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Yakitori Tsukune Recipe – Japanese Chicken Meatballs

Yakitori Tsukune Recipe – Japanese Chicken Meatballs

Last Updated on 22nd December 2021 by

Soft and bouncy, Japanese chicken meatballs can be enjoyed in several ways. Today, we’re sharing 3 different Yakitori Tsukune recipes that you can easily whip up at home.

Traditional Yakitori Tsukune
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Traditional Yakitori Tsukune Recipe (Grilled Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

Total Time35 mins
Keyword: Yakitori Tsukune
Servings: 24 meatballs, 1 1/4 inches in diameter


For the Tsukune (chicken meatball):

  • 1lb / 450g chicken breast mince, ground
  • 8 oz / 50g chicken fat, finely minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1 tbsp grated onion
  • 1 tsp ginger juice (squeeze the juice out of grated ginger)
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp cornflour or cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tbsp sake

For the sauce:

  • 4 oz / 40ml soy sauce (normal Japanese soy sauce)
  • 4 oz / 40ml mirin
  • ½ tbsp sugar


Making the Sauce:

  • Add all the sauce ingredients to a pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer for around 5 minutes until the quantity reduces by about a third. The time taken to reduce the sauce depends on the size of the pot; the larger the pot, the faster the sauce reduces.

Making Tsukune:

  • In a bowl, add the chicken mince, chicken fat, and salt. Mix thoroughly until the chicken mince becomes sticky.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except 1 tablespoon of sake. Mix well.
  • While mixing, gradually add the remaining sake to the bowl. The mixture should be soft but not too soft. Do not add all of the sake if the mixture becomes too soft to grab by hand and form a ball.
  • Boil some water in a pot and coat a cutlery spoon with a little bit of oil.
  • Grab chicken mince with one hand (the Ieft hand if you’re right-handed, or the right hand if you’re left-handed) and squeeze out mince between the thumb and the index finger. The mince should come out forming a round shape.
  • Take the formed meatball with the spoon and drop it into the pot with boiling water. Repeat this for the rest of the mince.
  • Boil the meatballs for 5 - 7 minutes until cooked through. The cooking time depends on the size of the meatballs. When the meatball floats and feels light when you pick it up, it’s ready.
  • Take the meatballs out and set them aside. Cook the meatballs in small batches so that the surface of the boiling water has no more than one layer of meatballs floating.

Grilling Tsukune:

  • Heat the griller, griddle, or BBQ.
  • Oil the rack where you’ll place the meatballs.
  • Thread Tsukune onto flat skewers.
  • Using a brush, baste tsukune with the sauce and grill for a couple of minutes until the meatballs are slightly burnt.
  • Turn over the skewers and cook for an extra 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Baste with the sauce then cook for 30 seconds on both sides.
  • Serve right away.
Tori Tsukune Recipe
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Tori Tsukune Recipe for Nabe (Japanese Chicken Meatballs for Hot Pot)

Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Servings: 6


For the Shiitake mushroom broth:

  • 4 cups warm (not boiling) water
  • 5 - 6 large dried shiitake mushrooms

For the Tsukune (chicken meatball):

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 leek, white and pale green part, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

For the hot pot:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • ½ small napa cabbage, roughly chopped (core removed)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into slices crosswise (half-moon shape)
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Making the Shiitake mushroom broth:

  • In a bowl, allow the dried shiitake mushrooms to soak in the warm water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Strain the stock through a fine-woven cloth or fine-mesh strainer to get rid of unwanted bits.
  • Pour the stock into a stockpot for cooking the hot pot.
  • Trim the stems off of the mushrooms, rinse the caps to remove any gritty material, then squeeze out the excess liquid.
  • Slice the caps into very thin strips and set them aside.

Making Tsukune:

  • Combine the ground chicken, egg, chopped leek, grated ginger, and sea salt in a bowl and set the mixture aside.

Making the hot pot:

  • Mix the chicken stock with the shiitake mushroom stock in the stockpot then add the sliced shiitake mushrooms.
  • Place the stockpot over medium-high heat. Once the stock starts to boil, reduce the heat to keep the stock simmering.
  • Scoop tablespoonfuls of meat mixture with one spoon and use a second spoon to shape into balls.
  • Gently drop the meatballs into the simmering broth, one at a time.
  • Cook the meatballs for 1 minute then add the cabbage, carrot, and cremini mushrooms.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and allow the hot pot to cook for about 5 minutes. If needed, adjust the heat to maintain the stock at a gentle simmer.
  • When the vegetables are cooked through and the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, turn off the heat.
  • Season the hot pot with black pepper and serve.


Yakitori Tsukune Recipe - Japanese Chicken Meatballs
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Tofu Tsukune Recipe

Total Time30 mins
Keyword: tofu tsukune
Servings: 2


  • ½ block Tofu
  • 300 grams ground chicken
  • ¼ onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 green beans, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp Usukuchi soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp Miso
  • 1 tsp juice of a grated ginger
  • 1-2 tbsp Katakuriko
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper


  • Drain the tofu of excess water then crumble.
  • Add the ground chicken and mix well.
  • Mix in the onion and green beans.
  • Add the beaten egg, Usukuchi soy sauce, sake, 1 tablespoon of sugar, Miso, ginger juice, and Katakuriko. Combine well. If the mixture is too soft, add a bit more Katakuriko.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Shape the mixture into balls and fry in a thinly oil-coated pan over low-medium heat.
  • When the surface starts to cook through, flip the meatballs, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low.
  • When both sides are cooked, they’re done.

Wrap Up

There you have it, 3 Yakitori Tsukune recipes that you can enjoy in every mood.

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I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food!  You can find my Facebook here

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