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The Simple Secret to Succulent Chicken Teriyaki

For the best teriyaki, leave the skin on your chicken.
By Published Oct. 7, 2021

Whether it’s charred on a backyard grill, seared in a skillet, or piled atop a disposable plate at a shopping mall food court, salty-sweet, umami-packed chicken teriyaki manages to hit most of the brain’s pleasure centers. But there’s a crucial difference between American versions and those found in Tokyo.

In the States, chicken teriyaki typically features a boneless, skinless cut. But in Japan, cooks use boneless, skin-on thighs. The succulent skin makes a world of difference since it provides more surface area for flavorful browning and for holding a lustrous soy sauce, sugar, and sake glaze. (The skin can also withstand a thorough sear without drying out or toughening.) In fact, we’re willing to bet that skin-on teriyaki will be the best you’ve ever had: savory and juicy—tasting of pure chicken—with a glistening salty, sweet, and savory exterior.

Boneless, skin-on thighs aren't available in most supermarkets, but don’t let that stop you: It’s easy to remove the bone from skin-on thighs at home.

For our full chicken teriyaki recipe, click here.

Deboning Skin-On Thighs

Traditional chicken teriyaki is made with boneless thighs with the skin still attached; the skin protects the meat and contributes rich, savory flavor. Most supermarkets don’t sell this cut, but it’s easy to strip out the bones from the thighs yourself. See the recipe for detailed instructions.

Illustration: John Burgoyne

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.