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 Shoyu Chicken 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.
When rice is paired with fiber-rich foods like broccoli, an interesting phenomenon happens. Fiber allows our gut to absorb carbs slowly, which promotes longer satiety and keeps you from snacking.
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.
Ingredients for Shoyu Chicken
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 Make Shoyu Chicken
Here is the short version of our shoyu chicken recipe:
- Marinate the chicken.
- Boil the broccoli.
- Sear the chicken.
- Make the sauce.
- Cook the chicken in the sauce.
- Serve with cooked rice.
For the full instructions with measurements and timing, refer to the recipe card below.
If you love simple chicken recipes like this one, we also have a Chicken Vesuvio recipe that you may like.
What to Serve with Shoyu Chicken
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.
Try our Mochiko chicken — a famous Hawaiian staple — for another tasty take on Japanese flavors!
How to Store Shoyu Chicken
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.
Looking for alternative ways to work with chicken? These healthy chicken and rice recipes might be helpful:
Shoyu Chicken Recipe
Our shoyu chicken recipe is the easiest take on the Japanese staple. The chicken turns out juicy, moist, and all coated in the umami sauce.
- cook TIME 15 mins
- prep TIME 10 mins
- total TIME 25 mins
- COURSE Main Course
- CUISINE Japanese
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 507 kcal
- 20 ozskin-on, boneless chicken thighs
- 0.3 tspsalt
- 0.3 tspground black pepper
- 6 ozbroccoli (washed and cut into florets)
- 1 tspgarlic (minced)
- 1 tspginger (minced)
- 0.5 tbspbrown sugar
- 1.8 tbspreduced-sodium soy sauce
- 0.5 tbspcooking mirin
- 3 tbspwater
- 1 tspcornstarch
- 3 cupscooked long-grain rice
- 2 tbspscallion (chopped)
- 0.5 tbspsesame seeds (toasted)
- 0.3 tspchili flakes
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 sesame seeds, chopped scallions, and chilli flakes.