Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)


The last recipe in my chicken mini-marathon is this so-simple yet tasty miso marinated and pan-fried or grilled chicken. I’ve again used chicken thighs, but this works well with breast meat as well as other meats such as pork and beef, and fish too. Sweet-salty miso marinades like this are quite standard in Japanese cooking. (See New Potatoes with Sweet-Spicy Miso, over on Just Hungry.)

Recipe: Miso chicken

For every 1 medium to large chicken thigh (or 2 small chicken thighs, totalling about 70-80g / 2.5-3 oz or so) boneless chicken, use:

  • 1 Tbs. miso (I used a mild white miso, see notes below)
  • 1 Tbs. sake or sweet sherry
  • 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

You can use skinned or unskinned chicken here. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Mix the marinating ingredients, and spread over the meat (your hands are the best tools for this). Wrap tightly and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. If you don’t have time for this, let it marinate at least 10-15 minutes, and massag the meat a bit with your hands to help the flavors permeate.

To cook, heat up a non-stick frying pan or a cast iron grill; brush the latter thinly with a little cooking oil to prevent sticking. Panfry or grill over medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through and the miso is darkly caramelized.

Let cool before packing into your bento box.

I have many more bento-friendly chicken recipes, but I’ll give them a rest for a while and turn my attention to other types of ingredients. In the next few posts I’ll show how I use these different chicken recipes in bento boxes.

[Update: Notes] I’ve gotten some notes from people, and seen some blog posts, about the miso flavor being too strong. The key here is the saltiness of the miso you are using. If it is a very salty type, you will want to cut down on the amount of miso - even down to 1 tsp. per chicken thigh rather than 1 Tbs. Taste your miso - if it’s mild enough that you can probably eat it as-is, or maybe spread on a slice of cucumber (one of my favorite snacks, by the way) then use the amount specified. If it’s too salty, cut down on the amount.

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This sounds like something

This sounds like something great to have on hand for my partner’s bento - thanks so much! Does it matter what type of miso used in the marinade?

I’m no expert, but if you

I’m no expert, but if you use red miso, you might want to use a little bit less, as it’s saltier than white.


Hey There I simply love your site and all the help you offer. And I hate to bog you down with questions, but I see a good opportunity to learn something so I’ll chance it :D When you say MISO… what kind of miso are you talking about? There are tons of Asian markets where I live and lots of miso. Red, white, black…. mostly pastes. Are you usinsg a paste in this recipe? And, you know those little packets of instant miso soup? The miso is powdered in those and I can’t find that anywhere. The pastes haven’t yielded a good soup. Is there something I can use for homemade miso soup?

thank you so much! Sylvia


Normally, when people refer to miso, they are talking about the paste. The most versatile type is white miso, which does not have as strong of a flavor as red (this does not mean that the flavor isn’t strong, if you were to compare it to say, soy sauce, the saltiness is like 5 times more concentrated). There is actually a tutorial for miso soup over on Just Hungry.

Re: Miso?

The powdered stuff might be part miso, but is probably mostly hon-dashi. Hon-dashi is equivalent in the west to a bullion or stock cube. It's kind of a quick-fix when you don't have the time to make a real stock, or in this case, real dashi. Because of this, most hon-dashi usually has a good amount of MSG in it to help boosts its flavor. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bad mouthing MSG. I love the stuff & what it does in helping create umami, that mysterious fifth flavor. BUT if you want to make great miso soup at home in a more natural way, I'll tell you how (& this recipe uses paste which you will soon realize will always, always, always! beat the pants off the powdered stuff.)

1. Start with a pot of cold water & put a piece of dried kombu (sea kelp) into it. For a small amount, say a pint, use a piece about the size of an oreo cookie. Adjust if you're making a larger amount. I'll usually make a big pot just to have on hand (dashi has MANY uses!) by throwing a pretty big size chunk into some water. Then turn your burner on & keep an eye on it. You want to heat the water to just barely under a simmer. You should see a few whisps of steam coming off the surface, & tiny bubbles forming on the kelp. That's it, shut the heat off. The best flavor extracted from kelp around 62 degrees.

2. Then you're going to want to add a pinch or so of dried bonito flakes. Again use less if you're making a small batch, more if you're making a larger batch. Let the kombu & bonito steep in the water like a tea for a good 20 minutes or so, you'll see the kelp change as it rehydrates.

3. The next step is to taste it. It should taste like an ocean breeze, hints of the kelp & fish flavors in the background from the bonito. If it's too weak, let it sit longer.

4. When it's ready, strain it through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth to catch all of the little fish flakes. The liquid (dashi) you're left with should be a beautiful pale yellow, & now you're ready to start making miso soup!

5. Return the liquid to a new pot. Take some of your miso paste & put it in a small bowl, now take some of the dashi & use it to dilute the paste. Mix it together & when the lumps are gone, pour all of this into the pot. You should use about a table spoon per 2 cups or so, but adjust according to your batch & the salt content of your miso. If you want to take this a step further, you could dip a mesh strainer into the pot so that it's halfway submerged, & use chopsticks to mix the paste into the dashi. This will prevent some of the bigger clumps from getting into the soup & help create that lovely 'separating' effect I'm sure you've noticed if you've let your soup sit for a minute or so at dinner.

6. From here, you have a great basic miso soup. If it's not salty enough, you could try adding a little more miso, but if you think you already have enough, I recommend seasoning the soup with a little shoyu (soy sauce) instead. Or you can keep this as a base in your fridge & season it as you use it.

7. Now you're ready to go! Just garnish with some tofu cubes, wakame, & green onion & you're good to go! You can also simmer this soup for a few hours with some sliced onion & daikon radish. The onions get so sweet & delicious! *Sie note* The soup will keep in base form (step 6) for a few days in the refrigerator. Just be careful, if you heat it up too many times it will start to reduce & become saltier each time, so just try to warm up what you're going to use.

Hope this helps! Of couse you can always make this the fast way, making hon-dashi (the powdered version) & then go straight to step 5, it's up to you. But I recommend trying both ways! Good luck!


I usually use either white (which is actually light brown) or blended miso for cooking. Red (which is actually dark reddish-brown) miso is okay for this recipe too, but as one commenter said it can be rather salty, so you can add less, or just add a tiny bit more sugar.

And the other anonymous commenter (or maybe it’s the same one :)) has also pointed to my basic miso soup recipe, which covers all the, well, basics!

would love to write about your site :)

Hi there, my name’s Addie and I’m from Malaysia. I’ve been a fan of your site for months now. I now bento to work, thanks to your comprehensive and handy tips.

I’m a writer for a women’s website and I’d love to write about ‘bento’ and feature your site. If that’s ok, pls drop me a note at my website ;)

I tried it and LOVED it

I tried it and LOVED it (even if I put some soy sauce by mistake, uh) :D I didn’t translate my article about it yet, but if you can read French, you can go there (and use google translate): http://www.abc-cooking.net/fr/2008/08/14/poulet-au-miso-pour-petite-sala...

Hi Nolwenn! Thank you for

Hi Nolwenn! Thank you for always visiting and commenting, and trying out the recipes :)

Looks great, but just wondering...

This recipe look so simple and tasty. As soon as I get my hands on some sake, I’ll try it out myself. Question though… How many calories would that be? And do you think I can replace brown sugar with Splenda instead (I don’t have brown sugar at home).

Assuming you are using a

Assuming you are using a whole large skinless/boneless chicken thigh, it is about 110-120 calories (chicken + miso + little sugar (the alcohol will almost all evaporate). Splenda should be fine to substitute (it’s a very small amount anyway!)

Tried It Just Today

I tried this recipe just today, using red miso and Splenda instead of brown sugar. It turned out great!! I think I’m going to include this item in my bento list when I start making them. I’m not sure if it’s the type of sake that I bought or if I’m just not used to it, but I think the sake taste is just a tad too strong. Maybe I’ll put a little less sake in it next time…

Do you also mix the sake

Do you also mix the sake with the other ingredients to marinate them? Or sake seperately when cooking the chicken

All the ingredients

All the ingredients including the sake are mixed together for the marinade - keeps things simple!

Tasted Great

I made batches of pan fried lemon chicken and miso chicken last night. I went out and bought yellow miso last night to replace the salty red miso I have. However, I was missing the brown sugar so I mixed some white sugar with organic molasses as a substitute. The miso chicken tasted great in today’s lunch and impressed my co-workers too.

How funny! I made something

How funny! I made something very similar while experimenting with flavors without knowing it was an actual recipe! Anyways its really good and my whole family loves it, and I have picky eaters and it was a hit.

Can you use something other

Can you use something other than sake/shery (alcohol)?

Just use a little water to

Just use a little water to thin out the miso. The flavor will be different but there it is.


I prepared this dish last night, as directed. The marinade was salty so I simply added more sugar. Next time I will prepare it on the grill. Thank you for sharing!


I made this tonight and it’s perfect with white miso and a side of couscous. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmthankyou!

Light yellow vs white miso

I have light yellow miso. In general, is there a way to “doctor” yellow miso so that it can be used when a recipe calls for white? BTW, this recipe looks delicious and I will try it tomorrow.

Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

Your light yellow miso probably is white miso, as white miso is a pale yellowish beige. I guess they call it white as compared to red miso.

Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

Hi there,

I would like to make this next week but I'm not familiar with sake at all..can you recommend a good but inexpensive brand?


Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

this was delicious. Thank you!

Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

I made this tonight but with chicken wings! They were delicious :)

Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

Hi Maki

Do I freeze them in the marinate (the same as the miso pork), or freeze them after cooked? I need to prepare these as 'stach' for bentos


Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

You can freeze them either way. But...chicken is not a starch food, it's a protein food...

Re: Miso chicken (tori misoyaki)

I tried this tonight, and I really like it! I took your suggestion and tasted my miso first - and, as a result, I cut the marinade in half. I didn't have sake or sweet sherry, but I did have Shaoxing wine and that worked well. The chicken thigh pieces were moist and succulent, and the marinade provided a splendid taste but wasn't over-powering. I just found your website, and I will be trying more of your recipes! Thanks!

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