Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes


Usually chicken teriyaki (or chikiteri as it’s abbreviated sometimes) is made from whole chicken thigh pieces, but I prefer to cut the meat up in advance for bento use - the smaller pieces cook faster, and I don’t have to deal with slicing hot cooked meat early in the morning.

The chicken can be marinated from the night before or just briefly in the morning. You can also make this in some quantity and freeze the cooked pieces - since you are using thigh meat, the pieces won’t dry out so easily after defrosting like white meat can.

I like to leave the skin on, but you can peel it off if you prefer, either before or (preferably) after cooking.

This is a much simpler marinade than the one I’ve given for teriyaki previously, but just as tasty.

Recipe: Bite-size chicken teriyaki

The chicken thighs I buy usually have about 80 to 90 grams of meat and skin on them (around 3 ounces). Since chicken sizes can vary a lot from country to country, I’ve given weights instead of ‘4 chicken thighs’ etc. But you can’t really go much wrong with this recipe, so don’t worry.

This recipe will make enough pieces for 4 bentos, Make more or less as you require.

  • 270 grams / 9 1/2 oz. chicken thigh meat with skin on or off
  • 3 Tbs. sake
  • 2 Tbs. mirin
  • 1 Tbs. raw cane sugar, or honey
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce

Spread the chicken meat out flat, and poke all over with the point of a knife or a fork, to allow the marinade to penetrate and to minimize shrinkage. Cut into bite sized pieces (for 90 g thighs that’s about 4 pieces per thigh.)

Mix together the other ingredients in a non-reactive container (glass is good). Put in the chicken and mix. Leave for a minimum of 10 minutes, or overnight.

To cook, heat up a non-stick frying pan. If you skinned the thighs, put in about 2 Tbs. of oil; if you’re cooking them with the skin, no added oil is needed.

Drain the chicken pieces out of the marinade and put them into the hot pan, skin side down. As the pan starts to sputter, put a lid on and lower the heat to medium. Leave for about 4 minutes.

Take the lid off, and spoon a little bit of the leftover marinade over the chicken. Turn over (no need to put the lid back) and cook for another 2-3 minutes, depending on how thick the pieces are. They are done when you stick a knife into the middle of a piece and the juice that runs out is clear. The chicken should be nicely caramelized on the outside when you’re done.

Take them out of the pan and let any excess oil drain off. At this point you can remove the skins if you left them on before and prefer no skin.

Let cool before packing into your bento box, or freezing.

You can defrost the chicken in a microwave, or in a dry pan with a lid on over low heat.

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Looks yummy and easy to

Looks yummy and easy to make. Definately will make some for my bento soon.

It looks really good and will be on my dinner table tonight!

Maki coming to the rescue!

I have a lot of house work to do today and didn’t feel like going out at all. While cleaning out the fridge, I noticed quite a few veggies I want to cook for tonight such as cauliflower and some leek and zucchini stir fry. But I had no idea what to make as main dish. Seeing the pic of your teriyaki chicken convinced me that it will be a great meat dish to go with the veggies.

The supermarket had boneless skinless thighs as well as leg quarters on sale recently and I stocked up on a few of those. My chicken is thawing out as we speak. I look forward to making the chicken tonight. Will post feedback after I have tasted it. Yum, am looking really forward to it.

BTW, Maki, thanks again for all the wonderful recipes you post on here and on your other blog. I have tried cooking various japanese dishes before (some from cook books). I have found that I get better results with your recipes in general and the taste comes out just great! I always look forward to reading your new posts.

Looks Delicious!

Can’t wait to try it out!

The kids love it

We tied it out and now my kids are asking for this just about every day. My rice-hating son even will eat rice with this! ‘Course my DH and I love it too. :)

that’s pretty awesome :)

that’s pretty awesome :)

I did make it tonight!

Hi Maki - reporting back! I made the chicken tonight along with some veggie side dishes. Marinated the chicken for around 3 hours. When I bit into the chicken, I could really taste the mirin/sake in it.

For me, I would have preferred the chicken to be slightly sweeter. It’s probably due to the fact of Japanese restaurants here having the teriyaki sauce really sweet and I am used to more sweetness
My hubby thought the chicken could have been saltier, but I think he eats a bit more salty in general, because I thought the chicken was salty enough. I added some toasted sesame seeds on my chicken, probably not very authentic but I liked it.

Thanks for the recipe. It was super easy to make and will be on my menu again. BTW, I also made miso soup from scratch (recipe for dashi was what you posted in an entry on Justhungry). I made a bit more chicken so hubby will get the chicken in his bento tmr for lunch.

Wakkun, thank you for the

Wakkun, thank you for the detailed report! By all means adjust the proportions of the ingredients to suit you - I have seen recipes that call for more soy sauce and sugar. And actually, adding toasted sesame seeds to the chicken turns it into something called “kijiyaki” (chicken pheasant style?) so you’ve hit on a golden combination!

I’m glad you find the sites useful :)

Re: I did make it tonight!

If you are used to a sweeter teriyaki, you can add some pineapple juice to the sauce. (I'm sure it's not authentic, but it is tasty!)

Can we do Tofu instead of Chicken?

Hi M,

As I don’t eat meat, but love your ideas and am addicted to Just Hungry and Just Bento what about tofu or seitan?

How would you prepare it M, if it were tofu or seitan or maybe you have another idea for this dish but minus the meat? I would really love to give it a try.


Ciao, O

You can use any kind of

You can use any kind of firm, bland protein - so seitan would be perfect. Or thick fried tofu (atsuage) which I like to use quite a lot. Or even TVP or quorn. You’d have to add a little oil to the pan, depending on how oil-free or not your ingredient is.

thanks M

Your awesome!

Ciao, O

Can we substituted mirin?

Hello Maki,

Great site:) I want to ask if we can substituted or omit the mirin because where I live I can’t find lots of things and mirin is one of them.


hi - i just tried this out last night with chicken drumsticks and they worked out beautifully! I substituted rice vinegar for sake because i didnt have any handy. I’ll definitely keep this recipe for future use. Thanks for all the great recipes! :)

not entirely successful...

but given my lack of experience in cooking, I think my first attempt at this recipe actually went quite well. The chicken didn’t caramelise nicely like on your pic, it sorta ended up swimming in a pool of fat! Eeeeeek! And tasted a little… different (but good!), but that may have been the mirin/sake which I’ve never used or tasted before for that matter. I’m definitely going to try again and hope for better results :) One thing I discovered though: CHICKEN IS SO HARD TO CUT! I mean the raw stuff, the skin ended up practically torn off the entire thigh before I managed to cut it T_T Any tips?

Cutting chicken

I ended up with a bit of a stew at the end of mine too - I think next time I’ll add less of the marinade and possibly cook it on a higher heat. (I reckon it will probably taste nice anyway though - thank you for the recipe, Maki!)

As for cutting chicken, what kind of knife are you using? It will be very difficult with a serrated knife! If you use a sharp non-serrated knife you should have no trouble. It doesn’t have to be an expensive knife either - mine cost me around AU$10 and it does a great job.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes


I'm going to try this on the weekend but alcohol gives me migraines so can i substitute the sake for something else or leav it out altogether?



Hi Maki

I was wondering the same thing too. Would it be possible to have a non-alcoholic version of teriyaki anything? help and advice is greatly appreciated!

Re: Non-alcoholic

This is an often asked question. Omitting alcohol from a Japanese (or Chinese, for that matter) recipe that calls for it will affect the outcome - see this post for a fuller explanation. You can omit it, but the taste will lack some depth and so on. Do keep in mind that most of the actual alcohol evaporates during th cooking process.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

This stuff is Amazing. I used to work at a Manchu Wok, and this stuff tastes great! I used 4 tbs of sherry and 1tbs of Riesling. I had no Mirin or sake. We used sherry @ Manchu wok and i only had Riesling to use for a sweet . I wanted some honey but I only had enough for one tbs so the rest was wht sugar. I am going to use some brown sugar next time. I also had some spicy soy sauce which gave this a nice subtle kick with no flavor a chili or anything.


Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

This was great! I had it for dinner and I loved it. I didn't want it to be just chicken so I added onion and enoki mushrooms with it and they cooked perfectly. Thanks for the recipe ^^

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

My frying pan is too large for any of my lids to fit, so I cut the thighs in half and baked them in the oven for half an hour instead. My partner loved the results and demands I cook it again for him in the future. Result! :)

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

I tried your recipe today and the outcome was very tasty, tender and delicious - but far away from being caramelized. Nevertheless the chicken was great! Thanx a lot for the recipe! :)

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

I just commented on your post about making the basic Japanese rice-It was so yummy! I never thought I would be able to put together that rice that I have had from restaurants, I feel like I accomplished something lol. Anyway, this chicken was so delicious, it is the best teriyaki chicken I have ever had! I could eat this dish every day. I used skinless boneless chicken breast cut in to bite size pieces, since there was no skin it did not really carmelize. I also think because I let it marinate for 6 hours that it was so full of juice when it hit the hot pan it just wouldn't brown like your picture but that did not affect the flavor at all. It was scrumptious! Thank you for the recipe, I finally was able to put together an awesome Japanese style meal from scratch, no seasoning packets or boxed rice!

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

I made this tonight for dinner along with your carrot kinpira recipe, onigiri with carrot and sesame furikake (also your recipe), and green onion soup, and it turned out delicious! I was so impressed with how it turned out, as were my parents and younger brother (Which is saying something).
I went to the local grocery store to get in mirin just for this recipe, but I had little hopes that they actually carried it. As it turns out, they do! When I saw it on the shelf I literally ran to it--nearly knocking a man out of the way in the process. I was ecstatic.
This is a super easy recipe for such an extrodinary outcome! Thanks.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

How long can this be kept in the freezer?

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

If wrapped well you can keep it in the freezer for several months, but I would try to use it up within a month or so (since the texture does deteriorate the longer it's frozen)

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

This is my number 1 easy home alone food. I look forward to eat this whenever I can.
Thank you so much for sharing.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

I just finished making and eating this recipe as a main dish for dinner. It tastes amazing and your instructions for preparation and for cooking are bang on. I had no Mirin and could not find any anywhere but even without this tastes amazing, I can't wait to try other recipes you have on this site.

Thank you.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

I made this, with boneless skinless chicken thighs and marinated for two days and it is some of the best chicken i have ever made, persuading my family to finally buy chicken thigh!

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

I am a horrible cook and this is so easy it even came out good for me. I was able to find the mirin and sake :) so I followed the recipe exactly. Mine carmaliezed so nicely it was amazing. I think I would like it a little sweeter so I am going to experiment with adding more honey and less sake maybe. This is my first post here on JustBento as I have just recently begun reading here and I just want to thank you for the wealth of information on this blog. Im going to try your organge juice carrots next :)

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

What if you are unable to buy sake and mirin? Is there something you can use to compensate them with?

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

Normally they're not a part of the chicken I'd buy on their own, but once in a while my grocery store will offer a bulk special on wing segments (or sometimes just the upper segments, so-called "drumettes"), and I'm a little too frugal not to grab them when they are. I've discovered that they're are pretty perfect for this preparation -- skin on, and already in mini-sized bits. Just made a batch tonight for some bentos this week.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

All I could taste was the honey. Maybe it was because it was manuka honey. Dunno

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

Manuka honey has an overwhelmingly strong flavor, so that's probably the reason. Try sugar or a light tasting honey instead.

Re: Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

Hey, that's really a dazzling recipe, I tried for lunch and it was awesome. As a diabetic patient I used to avoid sugar but I could add honey as a sweetener to it so I added Manuka honey and was really delicious.

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