Easy grilled teriyaki chicken with a super tasty, super simple homemade teriyaki sauce! This chicken is perfect for main dishes, salads and more!

Wow! This simple teriyaki chicken is amazing!

Our favorite way to eat it is with a side of rice, fresh pineapple and a steamed veggie, and here’s the full disclaimer: we are eating it A LOT because it is so incredibly good!

Slices of grilled teriyaki chicken in white bowl with rice and pineapple.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

This grilled teriyaki chicken recipe starts with a VERY simple homemade teriyaki sauce.

FIRST: Simmer together soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, and unseasoned rice vinegar until the sugar dissolves.

Spoon with drip of teriyaki sauce.

SECOND: reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce and pop it in the fridge to use later.

THIRD: let the rest of the sauce cool to room temperature and then add a heaping tablespoon each of fresh ginger and garlic and blend (the frozen cubes of ginger and garlic from Trader Joe’s and other stores work brilliantly well here).

Blender with soy sauce, ginger, garlic blended up.

Chicken Thighs vs Chicken Breasts

Pour the blended sauce mixture over the chicken and marinate for at least an hour, but preferably more like 8-12 hours.

I am rarely persuaded to use chicken thighs over chicken breasts, but in this recipe, boneless, skinless chicken thighs really shine. They are juicy and flavorful, and all of their flaws-according-to-Mel can mostly be forgiven.

If you want to use chicken breasts, only marinate for up to 4 hours and keep an eye on the cooking time so the chicken breasts don’t overcook.

Chicken things covered in teriyaki marinade in white dish.

After marinading, grill the chicken…I like to grab the reserved marinade from the fridge and brush it on the chicken during the last few minutes of cooking.

A pellet, charcoal or gas grill will work well for this recipe (I use a Traeger pellet grill). And I’m guessing if you don’t have a grill, opting for an air fryer, stovetop skillet or oven/broiler will work fine, too.

For optimal juiciness, let the chicken rest for a couple minutes before cutting into thin slices.

Grilled teriyaki chicken thighs in white dish.
Slices of grilled teriyaki chicken on wood cutting board.

Keep the Sauce

Once the chicken is cut into slices, take the reserved marinade and drizzle lightly over the chicken.

The sauce is deliciously potent and powerful, so a little bit goes a long way!

This recipe reminds me a lot of this favorite Hawaiian Grilled chicken, except it is less sweet with a stronger teriyaki flavor. It has quickly become a huge family favorite with at least one of my kids pleading to include it on the menu plan every week.

I’m never tempted to say no – it’s so good and has won me over big time, too!

Drizzling teriyaki sauce over slices of chicken in white bowl.

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Eight Years Ago: Fresh Strawberry Gelato {i.e. Italian Ice Cream} 
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top down view of grilled teriyaki chicken in white bowl with rice and pineapple

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

5 stars (23 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce (see note)
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 2 to 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (see note)

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, and vinegar. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is simmering and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture into a container and put in the refrigerator to use later.
  • Cool the remaining sauce to room temperature (speed this up by pouring the sauce from the hot pan into a separate container and refrigerating or stirring until cooled).
  • Pour the sauce into a blender and add the ginger and garlic. Blend until well-combined.
  • Place the chicken in a shallow dish. Pour the blended teriyaki sauce over the chicken. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 12 hours). The teriyaki flavor of the chicken will be stronger the longer it marinates.
  • Grill the chicken (discarding the marinade) over medium high heat for about 6-8 minutes per side (use less time for chicken breasts); an instant-read thermometer should register 165 degrees F at the thickest part. Brush the chicken with some of the reserved sauce during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking (save the rest of the sauce to serve with the chicken).
  • Tent the chicken and let rest for 5-7 minutes before serving. Cut the thicken into thin slices and serve with the rest of the reserved teriyaki sauce.

Notes

Soy Sauce: I’ve only ever made this recipe with low-sodium soy sauce. Full sodium soy sauce might make the finished dish too salty. 
Chicken: chicken thighs do best in this potent teriyaki marinade, but you can try chicken breasts instead. If so, don’t marinate for longer than 4 hours and don’t overcook (take the chicken off right when it reaches 165 degrees F at the thickest part). 
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 338kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 111mg, Sodium: 1239mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 18g
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Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe from June/July 2020 issue of Cook’s Country (I changed up the type of sugar, added honey, dialed in amounts of garlic and ginger, used rice vinegar in place of mirin, etc)