This shoyu chicken recipe can stop you from living on takeouts.
If juicy chicken thighs melt your butter, a shoyu chicken recipe is what you need. It features moist chicken thighs swimming in an extra-savory sauce that you later drizzle over hot rice and enjoy by the spoonfuls.
What Is Shoyu Chicken?
Shoyu chicken is a Japanese entrée that cooks (usually) chicken thighs in a sweet, umami gloss made with soy sauce. It’s served with cooked rice and vegetables on the side — a truly wholesome meal that packs flavors.
The thighs are traditionally braised for an hour in the sauce until they get tender and moist, but we found a quicker way around. We gave them a good sear to seal the moisture and cook them well, then simmer them in the sauce quickly so they stay juicy and flavorful.
We also have a chicken teriyaki, which is similar to shoyu chicken but is a little sweeter. It’s paired with miso soup, making for a wholesome, traditional Japanese meal.
Is This Recipe Healthy?
Our shoyu chicken recipe calls for nothing but healthy ingredients. First of all, chicken.
Poultry has long been suggested as a better protein than red meat — with all the flavors and little saturated fat. The bird is also accessible and budget-friendly, an ideal food choice to meet your daily protein needs.
Next up, white rice, THE carb of the meals that many Asians can’t get enough of. Rice is a complex carb, which contains not only starch, but also important nutrients that our body needs.
For savory dishes, we especially keep our eyes on the sodium content, which the USDA recommends us to have less of. We didn’t want it to be any less flavorful, so instead of using less soy sauce, we chose a low-sodium option.
In other words, if you want to add a healthy chicken dish to your menus, this one is a promising candidate. It has lean meat, healthy carbs, fibers, and complies with the USDA’s dietary guidelines.
1. Chicken Cuts
Our favorite cut of the bird is the thighs — the juiciest, most flavorful cut. We love seeing the skin shrink as we sear and all of the fat rendered, oozing out.
Unfortunately, the chefs couldn’t get boneless thighs, so they had to pick the bone-in option and get busy. They sliced the thighs open, cut around the bones, and gave them a serious twist to remove — all in 5 minutes.
If you’ve never tried deboning chicken thighs and couldn’t get boneless thighs, use chicken breasts instead. This juicy, Asian sweet and sour chicken uses chicken breasts and turns out just fantastic! We found that marinating the breasts in a salt solution (1 cup water, 1 tbsp salt) also results in juicy, flavorful chicken breasts.
2. The Shoyu Sauce
The Japanese soy sauce we’re using has much to talk about.
Besides being low-sodium, it has a very unique aroma that gives a certain je ne sais quoi to Japanese dishes. If you’ve ever had sushi and wondered why the dip smells so nice, that comes from Kikkoman’s soy sauce product line.
Next, the flavorings and aromatics: brown sugar, mirin, ginger, and garlic. A good ratio makes an umami, moderately sweet shoyu glaze that smells wonderful.
Finally, what makes the sauce thick and stick: cornstarch diluted in water. If you love a more concentrated sauce, you can use xanthan gum as a thickening agent.
How to Store
Our shoyu chicken recipe makes four servings, so you’re likely to end up with leftovers. Here’s what you need to do to have moist chicken the next day.
First, place the leftover chicken and sauce in an airtight container, and keep it in the fridge. This lasts for up to five days.
To reheat, transfer the chicken and sauce to a small pot, add 2 tablespoons of water, and turn the heat on medium. Simmering for about 2 minutes, or until the added water evaporates, and the chicken will be reheated and stays moist.
For the soup and juice, you can make a large batch ahead and divide into Ziploc bags to freeze. The juice tastes best served cold, and for the soup, you can reheat it in a pot.
What to Serve with
Since the sauce contains ginger, we think a hot soup would pair well with this dish, making for a cozy meal. Looking through what we have, this winter melon soup is the best candidate with chewy meatballs and winter melon cubes that just melt.
We also serve this meal with a glass of grapefruit juice. The drink is slightly tangy, sweet, and super fragrant, an ideal choice to end a meal.
This skillet has bite-sized chicken breast chunks that are flavored with paprika and garlic powder and pan-seared with snappy asparagus to perfection. We also add an Asian-inspired sauce made of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, etc., to bring out the best of everything.
This Japanese treat coats each nugget in mochiko rice and fries them to perfection. There’s a burst of flavors in every bite, hiding underneath that crunchy, chewy coating.
In a bowl, rub 20 oz skin-on, boneless chicken thighs with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Allow to marinade for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add 6 oz broccoli and cook for 1 minute. Strain and allow to cool.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, and place the marinated thighs skin-side down to sear for 4 minutes. When the fat’s rendered and the skin turns golden brown, flip and sear for 6 minutes. Put aside.
In the same skillet, add 1 tsp minced ginger and 1 tsp minced garlic, and stir quickly for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat. Add 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 3/4 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp mirin, 3 tbsp water, and 1 tsp cornstarch, and turn the heat to medium. Stir to combine and reduce for 2 minutes.
Add cooked chicken thighs back into the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Flip the thighs to coat them in the sauce, then turn off the heat.
Serve: place cooked rice in the middle of a serving platter. Add broccoli on the side, chicken thighs on top, and drizzle with a healthy amount of sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds, 2 tbsp chopped scallions, and 1/4 tsp chili flakes.
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 507Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Vitamin A 443IU
Vitamin C 39mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.