Tsukune (Japanese hen meatball skewer) つくね • Simply One Cookbook


Tsukune are skewered Japanese hen meatballs glazed in a scrumptious, sweet-savory sauce. Sometimes served at yakitori and izakaya eating places, these juicy meatballs are simple to make at residence together with your oven broiler or grill. It’s arduous to eat only one!

Japanese ceramic plates containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

Should you’re on the hunt for some crowd-pleaser recipes in your subsequent celebration, look no additional than the world of Japanese bar fare often known as izakaya meals! The dishes are sometimes bite-sized or skewered and meant to be loved in a vigorous, social setting. Image the classics like Rooster Karaage, Yakitori, and Gyoza. The perfect half: They go hand in hand with sake and Japanese draft beer. At this time, I’ve received one other favourite that you want to strive at residence: Tsukune or Japanese hen meatball skewers.

What’s Tsukune?

Tsukune (つくね) refers to Japanese hen meatballs which are skewered, grilled, and coated with a candy and savory sauce known as tare.

To make tsukune, you’ll want floor hen or a mixture of hen and pork, scallions, and varied seasonings. The meat combination is shaped into an oval patty or three meatballs, that are then threaded onto bamboo skewers. They are often cooked both over charcoal at eating places or pan-fried when ready at residence.

For household dinners, Japanese residence cooks sometimes serve the meatballs with out the skewers, so you possibly can definitely make them in common ball shapes. However when you’re serving tsukune for a celebration or a potluck, I like to recommend skewering them as demonstrated right here. Everyone loves meals on a stick!

A white plate containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

Tsukune Making Ideas

  1. Add texture and perfume to the meat combination. In Japan, we normally add chopped hen cartilage to the combination to create a contrasting texture. I additionally use shiso leaves and inexperienced onions for further depth of aroma.
  2. Knead the hen combination till it turns into pale and sticky. Some tsukune recipes require eggs or panko to bind the bottom meat collectively in order that the meat combination doesn’t simply fall off the skewers. Nonetheless, my mother taught me to knead the combination actually, very well, and my tsukune by no means falls off the skewers!
  1. Divide the meat combination equally so every patty is roughly the identical weight.
  2. Toss the meat from one hand to the opposite to launch any air pockets. This prevents breakage.
  1. Make a 4-inch lengthy oval patty, then place a bamboo skewer on prime. All of the patties must be the identical dimension so your tsukune is formed the identical.
  2. Press the skewer down somewhat and wrap the meat across the skewer. Kind the meat into a pleasant 4-inch lengthy cylindrical form. Make sure the skewer is secured in place and the perimeters of the patty are sealed utterly.

A Large Secret for Juicy Rooster Meatballs

Whenever you make hen meatballs, you need to ensure they’re fluffy, springy, and juicy. I realized this method from The Japanese Grill, one in every of my husband’s favourite grill cookbooks, and I’ve been following this methodology ever since.

To make the bottom hen combination, precook one-third of the bottom hen first. Let it cool utterly after which combine it with the uncooked floor hen.

Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatball Skewers)-step by step-42
Cooked floor hen and uncooked floor hen

Do you discover once you cook dinner the meat, you find yourself with a lot smaller items as a result of the meat shrank after cooking? This system of precooking part of the meat combination prevents the meat from shrinking an excessive amount of.

Additionally, it prevents the meat from dropping a number of juice. Though it’s an additional step, I discover it’s completely value it.

A white plate containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

How one can Use the Broiler When Cooking the Tsukune

To make the tsukune just like the restaurant type, use the broiler within the oven. In contrast to baking, which makes use of sizzling air to cook dinner the meals, the broiler makes use of infrared vitality just like an out of doors grill. When it’s performed cooking, the tsukune comes out actually juicy and superbly charred.

Listed below are some necessary suggestions for you.

  1. Create patties which are evenly sized and never too massive. Form every patty into a skinny, lengthy cylindrical type to permit for fast warmth penetration. This ensures that all of them cook dinner on the identical price and end concurrently.
  2. Use an oven-safe wire rack to permit the meat’s extra oil to drip onto the baking sheet, stopping the meat from cooking within the amassed oil.
  3. Earlier than broiling, soak the bamboo skewers in water and canopy them with foil. This step prevents the skewers from burning and turning black.
  4. Management the oven rack’s distance from the highest heating aspect and the broiling time. I set my oven rack within the heart place, 9 inches (23 cm) away from the highest heating aspect. With the broiler, you can not set an actual temperature. Nonetheless, you possibly can modify two issues: the gap of the rack and the broiler settings (Low, Medium, Excessive). I normally use the Excessive setting (550ºF/288ºC) and modify the rack’s proximity to the heating aspect.
  5. Maintain an in depth eye on the meals whereas broiling. Should you’re new to utilizing the broiler, train warning to keep away from overcooking till you establish the optimum rack place and broiler setting.
Japanese ceramic plates containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

How one can Make Tsukune

The Components You’ll Want

  • Floor hen
  • Shiso leaves – Skip when you can’t discover them. It undoubtedly tastes higher with it.
  • Scallions
  • Seasonings: Miso, sesame oil, and salt
  • Do-it-yourself yakitori sauce: sake, mirin, soy sauce, and brown sugar
  • For serving (non-obligatory): Shichimi togarashi and uncooked egg yolk (please see the observe under)

The Cooking Steps

  1. Prepare dinner one-third of floor hen on medium-low warmth in an ungreased frying pan. Put aside and let cool utterly.
  2. Mix cooked and uncooked floor hen, shiso, scallions, and seasonings. Knead the combination till it turns into sticky and pale in shade.
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an oven-safe wire rack on prime. Form the bottom hen combination into an oval patty and wrap it round a skewer. Place the completed skewer on the baking sheet and proceed with the remainder of the combination.
  4. Prepare dinner the skewers beneath the broiler for six minutes, and flip to cook dinner for 3–4 minutes. Subsequent, brush the yakitori sauce on the hen and broil for 45–60 seconds till effervescent. Then, flip the hen, brush the opposite facet, and broil for one more 45–60 seconds till effervescent.
  5. Serve instantly and revel in! Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi for a spicy kick. Optionally, dip in a uncooked egg yolk to take pleasure in.
Japanese ceramic plates containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

Do-it-yourself Yakitori Sauce

Elevate your tsukune with this selfmade sauce—it’s the key to taking them from good to completely mouthwatering! All you need to do is combine collectively 5 easy elements: sake, mirin, soy sauce, brown sugar, and water. Then, let it simmer away on medium-low warmth for about half-hour till it reduces by half and thickens up. Belief me, it’s a breeze!

Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatball Skewers)-step by step-105

My yakitori sauce recipe under will yield some further, so save the leftover for different dishes. You possibly can dilute it with somewhat little bit of water to skinny it and use it as a marinade or stir-fry sauce.

How one can Eat Tsukune

Tsukune is scrumptious when brushed with yakitori sauce alone, however there are different enjoyable methods to benefit from the meatball skewers too!

  • Dip in uncooked egg yolk. Consuming uncooked eggs is frequent in Japan. Eggs are processed otherwise there and uncooked eggs are thought-about secure to devour. Dipping the candy and salty hen meatball in wealthy, creamy, and naturally candy egg yolk makes it further scrumptious.
  • Dip in Japanese mayonnaise. I extremely suggest Japanese mayo right here just like the Kewpie model. Then, sprinkle with a little bit of shichimi for a spicy kick.
  • Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi. Want a spicy kick? Sprinkle shichimi over the tsukune.
  • Get pleasure from it with yuzu kosho. The citrusy sizzling sauce provides a daring and spicy style. Give it a strive!

What to Serve with Tsukune

Additionally, don’t neglect to check out my Teriyaki Rooster Meatballs and Meatballs with Candy and Bitter Sauce.

A Japanese ceramic plate containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

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A white plate containing two skewers of Tsukune (Japanese chicken meatball) accompanied by shichimi togarashi, Japanese seven spices.

Tsukune (Japanese Rooster Meatball Skewers)

Tsukune are skewered Japanese hen meatballs glazed in a scrumptious, sweet-savory sauce. Sometimes served at yakitori and izakaya eating places, these juicy meatballs are simple to make at residence together with your oven broiler or grill. It’s arduous to eat only one!

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Prepare dinner Time: 11 minutes

Complete Time: 51 minutes



For the Yakitori Sauce (sufficient for 2 batches of tsukune)

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you would like substitutes for Japanese condiments and elements, click on right here.

Stop your display from going darkish


To Make the Yakitori Sauce

  • In a small saucepan, mix ¼ cup water, ¼ cup sake, ½ cup mirin, ½ cup soy sauce, and 2 tsp brown sugar.

  • Deliver the combination to a boil over medium warmth. As soon as boiling, decrease the warmth to a simmer and cook dinner for about half-hour. In the meantime, begin getting ready the tsukune combination.

  • When the sauce has thickened and decreased by half, take away from the warmth. Bear in mind, the sauce will proceed to thicken because it cools and moisture evaporates.

To Make the Tsukune Combination

  • Warmth an ungreased frying pan over medium warmth. When it’s sizzling, add one-third (⅓) of the 1 lb floor hen. In case your floor hen bundle contains each a fatty and lean half (like the type offered at Nijiya Market close to me), use the lean half right here and preserve the fatty half for later. Tip: Precooking among the meat combination prevents the meatball from shrinking an excessive amount of whereas cooking and retains the tsukune juicy.

  • Prepare dinner the meat—with out browning it—till now not pink. Whereas cooking, break it up into small items with a wood spatula.

  • Switch the cooked meat to a big bowl and let it cool utterly.

  • Stack and roll up 6 shiso leaves (perilla/ooba), then lower into skinny julienned slices.

  • Reduce 2-3 inexperienced onions/scallions into skinny slices.

  • When the cooked floor hen is totally at room temperature, add the remaining raw floor hen to it and mix. Then, add 1 Tbsp miso and 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil.

  • Utilizing the wood spatula, knead the combination nicely.

  • Add the julienned shiso and knead nicely.

  • Add the chopped inexperienced onions and knead nicely.

  • With the wood spatula, unfold the combination across the bowl after which combine. Repeat it a number of instances.

  • Now, swap to mixing by hand. Knead and fold the combination in a clockwise route 30 instances. Then, knead it counterclockwise 30 instances. The meat will grow to be paler in shade and sticky. This course of is essential for the meat to remain on a stick, so please don’t skip this step. Tip: If the fats within the combination begins to look melted, refrigerate it for 10 minutes, then proceed kneading till the combination is pale and sticky.

  • Now, divide the combination into 8 equal parts. Making patties which are the identical dimension means they‘ll cook dinner on the identical price and end cooking on the identical time.

To Form the Tsukune

  • Put together a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place an oven-safe wire rack on prime and brush it with cooking oil. Why use a rack? It permits the surplus oil from the meat to drip all the way down to the baking sheet whereas broiling. This manner, the meat chars properly and comes out juicy. To attain a restaurant-style tsukune, we don‘t need to cook dinner it in a pool of oil.

  • Calmly coat your palms with sesame oil to forestall the meat from sticking. Scoop up one portion of the hen combination.

  • Toss the meat forwards and backwards between your palms to launch the air pockets. Then, gently squeeze and form the meat to type it into an extended and oval patty, about 4 inches (10 cm) in size.

  • Flatten the patty a bit. Now, place the highest half to two-thirds of a skewer on the meat alongside the middle line of the patty. Then, gently shut the 2 sides of the patty across the skewer to encase the stick‘s tip and prime half.

  • Seal the perimeters of the patty collectively and type it once more into an extended, cylindrical form. This skinny form permits the warmth to penetrate the meat shortly.

  • Gently toss the skewered patty from one hand to the opposite a number of instances to verify the back and front sides are properly shaped. Press and type the meat gently into form.

  • Do a last test, ensuring the skewer is secured within the heart.

  • Place the completed tsukune on the ready wire rack, and repeat to form the remaining tsukune. House them aside on the rack and place them so the skewer handles line up alongside two of the rack‘s sides and the meat factors towards the middle. Calmly sprinkle coarse sea salt over the meat.

  • Put together strips of aluminum foil to cowl the skewer handles and preserve them from turning black and burning whereas broiling.

To Broil within the Oven

  • 5 minutes earlier than cooking, set the oven broiler to Excessive (550ºF/288ºC) to preheat. After heating for five minutes, place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven, about 8 inches (20 cm) away from the heating aspect. Prepare dinner for 6 minutes. Watch the hen carefully whereas broiling so it doesn‘t burn. In case your oven is small/robust, strive broiling on Medium (500ºF/260ºC) or decrease the rack. Tip: When broiling, you possibly can‘t set the precise temperature. You possibly can modify two issues—the gap of the rack and the broiler settings (Low, Medium, or Excessive). I normally use Excessive and transfer the rack nearer or farther away from the heating aspect.

  • Take out the baking sheet from the oven.

  • Utilizing a pair of tongs, flip the tsukune.

  • Return the baking sheet to the oven and broil the opposite facet for 4 minutes, or till the hen‘s inner temperature is 165ºF (74ºC).

  • When each side are cooked, brush the yakitori sauce on the meat (I take advantage of this silicone brush). Broil for one more 45–60 seconds to caramelize the sauce a bit.
  • Flip and brush the sauce on the opposite facet of the meat and broil for one more 45–60 seconds till scorching.

  • Switch the skewers to a serving plate and brush further sauce on the meat. Serve instantly. Sprinkle non-obligatory shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) for a spicy kick. You may also take pleasure in it dipped in non-obligatory Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise or non-obligatory yuzu kosho.
  • In Japan, tsukune is usually served with uncooked egg yolk (which is secure to devour in Japan). Optionally, dip within the uncooked egg yolk and revel in!

To Prepare dinner on the Grill (non-obligatory)

  • Be sure that to scrub and grease the grilling grate. Preheat the grill to medium-hot warmth, about 400ºF (200ºC). Gently place the skewers on the grill and cook dinner till the underside facet is properly brown, 3–4 minutes. With each a stainless-steel spatula and tongs, gently rotate the tsukune and cook dinner the opposite facet for two–3 minutes. Flip to the remaining sides the place you need to grill extra for one more 1–2 minutes. To test if it‘s absolutely cooked, insert a bamboo skewer to see if the juices run clear or test that the hen‘s inner temperature registers 165ºF (74ºC). In that case, it‘s performed cooking. Brush with extra yakitori sauce, cook dinner briefly till scorching, and take away from the warmth.


Diet Information

Tsukune (Japanese Rooster Meatball Skewers)

Quantity per Serving

% Every day Worth*

* % Every day Values are based mostly on a 2000 calorie food regimen.

Creator: Nami

Course: Appetizer, Primary Course

Delicacies: Japanese

Key phrase: hen meatball, yakitori

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Editor’s Word: This put up was initially printed on June 2, 2014. It was republished with new photos, a brand new video, and extra useful content material on January 6, 2024.



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