Recipes Main Courses Poultry and Game Chicken Yakitori with Honey Sauce

Chicken Yakitori with Honey Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Japanese culinary tradition is filled with delicious grilled meats, fish, poultry and vegetable dishes. Chicken yakitori is Japanese grilling simplicity at its best. Small amounts of skewered thigh meat, cooked quickly over very hot coals, are served with a dipping sauce. 


For the honey sauce: 

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 1/4 cup mirin or other rice wine 
  • 1/4 cup sake 
  • 3 Tbs. honey 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger  
  • 2 green onions, white and green portions, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded (optional)  
  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Sesame oil for skewers 
  • Vegetable oil for grill 


Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.

To make the honey sauce, in a small saucepan over high heat, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, honey, garlic, ginger and green onions and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened and glossy, about 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mound the lettuce in the center of a serving platter; set aside.

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, cut each thigh into 3 strips, each about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Thread 3 or 4 chicken pieces onto each soaked skewer without crowding. Lightly season the chicken with salt and brush lightly with sesame oil.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Oil the grill grate with vegetable oil.

Grill the skewers directly over high heat, turning once, until nicely grill-marked and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Arrange the skewers on top of the lettuce on the platter. Drizzle some of the honey sauce on top. Serve immediately and pass the remaining sauce alongside. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).