Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry is healthier than takeout, exploding with flavor and made with whatever veggies you have on hand!
This Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry recipe is an easy, healthy one skillet dinner that rivals your favorite restaurant! It’s loaded with juicy, undeniably tender chicken and tender-crisp veggies coated in the best sticky, sweet, tangy, salty umami forward homemade teriyaki sauce. Best of all, the teriyaki sauce can be whisked up in minutes and doubles as the marinade so there isn’t any double work! This fast-cooking recipe is also very flexible and amendable to whatever veggies you have in your fridge. Your family will love this teriyaki chicken stir fry with rice or low carb cauliflower rice and if you’re feeling even more gourmet, toss in some pineapple cream cheese wontons!
If you love teriyaki, don’t miss these must try recipes: Beef Teriyaki, Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon, One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Pineapple Rice, Teriyaki Chicken Tacos, Teriyaki Chicken Salad, Classic Teriyaki Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich and Sheet Pan Teriyaki Shrimp.
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TERIYAKI chicken stir fry recipe
Whether you have all the time in the world or are in dire need of a quick dinner recipe after a long day, this taste bud-tantalizing teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe will not let you down. It’s a win in every category:
This recipe combines two of my culinary favorites: teriyaki sauce and stir fries! Teriyaki sauce packs a big flavor punch and is quick to whisk together and stir fries are one of the easiest and quickest dinner options. Combine the two together and we have an unabashedly flavorful, weeknight dinner that is totally customizable.
why this RECIPE works:
- You won’t have to ask twice for your kiddos to finish their plates. Everyone loves teriyaki chicken! It’s sweet enough for the kiddos and complex enough for the adults with its layers of savory, tangy, sweet, garlicky, gingery and as-spicy-as-you-want-it essence.
- Once you start cooking, dinner is on the table in less than 15 minutes! Yes, there is some prep work with chopping the veggies (you can also cheat with a bag stir fried veggies or chop your veggies earlier in the day), but the actual stir fry literally comes together in minutes in one skillet!
- The homemade teriyaki sauce is to live for. I’ll go into more detail below, but this isn’t just any teriyaki sauce, it’s a Hawaiian teriyaki sauce made with pineapple juice and my secret ingredient, Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, which elevates this recipe to the BEST chicken teriyaki stir fry you’ve ever had!
- The chicken is succulently juicy and tender. No dry, bland, chalky chicken here! Instead of just being coated in teriyaki sauce, the teriyaki sauce doubles as a marinade while you chop the veggies to create tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken from the inside out.
- This recipe is completely customizable. You can stick with broccoli, carrots and bell peppers as seen in the photos or swap them for your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand.
- You don’t have to feel guilty about seconds or thirds. This chicken stir fry recipe boasts lean chicken breasts and veggies and is stir fried rather than fried to create a nutritious yet satisfyingly chicken dinner everyone will clamor for.
- You can prep the recipe ahead of time so you’re just a stir fry away from dinner. You’ll love that the chicken, veggies and sauce can all be prepped ahead of time so dinner can literally be on the table in less than 15 minutes once it’s “go time.”
A Brief History of Teriyaki Chicken
Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking technique in which food (usually beef, chicken or fish), are grilled or broiled after being marinated or brushed with sauce. The word teriyaki combines two Japanese words: teri, meaning luster (referring to the glistening caramelization of the sauce), and yaki, meaning grill or broil (referring to the cooking technique).
In the United States, teriyaki has come to mean any type of meat cooked in teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki became popular in the United States during the 1960s when Japanese immigrants settled in Hawaii. They adapted teriyaki sauce traditionally made with soy sauce, mirin or sake and sugar using local products, such as pineapple juice and brown sugar. For this reason, you will often see teriyaki served in Hawaii or across the states at Hawaiian restaurants.
This teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe is my tribute to Hawaiian based teriyaki sauce with my own creative spin. It is not authentic, but it is delicious!
How to Make the Best Healthy Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry
The secret is in the sauce. Forget using store-bought bottled sauce, this homemade teriyaki sauce is sensation. It boasts an addictive balance between sweet, salty, tangy, savory and a kick from the ginger and garlic.
The sauce is a combination of Hawaiian teriyaki sauce (soy sauce, sugar/honey, and pineapple juice ) and my non- traditional secret ingredient of Asian Sweet Chili Sauce. The Asian Sweet Chili Sauce replaces some of the sugar with sweet heat infused with red chilies, garlic and ginger for a depth of flavor that can’t be beat. You’ll be licking your plate!
Additionally, this teriyaki sauce is:
- simple to make by whisking all the ingredients together
- made with just a few a few pantry ingredients that are easy to find at your grocery store – no specialty ingredients required
- skips the excess refined sugars, sodium, and preservatives found in most store-bought sauces
- easy to adjust it to just your taste – sweeter, more savory, or more of a ginger, garlic or chili kick
WHAT’S IN TERIYAKI CHICKEN STIR FRY?
This teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe is wonderfully versatile, easy, healthy and satisfyingly delicious! There are three elements of this recipe: 1) the chicken, 2) the sauce, 3) the stir fry. Here’s what you’ll need:
WHAT KIND OF CHICKEN IS BEST?
This comes down to personal preference. Both chicken breasts and chicken thighs will work in this recipe:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: are leaner than chicken thighs but still emerge buttery tender from the marinade. I always use chicken breasts + marinating and I am never disappointed. It is what I have used and shown in these photos and video.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs: are dark meat and therefore inherently juicier and hard to overcook and dry out. If you like dark meat, they are super tasty in this recipe.
The Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients
- Soy sauce: is the backbone of any teriyaki sauce. The salt in the soy sauce helps break down the proteins in the chicken for a more tender texture and infuses the chicken with flavor. Use reduced sodium soy sauce so you can control the amount of salt in the dish.
- Honey: you need a little sweetness in the teriyaki sauce to balance out the salty soy sauce and tangy vinegar, so you can use sugar or honey. I prefer honey because it helps create the signature sticky sauce.
- Asian sweet chili sauce (I recommend Mae Ploy): this is a non-traditional addition to this homemade teriyaki sauce, and it is phenomenal. It is sweet and spicy and packed with flavor from a combination of red chilis, onion, garlic, brown sugar and fish sauce. It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. Just don’t confuse this sweet Asian chili sauce with traditional (hot) Asian chili sauce!
- Pineapple juice: this adds a fruity pineapple tanginess. Use 3 tablespoons of pineapple juice from the canned pineapple chunks used in the stir fry. Do NOT use fresh pineapple juice because it contains the enzyme bromelain which will leave your chicken mushy. In CANNED pineapple, however, the bromelain is extracted, so the juice will infuse your teriyaki chicken with flavor without changing the texture.
- Apple cider vinegar: provides the fruity tanginess, along with the pineapple, to balance the soy sauce. You may substitute with rice wine vinegar or white vinegar if that’s all you have on hand. However, white vinegar is more acidic than cider vinegar, so use a little less if using.
- Garlic: fresh is always best but if you’re looking to save time and skip some chopping, you can substitute the fresh garlic with powder. The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.
- Ginger: I use ½ teaspoon ground ginger because it’s such a small amount, but you may substitute with 1 ½ teaspoons of freshly grated ginger.
- Pepper: throw in ¼ teaspoon pepper to top off this delicious flavorful sauce.
- Asian chili sauce (optional): this is fantastic if you would like a kick of heat – which we always do. You can use your favorite chili sauce such as sambal oelek or sriracha. You don’t need much, just ½-1 teaspoon because the Asian sweet chili sauce already adds some heat.
- Cornstarch: helps to thicken the sauce so that it’s rich instead of watery.
THE STIR FRY ingredients
- Canned pineapple: the pineapple makes the recipe in my opinion, so please don’t skip! You will need one 20 oz. can pineapple chunks. Make sure they are packed IN JUICE and not syrup because the juice is used in the teriyaki sauce.
- Broccoli florets: cut 3 cups into bite-sized pieces. Don’t throw away the broccoli stalk! It can be turned into broccoli rice or roasted for another recipe.
- Carrots: thinly slice 2 carrots so that they cook at the same rate as the other veggies.
- Bell pepper: I use 1 red bell pepper because of its sweetness, but use any color you have on hand. Either slice the bell pepper or chop it into 1” pieces so it won’t become too soft when stir fried with the carrots.
- Green onions: add subtle onion flavor without overpowering the teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe. I recommend 3, but use more or less to taste.
How To Make Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
This Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry can be summed up in 3 words: chop, whisk and stir fry. You’ll love how quickly this recipe comes together. Here’s how to make it (full recipe measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Make the teriyaki sauce. The teriyaki sauce is made first because it not only envelops every nook and cranny of the juicy chicken and stir-fried veggies but also doubles as the chicken marinade. To make, simply whisk all of the sauce ingredients together.
- Step 2: Create tender, flavorful chicken. Remove some of the teriyaki sauce to a freezer bag and add the chopped chicken. Marinating the chicken ensures juicy, flavorful, silky chicken from the inside out instead of just flavor on the outside. Use the brief marinating time to prep your veggies.
- Step 3: Get that pineapple sizzling. This step isn’t a must, but I love caramelizing the pineapple in a skillet so it’s even sweeter and more tantalizing, plus it only takes a couple minutes.
- Step 3: Brown the chicken. Add the chicken to some sizzling oil in a nonstick skillet and cook just until the chicken is no longer pink (it will finish cooking in the sauce). The chicken will brown very quickly due to the honey/sugar in the marinade so watch it closely. Transfer the chicken to a plate. The chicken will also leave behind yummy brown bits which will give the veggies flavor.
- Step 4: Enter veggies. Stir fry the broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers for just two minutes until crisp tender. They will continue cooking in the sauce. We don’t cook the chicken and veggies together otherwise the chicken and veggies will steam instead of sear and you won’t get that beautiful golden brown color on the chicken (color + flavor) or the veggies.
- Step 5: Finishing touches. Return the chicken and pineapple to the skillet and add the teriyaki sauce. Bring to a simmer until the sauce is thickened to your liking and the chicken is cooked through, just a couple minutes. Serve with rice and dig in!
TIPS FOR COOKING THE PERFECT CHICKEN STIR FRY
This teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe is quick and easy but there are some crucial tips to follow to ensure success:
- Don’t cut the chicken too small. Larger pieces of chicken will be juicier because they are harder to overcook and dry out.
- Don’t skip the marinade. This ensures that the chicken is tender and flavorful from the inside out.
- Don’t marinate the chicken for too long. The bite-size pieces of chicken should not be marinated longer than a few hours or else they can become mushy.
- Use the correct oil. You may substitute the vegetable oil with peanut oil, but please don’t use olive oil because olive oil has a lower smoking point and stronger flavor. You don’t want the flavor of your stir fry tainted.
- Don’t cook the chicken all of the way through at first. The chicken will finish cooking in the stir fry sauce, so don’t cook it through initially or else it will be tough and dry with the extra cook time.
- Prep veggies and sauce first. While your chicken is marinating, chop all your veggies and aromatics. You want everything ready before you start cooking because the actually stir fry portion just takes a few minutes.
- Size is key. For this recipe, cut your broccoli into medium florets, chop your bell peppers into 1-inch squares and slice the carrots thinly. If you choose to use other vegetables, keep in mind longer cooking vegetables need to be chopped smaller/thinner, and the shorter cooking vegetables larger.
- Don’t overcook the veggies. The stir-fried veggies will continue to cook in the sauce, so set a timer when stir frying to ensure they do not get overcooked. Remember, we are going for crisp-tender, not tender-crisp.
- Adjust teriyaki sauce to taste. This is YOUR teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe. Some people like their stir fries sweeter, some like them savorier. Don’t be afraid to taste the teriyaki sauce and adjust it to your liking before it’s added to the skillet. Make it sweeter by adding more sugar, tangier by adding more cider vinegar, spicier by adding more chili sauce or amp up the ginger or garlic flavor depending on your personal preference.
The homemade teriyaki sauce creates the base of this stir fry recipe and the rest is endlessly customizable! Add different veggies, water chestnuts, etc. Here are some ideas:
What other veggies can I add?
Don’t like broccoli? Don’t have carrots on hand? No problem! You can swap the veggies with your favorites. Just keep in mind different vegetable cook times when chopping them – you don’t want some veggies to be crunchy and some to be mushy! You’ll want to chop longer cooking vegetables such as broccoli and carrots smaller/thinner and short cooking vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, snow peas, and asparagus thicker.
Here’s a few delicious stir fry veggie options:
- Snow Peas
- Snap Peas
- Baby corn
- Bean sprouts
- Cabbage (green or red)
- Bok choy
More recipe Variations to try
- To make it vegan: Try out cubed tofu! Place firm tofu in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes, then chop into 1-inch cubes before marinating.
- To make it gluten free: Use gluten free soy sauce or tamari. You will also want to double check that your Asian sweet chili sauce is gluten free.
- Try another protein: Looking beyond poultry, try beef teriyaki, teriyaki salmon, teriyaki shrimp, teriyaki meatballs, or other delicious options such as pork.
- Skip the pineapple: If you only have veggies on hand and need to make this teriyaki chicken now, then skip the pineapple juice and increase the apple cider vinegar to ¼ cup and the honey/sugar to ⅓ cup.
- Water chestnuts: Add a tantalizing crunch. Water chestnuts are easy to find in a can so you can keep them stocked and ready to go.
- Sesame seeds: Add a nutty sesame flavor. Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
- Nuts: Peanuts or cashews add a deeply satisfying crunch and pair beautifully with the pineapple. Take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts or the stir fry will be too salty. To elevate your cashews or peanuts, dry roast them in a nonstick skillet until toasted- YUM!
- Mango or Mandarin oranges: Swap the pineapple for chopped mangos or mandarin oranges. You can use canned or fresh oranges, but fresh ones hold together better in the stir fry.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
This teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe reheats very well if not initially overcooked.
- How to store: store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- How to reheat in microwave: transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- How to reheat on the stove: rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often.
CAN YOU FREEZE this recipe?
Yes, this teriyaki chicken stir fry freezes very well, except for the bell peppers. If using bell peppers, you may want to pick them out or they will become mushy when thawed. Also, take care not to overcook the chicken or it won’t be as tender when reheated.
- Let the recipe cool completely.
- Transfer to an airtight container. If using a freezer bag, squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.
- Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, let the stir fry thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat in the microwave for 60 seconds then at 30 second intervals or gently on the stove.
HOW TO PREP AHEAD
This healthy teriyaki chicken stir fry has a few steps, but you can prep almost everything ahead of time for a speedy dinner. Here’s how:
- Chop chicken: Trim and chop chicken into bite size pieces any time before marinating then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Make teriyaki sauce: Whisk the ingredients together up to 24 hours in advance and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Chop veggies: Chop the garlic, slice the onions, carrots and bell peppers 24 hours in advance, and store them in air tight containers in the refrigerator.
- Cook! Within the next 24 hours, proceed with the recipe starting with marinating the chicken for 20-30 minutes.
What to Serve with Teriyaki Chicken
My favorite side to serve with teriyaki chicken stir fry is steamed rice. The chicken stir fry is so flavorful, that the rice offers a neutral, textural counterpart that sops up the delicious teriyaki sauce. Here are some more delicious options to serve with this sweet and tangy stir fry recipe:
- Rice: I like jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hand’s off, easy side. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb: Cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Noodles: Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up!
- Appetizers: For a complete Asian feast, pair your chicken stir fry with Potstickers, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Crab Rangoons, and/or Egg Rolls
- Salad: some of our favorite Asian inspired salads include Ramen Salad, Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, and Asian Pineapple Salad.
- Soups: Asian soups make a fantastic starter such as Wonton Soup, Egg Drop Soup or Miso Soup.
IS TERIYAKI chicken HEALTHY?
The chicken in Teriyaki Chicken is very healthy. It is a lean protein which means it doesn’t have very much fat, which can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and even lose weight all while helping to sustain your muscles. Chicken is also full of calcium and phosphorus, which help strengthen your bones and reduce the risk of arthritis.
As far as teriyaki sauce, soy sauce is quite high in sodium, so take care to use a low sodium soy sauce.
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- 1 pound chicken breasts chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks in juice
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 carrots thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1” pieces
- 3 green onions, chopped, divided
- vegetable or peanut oil
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey or granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)
- 3 tablespoons pineapple juice from above can pineapple chunks
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2-1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (for spicy)
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- Drain the pineapple through a fine mesh sieve and save the juice.
- Whisk the Teriyaki Sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Remove ¼ cup and add it to medium bowl or resealable bag with the chopped chicken. Marinate at room temperature while you prep the rest of the ingredients or up to 30 minutes at room temperature (refrigerate if marinating longer, up to 4 hours then bring to room temperature before cooking). Set the remaining teriyaki sauce aside.
- Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add pineapple and stir fry until caramelized, about 3 minutes; remove pineapple to a plate.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the now empty skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken (discard marinade) and stir fry just until the outsides are no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes (chicken will not be cooked through; don’t overcook). Remove chicken to a plate.
- To the now empty pan (don’t wipe out), heat another drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers. Stir fry until vegetables are crisp tender, about 2 minutes. (Don’t over-cook because they will continue to cook in sauce.)
- Return the chicken and pineapple to the skillet. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, the chicken is cooked and vegetables are crisp tender, about 2 minutes, taking care not to overcook the chicken.
- Stir in about half of the green onions. Taste and add additional chili sauce for spicier, vinegar for tangier, or a sprinkle of sugar for sweeter. Serve with rice and garnish with remaining green onions.
Tips and Tricks
- Asian sweet chili sauce: Can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. Just don’t confuse this sweet Asian chili sauce with traditional (hot) Asian chili sauce!
- Pineapple juice: Do NOT use fresh pineapple juice because it contains the enzyme bromelain which will leave your chicken mushy. In CANNED pineapple, however, the bromelain is extracted.
- If omitting pineapple: I think the pineapple makes this recipe but if you only have veggies on hand and need to make this recipe now, then skip the pineapple juice and increase the apple cider vinegar to ¼ cup and the sugar to ⅓ cup.
- To make gluten free: Use gluten free soy sauce or tamari. You will also want to double check that your Asian sweet chili sauce is gluten free.
- Adjust teriyaki sauce to taste: This is YOUR teriyaki chicken recipe. Make it sweeter by adding more sugar, tangier by adding more cider vinegar, spicier by adding more chili sauce or amp up the ginger or garlic flavor depending on your personal preference.
- Swap the veggies: You can swap the veggies or omit some altogether. For example, instead of broccoli, add more bell peppers or carrots. The stir fry would also be tasty with snow peas, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, asparagus, edamame or bok choy.
- Prep ahead: The chicken, veggies, sauce and aromatics can be prepped ahead/chopped and stored in separate airtight container in the refrigerator so dinner can come together in minutes.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEATThis recipe reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners, just take care to not overcook the chicken initially.
- How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- How to reheat in microwave: Transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- How to reheat on the stove: Reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often.
- To freeze: I recommend removing the bell peppers because they can become mushy. Let the stir fry cool completely, then transfer to a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating per above methods.
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