Full of flavor and easy to make, shoyu chicken is sure to become a fixture in your meal rotation. This iconic Hawaiian recipe is so simple – juicy chicken thighs braised in a tangy sauce of shoyu, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic – but the results are incredible.
What Makes Shoyu Chicken So Good
- Hawaiian shoyu chicken is amazingly simple and full of incredible, rich flavors. Chicken thighs are naturally flavorful on their own, but then you simmer them in a rich sauce of shoyu, ginger, garlic, and brown sugar? Oh, mama.
- All in all, there’s not really any involved, complicated cooking here. Mix the sauce, sauté the aromatics, then add everything to the dutch oven and let it simmer. If you like a really crispy skin on your chicken thighs, there’s an optional step where you place them under the broiler for a few minutes. You can skip it if you want, though! Easy peasy.
- This is an easy recipe to adapt for dietary needs. Watching your sodium? Definitely use a low-sodium shoyu. Need a lower sugar content? Swap out the brown sugar for Brown Swerve! You can also serve the shoyu chicken with cauliflower rice instead of white rice, to keep the carb count down.
Key Ingredients for Shoyu Chicken
Shoyu – So what’s the difference between shoyu and soy sauce? Shoyu is the name for Japanese-style soy sauces, which are usually made from an even blend of soy and wheat. They’re typically sweeter than Chinese soy sauces, which are traditionally 100% soy.
Chicken Thighs – More flavorful, fattier, and juicier than chicken breasts, chicken thighs really make this recipe what it is. Using bone-in thighs keeps them even juicier. You can make this with chicken breasts instead, but I strongly encourage you to use thighs. It just won’t be the same without them! If you use chicken breasts, you may need to adjust the simmer time so they don’t overcook. You could also make this recipe using chicken wings or chicken legs.
- For more Hawaiian flavors, try serving your shoyu chicken with our coconut rice and warmed chunks of pineapple. Cold macaroni salad is also a great, classic side option.
- For a bolder sauce with more heat, you can increase the amount of ginger you use. Don’t overdo it, though. You don’t want to overpower the other flavors in the sauce. You can also play with the amount of brown sugar you use, making the sauce sweeter or tangier. Use dark brown sugar for a richer flavor.
- If you broil the braised shoyu chicken thighs, don’t wander away. The broiler works fast and you don’t want the thighs (or the brown sugar in the sauce) to burn. Keep a close eye on them – you’ll only need 2 or 3 minutes MAX.
- This sauce works really well as a marinade if you’ve got the time! Mix everything up as instructed, then pour it over the raw chicken thighs and refrigerate them in an airtight container. They can marinade up to 2 days, then you can finish cooking them as instructed!
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- Creamy Coconut Chicken with Lime
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- Medium bowl
- Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with lid
- Baking dish (optional)
- ⅔ cup shoyu soy sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 green onions sliced, white and green parts divided
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 1 2-inch long piece ginger peeled, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs approximately 1 ½ pounds
- 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch optional
- In medium bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and white parts of green onion until combined. Set aside.
- In dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, sautéing 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Pour sauce into pot, then add chicken thighs, skin-side up. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and cover pot. Cook 30 minutes, flipping chicken thighs after 15 minutes.
- Optional: When chicken is cooked through, remove from pot and transfer to baking dish. Broil chicken thighs under broiler 2 to 3 minutes, or until crisp. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch to pot, whisking until combined with remaining sauce. Simmer sauce over low heat until thickened, then spoon over chicken. Garnish with green parts of green onions and serve with white rice or cauliflower rice.
- Chicken Thighs: Be sure to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit for food safety.
- Make it Reduced Sugar/Low Carb: Use Brown Swerve instead of brown sugar. Note that the shoyu soy sauce may contain a small amount of sugar, so the recipe won’t be completely sugar-free.
- Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten-free shoyu or tamari.
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Jasmine Comer is a food photographer and recipe developer from North Carolina. She grew up in the kitchen watching her mom cook all types of delicious meals. In 2016 she established Lively Meals, a food blog where she creates healthy recipes. This led to creating recipes for other blogs as well. In her free time she enjoys exploring new places and spending time in nature. Ultimately she’s grateful to be doing work she loves—cooking good food and sharing it with people.