Enjoy a grilled dinner of charred, juicy chicken thighs and sweet red peppers with this chicken yakitori recipe. The entire dish comes together in just about 30 minutes.
Chicken Yakitori Recipe photo by Taste of Home

This chicken yakitori recipe features skewers of juicy grilled chicken coated in a delicious Asian-inspired sauce. It’s a versatile dish that can be served as a tempting party snack with friends or as a quick and tasty dinner for the house. Best of all, the recipe comes together in just 30 minutes. If you’re looking for a new chicken dinner idea that’s easy and delicious, this is the one.

What is chicken yakitori?

Chicken YakitoriTMB Studio

One of the many beloved Japanese recipes, chicken yakitori is enjoyed everywhere from street vendors to festivals to sit-down restaurants that specialize in grilled skewers. There are different varieties of yakitori depending on the part of the chicken used—options include hearts, skin and even the comb—as well as whether the sauce is more salty or sweet. A basic yakitori sauce is made of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar, but can also include things like sesame oil, garlic and ginger. You can even buy a bottled yakitori sauce, but homemade always tastes better.

You might also find skewers of vegetables served alongside chicken yakitori. This recipe includes skewers of sweet red peppers for a flavorful balance against the charred chicken bites.

Ingredients in Chicken Yakitori

  • Chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are easy to find and cheaper than breasts. They also stay juicy and tender on the grill, unlike chicken breasts which can easily become overcooked and dry. (We love recipes that use chicken thighs!)
  • Mirin: This Japanese ingredient is a cooking wine with a sweet and tangy flavor. In grocery stores, you’ll find an alternative called aji-mirin, which means “tastes like mirin,” from brands like Kikkoman. It’s a little sweeter than real mirin but will work just fine in this recipe if that’s all you can find.
  • Sake: This rice wine has a bold, fruity flavor and can be dry or sweet depending on the variety. It adds yet another dimension to the sauce for grilling and dipping the chicken.
  • Sweet red peppers: These peppers’ natural sweetness is even more delectable when they’re grilled. When cut into bite-sized chunks, they’re easy to enjoy alongside the grilled chicken.


Step 1: Make the sauce

In a small saucepan, stir together the mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then pull the pan off the burner. Set aside half of this sauce for dipping; the rest will be used to baste the chicken.

Step 2: Prepare the skewers

Thread the peppers evenly onto 2 metal or soaked wooden skewers. Thread the chicken pieces separately onto 6 metal or soaked wooden skewers. Heat the grill to medium, and have the basting sauce and a brush ready next to the grill.

Editor’s Tip: Since the peppers cook faster than the chicken, grilling them on separate skewers makes it easy to cook both elements perfectly.

Step 3: Grill

Arrange the chicken skewers on the grill grates, and grill, covered, until the meat is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, turning the chicken skewers while they cook and basting frequently, especially during the final three minutes of cook time. Grill the peppers, covered, until they’re tender, four to five minutes, giving them an occasional turn. At the end, grill the green onions for one to two minutes, until they’re slightly charred and tender. Serve the chicken and vegetables with the reserved sauce for dipping.

Editor’s Tip: You can put the chicken and peppers on the grill at the same time. Just remember to pull the peppers off before the chicken. They don’t need as much cooking time.

Recipe Variations

  • Add more oomph to the sauce: Other flavorings can be added to the basting and dipping sauce, like grated fresh gingerroot, minced garlic, miso and chili paste.
  • Try other veggies: Cremini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, yellow onion and other bell peppers are great on skewers and go well with chicken yakitori.
  • Make chicken meatballs: Instead of chicken thighs, try tsukune yakitori, a Japanese meatball made with ground chicken. Shape your seasoned ground chicken into meatballs, thread them onto skewers, and grill. You can even use frozen meatballs like in this easy Asian glazed meatballs recipe.

How to Store Chicken Yakitori

To store, let the chicken and vegetables cool. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat them gently in a skillet or wrapped in aluminum foil on the grill or in a low oven until the meat is heated through to 165°F.

Can you make chicken yakitori ahead of time?

Chicken yakitori will have the best flavor when it’s served right after grilling. However, you can save time by getting the different components of the recipe ready one to two days in advance. Thread the chicken and peppers onto the skewers, cover them, and hold them in the fridge until you’re ready to grill. The simmered sauce can also be cooled and held in the fridge until grilling time.

Chicken Yakitori Tips

Chicken Yakitori served and ready to eatTMB Studio

Can you use different types of skewers to make chicken yakitori?

You can use wooden or metal skewers for chicken yakitori. Inexpensive wooden skewers are traditional for yakitori; when using these, be sure to soak them in water first for about an hour so they don’t burn on the grill. Or invest in a set of metal skewers, which will hold and cook the chicken and vegetables just as well.

How can you make sure chicken yakitori is juicy?

The key to keeping chicken yakitori juicy is cooking the chicken thighs until the internal temperature is between 175° and 195°. (Here are the ideal internal temperatures of cooked chicken.) Make sure the pieces are all cut to the same size so they cook through at the same rate. As the skewers cook, brush them several times with the basting sauce, which will caramelize with the heat and help seal in moisture and flavor. Keep the grill cover closed between bastings to help hold in the heat for even cooking.

What should I serve with chicken yakitori?

Chicken yakitori is perfect for appetizers alongside other snacks like crispy air-fryer edamame. It’s also easy to make for a filling dinner. Just pair with sides like cooked sushi rice, and add flavor to the rice with minced gingerroot and diced scallions. Hot ramen or soba noodles or cold sesame noodles make tasty sides as well.

Chicken Yakitori

I grew up in Tokyo, and some of my favorite memories include eating street food like this dish with my friends. Although we now live thousands of miles apart, my friends and I still reminisce about our nights sharing secrets and bonding over delicious meals. This one is easy to re-create at home, which makes it perfect for when I'm feeling homesick. I like to serve it with rice. —Lindsay Howerton-Hastings, Greenville, South Carolina
Chicken Yakitori Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time

Takes: 30 min.


6 servings


  • 1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 large sweet red peppers, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-in. pieces
  • 1 bunch green onions


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the first 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; set aside half the mixture for serving.
  2. Thread peppers onto 2 metal or soaked wooden skewers. Thread chicken onto 6 metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat until meat is cooked through, 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally and basting frequently with soy sauce mixture during the last 3 minutes. Grill peppers, covered, until tender, 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally. Grill onions, covered, until lightly charred, 1-2 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve chicken and vegetables with reserved sauce for dipping.

Nutrition Facts

4 ounces cooked chicken: 332 calories, 11g fat (3g saturated fat), 101mg cholesterol, 1316mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate (11g sugars, 1g fiber), 32g protein.