The Basics: How to Make Teriyaki Chicken

From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of measurements and complicated techniques. It’s a method you’ll remember and whip out whenever you like. It is the most basic way to make the thing you’re making.

  • - a grater
  • - a small saucepan
  • - plastic wrap
  • - a large frying pan or a meat tenderizing mallet
  • - a knob of fresh, peeled ginger
  • - one scallion
  • - low-sodium soy sauce
  • - honey or sugar
  • - two boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • - vegetable oil (not olive oil)



  • 1. Grate the ginger and thinly slice the scallion (both the green and white parts).

    Step 1
  • 2. Make the sauce: Mix three parts soy sauce with one part honey or sugar.

    Step 2
  • 3. Put the sauce in the small saucepan and bring it to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the honey or sugar. Add the ginger, turn off the heat, and let the ginger steep in the sauce while you prepare the chicken.

    Step 3
  • 4. Put plastic wrap on top of the chicken breasts and hit them with the mallet or frying pan until they’re flat. Use a fork to poke holes in the chicken all over on both sides to help the meat absorb the sauce.

    Step 4
  • 5. Coat the bottom of the frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat until the pan and oil are both hot. Add the chicken and cook on one side—without moving the breasts around—until browned, about 10 minutes. Turn over and cook the other side until browned, another 10 minutes.

    Step 5
  • 6. Take the chicken out of the pan and place it on a plate. Pour the sauce into the frying pan and bring it to a boil.

    Step 6
  • 7. Put the chicken back in with the sauce and turn it to coat the meat. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens a little.

    Step 7
  • 8. Put the chicken on a plate, pour the sauce over it, and top with scallions to serve. You can also eat this over rice.

    Step 8

Illustrations by Bill Russell