Chicken Tsukune

Fall in love with yakitori
32 Ratings
100% would make again
Chicken Meatball Yakitori Recipe
Photo: Tasting Table

We love yakitori. The traditional Japanese technique of skewering and grilling meat is one we're well familiar with, but recently, chefs from all over the country have been shining a spotlight on this preparation—and we're eating it up.

In this recipe from The Four Horsemen in Brooklyn, New York, a fragrant mixture of chicken, panko, sake and ginger is formed into oblong meatballs, skewered and grilled.

Chef Nick Curtola has a few tips for adapting this recipe for any grill rather than just the traditional one used for yakitori. First, the mixture is going to be wet, so chilling it before cooking will help keep it together. Feel free to make and refrigerate the skewers the night before to help firm them up. Second, Curtola recommends popping the skewered meatballs under the broiler for a minute or two before setting them on the grill. This helps them set just enough so you'll get a perfect finished dish.

To learn more, read "Stick Shift."

Chicken Tsukune

Recipe adapted from Nick Curtola, The Four Horsemen, Brooklyn, NY

Yield: 12 skewers

Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling time

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling time


2 pounds ground chicken

1¾ cups panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons sake

1½ tablespoons mirin

1 tablespoon white soy sauce

1 tablespoon bean paste

½ tablespoon kosher salt

1½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 scallion, minced

One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated

¼ medium yellow onion, grated

Vegetable oil, for greasing

½ cup tare (a Japanese dipping sauce)

Yuzu mayo, for serving

Togarashi, for serving

Special Equipment:

Twelve 6-inch bamboo skewers


1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the vegetable oil, tare, yuzu mayo and togarashi. Mix until uniform and sticky. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking. Divide the mixture into 12 balls. Shape each ball into an oblong meatball and skewer. Place the skewers on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 1½ hours.

3. Preheat the broiler and light a grill. Brush the meatballs with vegetable oil and place them under the broiler to set, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the grill. Cook, turning as needed, until lightly charred and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. For the last minute of cooking, brush the skewers with the tare.

4. Transfer the skewers to a platter and brush with more tare. Serve immediately with yuzu mayo and togarashi.

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