I love teriyaki chicken. Besides takoyaki balls, teriyaki chicken is usually my standard order at a Japanese restaurant. It’s such a simple dish, but I really believe that the quality of a restaurant’s teriyaki chicken is an indicator of how good the restaurant is.
This is a super easy teriyaki chicken recipe that won’t break the bank and takes about 15 minutes to make. You can make it during a school night, work night, or any weekday. It’s perfect with a side of vegetables and white or brown rice.
Here’s what you need:
Boneless skinless chicken breasts (or boneless skinless chicken thighs), minced garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, packed light brown sugar, green onions, corn starch, water, freshly ground black pepper, and low-sodium soy sauce. Make sure it’s low-sodium, or I swear the chicken will taste like you doused it in the Dead Sea.
I hope you’re using fresh ginger. Ground ginger isn’t a replacement for the real deal. You can even buy the smallest ginger nub you find, I don’t care. Just as long as you’re using fresh ginger! Okay, chop a 1 1/2-inch piece off.
How do you peel ginger? Well, my friends, you use the unsharp edge of your knife and you scrape the peel off in a vertical downward motion. The peel should shave off just like so. You don’t even waste any ginger flesh!
That’s a beautiful naked piece of ginger. Discard the skin. I have no use for it. Compost?
If you’re a geek like me and own a microplane grater, use it now. Grate the ginger away. You can use a box grater, too, if you have fine holes on it.
If you don’t have a grater, don’t fret. Cut paper-thin slices of ginger like this. Lay them on top of each other.
Cut matchsticks out of the slices of ginger.
And chop the ginger into a fine mince. The left is grated ginger, which is more potent, and the right is minced ginger. Either is fine.
Measure 1 tablespoon of grater ginger. Dump it in a medium bowl.
To the bowl, we will add low-sodium soy sauce. If you must use regular soy sauce, you can dilute it with water to achieve the same amount of low-sodium soy sauce I’m using. The amount of water you need for dilution depends on your soy sauce brand. I recommend you use a 3/4-cup measurement and fill it half way with soy sauce and top it with water. Hopefully that’s enough water to dilute the saltiness.
Add every last drop of rice wine vinegar. This adds tanginess. Lemon juice can be a substitute.
Add yo’ minced garlic and packed light brown sugar.
Stir til the brown sugar dissolves completely and set aside.
We’re making 4 servings. Lay 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover it with a layer of plastic wrap. Make sure the smooth side of the chicken is facing up. If you want, you can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs, which you would not have to pound out.
Using a meat mallet or frying pan, pound the chicken to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
Cut the chicken breasts into 4 equal pieces. Then grab some paper towels and remove any moisture on the chicken breasts. Discard the paper towel immediately.
Sprinkle the smooth sides of the chicken pieces with freshly ground black pepper.
In a large pan, heat up 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. I used a pan with tall sides, so I guess you can say I used a pot here. Anyway, lay the chicken pieces into the hot oil, seasoned side down.
Sprinkle the top side of the chicken pieces with additional pepper.
After 3-4 minutes of cooking, flip the chicken pieces over. They should be golden brown and opaque like this. Now cook the other side for just 30 seconds…
Then, pour all that yummy teriyaki sauce over the chicken.
Allow the chicken pieces to continue cooking and allow the sauce to gently boil away for 3 minutes. The chicken will absorb all that flavor and cook all the way through.
Don’t be scared if it is boiling like this. Turn down the heat to medium so it gently simmers.
Check chicken for doneness (meat should be opaque and no pinkness should remain in center) and transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
To finish teriyaki sauce, grab some corn starch. If you do not have corn starch or you prefer a thin teriyaki sauce, you can heat the sauce for another 3-5 minutes to reduce and gently thicken sauce.
Mix the cornstarch with some water to make a slurry. Don’t add cornstarch directly into the sauce without dissolving it in water first. Otherwise, the sauce will get clumpy.
While whisking the sauce, add the cornstarch mixture in. The sauce should get glossy and thicken up within 30 seconds. That’s perfect.
Let’s serve it up. Pour some sauce over the chicken. Before you serve the chicken, make sure the chicken has rested for at least 5 minutes after you removed it from the pan. By doing so, the teriyaki chicken will be moist and tender.
Top with some chopped green onions. Bon appetit! Wait..
I like to cut the chicken into slices before serving.
Serve the teriyaki chicken over steamed white or brown rice, and make sure you have extra teriyaki sauce on the side!
Total time: 15 minutes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (recommended: Kikkoman brand)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (substitutes: lemon juice)
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Optional: 2 teaspoons water
Optional: 1 teaspoon corn starch
2 green onions, green and white parts, sliced
Serving suggestion: Steamed white or brown rice
In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger, and garlic until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Place chicken breasts on a cutting board, smooth side facing up, and place a layer of plastic wrap on top. Using a meat mallet or frying pan, evenly pound chicken breasts to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut each breast in half to end up with 4 equal-sized pieces of chicken. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper over top of chicken pieces.
Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Place the seasoned side of chicken pieces into the oil, and season the sides now facing up with another 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook first side of chicken for 3-4 minutes, or just until golden brown. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and cook other side for about 30 seconds. Pour prepared teriyaki sauce mixture evenly over chicken, and without moving chicken pieces, allow chicken to absorb sauce for 3 minutes as the sauce begins to gently bubble. Check chicken for doneness (meat should be opaque and no pinkness should remain in center) and transfer chicken pieces to a plate. To finish teriyaki sauce: If you do not have corn starch or if you prefer a thin teriyaki sauce, you can heat the sauce for another 3-5 minutes to reduce and gently thicken sauce.
If you prefer a thicker teriyaki sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together water and cornstarch. While whisking sauce, pour cornstarch mixture into teriyaki sauce and allow sauce to thicken, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Pour teriyaki sauce over chicken pieces and serve over steamed rice. Serve with additional teriyaki sauce and garnish with sliced green onions. Slice chicken before serving, if desired.