Skip to Content

Chicken Yakitori

Sharing is caring!

Chicken yakitori is so easy to prepare and this recipe will get your restaurant quality results.

You are going to love this quick and easy grilled chicken recipe. Chicken yakitori is a simple grilled chicken that is often served with a Japanese style salad and Jasmine or sticky rice.

You can prepare this in minutes and it’s a lot of fun to bring out at a barbecue. I’ve done it for guests many times and they always leave thinking I went to a lot more work than I actually did. You might also like to try chicken yakitori as a starter for a larger Japanese meal including Japanese chicken curry, curry ramen, tonkotsu ramen and/or Katsu chicken curry.

Chicken yakitori

What is chicken yakitori?

Chicken yakitori is a popular Japanese dish that consists of skewered pieces of chicken grilled over charcoal or an open flame. The name “yakitori” translates to “grilled chicken” in Japanese.

You will almost surely find yakitori in restaurants, street food stalls, and izakayas (Japanese pubs) throughout Japan. It’s also hugely popular in the west.

A brief history of the dish…

Chicken yakitori has a long history that dates back to Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868). Originating as a popular street food, yakitori quickly gained popularity as a convenient and affordable snack. The name “yakitori” translates to “grilled chicken,” reflecting its simple yet delicious nature.

The dish has always been cooked over fire. Over time, Chicken yakitori gained popularity as a casual and affordable food option, commonly enjoyed by laborers and workers. You will find more refined variations these days in restaurants and pubs.

Though small pieces of chicken thigh were the original choice, nowadays you will find chicken yakitori prepared with breast meat, wings, chicken skin and offal. You will also find other variations of the yakitori sauce as chefs put their own creative mark on the dish.

How long can you keep chicken yakitori in the fridge?

You can store it in a bowl, covered tightly with clingfilm for 3 to 4 days.

Can you freeze chicken yakitori?

Yes. You can even freeze it in a suitably sized container on the skewers. You can freeze it for up to 6 months.

How do you reheat the chicken after refrigeration?

You can do this a few ways. The easiest but not necessarily the best way it to heat it up in your microwave for a couple of minutes until heated through.

Better would be to place it in an oven, pre-heated to 350°F (175°C). If doing this, be sure to take the chicken yakitori out of the fridge a good 15 minutes before heating to allow to come to room temperature. Then just place it on a baking tray and heat for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Can you use other veggies besides spring onions?

Yes. Spring onions are the most common and traditional for chicken yakitori. You could add other veggies such as mushrooms, red onion, bell pepper and tomatoes.

You will see in the photos below that I added a few chillies. That isn’t authentic but they sure were good! 

Which charcoal?

I use Big K lumpwood charcoal  and can highly recommend their products. You just need to ensure you are using a good quality lumpwood charcoal that has not been treated with lighting liquid as that will ruin the flavour.


  1. Choose the right chicken: Opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs as they are juicier and more flavourful than chicken breast. Thigh meat holds up well to grilling and remains tender.
  2. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces that are similar in size. This ensures even cooking and prevents some pieces from being overcooked while others are undercooked.
  3. Preheat the grill: Make sure your grill is preheated to medium-high heat before placing the skewers on it. Rubbing the cooking grate with oil as it heats helps create a nice sear on the chicken and locks in the juices.
  4. Baste with sauce: As you grill the chicken yakitori skewers, baist them with the yakitori sauce often and all over. This adds more flavor and creates a caramelized glaze on the chicken.

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for chicken yakitori

Get your ingredients together before starting. It’s easier that way.

The yakitori sauce ingredients in a saucepan.

Heat the yakitori sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to a simmer.

Simmering the yakitori sauce.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the sauce until it has halved in volume.

Chicken yakitori sauce

I actually reduced mine a bit too much so I add a drop of water and all was fixed.

Straining the yakitori sauce

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Save half in one bowl as a dipping sauce and the rest for basting the chicken.

A note about the sauce…

As the yakitori sauce sits, it will become much thicker and stickier. You might even find that it is too thick to use when basting. 

This is not a problem! Just heat it again on your barbecue for a minute or so or warm it in your microwave.

Chicken and veggies on skewers.

Skewer the chicken and spring onions like this. I also used mild green chillies.

Chicken yakitori on the barbecue

set up your barbecue for direct heat cooking. Medium hot is fine. Be sure to season the cooking grate so that the chicken doesn’t stick.

Basting the chicken.

Cook for about 4 minutes and then turn it until about 70% cooked through. Then start basting and cook the meat through.

Chicken yakitori

It only takes about 12 minutes to chicken yakitori perfection!

Chicken yakitori

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and chopped spring onions. Add salt and pepper to taste and don’t forget that delicious dipping sauce you made!

Chicken skewers served with rice and salad.

Delicious served with sticky rice and salad.



Yield: 6

Chicken Yakitori

Chicken yakitori
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 1 kg (2 lbs) boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm x 3.75cm (1x 1 ½ inch) pieces
  • 8 spring onions, white parts cut into 2/5cm ( 1 inch) pieces and green ends retained for the sauce.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Dried chilli flakes (optional and to taste)
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) light soy sauce
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) water
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) sake
  • 125ml (½ cup) mirin rice wine
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped (minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (minced)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • The green ends of the spring onions


  1. Soak 10 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the skewers are soaking, place all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a high heat. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered until the sauce has reduced by half.
  3. Pour half of the sauce in a serving bowl and allow to cool. Pour the remaining sauce into another bowl which will be used to baste the chicken.
  4. Skewer the chicken by folding each piece in half and then skewering them through both halves. Skewer two pieces of chicken followed by a piece of spring onion and continue in this way until all the skewers are complete.
  5. When ready to cook the chicken, build a medium direct heat fire on your barbecue. You don’t want the fire so hot that it chars the meat but rather, browns it nicely.
  6. Be sure the cooking grate is really clean. Once when it is uncomfortable to hold your hand 2 inches above the cooking surface for more that 2 seconds, your fire is ready. Season the cooking grate but rubbing it hard with a little oil. Do this and allow the oil to cook onto the grate and then repeat again. This will help stop the chicken from sticking to the grate.
  7. Place the chicken skewers on the hot cooking grate and cook for about 4 minutes. Then turn to cook the other side. When the chicken skewers are about 70% cooked through, either baste them generously with the yakitori sauce or dip them right into the sauce. Put back on the grill to cook through, Turning and basting for a couple more minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chilli flakes, if using and also season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with the retained yakitori sauce.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 910mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 15g

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

Skip to Recipe

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!