Yakitori Chicken Skewers with Asian Cucumber Salad

For a  quick and tasty meal that brings the flavors of Asia to your kitchen, look no further than Yakitori Chicken Skewers with Asian Cucumber Salad!

Yakitori basically translates from Japanese to grilled chicken on skewers with a teriyaki-type sauce.  In this case, we’ve adjusted the sauce to eliminate sake as its not something that everyone has on hand, but it’s still delicious, simple and wonderful for summer entertaining!

This dish is also customizable to your taste preferences. Swap out the chicken for tofu or vegetables to make it vegetarian, or add some spice with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Whatever your variation, Yakitori Chicken Skewers with Asian Cucumber Salad is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next meal!

Begin by marinating chicken thigh pieces in a sauce of soy sauce, Mirin, sugar, garlic and ginger.  The sauce should be boiled until thickened and then completely cooled before adding it to the chicken pieces.  Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade before adding the chicken.

I love using boneless, skinless chicken thighs as they are the most flavorful!  But, feel free to use chicken breasts.

Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes or longer (8 hours is the most I’ve marinated them and they were still great).

If you have wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes so they don’t catch fire when grilling.  I like to use metal skewers to avoid that step.

Loosely thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers.  This allows the chicken to cook more evenly and quickly.  Reserve the marinade that the chicken was in for basting.

You can either grill or bake the skewers in the oven.  I like to grill because I’m a grillin’ fool!  For oven instructions, follow the recipe.

Grill the chicken on the upper rack for 8-10 minutes over medium heat.  You should have some reserved marinade from the chicken.  Use that to brush over the chicken and grill a few minutes longer.  Move the skewers to the lower rack and grill a bit longer to char the pieces.

Remove the chicken from the grill and then brush the reserved marinade (the sauce you set aside prior to putting the chicken in it) to glaze the chicken pieces.

For the cucumber salad, thinly slice the cukes and red onion and place them in a bowl.  Make a vinaigrette with the remaining ingredients and pour it over the cucumber mixture.  Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes prior to serving it with the chicken skewers.  Delicious!

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Lastly, if you make Yakitori Chicken Skewers with Asian Cucumber Salad, be sure to leave a review down below at the bottom of this page (stars are also appreciated)! Above all, I love to hear from you and always do my best to respond to each and every review. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is one of my favorite things to do!

Yakitori Chicken Skewers with Asian Cucumber Salad

Makes: 2-3 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes plus marinate time 30 minutes


Yakatori Chicken Skewers:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 long bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes before using
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, regular or low-sodium
  • 1/2 cup Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine)
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)

Asian Cucumber Salad:

  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar, or seasoned and reduce the added sugar and salt below a bit
  • 1 tsp brown sugar, or white sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil, regular or toasted
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Make the Sauce:

Add the soy sauce, Mirin, white sugar and garlic and ginger (if using) to a small saucepan and stir together. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium low (or lower, if needed, to allow for a gentle simmer) and allow the mixture to simmer until the mixture reduces by about 1/2, has a nice gloss to it and thickens just slightly (about 10-15 minutes).

Remove mixture to a bowl and allow to stand at room temperature until completely cooled. (Never add raw chicken to hot or even slightly warm sauce! You’ll need about 30-45 minutes for the sauce to cool completely, so plan ahead.)

Prepare the Chicken Thighs:

Unfold the chicken thighs and cut into 3 pieces/strips. (When you unfold the chicken thigh, there is a thinner 1/3 piece that is a natural to cut into one strip, then cut the remaining piece into 2 strips). Repeat with all the chicken thighs and place into a bowl. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.

Once sauce has cooled, remove 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce mixture to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate separately from the chicken. Add the remaining sauce to the prepared chicken, stir to coat well, then cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. (If you have the time, a longer marinating time is best. I aim for at least 4 hours, when I can).

Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes before using.

When ready to cook, thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers, threading 3 pieces onto each skewer and threading lengthwise, catching both ends of the chicken strip, then spreading out fully along the skewer. Repeat with remaining chicken and skewers. Reserve remaining marinade for basting during cooking.

For Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425F. Place skewers onto a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for about 18-20 minutes, basting well with reserved marinade after 10 minutes of cooking.

For BBQ Method: Preheat bbq to about 375-400F. Place skewers on top rack and close the BBQ lid. Allow to cook 8-10 minutes, then baste well with reserved marinade. Close lid and cook a few minutes longer. Finish by placing the skewers on the grate, over the flame for a minute or two to brown slightly.

Remove skewers from oven or grill and brush with the bit of sauce that was reserved separately from the chicken (NOT the sauce used to marinate the chicken, but the sauce you set aside at the start!). The sauce may have thickened up if refrigerated, but just brush it on the hot chicken and all will be good, as the heat from the chicken will loosen it up nicely and provide a wonderful glaze.

For the Cucumber Salad:

Thinly slice the cucumber and red onion and place into a medium bowl. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining ingredients and pouring over the cucumber/red onion mixture. Toss to combine well. Allow to stand about 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Recipe by Seasons & Suppers


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