Air Fryer Chicken Yakitori — Experience the sizzling fusion of traditional Japanese flavors with modern kitchen convenience in this Air Fryer Chicken Yakitori recipe.
Using the air fryer, you’ll achieve that signature grilled texture and umami-rich flavor of yakitori right in the comfort of your kitchen, minus the fuss of an open flame. Dive in and let your taste buds embark on a delectable journey!
What Is Chciken Yakiktori?
Chicken Yakitori (焼き鳥) is a popular Japanese dish of skewered and grilled chicken. The term “Yakitori” can be broken down into “yaki,” which means “to grill,” and “tori,” which means “bird” or “chicken.” Traditionally, various parts of the chicken, including the liver, skin, thighs, and even cartilage, are threaded onto bamboo skewers and then grilled over a charcoal fire.
There are two primary flavors or marinades commonly associated with Yakitori:
- Shio (salt): Seasoned with salt before grilling.
- Tare (sauce): Basted with a sweet and savory sauce made primarily from soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar.
Yakitori is commonly enjoyed in Japan at specialized restaurants known as “Yakitori-ya,” and drinks like beer or sake often accompany it. It’s a favorite for its smoky flavor varying textures, and as a delightful izakaya (Japanese pub) snack.
Can you cook chicken yakitori in an air fryer?
Yes, you can cook Chicken Yakitori in an air fryer! While traditional yakitori is grilled over charcoal, giving it a distinct smoky flavor, the air fryer provides a convenient and quick method to achieve a similar charred texture and juicy interior
Today, I served these on top of a great big bowl of white rice, and it’s so healthy and amazing. I love healthy meals in the air fryer. If you do not want to serve this over salad, it is great with some of my great air fryer side dishes, such as Air Fryer Sweet Potato French Fries or even an Air Fryer Baked Potato.
Ingredients needed for air fryer chicken yakitori
Elevate your culinary game by diving into the delightful realm of Air Fryer Chicken Yakitori. This modern twist on a classic Japanese dish promises juicy chicken with a hint of char, all achieved in the convenience of your kitchen.
Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed ingredient list are below in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional information.
- Chicken: Opt for succulent boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless chicken breast, revered for its juicy texture and ability to absorb flavors, making it the quintessential choice for yakitori.
- Soy Sauce: A cornerstone of Asian cuisine, soy sauce imparts a deep, salty, umami flavors, laying the foundation for the rich marinade.
- Mirin: This sweet rice wine brings a touch of sweetness, balancing the saltiness of the soy sauce and adding a layer of complexity to the dish.
- Sake: A traditional Japanese rice wine, sake provides a subtle alcoholic depth, enhancing the overall aroma and taste of the yakitori.
- Sugar: A touch of sugar caramelizes beautifully in the air fryer, lending the yakitori its signature glossy finish and a hint of sweetness.
- Green Onions: These can be threaded between chicken pieces for a burst of color and a mild, tangy flavor contrast.
- Bamboo Skewers/Wood Skewers: Essential for the classic yakitori look and feel, these skewers hold the chicken pieces together, ensuring even cooking and easy handling.
Remember, while the list might seem extensive, each ingredient plays a vital role in capturing the authentic essence of Chicken Yakitori. Enjoy the cooking journey!
How to cook chicken yakitori in an air fryer
Experience the fusion of traditional Japanese flavors and modern culinary techniques with this Air Fryer Chicken Yakitori recipe. By harnessing the efficiency of the air fryer, you’ll effortlessly recreate the tantalizing char and juicy tenderness of classic yakitori, all within the cozy confines of your kitchen. Dive into this guide and let your culinary adventure begin!
Combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a bowl. Mix until the sugar dissolves.
Cut chicken thighs into 2-inch pieces and place them in the marinade, ensuring they’re well-coated. Let them marinate for at least 30 minutes, but longer (up to 2 hours) is even better.
If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes to prevent them from burning in the air fryer.
Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers. If you’re using green onions, you can alternate between chicken pieces and folded segments of green onions.
Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F (190°C) for 4-5 minutes. Place the yakitori chicken skewer in the air fryer basket in a single layer, ensuring they don’t overlap.
Set cook time for about 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through. If you want more of a charred appearance, you can increase the temperature to 400°F (205°C) for the last 2-3 minutes.
Heat the leftover sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat, and then baste the skewers with leftover marinade during the halfway turn to intensify the flavor.
Once the chicken yakitori is cooked, remove the skewers from the air fryer.
Serve hot with additional yakitori sauce if desired. Pairing with steamed rice, sliced green onions, sesame seeds, or a side salad can create a complete meal.
Note: Always ensure the chicken is cooked through, reaching a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Adjust cooking times if necessary based on the size of your chicken pieces and the specific model of your air fryer.
- Chicken Selection: Chicken thighs are ideal for yakitori due to their juiciness and flavor. Chicken breast can be used if you prefer leaner meat, but avoid overcooking to prevent dryness.
- Marination Time: While 30 minutes is the minimum, marinating the chicken overnight intensifies the flavors and tenderizes the meat even more.
- Avoid Overcrowding: Ensure skewers are spaced in the air fryer to allow proper air circulation. This ensures even cooking and that charred appearance we love on yakitori.
- Regular Basting: For deeper flavor, baste the yakitori with marinade every time you turn them. This keeps them moist and adds layers of flavor.
- Checking Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Charred Finish: For a more authentic grilled appearance, consider searing the yakitori over an open flame (like a gas stove) for a few seconds after air frying.
- Serving Suggestions: Consider serving with tsukemono (Japanese pickles) or a fresh cabbage slaw to complement the rich flavors of the yakitori.
- Bamboo Skewer Tip: Soaking bamboo skewers in water prevents them from burning. If you forget to soak them, wrapping the exposed ends with aluminum foil can also help prevent scorching.
- Sauce on the Side: Consider preparing extra yakitori sauce, bringing it to a boil, and then letting it simmer until it reduces a bit. Serve this on the side for dipping.
Remember, while the air fryer provides a quick and even cooking method, the key to great yakitori is in the preparation and quality of ingredients. Enjoy your cooking journey!
Can I use other parts of the chicken for yakitori? Absolutely! While boneless chicken thighs are most popular for their flavor and juiciness, you can also use chicken breasts, wings, or even offals like liver or heart for a more traditional touch.
I forgot to soak my wooden skewers. What should I do? If you forgot to soak your skewers, wrap the exposed ends with a small piece of aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. You can also use metal skewers.
My air fryer has a different wattage. How should I adjust the cooking time? Cooking times can vary based on wattage and model. Start by checking the yakitori a few minutes before the recommended time and adjust as necessary.
Can I use store-bought teriyaki sauce or soy sauce instead of making the marinade? Yes, like teriyaki sauce, store-bought sauce, like teriyaki sauce, can work in a pinch. However, homemade marinade usually offers a more authentic and balanced flavor.
Can I prepare the yakitori in advance and freeze them? Definitely! You can marinate the chicken, skewer it, and then freeze. When ready to cook, you can air fry directly from frozen and add a few more minutes to the cooking time.
I don’t have sake or mirin. What can I use as a substitute? While sake and mirin give a unique flavor, you can substitute sake with rice vinegar, dry sherry, or Chinese rice wine and mirin with a mix of white wine and a pinch of sugar in a pinch.
How do I achieve a smokier flavor using an air fryer? While the air fryer won’t replicate the smokiness of charcoal grilling, a few drops of liquid smoke in the marinade can impart a smoky flavor. Alternatively, a brief sear over an open flame after air frying can add a touch of smokiness.
Why is my chicken drying out in the air fryer? Ensure you’re not overcooking the chicken. Chicken thighs are more forgiving, but if you’re using chicken breast, it can dry out faster. Keep an eye on the cooking time and consider basting during the process.
More Air Fryer Recipes
EASY AIR FRYER SHRIMP
Air Fryer Chicken Yakitori
- 2/3 cup Soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 tablespoons Mirin Rice Wine
- 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- 2/3 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ginger Ground or Fresh
- 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
- 1 pound Chicken Thighs or Boneless Chicken Breast
- Salt & Black Pepper To Taste
- Sesame Seeds
- Green Onions
- Start by making the sauce in a medium-sized saucepan, mix the soy sauce, water, mirin, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch. Mix well. Bring to a low simmer, and then remove from heat.
- Split the sauce into two bowls, one will be the chicken’s marinade, and the other one will be the dipping sauce to serve with the chicken.
- Dice your chicken into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Then pour the marinade in and mix well. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Thread the chicken through the skewers, spay the air fryer basket, set the temperature to 370 degrees F, air fryer setting for 5 minutes, then flip the chicken (with tongs), and air fry another 5-8 minutes.
- Garnish with salt, black pepper, sesame seeds and green onions before serving. (optional)
- Plate, serve and enjoy!
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray
- Parchment Paper
- Refrigeration: Allow the cooked chicken yakitori skewers to cool completely. Place them in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Air Fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C). Place the skewers in a single layer and heat for 3-4 minutes or until warmed through.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lay the skewers on a baking sheet and heat for about 10 minutes, or until they are hot and slightly crispy.
- Microwave: Place the skewers on a microwave-safe plate and heat on medium power in 30-second intervals, checking after each, until warmed through. Note: This method won’t retain the crispiness.
- Pre-Freezing: If you wish to freeze uncooked marinated chicken, thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and lay them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Place the tray in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until the skewers are solid.
- Storage: Transfer the partially frozen skewers to freezer bags or airtight containers. If using bags, remove as much air as possible. Store for up to 2 months.
- Cooking from Frozen: You can cook the yakitori directly from the freezer. Increase the cooking time by a few minutes to ensure they are cooked through.
Note: Always label your storage containers or bags with the date and contents for easy identification. When reheating, ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safety.