Easy Chicken Yakitori from the BBQ

One of the first Japanese foods I fell in love with was teriyaki and yakitori. Yakitori actually just means grilled chicken in Japanese (yaki = broil or grill, tori = chicken), whereas Teriyaki means grilled & glazed (teri = gloss or luster, yaki = broil or grill). Teriyaki can be used for different types of meat or seafood, where yakitori is obviously always chicken. The sauces used to make them are very similar, with Japanese soy sauce, mirin (sweet sake), sake, and sugar as the main ingredients. The main difference between chicken teriyaki and yakitori is that yakitori is grilled or broiled skewers of chicken thigh or leg meat, whereas chicken teriyaki is whole pieces of chicken that can be either grilled or pan-fried. I made these simple but delicious yakitori when we threw a BBQ party on our boat recently. The only hard part is to cook the chicken just right: eating undercooked chicken can be risky, but you don’t want dry overcooked chicken either. I also noticed that in this preparation the yakitori flavor is quite mild, so that’s why I’m trying sous-vide yakitori later this week.


boneless and skinless chicken thigh (chicken breast has less taste and will dry out much quicker)

1 cup (250 ml) yakitori/teriyaki sauce, home-made or store-bought




Cut the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces, trimming excess fat if you like, and put on skewers. Grill the skewers until 80% cooked, turning frequently (every 30 seconds) for more even cooking and less risk of burning the outside before the inside has been cooked properly.


Dip the skewers into the yakitori sauce. As you can see it is easiest to use a long container for the sauce, so you can submerge the whole skewer when you dip it.


Continue to grill until done, again turning frequently.


Dip again.


And cook very briefly. Serve!

Wine pairing

Yes we had matching wines with our 7-course meal on the boat… Gewurztraminer is excellent with chicken yakitori (also with other white meat or fish teriyaki).

14 thoughts on “Easy Chicken Yakitori from the BBQ

  1. I am very impressed with a few things.
    Firstly, using the thighs rather than the breast.
    Secondly, only applying the sauce at the 80% cooked stage. It must be very tasty and flavoursome.
    Thirdly, Gewurztraminer. I have trouble getting any of the family to join me in drinking it. I love the perfume and petrol combination of that wine.
    Fourthly, 7 courses on a boat? I am impressed.


    1. Thanks so much Conor! It means a lot to me when you’re impressed.
      The 7 courses were all pre-prepped at home:
      melon wrapped in prosciutto with cremant de bourgogne
      hot-smoked salmon with oaked white burgundy (Montagny)
      garlic-lime-chile marinated jumbo shrimp with pouilly-fume
      chicken yakitori with gewurz
      lamb skewers (pre cooked SV) with pancetta and balsamic with red sancerre
      ribeye skewers (pre cooked SV) with barbera d’alba
      sides of tomato salad, grilled green asparagus and home-baked Italian bread
      cantuccini with vin santo
      Served between 4pm and 10pm for a group of 10 🙂


  2. Great! I have only ever eaten Yaktori when I cooked it as far as I can remember. I gather that in Japan it is common to have alll the bits of the chicken cooked this way, including liver, skin, gizzards and hearts etc. I often do white meat but when I do, I put sections of green onion between the pieces of meat. I will try your method of not adding the glaze until the meat is almost cooked.


    1. It is true that in Japan they use the other chicken parts as well for yakitori, and green onion is also a common addition. There are many small specialized yakitori restaurants (more like bars or wholes in the wall).


  3. I’m a veggie and still this is impressive. Good stuff, there. So glad I stopped by here. When you have the time, do drop by my space, I just made a vegetarian ‘steak’ and would love to hear what you think 🙂


    1. I just dropped by and noticed that it’s basically home-made ricotta. I blogged about that recently, but used it for dessert. Interesting, I had never thought of preparing ricotta as an entree/main course. I do have some veggie recipes on here…


  4. yeah, i’m with conor on this one. boat yakitori? kudos. i have neither the means nor the sealegs required for that kind of adventure. i restrict my cooking to mountains.

    it looks like you teriyaki down to a science, and i’m impressed. grilling with teriyaki can be touchy. i find it to be one of those sauces that is so easy to burn because of its high sugar content. if that flame gets out of control for just a few seconds, your chicken ends up black and bitter.

    i don’t know if you can find it in your neck of the woods, but you might want to try bamboo charcoal. it burns hotter and tastes better (in my opinion), but it doesn’t go for quite as long. it is one of my favorite charcoals for skewers/delicate fish.


    1. You are right that teriyaki burns easily. This is why I prefer to parcook the chicken sous-vide, so the meat is always cooked when the outside starts to char. I’ve never seen bamboo charcoal, but I’ll look for it. Thanks!


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