September 5, 2018
Golden seared chicken thighs tossed in a homemade, lightened-up teriyaki sauce make this healthy teriyaki chicken an incredible recipe you’ll make again and again.
This is one dish I can always count on for a quick weeknight meal that’s simple to prepare and please a crowd. Plus, most of the recipe can be prepped ahead, which means a mouthwatering meal for less time in the kitchen.
Healthy Chicken Teriyaki
Teriyaki chicken is a favorite recipe for an easy dinner, but most take-out options or bottled sauces are dense in sugar and sodium, which can leave us feeling “bleh”. This Teriyaki Chicken recipe is a delicious and lightened-up version of the classic that’s made with better ingredients.
Instead of regular soy sauce, the sauce is made with coconut aminos, which taste similar and contain less sodium. I also swapped sugar for honey, which is sweeter and gives the sauce a great consistency.
These small changes create a lighter, delicious sauce to coat the chicken or other stir-fry recipes.
It also helps that this teriyaki recipe comes together easily and has proven to be a favorite for both kids and adults. You can find this dish and many others like it in my Family Kickstart Program, a meal plan designed to help families eliminate processed foods for 30 days.
Not only does the program’s recipes exceed expectations in flavor and ease, but every week comes with a done-for-you shopping list and meal prep guide to help to stay on track and feel great for the 30 days and beyond.
Teriyaki Chicken Ingredients
The flavors of this teriyaki chicken recipe only prove that you don’t need a mile-long ingredient list to cook a satisfying meal. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:
- chicken thighs: boneless, skinless thighs have great flavor, stay super tender, and overall lean. You can also use chicken breasts for a leaner option, but make sure they are boneless and skinless.
- honey: is sweeter than table sugar and reduces the amount of added sugar necessary.
- coconut aminos or soy sauce: coconut aminos taste very similar to soy sauce but have less sodium and no soy.
- garlic: is an aromatic that gives the sauce a savory flavor and delicious smell.
- grated fresh ginger: slightly sweet and peppery, it’s aromatic like garlic and often used in Asian cooking and recipes.
- oil: use a neutral oil such as vegetable or canola. It prevents the chicken from sticking to the skillet and gives it a golden sear.
- rice: steamed and served with teriyaki chicken. You can use regular white or brown rice.
How to Make Healthy Teriyaki Chicken
To make this healthy teriyaki chicken, you’ll need a large skillet, meat tenderizer (or rolling pin), and those ingredients.
- Make the sauce
Whisk the honey with the coconut aminos, garlic, and ginger in a large bowl. Add the sauce to a large zip bag and set aside.
- Prep the chicken
Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken thighs or breast into ¼-inch thickness on a large cutting board. *This tenderizes the meat and helps it cook evenly.
Slice the chicken into ½-inch thick strips and place them in the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight for extra flavor.
- Cook the rice
Before cooking the chicken, cook 1-2 cups of rice according to package directions.
- Grab a skillet
Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Working in batches, add the chicken to the hot skillet and cook for 3 minutes per side. Once the chicken is browned on the edges and cooked through, transfer it to a plate.
- Add the sauce
Pour the reserved marinade into the skillet and bring it to a low boil. Cook for two minutes on low heat or until the sauce is thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the chicken.
- Grab a bowl and fork
Scoop some cooked rice into a bowl, top with teriyaki chicken, and enjoy!
Watch how this recipe comes together in the video below:
Can you make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes! You can save yourself a lot of time later in the week by prepping the following steps ahead:
- Tenderize and slice the chicken. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Prepare the teriyaki sauce and refrigerate it in the zip bag for up to 1 week.
- Prepare the rice and allow it to cool down to room temperature. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- The day before you plan to serve this Teriyaki Chicken recipe, combine the chicken and marinade. Allow it to marinate overnight.
Looking for more great-tasting chicken recipes that can be made ahead? These chicken meal prep recipes are high in protein, packed with flavor, and can be fully or partially prepped ahead for a fresh meal you can whip up on any weeknight.
Meal Prep Chicken Teriyaki
Leftovers are lunch bag-friendly and I recommend using a thermos container to keep the chicken and rice hot.
If packing in the morning, heat the rice and chicken teriyaki to piping hot. Layer the rice and chicken into the thermos and seal, this should stay hot for up to 5 hours, depending on the thermos.
If you want to check out the best thermos containers that keep food hot longer, this post covers it all!
Can you freeze this teriyaki chicken stir fry?
You can absolutely freeze this teriyaki chicken stir fry in single serve portions. I often make pre-portioned “frozen bowls” for grab-and heat options.
All you have to do is use a quart-size freezer bag and layer the rice, the cooked Teriyaki chicken, and the vegetable of your choosing (usually broccoli or green beans for us).
How to Pack Teriyaki Chicken for Lunch
Leftovers also make a great hot lunch. I recommend using a thermos container to keep the chicken and rice hot. Just reheat the rice and chicken teriyaki in the microwave until it’s piping hot. Layer the rice and chicken into the thermos and seal.
How to Serve Healthy Teriyaki Chicken
Below you’ll find some easy side dish ideas to complete this meal while adding variety and nutrition. I often use them with this recipe and other stir-fries, like the Chicken Fried Cauliflower Rice and my Broccoli and Chicken Stir-fry.
- steamed broccoli or stir-fry veggies: add color, fiber, and nutrients.
- steamed edamame: a great source of additional protein.
- sliced oranges or other fruit: provide antioxidants and vitamin C, plus orange compliments the flavors of teriyaki.
- steamed cauliflower rice: a low-carb swap for regular rice.
While this recipe is a lightened-up version of the classic take-out, it is not low-carb due to the honey and rice. However, you can make it lower in carbs by swapping the honey with a low glycemic sweetener and serving it over cauliflower rice.
Healthy Teriyaki Chicken
- 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs or breast, boneless skinless
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- In a medium bowl, whisk the honey, coconut aminos, garlic, and ginger until combined. Transfer to a large zip bag and set aside.
- On a large cutting board, use a meat tenderizer to pound the chicken to ¼-inch thickness.
- Cut the chicken pieces into ½-inch thick strips and add them to the marinade. Seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until the chicken is browned on both sides and reaches an internal temperature of 175F for thighs or 165F for chicken breasts. Remove it from the skillet and set it aside.
- Pour the reserved marinade into the skillet and bring it to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chicken. Toss to coat with the sauce and serve over cooked rice.