken pieces a little smaller in order to ensure quick cooking time and it still took the full amount of time per the recipe. I would make this again for a weeknight meal but it's not a recipe I would consider for more than my immediate family,

  • fortkcook | 07/04/2014

    Simple and delicious. Had the real thing in Tokyo and this is a close second.

  • DonBishop | 07/02/2014

    The mushrooms and scallions cooked much faster than the chicken, even though I cut the chicken into small bite sized chunks. So, I did it again, this time using ONLY chicken. Excellent. The kebabs can be done ahead of time and travel well. They are just as tasty cold as hot. Skip the veggies unless you are trying to show off colors and just make this meat on a stick!

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