Get ready for some of the best chicken of your life.

Chicken Yakitori. Photo © Con Poulos
Credit: © Con Poulos

In Japan, yakitori restaurants are casual, beer-soaked houses of worship for grilled, skewered chicken. Skilled cooks prepare every part of the bird—from crispy skin to crunchy cartilage. You don’t have to be so inclusive if you’re preparing your own take on yakitori at home—breast and thigh work just fine. Here, our best recipes for DIY yakitori.

1. Chicken Yakitori with Purple Cabbage and Jasmine Rice

Chicken Yakitori with Purple Cabbage and Jasmine Rice
Credit: © Kristen Stevens

This sweet-and-sticky grilled chicken gets a little kick from chile flakes. Crispy purple cabbage and aromatic jasmine rice complete the simple but tasty meal.

2. Chicken Meatball and Shishito Yakitori

Chicken Meatball and Shishito Yakitori

Skewering chicken meatballs and shishito peppers on the same stick is key here, as the meat flavors the vegetables and the peppers in turn provide a zestiness to the chicken.

These flavorful Japanese meatballs, known as tsukune, are grilled on skewers with the finger-size green peppers called shishitos.

3. Chicken Thigh Yakitori

Chicken Thigh Yakitori

The sauce in this recipe gets a terrific kick from a touch of wasabi.

4. Soy-Glazed Chicken Yakitori

Soy-Glazed Chicken Yakitori
Credit: © Wendell T. Webber

Walking into a yakitori bar in Tokyo, chef Dean Fearing was startled by the thick grill smoke filling the room, then delighted by the delicious flavor of the skewered meats. "These chicken skewers are as close to the food from that grill as I can remember," he says.

5. Chicken Meatball Yakitori

Chicken-Meatball Yakitori
Credit: © Fredrika Stjärne

Chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett makes these meatballs with handmade meat and skin from the best pastured chicken he can get.

6. Chicken and Leek Yakitori

Chicken and Leek Yakitori

Traditionally these skewers are made with scallions, but leeks are a deliciously milder substitute.

7. Andrew Zimmern’s Chicken Yakitori

Chicken Yakitori. Photo © Con Poulos
Credit: © Con Poulos

When in Tokyo, Andrew Zimmern likes to eat skewers of cockscomb and trachea, but at home, he likes to make his own with chicken thighs.