A simple five-ingredient sesame soy glaze adds bold, authentic flavors to this restaurant-style to homemade grilled Japanese sesame chicken dish!
Whenever my family goes out for a Japanese dinner, there’s one thing we always order besides fresh sushi. Sesame chicken! It’s very similar to the flavor of teriyaki sauce. However, the flavor from the sesame seeds adds subtle roasted nutty notes which we usually devour in an instant. The chicken is also lightly marinated in the sauce before grilling for added flavor.
You’re going to love how easy this recipe is. The sauce is just five simple ingredients. This is the perfect meal if you’re looking for an easy way to bring the flavors of your favorite Japanese restaurant right into your kitchen.
Authentic Japanese ingredients like mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), rice vinegar and soy sauce make the flavors pop. The addition of sesame oil adds delicious toasted aromas to the savory sauce. To balance everything, honey adds the sweetness to compliment the vinegar.
The chicken gets marinated in some of the sauce with chopped garlic. If you can marinate overnight, that’s even better, but not necessary since you’re basting with the sauce after cooking. The five-ingredient sauce mixture simmers and gets concentrated down to a sticky glaze that clings perfectly to tender pieces of sliced chicken.
To make the sesame chicken flavors even more intense, a chive, lemon zest, and sesame sprinkles are added on top right before serving. There are a little bit of spicy red pepper flakes included in the mixture, for those who like just a touch of heat.
To make this a complete meal, you can add quinoa, soba noodles, brown rice, and some fresh vegetables to your bowl. For my bowl. I even added some quick pickled cucumbers for a lovely sweet and tangy flavor. What vegetables will you serve with this yummy Asian dish?
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How do you create a thick sesame soy glaze without thickening ingredients?
If you are looking to create a delicious, sticky glaze to drizzle on top of your chicken there are 2 ways you can do this. If you need a really quick solution, a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch and water mixed together) is your solution. It takes about 2 minutes to thicken once the sauce boils, then it will thicken almost instantly. If you don’t want to add a thickener, using the concentration technique works great. When you bring the sauce to a low boil so that the water in the sauce can evaporate, the solids in the mixture from the honey becomes concentrated and naturally thickens. I cook until the sauce can lightly coat the back of a spoon and is not runny, similar to the thickness of pure maple syrup.
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Restaurant-Style Japanese Sesame Chicken
- ¼ cup honey, plus 1 tablespoon
- ⅓ cup mirin rice wine
- ⅓ cup soy sauce, low sodium, or tamari
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced or flattened to ½-inch thick
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon chives, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- zest of one lemon
- vegetable oil, for grill
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk sauce ingredients together; honey, mirin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.
- Add chicken to a large resealable plastic bag. Add minced garlic and ¼ cup of the sauce mix. Seal bag, removing excess air.
- Use your hands to distribute the sauce and garlic evenly around the chicken. Leave at room temperature on the counter to marinate while making the sauce. If you're not going to cook the chicken right away, transfer to the refrigerator for up to 1 day for marination.
- Add remaining sauce to a medium-sized skillet.
- Turn heat to medium-high and allow to cook and reduce by half until slightly thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. About just over ⅓ cup sauce remaining. You want the sauce to be thick enough to glaze and stick to the chicken and not be runny. Set aside.
- Heat grill over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of vegetable oil on a folded piece of paper towel, and then carefully grease the grill grates.
- Once the grill is nice and hot, add the chicken pieces. Cook uncovered on each side until no longer pink (160-165°F), about 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the chicken.
- Flip over and baste the chicken with sauce. At the end of cooking brush with more sauce before serving.
- In a small bowl mix sesame seeds, chives, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest. Sprinkle on top of chicken. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.
- Chicken thighs can be substituted for chicken breasts. Cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches (160-165°F).
- You can cook the chicken in a large saute pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon heated olive oil if you do not have a grill.
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