Yakitori Recipe (Overview)

Treat your friends to a Japanese-style barbecue that is unique, delicious, and fun.

I've been to Japan over 40 times, and I love all types of Japanese food. Going to a Yakitori restaurant, however, is my absolute favorite Japanese dining experience. I still don't understand why it hasn't caught on more in the U.S. Maybe it's the workload - it IS a lot of work to put together, but can be an absolute blast. We typically cook one dish at a time, eat it around the kitchen counter as it comes off, and accompany it with plenty of Japanese beer and  hot sake. 

Although Yakitori technically means "grilled chicken", it is used to apply to all sorts of skewered foods that are barbecued over a special Yakitori style grill indoors. A real Yakitori restaurant may have 50 different dishes to choose from, many of them exotic. I just make a few of my personal favorites. 4 dishes is plenty for a fun night.

Mix it up by cooking a variety of red meat, poultry, and veggies. Here are some of my favorites, with links to each recipe:

The basics:

  • Buy wood skewers at an Asian market. Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill.
  • Prep ahead of time - everything needs to be cut and skewered - some of it also needs to be marinated.
  • Serve with lemon wedges and Togarashi spices (seven pepper blend) unless the dish has its own sauce.
  • Accompany with hot sake and Japanese beer, e.g. Kirin, Sapporo, or Asahi.

Togarashi spice. Good stuff - you can also buy it in bulk on Amazon - much cheaper if you plan to use a lot.


  • You can buy Togarashi spice (Japanese 7 Spice Blend - Shichimi Togarashi) on Amazon or at Asian markets.
  • The same basic Yakitori sauce is used for beef, chicken and mushrooms - so it's smart to make one batch of sauce for use with multiple dishes.
  • We always do this on our indoor cooktop grill, instead of outdoor. That way everyone can enjoy watching and smelling the food, and the busy cook can be part of the conversation.
  • We use prosciutto instead of the traditional bacon for the asparagus, which is always a favorite. Prosciutto is thinner and cooks up crispier and less greasy than thick bacon slices. Prosciutto di Parma (from Parma) is the best, and is available at Costco. If you want to use bacon, you can buy pork belly and slice it very thin. As with all meats, It will slice up better (thinner) if partially frozen.


  • Your local Asian market is a great place to find bamboo skewers, Sake, soy sauce, mirin, etc.
  • Togarashi spice can be bought at Asian markets on online (Amazon, etc.)

I ordered this Ebara "Yakitori No Tare" sauce on Ebay from Japan. Some local Asian markets may have this, or similar. It's good, but not as good as the sauce you make yourself.

Think of Sake as a "Japanese Army Knife". You can cook with it or just drink it - it's all-around handy.

TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 10 min+

  • Prep:      1 hour
  • Cook:     10 min each dish

YIELD:   Various

LEVEL:  Medium



More Photos

Ready to grill!

Lamb Chops.

Beef and green onion.

Asparagus and green onion.

Portabello mushrooms.

Chicken and green onion.