As much as I don’t want to consider myself picky (can we call me particular instead?), the truth is, I demand a lot from my dinners, especially the ones I cook on weeknights. My ideal dinner needs to be healthy, reasonably easy to make, minimize dishes, AND taste indisputably delicious. Too much to ask? I don’t think so, and neither does this healthy Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry!
A lightened-up version of the Japanese teriyaki chicken stir fry that was my high school takeout love—and let’s be honest, my post-high-school takeout love, because who doesn’t love juicy chicken and vegetables bathed in sweet and sticky teriyaki sauce?—this one-pan dinner is one of those magical meals that manages to:
- Just like with my Healthy Orange Chicken, it pleases every member of your household, even the picky ones.
- Include every food group.
- Be quick and easy to make.
- Use ingredients you already have in your pantry.
- Taste fab leftover. (If you have leftovers anyway!)
In fact, I believe so strongly in the universal appeal of teriyaki chicken that I’ve come up with multiple cooking methods for it.
This Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken was the original. Its popularity then inspired this Instant Pot Teriyaki Chicken and this Teriyaki Chicken Casserole. (I even snuck the delicious sauce onto fish for this Teriyaki Salmon recipe.)
And now today, we complete Team Teriyaki Chicken with this simple, sublime ginger teriyaki chicken stir fry. It cooks on your stovetop in minutes, no extra appliances required.
A Brief History of Teriyaki Chicken
While the word “teriyaki” refers to a form of Japanese cooking where meat is grilled or broiled, teriyaki sauce is actually considered to be a product of America. It is believed that when Japanese immigrants settled in Hawaii, they developed a marinade by combining local ingredients (like pineapple juice) with soy sauce. Over many years (and many home and restaurant adaptations) the teriyaki sauce we know today was born.
This tasty recipe is my adaptation based on healthy ingredients. I wanted the dish to be quick, easy, and use simple, everyday ingredients you can find at any grocery store.
How to Make the Best Healthy Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry
The secret to making healthy chicken teriyaki tasty: it starts with the sauce.
The best teriyaki sauce is the one that you make yourself.
Forget using store-bought bottled sauce. Homemade teriyaki sauce is super simple. It tastes better than a teriyaki chicken recipe using bottled sauce because it’s freshly made.
Further, making your own teriyaki sauce from scratch allows you to make the chicken teriyaki healthy. Since you are in control of the ingredients, you can avoid the excess refined sugars, sodium, and preservatives found in most store-bought sauces.
It’s easy too! You can find all the ingredients you need to make this recipe right in your pantry or with a quick trip to your neighborhood grocery store, no specialty ingredients required.
How to Make Healthy Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
So, what does chicken teriyaki taste like? Well, if you love the idea of a sticky, sweet-yet-savory sauce coating tender pieces of chicken and vegetables, then you’re going to relish each and every bite!
The Easy Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce. I prefer low-sodium soy sauce. It’s better for you overall, and it keeps the stir fry from becoming too salty.
- Honey. Sweetness is part of what makes teriyaki sauce so darn addictive and gives it its signature stickiness. An authentic Japanese teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe would probably call for brown sugar, but I find honey perfect. Using honey is another way to make this chicken teriyaki stir fry more healthy too.
- Rice Vinegar. Its acidity balances the honey’s sweetness.
- Garlic + Ginger. For freshness and zing. I promise the mincing is worth it.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the teriyaki sauce so that it coats every morsel of chicken and veggies in glossy goodness.
- Red Pepper Flakes. For those who like a kick.
Once you have your sauce prepared, what do you put in chicken stir fry? Here are a few of my favorite basic ingredients!
The Stir Fry Ingredients
- Chicken. I opted to make diced teriyaki chicken breasts (we always have a few chicken breasts in our freezer), but you can certainly make teriyaki chicken thighs if that is your preference. Wanting to switch it up? Use this same sauce recipe to make teriyaki stir fry beef or pork. I also have a vegetarian option in the recipe notes below.
- Vegetables. Anything that is in season, your refrigerator, or that your family loves is a great choice for the teriyaki stir fry vegetables. I opted for red bell pepper and asparagus.
- Green Onion. To add a bit of bite.
- Water Chestnuts. CRUNCH baby! These are easy to find in a can, and they make stir fry taste like it came from a restaurant. I’m hooked!
- Sesame Seeds. Totally optional but super tasty.
- To prepare the sauce, add water, honey, rice vinegar, and spices to a small pot. Place over medium-high heat, and stir until combined. Once it boils, add your cornstarch slurry, and whisk constantly until sauce thickens. Easy! Who needs a bottle?
- Grab a large, deep sauté pan (or wok), and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), add in your chicken and a dash or two of soy sauce. Once cooked through and golden on all sides, remove to a plate and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil, and add your veggies. Cook until softened and lightly browned.
- Once your vegetables are done, add the water chestnuts and return the chicken to the pan. Pour in your prepared sauce and toss until coated. Simmer until chicken is warmed through, then stir in green onions. Sprinkle sesame seeds and remaining green onions on top, and serve warm. Adjust seasonings as you like, then enjoy each sweet and sticky bite!
Tips for the Best Chicken Stir Fry
Once you start cooking, stir fry recipes like this one (and my similarly quick and easy Zucchini Stir Fry) move FAST.
- Be sure you read the recipe all the way through so you know which steps come in quick succession.
- Take time to prep and measure everything ahead of time, including the sauce. You’ll thank yourself later (really, you will).
What to Serve with Teriyaki Chicken
One of a stir fry’s best qualities is that it is inherently a one-pan meal (thank you built-in protein and vegetables).
If you want to serve a side dish with this recipe, here are a few options of what goes with stir fry chicken:
- Rice. Our go-to. I like teriyaki chicken with brown rice, because it is whole grain and thus higher in fiber, nutrients, and protein than white rice. (This Egg Roll in a Bowl recipe also uses rice.)
- Fried Rice. For added veggies, try serving this dish with a hearty serving of Homemade Fried Rice or Healthy Fried Rice.
- Cauliflower Rice. For those in need of a more low-carb option. (A blend of cauliflower rice and brown rice is great too).
- Noodles. A fun twist! To make teriyaki chicken stir fry with noodles, cook soba (whole grain!) or rice noodles on the side while the chicken and vegetables are sautéing. You can also use whole wheat spaghetti noodles (no offense, Italy, but these are great in stir fry). Toss the cooked noodles with the chicken and vegetables at the very end.
- Salad. This Asian-inspired/Midwest potluck favorite Ramen Salad would add a nice crunch and freshness as a side dish.
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Teriyaki Chicken
Thankfully, this teriyaki chicken stir fry recipe is incredibly storage friendly, so you can freeze or refrigerate as needed.
- To Store. Store cooked leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Freeze. Let cooked teriyaki chicken cool completely, then transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container (I like to press a sheet of plastic over the top to deter freezer burn). Place in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- You can store the stir fry and rice separately or mix them together before freezing.
- To Reheat. Rewarm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, with a splash of water or chicken broth to thin the sauce as needed.
- To Make Gluten Free. Use gluten-free tamari in place of the soy sauce.
- To Make Vegetarian. Swap a can of rinsed, drained low-sodium chickpeas for the chicken or use diced extra-firm tofu. For inspiration, check out my General Tso’s Chickpeas, Tofu Stir Fry, and this perfect method for Crispy Tofu.
Recommended Tools to Make Teriyaki Chicken
- Wok. You don’t need a wok to make great-tasting teriyaki chicken stir fry—a large, deep nonstick pan will do the trick—but if you plan to cook stir fry often, it’s a handy investment. I have owned this one for going on 10 years, and I’m still super happy with it. This is a very similar wok, just without the lid so it’s less expensive.
- Small Whisk. This is the best whisk (I own two)! It’s smaller than most whisks, which makes it ideal for stirring ingredients without splashing.
Do you love teriyaki chicken as much as we do? Please comment below and let me know, especially if you try this recipe! I always love hearing from you♥
Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
For the Stir Fry:
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 red bell pepper cut into strips
- 3 cups chopped mixed vegetables of choice such as asparagus, broccoli, or snap peas
- 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts drained
- 2 medium green onions finely chopped, divided
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds optional
- Low-sodium soy sauce for serving
- Prepared brown rice, quinoa, noodles, or cauliflower rice for serving
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/4–1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mix with 2 tablespoons water to create a slurry
- First prepare the sauce: In a small pot, add the water, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Heat over medium high, stirring until smoothly combined. Bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch slurry. Whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
- In a large, deep sauté pan or wok, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken and a few dashes of soy sauce. Cook until the chicken is golden on all sides and fully cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes. With a large spoon, remove to a plate and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add the bell pepper and asparagus. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.
- When the vegetables are ready, add the water chestnuts and return the chicken to the pan. Pour in the sauce and toss to coat. Let simmer 1 to 2 minutes to warm the chicken through. Stir in about half of the green onions. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and remaining green onions over the top. Serve warm, with additional red pepper flakes and/or soy sauce as desired.
- TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Use gluten-free tamari in place of the soy sauce.
- TO MAKE VEGETARIAN: Swap a can of rinsed, drained low-sodium chickpeas for the chicken or use diced extra-firm tofu.
- TO STORE: Store cooked leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, with a splash of water or chicken broth to thin the sauce as needed.
- TO FREEZE: Let cooked teriyaki chicken cool completely, then transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container (I like to press a sheet of plastic over the top to deter freezer burn). Place in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- You can store the stir fry and rice separately or mix them together before freezing.
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