Yakitori is one of the simplest dishes in Japanese cuisine, and yet so commonly maligned. Literally translated into “grilled chicken” (yaki=grilled, tori=chicken), these chicken skewers are a favourite of the Japanese especially after a late night drinking, and are served up at various street stands shrouded in smoke emanating from hot coals. And making them at home can really be as simple as threading on some cubed chicken, and firing up that barbecue.

The secret to this amazing dish? Only brushing on the sticky sweet sauce after you finish cooking the chicken. Otherwise, the sauce can burn before the chicken is cooked, and no one likes raw chicken with a burnt coating do they?

Yakitori Recipe

Tammi Kwok
Sticky, sweet and smoky, Yakitori is a common street food in Japan, sold alongside other favourites like Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki. This is a fantastic way to add a twist to your chicken - you can add shallots or chives to the skewer for a whole different flavour! A perfect reason to fire up that barbecue before summer is out!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 500 g Chicken Thighs skin on, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup cooking sake
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 stalk spring onion roughly cut into 3cm lengths
  • Bamboo skewers soaked overnight in water, for threading*


  • 1. Place the garlic, spring onion, soy, mirin, cooking sake, water and brown sugar into a small pot and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally until it reduces by half.
  • 2. Meanwhile, heat your grill, or barbecue.
  • 3. Thread the chicken onto the top 1/3 of the skewers, making sure that the pieces are not too tightly bunched together*.
  • 4. Barbecue or grill the chicken until cooked through, turning occasionally. You're looking for it to get a slight char (or smoke if you're cooking over coals) and be completely cooked all the way into the centre.
  • 5. Arrange warm skewers on a platter or plate in a single layer and brush on sticky sauce to serve.


*Soaking the bamboo skewers will prevent the skewers from burning when you cook the chicken.
**Overcrowding the chicken skewers will cause make it harder to cook the chicken through.
***If you're sensitive to the raw smell of chicken, you can also marinade a the chicken cubes for 10min with a splash of sake before skewering.

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