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8 skewers of yakitori chicken with scallions, and sprigs of cilantro decorating the edges

Yakitori Chicken

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 5-7 1x


Japanese-style grilled chicken and scallion skewers.


Units Scale

You will need 8 12-inch or 16 8-inch skewers. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for a half hour or more, before using.

For The Sauce:

  • 1 cup saki
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (see below for substitutions)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For The Chicken and Scallions

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized (3/4-inch) pieces
  • 10-12 scallions (1 or two bunches) cut crosswise, into 1-inch pieces. The white and light green part of the scallion in best for grilling. Reserve the darker thinner parts for another use or slice them thinly sprinkle them over the platter of cooked skewers as a garish.

Suggested Condiments:

  • Ground sansho pepper
  • Japanese 7 spice powder
  • If you can't find sancho or 7 spice, you can use szechuan pepper.
  • A sprinkling of salt and fresh ground black pepper works well too!


Heat the grill. Thread chicken and scallion pieces onto the skewers, alternately

  1. In a small pot combine the saki, mirin, garlic, ginger, red pepper, sugar and soy sauces. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until sauce is reduced by about a third.
  2. Place the skewers on the hot grill, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Brush with sauce and turn, brush with sauce on the other side. Grill for 5-8 minutes more with the cover closed, opening it to brush skewers with sauce every 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and glazed.
  3. Serve chicken yakitori on or off the skewers. Pass around the toppings.


Dark Soy Sauce Substitute: Dark soy sauce is thicker, sweeter and more viscous than regular soy sauce. It's mostly used to add a deep dark caramel color to a dish. If you don't have dark soy sauce, you can use an equal amount of regular soy sauce. The Dish will be lighter in color but equally delicious. Or, if you have molasses on hand, use 1 tablespoon of molasses and one tablespoon of regular soy sauce as a replacement.

[This post first appeared on Panning The Globe in May 2015. It was updated in May 2020 with new photos, a few tweaks to the written post and a some clarifying details to the recipe.]

  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: barbecue
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Keywords: Japenese grilled chicken kebabs, grilled chicken and scallion kebabs