Oyakodon is a classic comfort food of Japanese home cooking. Tender pieces of chicken, onions, and eggs are simmered in an umami-rich sauce and then poured over a bowl of fluffy steamed rice. Simple, delicious, and utterly comforting, this is the kind of one-bowl meal you can cook in less than 30 minutes!
When it comes to mainstream fast food, Japan offers not only hamburgers and french fries, but the menu also extends to noodles and donburi (rice bowl) meals.
During lunchtime, you’d see diners and noodle shops around the office buildings crowded with Japanese office workers making their fuss-free fast food orders. These lunch spots usually serve up quick one-bowl meals, and Oyakodon (親子丼) or Oyako Donburi (親子丼ぶり) is often one of the popular choices.
Today, let’s make this quick and easy Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl at home!
Table of Contents
- What is Oyakodon?
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Try This Recipe
- How to Make Oyakodon
- Oyakodon Cooking Tips
- More Easy Rice Bowl Recipes
What is Oyakodon?
An epitome of Japanese soul food, oyakodon (親子丼) literally translates to parent-and-child (oya-ko) rice bowl (don) as the dish is composed of chicken and egg.
Bite-size chicken, tender onion, and softly cooked egg are layered and simmered together in a sweet-salty sauce made with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin and served on a bed of steamed rice. The contrast of textures and flavors makes you craving for more bites.
Like Gyudon and Katsudon, oyakodon is not only a long-time restaurant favorite but also a staple dish of Japanese households. Just as the name implies, everything about the rice bowl brings comfort and warmth.
5 Reasons Why You Should Try This Recipe
- One pan and one bowl meal. When thinking of easy weeknight meals, a one-pan and one-bowl meal is an ideal solution. Fewer dishes = easy cleanup!
- Quick and easy 30-minute cooking! This dish can be whipped up with minimal time and effort. I first learned how to cook oyakodon in my home and economics class in middle school. These days, it is still one of my go-to comfort foods. If you have teenagers at home, oyakodon is a great dish they could easily master. It is a survival meal that will sustain them when they go off to college.
- Easy-to-access, pantry-friendly ingredients. Chicken, egg, and onion are standard ingredients in most cuisines. I usually have them handy in my refrigerator (or freezer for chicken). As for the condiments, if you cook Japanese or Asian food often, you most likely have dashi-making ingredients, soy sauce, mirin, and sake.
- No oil! The onions and chicken are simmered in a broth. There’s no frying with oil.
- A satisfying comfort meal at home. You have tender chicken and a soft cooked egg over a fluffy bed of rice. The rice absorbs delicious dashi sauce and every mouthful is sweet-salty-savory. Here you have it: a belly-filling, delicious comfort meal in one bowl.
How to Make Oyakodon
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chicken thighs – I recommend thighs over breasts because fattier thighs are more flavorful, tender, and forgiving (not like dry, overcooked breasts).
- Sake – Drizzling a tablespoon of sake over chicken helps remove its gamey odor.
- Mitsuba – This Japanese wild parsley has a celery-like flavor with a slightly bitter taste. Because of its refreshing and unique flavor, the herb is used in many donburi dishes as a garnish. You can substitute it with diagonally thinly sliced green onions.
- Seasonings: Dashi (Japanese soup stock), soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.
- Steamed Rice
- Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) [optional for spicy kick]
- Sansho pepper powder [optional for fragrance] – It is finely grind peppercorns of the prickly ash tree and has a vibrant peppery-lemon flavor with a long residual heat.
Overview: Cooking Steps
- Prepare the ingredients: Cut the onion, mitsuba/green onions, and chicken and crack the eggs.
- Cook the onion in the seasoning mixture.
- Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.
- Drizzle egg mixture at two separate times. Garnish mitsuba/green onions.
- Spoon the finished dish over the bed of steamed rice in a donburi bowl.
Oyakodon Cooking Tips
Tip 1: Use Good Japanese Soup Stock (Dashi)
What makes this chicken and egg rice bowl authentically Japanese? It’s the flavor of dashi (Japanese soup stock). If you’re not familiar with dashi, think of this ingredient as the most essential flavor of Japanese cuisine. The good news is:
- It’s so easy to make compared to other stocks; homemade dashi takes 30 minutes.
- It can be vegan-friendly – read Vegan Dashi.
- Dashi can be made instantly with a dashi packet (my preferred method over dashi powder).
I highly recommend reading my Ultimate Dashi Guide as dashi appears in the majority of Japanese recipes and you can’t avoid it.
For two servings, I recommend making a pot of dashi (about 4 cups) and then using ½ cup for Oyakodon and the leftover (3½ cups) for Homemade Miso Soup to serve as a meal set. Now you have a filling rice bowl and a soothing miso soup.
Tip 2: Use the Japanese Cutting Technique “Sogigiri”
This “sogigiri” cutting technique gives each piece of the ingredient equal thickness and creates more surface area for faster cooking and better absorption of the flavors.
Also, after trying out different sizes of chicken pieces, I realized that cutting the chicken into 2-cm (3/4 inch) pieces worked the best. Big pieces of chicken tend to separate from the rest of the ingredients while smaller pieces are better at incorporating with the onions and soft-cooked eggs.
Tip 3: “Cut” the Egg Whites
For the best-looking oyakodon, aim for high color contrast between the white and yellow parts of the eggs. That’s why it’s important not to beat the eggs. If you use a beaten egg mixture, you will get one uniform yellow color on your oyakodon.
Instead, “cut” the egg whites 5-6 times with a pair of chopsticks, lifting the whites to break them up into a few smaller clumps. This will prevent the egg whites from falling into the frying pan all at once.
How about the egg yolks? While cutting the egg whites, you may have accidentally broken some of the egg yolks. That’s perfect!
You don’t want to blend the yolks and whites together. If the yolks haven’t broken yet, you can gently break them a little bit. The egg whites and yolks are broken, but still distinct, and they should look like a marble pattern.
Tip 4: Cook a Maximum of Two Servings in One Medium Frying Pan
Let’s say you want to multiply the recipe for your family of four or six. The ingredients and seasonings will increase significantly compared to two servings, but the medium frying pan (about 10 inches/25 cm) won’t double or triple in size.
If you try to cook four or six servings in a medium or large frying pan, you will overcrowd the pan and the ingredients will take a long time to cook. Also, the seasonings will not evaporate as efficiently as with two servings. As a result, your oyakodon will have too much sauce, almost like a soup.
Therefore, make two servings per medium frying pan for this recipe. You will need two medium frying pans for four servings.
Tip 5: Add the Eggs at Two Separate Times
To achieve an ideal egg texture for delicious oyakodon, aim for egg whites that are somewhat firm but still wobbly and egg yolks that remain soft and runny. Since raw eggs are safe to consume in Japan, oyakodon can look a bit different when it’s served in Japan. Don’t be shocked if the eggs are a lot more on the runny and raw side there.
If you live outside of Japan, it’s best to cook the eggs slightly longer than how it’s cooked in Japan. It may not look as pretty, but it’s for food safety reasons.
To achieve the fluffy soft-cooked egg for oyakodon, we add the eggs to the simmering chicken and egg mixture at two separate times:
- Add two-thirds of the eggs (ideally more egg whites because they take longer time to cook than egg yolks) to the center of the pan, avoiding the edges where eggs get overcooked.
- Add the remaining one-third of the eggs (ideally more egg yolks) to the entire surface of the pan.
One last tip! It’s faster to cook egg whites when the eggs are already at room temperature.
What is an oyakodon pan?
In Japan, oyakodon is typically made in this single-serving oyakodon pan.
It helps to slide the well-layered dish, including the sauce and soft-cooked egg, into the rice bowl.
You can use a small shallow frying pan that is slope-sided, so you can easily transfer the chicken and egg mixture to the bed of rice in a donburi bowl. Ideally, the diameter of the pan should be the same or smaller size as your bowl.
Where can I buy an oyakodon pan?
You can find one in the following online stores:
Why do we need to cook oyakodon one serving at a time?
I think it’s best to explain by comparing the two pictures below.
As I explained earlier, when you use an oyakodon pan or a small frying pan, you can slide the entire dish—onion-chicken-egg layer—onto the bed of steamed rice.
When you cook oyakodon in a medium frying pan, you have to scoop out the dish, breaking the layers despite your best attempt. If you have a really wide flat spoon, you may be able to transfer a big portion onto the rice bowl, but it will still not be big enough to cover the rice and the dish will look a little broken up.
Restaurants and some home cooks use the single-serving oyakodon pan just to achieve the proper look of the dish.
Can we use fewer eggs?
The standard number of eggs for oyakodon is 2 eggs per serving. The eggs bind all the other ingredients in the simmering sauce together so that the finished oyakodon can slide onto the bed of steamed rice smoothly.
If you’re cooking for two servings in a medium frying pan, you can use 3 eggs, 1½ eggs per serving. However, I don’t recommend using fewer eggs than that as they won’t be able to bind all the ingredients together.
Can we cover the frying pan with a lid?
I’ve made oyakodon both with and without a lid, testing out the cooking time, flavor, and texture and adjusting the seasoning mixture to achieve the best result.
With a lid on, the chicken will cook slightly faster, but the inside of the pan gets quite hot and the chicken can get overcooked while you want to simmer a bit longer for the chicken to absorb more flavors.
After multiple tests, my final verdict is to cook uncovered. When you cook uncovered, the excess moisture from the onion and chicken will evaporate and the sauce will be more flavorful and intense.
One exception is for cooking the eggs. If you prefer to fully cook the eggs, you may want to use a lid.
More Easy Rice Bowl Recipes
- Gyudon (Quick Beef Bowl)
- Tanin Don (Beef and Egg Rice Bowl)
- Chicken Katsudon
- Pork Curry Bowl
- 12 Donburi Recipes
Oyakodon (Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl)
- ½ onion (4 oz, 113 g; peeled)
- 10 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the weight of a thigh varies: You need 1 or 2 thighs for 2 servings; if a thigh weighs 5-6 oz or 142-170 g, use two pieces; I used one 10-oz thigh for this recipe; for vegan/vegetarian, use plant-based meat substitute)
- 1 Tbsp sake (for marinating the chicken; sake helps to remove the chicken's gamey odor; you can also use Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, or otherwise, skip it)
- 3-4 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell) (1½ to 2 eggs per person is standard; at room temperature; for vegan/vegetarian, use egg substitute such as JUST Egg)
For the Seasonings
- 2 servings cooked Japanese short-grain rice (1½ rice cooker cups (180 ml x 1.5 = 270 ml) yield roughly 2 donburi servings; see how to cook short-grain rice with a rice cooker, pot over the stove, Instant Pot, or donabe)
- 4 sprigs mitsuba (Japanese parsley) (or green onion/scallion)
- shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) (optional, if you like spicy)
- Japanese sansho pepper (optional, if you like pepper fragrance)
Before You Start
- This recipe includes both cooking methods—using a medium frying pan (about 10 inches/25 cm) and an oyakodon pan or small frying pan (8 inches/20 cm). Typically, oyakodon is made individually for each serving using an oyakodon pan, which lets you slide the cooked ingredients onto the rice bowl easily. See the separate cooking instructions below.
- Gather all the ingredients. Do not make more than two servings in a medium frying pan. I explained a bit more in the blog post (under Oyakodon Cooking Tips). If you are making four servings, use two medium frying pans.
To Prepare the Seasonings
- Combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a bowl or a liquid measuring cup and mix all together until the sugar is dissolved.
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Slice the onion lengthwise, about ¼ inch (6 mm) wide.
- Chop the mitsuba (or green onions) ½ inch (1.3 cm) wide.
- Trim the extra bits of fat and connective tissue from the chicken with the knife.
- Cut the chicken thigh along the grain into strips ¾ to 1 inch (2-2.5 cm) wide. Next, angle your knife back and diagonally (nearly parallel to the cutting board), and then slice the chicken strips against the grain into pieces about ¾ to 1 inch (2-2.5 cm) square. This “sogigiri” cutting technique gives the chicken pieces equal thickness and creates more surface area for fast cooking and better absorption of the flavors.
- Transfer the chicken to a bowl or tray and sprinkle with the sake. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl. Using a pair of chopsticks, lift the egg whites to "cut" them 5-6 times into a few smaller clumps. This will prevent the egg whites from falling into the frying pan all at once. Do not whisk or beat the eggs together. Tip: Aim for high color contrast between the white and yellow parts of the eggs in your finished dish.
- While "cutting" the egg whites, you may have accidentally broken some of the egg yolks. That's okay. If the yolks haven't broken yet, you can poke them to gently break them, but do not blend the egg whites and yolks. The eggs should resemble a marble pattern.
To Cook the Oyakodon in a Medium Frying Pan
- With the stove off, add the sliced onions to a medium frying pan (I use a well-seasoned 11” carbon steel pan) in a single layer. Then, add the seasonings mixture. It should just cover the onions. If not, your frying pan is too big and you need to either increase the seasoning or use a smaller pan.
- Turn on the heat to medium and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, add the chicken on top of the onions.
- Make sure the onions and chicken are evenly distributed. Once simmering again, lower the heat to medium low. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the onions are tender. Halfway through, flip the chicken. Tip: Evaporation reduces the sauce and intensifies the flavor.
- We will add the eggs in two stages: Two-thirds of the eggs first, then the remaining one-third later. Now, increase the heat to medium. With the cooking liquid simmering (small bubbles around the edges), drizzle two-thirds of the eggs in a circular pattern over the chicken and onions, avoiding the edges of the pan where the eggs can easily overcook. Tip: Only drizzle the eggs if the cooking liquid is simmering, as with Egg Drop Soup. Also, try to add more egg whites at this stage, as the whites take longer to cook than the yolks. Ideally, we want to keep the yolks soft and runny for the final presentation.
- If the heat is too strong, lower the heat. If the egg is moving toward the edges of the pan, gently gather it toward the center where the heat is not as strong. Optionally, you can cover the pan if the egg whites are taking a long time to set.
- When the eggs are still runny but just set, add the rest of the eggs to the center and around the edges of the pan. Add the mitsuba (or green onion) on top and cook on medium low until the egg is done to your liking. Usually, oyakodon in Japan is served while the egg is almost set but still runny (raw eggs are safe to consume in Japan). Tip: For the remaining one-third of the egg, try to distribute more egg yolks so the oyakodon will have a bright yellow color on top. For a good presentation, you can add a beaten extra yolk at the end.
- Serve steamed rice in individual serving bowls. Spoon the cooked chicken and egg mixture onto the steamed rice and drizzle the desired amount of pan sauce on top.
To Cook the Oyakodon in an Oyakodon Pan or a Small Frying Pan
- Cook the chicken and egg in two batches, one serving at a time. Make sure to divide the ingredients in half. With the stove off, add half of the sliced onions to the pan in a single layer. Add half of the seasonings mixture (it should just cover the onions).
- Turn on the heat to medium and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, add half of the chicken on top of the onions.
- Make sure the onions and chicken are evenly distributed. Once simmering, lower the heat to medium low. Cook, uncovered, for 4 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the onions are tender. Halfway through, flip the chicken. Tip: Evaporation helps to reduce the sauce and intensify the flavor.
- We will add the eggs in two stages: Two-thirds of the eggs first, then the remaining one-third later. Now, increase the heat to medium. With the cooking liquid simmering (small bubbles around the edges), drizzle two-thirds of the eggs in a circular pattern over the chicken and onions, avoiding the edges of the pan where the eggs can easily overcook. Tip: Only add the eggs if the cooking liquid is simmering, as with Egg Drop Soup. Also, try to add more egg whites at this stage, as the whites take longer to cook than the yolks. Ideally, we want to keep the yolks soft and runny for the final presentation.
- When the eggs are still runny but just set, add the rest of the eggs to the center and around the edges of the pan. Add the mitsuba (or green onion) on top and cook on medium low until the egg is done to your liking. Usually, oyakodon in Japan is served while the egg is almost set but still runny (raw eggs are safe to consume in Japan). Tip: For the remaining one-third of the egg, try to distribute the egg yolk so the oyakodon will have a bright yellow color on top. For a good presentation, you can add a beaten extra yolk at the end.
- Serve steamed rice in an individual serving bowl. Slide the cooked chicken and egg mixture onto the steamed rice and drizzle the desired amount of pan sauce on top. Repeat Steps 1 to 6 with the remaining ingredients.
- Serve the Oyakodon with shichimi togarashi and sansho pepper on the side, if desired.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. To store in the freezer, do not add the eggs. You can add eggs after you reheat it in the pan.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on February 4, 2011. It has been republished with new images, updated content, and a revised recipe on October 30, 2022.