My shoyu chicken recipe is a Hawaii-style bone-in dinner that will whisk you away to a tropical evening!
Any chicken recipes that cook bone-in are sure to deliver on tender meat that melts in your mouth. This shoyu chicken recipe brings that plus a taste of the most famous local Hawaiian chicken dish, aloha shoyu chicken!
Let’s get cooking!
Any chicken dish that marries sweet with savory is a major WIN in my book! Who can resist that flavor combination? Plus, I guarantee everyone in your house will gobble this dinner down!
- Easy to make
- SUPER tender chicken!
- Sweet, savory, aromatic flavor
- Crowd pleasing sauce!
How To Make Shoyu Chicken Recipe
Start by whisking together the first ten ingredients until the brown sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Then place your chicken thighs in a high-sided skillet or large pot, and pour the sauce over the chicken. Coat the chicken on both sides.
Traditionally, this chicken is braised on the stovetop. Braising shoyu chicken produces absolutely succulent meat — just keep a close eye on how the chicken is cooking, so as not to overcook it. If it’s cooked too long, it will be dry.
When it’s done, remove the chicken to a serving platter and add the cornstarch and water mixture to the liquid in the skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until thick.
Here are my tried and true notes to make the perfect shoyu chicken dish every time!
From garlic to brown sugar to everything in between!
- Brown Sugar: Soy sauce and brown sugar are often used together to get the acid of the soy sauce and the sugar of the brown sugar that works to tenderize your meat. Brown sugar is the best type of sugar to use in this recipe – it’s thick and mixes well.
- Garlic: For this recipe, the garlic works best when it is minced. I break away the shell of the garlic with the flat surface of a sharp knife – this makes it easy to peel. I find that serrated blades don’t do too well with garlic – I prefer a nice big straight-edged knife.
- Ginger: The best way to peel ginger? With a spoon! The skin of ginger is so delicate that using a blunt edge like that on a spoon will do the job better than a vegetable peeler. The peeler will take too much of the ginger with it. I love this kitchen hack!
- Soy Sauce: The right type of soy sauce assures authenticity. I like to use Hawaiian Soy Sauce with this dish — shoyu soy sauce is popular in Hawaii and has a sweeter, less harsh flavor. I try to avoid commercial brands like Kikkoman in this recipe. While it’s a good option that’s widely available, I find that it can be too salty. They do, however, have a low salt version you can try if you want to use it in this recipe.
- Chinese 5 Spice: This is an optional spice. As the name suggests, Chinese 5 spice is a blend of five different spices (cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns). It’s used a lot in Asian and Arabic cooking. The truth is, not everybody loves this spice, so you don’t have to include it if you don’t want to. The Shoyu chicken will still be tasty without it!
Tools to Make
I guarantee you have all the tools you need to make this dish right in your kitchen!
- A bowl for mixing the sauce
- A skillet
- A smaller bowl to mix the cornstarch
That’s it! You’ll also need a careful eye to watch that chicken, but I know you all have that already!
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Once cooked, your shoyu chicken will last in the fridge just fine for up to four days. I personally love this dish the second day — I think the flavors get even richer!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! I love having this as a freezer meal to go. Portion it out, freeze it, and simply wait for a rushed night when you could use a home-cooked meal! Shoyu chicken will freeze for up to four months.
To thaw, let it sit in the fridge overnight or pop it in your microwave and use the thaw setting. Ready to eat in a snap!
Make Ahead Tips
The best way to make this recipe ahead of time? The Crockpot!
- Place the chicken in your Crockpot.
- Combine sauce ingredients and pour over the chicken.
- Cooking on a low setting, 6-8 hours, or until chicken is tender.
- Remove chicken to a plate, and set aside.
- Pour the sauce, from the Crockpot, into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium.
- In a small bowl, make the cornstarch slurry. Slowly add it to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce has thickened.
- Pour sauce over chicken and serve.
The sweet, savory, tangy flavors of my shoyu chicken recipe go best with a side that’s creamy and smooth, like a crisp, tasty salad that’s going to offset the intensity of the spices. I love serving my chicken with something like the authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad I mentioned earlier, or my traditional KFC coleslaw. Who doesn’t love a bit of KFC, even in Hawaii?! Or even go for something simpler, like my carrot salad!
Another never-fail side dish is standard, fluffy white rice. The sauce in this chicken soaks into white rice in a delicious way! You won’t want to miss this pairing.
Let’s play with the flavors!
- Turn shoyu chicken into my sticky sweet and savory honey garlic chicken by upping the garlic and swapping brown sugar for honey!
- If you follow the Crockpot instructions above, you’re already well on your way to brown sugar crockpot chicken. Your whole house will smell like sugary candy!
- Take a detour from Asian cooking to get a bit more spice with chicken adobo!
- Love that tang? Up the soy sauce factor and get salty, tender soy sauce chicken.
- Teriyaki chicken is the close cousin of shoyu chicken, bringing the same sweet, savory mix. Grab a pre-made teriyaki sauce packet or make your own — it’s easy!
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
- 5 pounds chicken thighs bone-in, skin on
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 10 ingredients until brown sugar is dissolved and everything is well combined.
- Place the chicken thighs in a large, high sided skillet or large pot, and pour sauce over chicken. Turn the chicken over to coat both sides with the sauce.
- Bring sauce to a boil, over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered, turning occasionally, until chicken registers 165 degrees when an instant-read thermometer is inserted near the bone, about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove the chicken to a serving platter.
- Add the cornstarch and water mixture to the liquid in the skillet, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until thick.
- Adjust seasoning and pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.
Want more delicious chicken recipes? Your family will flip over these!
- Smothered Chicken – Gravy finally gets the recognition it deserves!
- Buttermilk Roasted Chicken – Tender, moist and flavored all the way to the bone!
- Balsamic Chicken – Tart, grape flavor in a delicious sauce
- Chicken Marbella – Go full Italian feast with this!
- Chicken Vesuvio – White wine at its finest for this sauce
With summer night’s calling, it’s no wonder your belly is craving some Hawaiian food — and this shoyu chicken recipe delivers in sugary sweetness and savory soy sauce yum!
What did your family think of this dish? Let me know in the comments!