Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

5 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken is an easy chicken dish you’d get at a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant on the island that’s spicy, sweet, salty and sticky in just 30 minutes!

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken has Japanese roots and we have more classic Japanese recipes on the site if you’d like to round out your meal including Chicken KatsuBaked Teriyaki Chicken and Shrimp Tempura.


“Shoyu” is the Japanese version of soy sauce, and our version of this classic dish infuses the soy sauce marinade with a ton of flavor. This recipe calls for an overnight marinade to let the meat really soak up the flavor.

Shoyu chicken is one of those main dishes that gives you delicious leftovers, and is perfect for any thing from a black tie dinner to a paper plate lunch.


For this recipe, don’t be tempted to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The skin gets crispy and delicious when you bake it and you definitely want that (If you are grilling this recipe and you prefer skinless by all means go with skinless thighs).

  • Prepare all of the ingredients (chop, dice, ect.) and then mix them together in a ziplock bag or a small bowl. If you’re using a bowl, make sure that you cover it tightly. Let the chicken marinate over night (the short cook time makes up for the long marinating time.)
  • Once it has marinaded overnight, preheat your oven and set your chicken in baking pan. Pour the extra sauce over the top.
  • Put the chicken in the oven and cook it for about 30 to 35 minutes, until it is cooked through. Make sure you check it with a probe thermometer at the thickest part before you plate it.
  • Dish up the shoyu chicken and chow down.


  • Ground Spices: If you are grilling this recipe you can swap out the onion, ginger and garlic for ground versions to make grilling a bit easier. The chunks aren’t as friendly to grilling as they are to baking.
  • Green onions: chop up some green unions and sprinkle them on the top to add flavor and make the chicken look fancy.
  • Sesame seeds: sesame seeds are a great way to add a little bit of texture to your meal. Sesame seeds are crunchy and don’t have an overpowering flavor.
  • Mirin: you can use mirin, which is a rice wine used in a of ton of Japanese recipes. Mirin is delicious and adds a touch of traditional flavor.

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken


Hawaiian shoyu chicken is a fusion of traditional Hawaiian and Japanese cooking that is delicious and fun. Also called aloha shoyu, Hawaiian shoyu chicken is often served with Easy Macaroni Salad and Grilled Pineapple, which we absolutely suggest giving a try. Hawaiian shoyu chicken is a a good way to try a favorite recipe with new flavors.

We bake this Shoyu chicken recipe because I love that the sauce cooks down around it and caramelizes around the chicken. You can also marinade the chicken in the sauce overnight then grill the chicken for a more classic BBQ flavor.


You have a main dish, so here are some sides to try with it.

  • Dynamite Shrimp: this is a perfect appetizer if you’re serving shoyu at a party or holiday.
  • Potstickers: a long time favorite Asian appetizer, potstickers are called jiaozi in China, mandu in North and South Korea, and gyoza in Japan. They go well with a whole bunch of dishes and are simple to make.
  • Mushroom Rice: if you want to try something a little less common than plain white rice, try this rich, nutty flavored mushroom rice mixture with your shoyu chicken.


Soy sauce was invented in China during the Han dynasty. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, the Han dynasty lasted from 206 BCE to 220 CE, but sauces like it go back even further. That tells you how delicious this sauce is.

Soy sauce is made from soybeans, roasted grain, brine and a fungus called Aspergillus Oryzae. Shoyu is slightly different because it uses wheat as a base, but the taste is incredibly similar. Soy sauce is high in sodium, but it also has a higher antioxidant density than even red wine.


  • Serve: you should never leave cooked chicken out for longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: your leftovers will be good in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: you can keep cooked chicken frozen for 4 months if it’s in an airtight container.


According to the USDA’s website, chicken is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (73.8 degrees C). If it’s not up to temperature you will certainly know it 6 to 24 hours later.

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken is the ultimate in Hawaiian BBQ meets teriyaki sauce and is perfect served over a bowl of Steamed Rice with some Macaroni salad alonside some Korean Kalbi BBQ Short Ribs. Summer doesn’t get much better than this!

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Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken is an easy chicken dish you'd get at a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant on the island that's spicy, sweet, salty and sticky in just 30 minutes!
Yield 5 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 5 chicken thighs , bone in and skin on
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger , minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion , minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  • Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl (or large ziplock baand let marinate overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bake in a baking pan for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through (to 165 degrees).


Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 426mg | Potassium: 325mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 55IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1.2mg

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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    1. you’re cooking time would be a bit shorter (watch of course, but approximately 10 – 15 min shorter)

    1. It’s important to remember that ground ginger is much more potent. If you swap it 1:1, your dish might have more heat and earthiness than expected. Instead, for every 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger called for, use ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground ginger.

  1. Re: Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

    I am having a Hawaiian Luau with 40 people. What do you suggest as far as pounds of chicken thighs and seasonings? And, can I incorporate pineapple chunks into the mix?

  2. I’ve followed the recipe but there’s something wrong. The oven temp is 375F and only for 35 minutes? The chicken is uncooked at this temp and time. Cooked it for another 15 minutes. Yes, I checked my internal oven thermometer at it was 375F. BTW, the chicken was wonderful!

  3. Great recipe. I used chicken drums, cauliflower rice and pineapple rings. Husband said the pineapple really tied it together.

    1. I’ve not tested it but I’d recommend cooking it on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Good luck!

  4. Do you just dump everything into a pan with the sauce and onions? Or do I remove the chicken and just bake that?

  5. Hi Sabrina,

    This looks absolutely delicious, and I would like to cook it for guests. Can this recipe be made ahead and frozen with the marinade?


  6. I loved the chicken but it did not have the look! The red sauce looks so amazing in your photo mine did not look this way why?

    1. I loved the chicken also! I too was disappointed the sauce wasn’t as beautiful as the picture. Mine had a lot of chicken grease but we are using it to flavor rice for leftovers tomorrow night!

  7. Not a fan of chicken thighs. Could I use chicken breasts instead? If so I am cooking for two. What would I have to adjust?

    1. Sorry, your comment got stuck in my spam filter. I would cook them for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

    2. This shoyu chicken was delicious! I made it tonight and marinated it for the past 1 1/2 days and I think it turned out great! The flavor was just the right amount of flavor and not too strong. The chicken was so tender too. Thank you for the recipe.

  8. I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but was wondering if only 5 tablespoons of liquid is enough for the amount of chicken and the other ingredients.
    It doesn’t seem like it would be enough to cover all of the chicken.

    1. It’s not meant to cover all of the chicken. You don’t want it to be soupy in the end but don’t worry, the chicken will release liquid as it cooks down too. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. Love this recipe. I have yet to find a recipe on this site that isn’t good, but this is one of my favourites so far.

    1. Sorry to hear it didn’t pack the flavor punch you were looking for – feel free to play with the seasonings and let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  10. O!M!G! So good!!!
    I cut the recipe in half, partly because I was only making it for two, but also if we didn’t like it there was less going to waste.
    But it is just as good as it looks in your pictures. I can’t wait to have this again.
    I’m thinking about trying it with pork in place of the chicken, or maybe beef.

  11. I’m not sure there is an easier chicken recipe to make that has more flavor than this one. AMAZING recipe!