Glazed with a delicious soy-butter sauce, this Butter Shoyu Chicken will win your family’s heart! It is a simple recipe but produces a luxurious result. The chicken is exceptionally moist and tender and so flavorful. Did I say it only takes 25 minutes from start to finish?!
Looking to dial things up for your regular chicken recipes? This Butter Shoyu Chicken (バター醤油チキン) is going to be a win. It’s the tastiest, most foolproof chicken dinner I know, and my children can attest to that.
It will remind you of Teriyaki Sauce, but with the addition of butter, the sauce is creamier with a tinge of sweetness and depth of flavor.
What is Butter Shoyu Chicken
Shoyu (醤油) is soy sauce in Japanese, so butter shoyu means butter-flavored soy sauce. If you have never combined these two ingredients together, you will be pleasantly surprised by how delicious the duo brings to a dish.
In Japan, you will see many dishes flavored with this combination and we call it ‘butter shoyu aji‘ (醤油バター味). Whether it’s for a sauteed dish, grilled corn, or wafu pasta (Japanese-styled pasta), butter adds a rich creaminess and sweetness to the salty, savory soy sauce. It makes the most sumptuous sauce when glaze over meats, vegetables, or even noodle dishes. Not to mention, soy sauce gives us a familiar taste to the dish.
How to Make Butter Shoyu Chicken
The ingredients for the butter shoyu sauce is fairly basic and short, but it has all that it takes to enrich a dish.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Skin-on chicken thigh (see why in the cooking tips section)
- Soy sauce
3 Easy Steps
- Pan sear the chicken on the skin side until golden brown.
- Flip to cook the other side and add sake to steam the chicken until cooked through.
- Season the chicken with the sauce.
- Use skin-on chicken thighs – Instead of using chicken breasts, I prefer to use chicken thighs. Fattier than lean meat, they are less likely to turn dry on the heat. The skin from the thigh gives extra flavor and keeps the meat moist and juicy. I recommend removing the bone first so it’s faster to cook.
- Sear until golden brown – The moment the oil gets hot, it’s time to give the chicken a deep, nice sear for presentation and crispness. You’d want to go for a bit darker brown (not burnt) since we’ll be giving the meat a quick steam later that will take away some of the colors.
- Use sake for steaming – Sake not only masks unwanted gamey flavor but also adds nice umami. If you don’t have sake, you can use white wine (dry sherry would be a good sub). Alternatively you can use water, but no additional layer of flavor to the chicken.
- Spoon the sauce over the chicken – After adding the sauce to the pan, repeatedly spoon the sauce over the chicken while the sauce is being reduced. It’s an extra step, but I think it’s really worth it in the end.
What to Serve with Butter Shoyu Chicken
If you are thinking of cooking chicken tonight, definitely give this recipe a try. There is no need to marinate, and you can finish cooking in 20-30 minutes!
Serve the Butter Shoyu Chicken with steamed rice and miso soup alongside a vegetable side dish and you’ve got a delicious meal for the family.
Other Delicious Recipes
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Butter Shoyu Chicken
- 1 lb boneless, skin-on chicken thighs (2 thighs; Japanese grocery stores sell prepackaged boneless, skin-on thighs, but you can ask the butcher to remove bones from bone-in, skin-on thighs at your grocery store)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- 4 Tbsp sake (or water for steaming)
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Gather all the ingredients
- Cut each chicken thigh into 2 pieces (as you see, this chicken thigh is big). Discard any excess fat. Prick the skin with the tip of the knife. The flavors and heat will distribute faster.
- Lightly sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides of the chicken.
- Combine the ingredients for the sauce (2 ½ Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sake, 1 Tbsp mirin, and 1 Tbsp sugar) in a small bowl and whisk till the sugar is dissolved completely. Set aside.
To Cook the Chicken
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When it's hot, add the oil and distribute it evenly. Add the chicken, skin side down, to the hot pan.
- Cook the chicken until golden brown, roughly 4-5 minutes.
- When the bottom side is nicely brown and crisp, flip over and cook the other side for 3 minutes.
- Add sake and cook covered until cooking liquid is gone.
- Remove the lid and wipe off excess oil on the frying pan with a paper towel.
- Add the sauce and butter.
- Coat the chicken well with the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken a few times.
- Serve the chicken onto a plate and drizzle some sauce over. I usually serve simple veggies such as blanched broccoli and tomatoes (serve with homemade Wafu Dressing or Sesame Dressing).
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on February 14, 2011. The images and blog content have been updated in May 2021.