Hawaiian shoyu chicken

Hawaiian shoyu chicken recipe - new 1Hawaiian-style shoyu chicken 2Hawaiian-style shoyu chicken 1Hawaiian shoyu chicken recipe - new 4Hawaiian shoyu chicken recipe - new 3
  • Servings : 6
  • Prep Time : 15m
  • Cook Time : 30m
  • Ready In : 45m

Chicken in a pot Hawaiian-style

Shoyu chicken is the the traditional Hawaiian recipe for teriyaki chicken.  Shoyu chicken is cooked in a pot, not on a grill or in the oven, and results in ginger-fragrent, fork-tender chicken with a deep mahogany skin.  Shoyu means “soy sauce,” and is the one ingredient that is always included in shoyu chicken recipes.  After soy sauce, everyone has their own variations.  Most commonly locals just throw in whatever is in the fridge, including: rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, catsup, sugar, brown sugar, honey, chicken broth, beer, saki, guava juice, ginger, garlic, cilantro, Chinese Five Spice and star anise.  Shoyu chicken is kind of hard to mess up.  The only thing you don’t want to do is over cook the chicken or it will be tough.

Sam Choy’s Shoyu Chicken Recipe

I use Sam Choy’s recipe, which he finishes with a glaze made from the shoyu broth the chicken cooks in.  It takes a couple extra minutes, but is a beautiful finishing touch.  Mirin and Chinese Five Spice are available in many grocery markets.  Chinese  Five Spice is a powdered combination of anise pepper, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and star anise.  Before preparing, check out my tip for peeling fresh ginger.

Kids love this Hawaiian chicken recipe

This is the dish my daughter Lauren always requested for her birthday dinner and is always a hit with kids.

Serve with:

Japanese Cucumber Salad

Puamana coconut rice

Hawaiian chocolate bread pudding

Hawaiian shoyu chicken

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

45 minutes

Yield: 6

Hawaiian shoyu chicken

Ginger-scented and fork-tender, traditional shoyu chicken is a Hawaiian indulgence you won't want to miss.


  • 3 cups shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1.5 cups mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 T ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 T garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 t Chinese Five Spice
  • 3 T cilantro, finely chopped
  • 12 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 T water
  • Whole cilantro leaves for garnish


  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a pot large enough to hold all the chicken. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and return to a boil. Reduce heat an cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Don't over cook.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot and put it on a serving platter. Keep warm.
  3. Remove one cup of shoyu broth from the cooking pot and skim off fat from the top. Discard the remaining sauce, or better yet, serve it with a big bowl of steamed rice. Return the defatted shoyu broth to the cooking pot. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water and whisk into boiling broth. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. It just takes a minute or two. Brush glaze over chicken and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Recipe Comments

  1. Posted by Brooke on December 19, 2013

    Made this last night – flavors were amazing but 20 min cook time for the chicken was not enough.

    • Posted by Kim on December 23, 2013

      Hi Brooke -
      I am glad you enjoyed the flavor. The cooking time can vary a little bit depending on the size of your chicken thighs and how high your flame is. You should be able to cook them within 30 minutes no matter how big they are. Thank you for mentioning as this may help others.

  2. Posted by Crystin on January 30, 2014

    What does T stand for ?

    • Posted by Kim on January 30, 2014

      HI Crystin,

      “T” stands for Tablespoon. And “t” stands for teaspoon.

      Enjoy the shoyu chicken!

      • Posted by Chelsea on December 4, 2014

        You need to simmer on low for at least an hour to cook it tender and really get that delicious shoyu sauce in the chicken!

  3. Posted by Susan on December 15, 2014

    I thought I followed the recipe exactly but the chicken was so salty my family could not eat it. Does it really call for 3 cups of soy sauce?

    • Posted by Kim on December 15, 2014

      Hi Susan, I am really sorry the recipe did not work out for you. Yes, I do use 3 cups of soy sauce. The idea is to simmer the chicken in the soy sauce/ water/mirin, sugar and spice mixture, but not to consume all the residual sauce. I have been making this chicken for 25 years and variations of it for longer than that, always with rave reviews. So I am trying to figure out what may have gone wrong. My first thought is what brand of soy sauce did you use? There are some brands that are really salty. I use San J tamari gluten-free soy sauce as I have family members who are gluten free and it is less salty than many brands. You can also use a low-sodium soy sauce, but they typically have added chemicals. So another alternative is to dilute the soy sauce with water, orange juice or even some beer. Again, my apologies.

  4. Posted by Cheryl Tamburri on February 26, 2015

    Will this work in a crockpot, 4-5 hours on low? I’ve got to double the recipe and feed a crowd, and don’t want to be in the kitchen over the stove when guest are here. Mahalo!

    • Posted by Kim on February 26, 2015

      Hi Cheryl,

      I have never made this in a slow cooker, although I am sure with some adjustments it could be done. You would need to greatly reduce the liquid for the slow cooker and it might get a little salty if it spends hours in the soy sauce. I double the recipe all the time. This recipe is quite simple to make and once you put the chicken on the stove there is not much to do except make the sauce when the chicken is done. The sauce takes about 5 minutes. Rather than cook this chicken in the slow cooker, I would make it as per my directions, remove the chicken and keep it in the slow cooker on warm until you are ready to serve. Make the sauce when the chicken is done and then keep the sauce in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Reheat the sauce, brush the glaze on the chicken and sprinkle with cilantro and serve.


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