Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

Dressed with a sweet and salty glaze, this yakitori favorite is the ideal pairing with cold beer.

  • Serves

    serves 4 to 6

  • Cook

    1 hour


By Dan Holzman and Matt Rodbard

Updated on January 11, 2023

These full-flavored Japanese chicken meatballs are inspired by a version served at California yakitori restaurant, Ippuku. Dressed with a sweet and salty glaze, they're the ideal pairing with cold beer.


  • 1 cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 14 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. mizuame (Japanese sugar candy)
  • 2 lb. ground chicken
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 12 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and minced
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing


Step 1

In a medium pot, bring the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by one-third, about 20 minutes. Stir in the mizuame and cook until it dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set the glaze aside to cool to room temperature.

Step 2

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the ground chicken with the salt, pepper, scallions, and ginger until thoroughly combined. Form the meat into 20 oblong meatballs, about 1½-ounce each, and place the meatballs on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet.

Step 3

Heat the broiler and broil the meatballs, turning and basting every 2 minutes with the reserved glaze, until the meatballs are cooked through and dark golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

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