What can you make with just three ingredients? Nothing all that special, right? Well, let’s be open-minded here. After all, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be a humble foodstuff not often lauded, but you sure would miss it if were it gone.

Take this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken, for example. Chef and recipe developer Susan Olayinka of The Flexible Fridge calls this "a great quick dinner that’s so delicious," adding that she "cooks it a lot, as the sweet and salty combination is unmatchable." And it’s hard to match the versatility of this chicken dish, either.

Once cooked, the chicken "would do wonderfully in stir frys, fried rice meals, and even in a baguette paired with some fresh vegetables," says Olayinka. And of course, it’s delicious on its own, whether served as a component to be mixed in with a larger meal or eaten without further adornment as a sweet, salty, and protein-rich snack.

What is teriyaki, anyway?

You probably innately know what teriyaki sauce tastes like: It’s salty and sweet, and it makes the perfect flavoring for everything from beef jerky to pan-fried noodles to fish to tofu and so on. But what is it?

According to Shogun Japanese Steakhouse: "The word teriyaki refers to a method of cooking and combines the words ‘teri,’ meaning luster or gleam, and ‘yaki,’ meaning grilled or broiled …. Traditionally, teriyaki sauce is made by mixing and heating three ingredients: sugar, soy sauce, and sake."

However, you can achieve just the same salty sweetness with soy sauce and sugar alone. At any rate, to sum it up, it’s basically just soy sauce blended and cooked with sugar. And it’s amazing.

Gather your ingredients to make this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken

The 3 ingredients you’ll need for this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken are chopped chicken breast, light brown sugar, and soy sauce. You’ll also need cooking oil and salt, but we assume that you already have those things in your pantry.

Of course, you can always add some more ingredients to make this recipe even tastier. Chopped green onions and sesame seeds make a delicious garnish, and they’ll even make your dish look prettier too. Feel free to leave them out if you don’t have them on hand, though.

Prep and cook the chicken for this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken

First off for this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken recipe, rinse and pat dry your chicken, then trim away any excess fat or veins and such. Now, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and then sprinkle the meat with the salt.

Next, heat the oil in a pan over a burner at medium heat. Once it has warmed, place the chicken in the pan and cook for about 12 minutes, turning the meat every couple of minutes. It should be browned on the outside and completely cooked through and white on the inside.

Scoop the finished chicken out of the pan and set it aside.

Make the teriyaki sauce for this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken

Place the light brown sugar and soy sauce into the same pan you used for the chicken. Keep the heat at medium heat, continuously stirring the blend of sugar and soy sauce as the sugar begins to break down.

Soon the mixture will start to bubble. At this point, keep the heat up and keep stirring, as this will allow the sugar to turn into a thicker texture like you want for your teriyaki sauce. Cook and stir the soy sauce and sugar blend for about five minutes until the sauce has thickened well and is just starting to reduce.

Add the chicken back to the pan and coat with sauce for this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken

Once the sauce for this 3-ingredient teriyaki chicken has thickened well, place the chicken back into the pan and stir it around, allowing the chicken to be fully coated by the teriyaki sauce. Now, cut the heat and scoop the finished chicken out of the pan.

Now you have some options. You can garnish the meat with green onion and sesame seeds and consider it ready to be served as-is. You can scoop it out onto a bed of rice or noodles and add some cooked veggies to make a whole meal (and of course, you can make extra sauce and stir fry veggies when you add the cooked chicken back to the pan). And you can, by all means, add in some red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce to spice things up delightfully.

  • 2 cups chopped chicken breast
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • Green onion
  • Sesame seeds
  1. Rinse, dry, and chop the chicken, then sprinkle with salt.
  2. Warm some oil in a pan over medium heat, then place the chicken into the pan and cook for 12 minutes, turning every couple of minutes. It should brown on the outside and be completely cooked through and white on the inside.
  3. Take the chicken out and put aside, then place the light brown sugar and soy sauce in the pan and keep the heat at medium.
  4. Continuously stir the cooking sugar and soy blend for 5 minutes until the sauce bubbles and then thickens.
  5. Place the chicken back into the pan, allowing the chicken to be coated by the sauce.
  6. Garnish with optional green onion and sesame seeds. It is now ready to be served!