Homemade Chicken Teriyaki

Greetings, my long-lost fellow food lovers! It has been so very long since we last saw each other. Has your life also undergone drastic changes in the last 12 months?? To catch everyone up, I got engaged in March, moved and started a new job in July, and got married in September. 2013 turned out to be a mighty crazy year, but it was a good one. I hope it was excellent for you also. One of my favorite recipes to come from 2013 was homemade chicken teriyaki, and I am SO stoked to share it with you! It’s absolutely finger-lickin’ good!

chicken teriyaki on a plate

I’m kind of particular about Chinese food. I don’t eat at Chinese restaurants much because I’m not always sure about the ingredients I’m eating, there’s the whole “you eat and are hungry 20 minutes later” thing, and I’ve rarely eaten at a Chinese restaurant and thought, “I must go back!!” Just doesn’t happen for me. On top of that, I rarely make Chinese food at home because it always seems quite complicated, and requires ingredients I never have on hand. Given that context, I have no idea what on earth prompted me to try America’s Test Kitchen’s Chicken Teriyaki the first time…maybe I just had all the ingredients? Whatever it was, I am thankful as this dish has become a regular in the rotation. In fact, this is the dish that Husband asked for on Valentine’s Day… it is THAT good. 🙂

Homemade Chicken Teriyaki (courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen – slightly amended)

2 – 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white wine
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 scallions, thinly sliced – optional

1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet on medium-high until it shimmers, about 2-4 minutes. Place dry chicken, skin-side down in the pan. Place another, heavy pan or skillet on top to weigh the chicken down while it cooks. Leave it alone for 15 minutes.
2. While chicken is cooking, mix your sauce. Combine soy sauce, sugar, white wine, ginger, minced garlic, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Whisk until the sugar and cornstarch dissolve and the mixture is smooth.
3. Turn the chicken, and cook skin-side up for another 10 minutes. If you would like to use a meat thermometer, your goal is 170 degrees.
4. Remove chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Pour off the chicken grease from the pan.
5. Whisk your sauce to recombine and pour into skillet over medium heat. Let come to a simmer, whisking or stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick or burn.
6. Add the chicken thighs back to the pan and spoon the sauce over the top. Spoon and simmer for several minutes as the sauce continues to thicken and get shiny. This should take 3 – 5 minutes.
7. Scoop your chicken and a generous portion of sauce onto a plate with your desired sides and eat up!

From raw chicken to sauced chicken

This recipe comes from one of the Test Kitchen’s 30 minute recipe cookbooks, and the few times I’ve timed it from start to finish, it’s taken me 34 – 36 minutes if I’m moving efficiently. I feel pretty good about that timing! Of course, it doesn’t take into account also managing sides to go with your dinner so it can help to have a partner in the kitchen to keep it all moving along so you can have dinner on the table in a timely fashion. We’ve eaten this with numerous iterations of rice, broccoli, carrots, and even pasta on the side. I recommend any of those to you!

up close chicken

Having made this dish about a zillion times now, I have a few helpful hints for you.

  • The use of the heavy pan or skillet on top of the chicken is critical to producing the crispy skin on the chicken. It helps press the thigh down into the hot pan, flattening it a bit, and increasing the surface area ratio of the skin to hot pan. I use a cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven.
  • Use a screen guard when you flip the chicken. This recipe generates a fair bit of grease, and it spatters. Kind of a lot.
  • The chicken should come right off the pan and be easy to flip from the first to the second side. If it resists, give it another 2 – 3 minutes. Don’t dilly-dally, trying to get it to flip. See aforementioned spatter.
  • If you have a flat whisk, it works wonders in the sauce when you first put it into the pan. If you don’t have a flat whisk, spend the $7 – $10 to get one. I use mine ALL THE TIME.
  • This recipe makes a generous portion of sauce because I like lots of sauce for my rice and any leftovers. You could cut it in half for 2 thighs and still have generous sauciness.
  • The flavor components (garlic, ginger, red pepper) really can be amended to your personal tastes. If you want it spicier, try adding more ginger or red pepper.

Grating ginger directly into the sauce
Grating ginger to measure

When I started making this dish, I was a little skeptical about skin-on, bone-in, chicken thighs. That seems to be the TOTAL opposite of everything I’ve ever heard about eating chicken. I mean, don’t we all eat boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Isn’t that the thing to do? However, I am 100% convinced there is no way this dish would work with boneless skinless chicken breasts. This meat needs the bone to help it stay moist and tender while cooking at a high heat. It needs the skin to protect the chicken and to develop the most ah-mazing crispy skin that takes well to the teriyaki sauce. Trust me, you want that crispy skin! If you are a white meat eater only, take a deep breath, pre-heat your skillet and give it a go – at least once. I have no reason to believe you will be sorry.

cooked chicken
I think the chicken reheats pretty well, although the skin loses a touch of the crispy factor. Nonetheless, the flavor is still finger-licking-good. I’ve taken it to work for leftovers and been quite satisfied. The sauce also keeps well for a few days covered and refrigerated, if you end up with extra sauce, but no chicken. Pour it over veggies or rice and add some zestiness to yet another meal! I really don’t think you can go wrong…even if you choose to eat it by the spoonful like some members of my house do.

Let me know how you like it and what side dishes went with your chicken teriyaki. I’d love to hear how it went for you! Happy eating!

PS – Pictures from the kitchen in Austin and the kitchen in Miami were used to illustrate this blog. 🙂
Austin Ingredients
Miami ingredients


My Grandmother’s Spiced Tea

Brrr!! It’s been so cold in South Texas this last week! It even snowed and stuck! This is big news for us. I live in South Texas because I’m not a super big fan of the extreme cold. I prefer to be warm, more often than not. Yet, one of the things I do like about cold weather is that it provides a reason to make and enjoy my grandmother’s spiced tea. Her spiced tea is a bit different from any other spiced tea I’ve tried out there, and truthfully I find the rest to be lacking because I love hers so much. It’s a heartier drink than your average tea will ever be, I think. For me, it is such a comforting winter beverage that it makes the cold dreary days a bit more tolerable. The recipe makes so much that it practically begs you to invite some friends over to share with, which immediately brightens things up as well. When you are feeling under the weather, this drink has LOADS of vitamin C goodness and tastes way better than your medicine drops, so drink up, my friends. I encourage you to use it as a preventative measure even. 🙂 It’s a wonderful winter beverage.

The mug is also from my grandmother.

My Grandmother’s Spiced Tea

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
18 – 20 whole cloves*
3 – 4 sticks cinnamon*
hunk of peeled fresh ginger*
3 cans (11.5 oz) peach nectar
3 cans (11.5 oz) apricot nectar
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups strong tea

* These are the ingredients that add the spice so they are flexible. I’ve added as little as a tablespoon, as much as an ounce, and just eyeballed it at other times. I like more – you may prefer less. Her original recipe calls for 12 – 14 cloves, 2+ sticks cinnamon, and no ginger. Make sure you are using whole spices and not ground. Ground will lead to a grainy beverage and that’s not good drinking.

Tablespoon of Fresh Frozen Ginger

1. Brew your tea and let sit for a while so that it will be strong. Last time I made this, I forgot and left it for well over an hour, and it did not adversely affect the taste. It is also probably sufficient to let it steep for 20 – 30 minutes. You can also use more than one tea bag if you like.
2. Mix the sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and ginger in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Let boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
3. Add the nectar, lemon juice, and tea. Stir and heat through so flavors have time to meld.
4. Serve and enjoy your wonderful winter beverage!

Yes, my friends, it really is that easy. During the winter months, I try to keep the nectar on hand in the pantry so that I can make spiced tea when the mood strikes me. It was quite the bummer on my snow day to discover that I was without. I will be rectifying that on the next grocery store trip. I keep my leftovers in a pitcher in the fridge and just pour a mug full in the mornings to enjoy while I’m getting ready for work. It’s a delightful way to start my day. I think you will find it to be the same for you.

My sister shared the following tip with me for reusing the cinnamon sticks. You can take them out of the tea, give them a quick rinse so they are no longer sticky, and lay them out to dry. Once they are dry, you can reuse them in the next batch. I think you can use them two or three times and still get good cinnamon flavor out of them. I usually use 2 or 3 recycled sticks and perhaps 1 fresh stick. Given that good quality cinnamon sticks are not the cheapest item on the market, this is a good way to get the most mileage out of them. It’s probably a good idea to keep them separate from your other, non-used cinnamon sticks, though.

Ginger is an ingredient that I did not use very often for the longest time because it naturally comes in large chunks and I only would use a wee bit at a time, until I started putting it in my spiced tea. Then one day, I was watching Food Network and learned that you can freeze ginger and it will keep a mighty long time that way. Well hello! Yes, please! So now, I buy the ginger, bring it home, peel it, wrap it tight in plastic wrap, and keep it in a zip-top bag in the freezer. It seriously seems to keep forever. When I need it, I just bring it out and grate it frozen which works just fine, or let it thaw the tiniest bit to get a few slices. It’s usually an imperfectly shaped slice, but I’ve yet to need perfect slices for my cooking. It actually seems to grate better frozen than when thawed.

It’s quite easy to peel too. I don’t usually need to use a peeler, although I have used that. The edge of a spoon seems to work just fine for me. The other day I watched a woman on Food Network use a knife to slice off the peel; truthfully it seemed excessive to me as well as wasteful of the ginger she cut off with the peel. If you use the edge of a spoon, the brown peel will just scrape right off. But you feel free to try both ways and go with what you prefer. After all, it is your kitchen, and you are the boss of it. I do recommend peeling it prior to freezing it. Let my hard learned lesson help you out.

I heard that the groundhog in Pennsylvania did not see his shadow, so theoretically, spring is on its way. Hallelujah, I say! But on the chilly days sure to come before then, I invite you to whip up some spiced tea, invite some friends over, break out a board game, and don’t let winter get you down! Happy drinking!

Nutritional Informationapproximately 3/4 cup
Calories: 124
Carbs: 32 g
Vitamin C: 49.5 %

PS – If you haven’t been over to the Food Memories page in a while, you should because Spiced Tea is mentioned twice. One is a more obvious mention than the other, so feel free to read all the memories to find them both. 🙂 Plus – there is just some good stuff over there.