Need a quick and easy meal? This shoyu chicken recipe can be made in about an hour all in one pot.

Shoyu Chicken

What is Shoyu Chicken?

This is such an island favorite that almost everyone in Hawaii has their own version of a shoyu chicken recipe. It’s basically chicken that is stewed in soy sauce, water (low sodium chicken stock), some sugar, ginger, and some seasonings. Everything is dumped into a pot to cook and it produces a fantastic flavorful meal! It’s that easy and pretty much foolproof.

Easy one pot Shoyu Chicken Recipe Click to Tweet

What is Shoyu?

I grew up calling soy sauce, shoyu, which is the broad name given to Japanese soy sauce. So basically, soy sauce and shoyu are the samething. In Hawaii, there are two main soy sauces, Aloha and Kikkoman. For this recipe, I like to use Aloha shoyu as it is less salty than Kikkoman. However, Aloha is harder to find outside of Hawaii, so use low sodium Kikkoman or any other good Japanese soy sauce if you can’t find Aloha.

What to Eat with Shoyu Chicken?

I remember eating shoyu chicken a lot growing up. Probably because it was such an easy meal to prepare. The way most locals eat shoyu chicken is to serve it with rice and a side of macaroni salad. This combo works well together as the rice and mac salad goes well with the salty flavor of shoyu chicken. If you want to skip the mac salad, you can substitute it with corn. Note: If you aren’t a big rice eater, add 3/4 cup more water to the pot to help reduce the salt concentration.

How to Make Shoyu Chicken

Cooking Tips:

  1. Boneless, skinless chicken may be used and cook times may be reduced. I normally use bone-in FROZEN chicken thighs, but I also use boneless too.
  2. Chicken broth can be substituted with water, but use reduced sodium soy too avoid the sauce being too salty if the broth has salt.
  3. Rice wine and pepper flakes are optional

Cooking the Chicken

chicken in pot
Adding uncooked chicken into soy sauce mixture.

Step 1. To make this super simple meal, grab a large pot and dump all the ingredients for the cooking liquids into it. Heat this liquid on medium high till the sugar is dissolved and place the chicken pieces into the pot. The liquid should come almost to the top of the chicken. Bring to a boil.

Note: Optional – If you want, you can brown the chicken skin in a separate pan before placing it into the pot to cook. This extra step will help make the skin a bit more crisp.

cooking chicken
Shoyu Chicken in pot.

Step 2. Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pot, and cook the chicken for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn each chicken piece over and cook for another 20 minutes.  Turn chicken once more and cook for another 20 minutes – total cook time should be 50 minutes. *Keep chicken covered while cooking and add more water if too much has evaporated.*

Do you see the wonderful dark color of the chicken? That’s all that shoyu yumminess soaking into each chicken piece.


Step 3. This next part is totally optional and can be skipped if you don’t want a glaze. Using the liquid that the chicken was cooked in, measure out about a cup of it and place into a smaller pot. Make sure to skim off any chicken fat and just get the sauce.  Taste, if it’s too salty, add a bit of water to the mix. Heat the sauce on medium high heat. To thicken the sauce, mix 2 tsp. of cornstarch with a few spoonfuls of the heated sauce to make a slurry. Add this slurry into the pot and stir until the sauce thickens and lightly coats a spoon.

Shoyu Chicken
Plated Shoyu chicken.

Step 4. Place chicken on a serving platter and dress with glaze (optional). Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. Now, sit down, open wide, and enjoy the yumminess.

Shoyu Chicken
Shoyu Chicken

Shoyu Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 3 - 4.5lb Chicken (I use frozen or partially frozen bone in chicken thighs)
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Dark Soy Sauce (If you don't have dark soy, use regular soy)
  • 1/2 cup water (sub with low sodium chicken stock)
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar (If using all regular soy sauce, you may want to increase the brown sugar up to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon Grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder (Fresh garlic can also be used)
  • 2 tablespoons Rice wine
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 1 cup Shoyu chicken sauce
  • 2-3 stalks green onions (optional)
  • sesame seeds (optional)



  1. Step 1 - Put all the ingredients, including the chicken into a large pot. Heat the pot on medium high until it just starts to boil. Cover and lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. *The rice wine and pepper flakes are optional and do not need to be added.*
  2. Step 2 - Flip chicken over, cover, and cook for another 20 minutes. Flip chicken over again, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes.Sauce
  3. Step 3 - Take one cup of the shoyu sauce out of the pot and put it into a small pot. Set heat to medium high. *Make sure to skim off any of the fat and just take the sauce.*
  4. Step 4 - In a small bowl, add 2 tsp. of cornstarch. Take a few spoonfuls of the hot shoyu sauce from the pot and mix it into the cornstarch to create a slurry.
  5. Step 5 - Add the cornstarch slurry to the hot shoyu sauce in the pot and stir until the sauce thickens and it lightly coats the spoon.
  6. Step 6 - Place chicken on a serving platter and spoon sauce onto chicken.Topping
  7. Step 7 - Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds over the chicken for garnish (optional).


  • Use FROZEN chicken to help dilute the sauce as it cooks. If using fresh or defrosted chicken, add 3/4 cup additional water.
  • This is meant to be eaten with rice. If you are not eating with some type of starch, add 3/4 cup water to the pot to help reduce the salt flavor.
  • Liquid may not completely cover the frozen chicken, but as the chicken cooks, it should cover the chicken.
  • If using boneless chicken, cook time can be reduced. Check chicken at 40 minutes.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Hello! Made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing!! I didn’t have dark soy sauce so I used 1/2c brown sugar. Next time I will use less because I like it to be more salty than sweet. I miss a lot of good foods from Hawaii and this really made me happy! Thanks for the recipe!!! 🙂

  2. Did anyone else actually try out the recipe? I made it & it came out super salty. 🙁 I like salt, but I could hardly eat it.

    I used regular shoyu sauce, chicken broth & no rice wine.

  3. Going to make this now, Erlene. Was on my menu plan and Knew I wanted to try out yours. I am going to try adding some pineapples!

      1. Ok. It is cooking at this moment – the first 10 minutes and then moving to the next step…I have my computer opened to your post on it!

  4. Thank you for sharing your fantastic blog post on #TheWeekendSocial! I adored it and hope to see you this Thursday at 9 Pm! I am excited to see what you will bring this time!!!

    Heidy L. McCallum

  5. I’ve been eyeing this for the last few days…thank you for linking up with us at Foodie Fridays! I cannot wait to try this…it looks so good! I’m pinning it now. I think my family will really like it!

  6. This look delicious! We’ve been in such a rut eating the same thing every week, I’ve been trying some new recipes. I’ll add this to the top of my list. Thanks for sharing with Creative Spark Link Party. Hope you join us again tomorrow.
    Glenna @ My Paper Craze

  7. Thank you so much for dropping by #TheWeekendSocial ! I loved this blog post and can not wait to try it out!!!

  8. I love how simple this dish is! Place everything in one pan and cook it and you have a wonderful, great tasting dish for the whole family – will be trying this very soon for sure! 🙂 Thank you for sharing on the Weekend Social week34. It’s lovely meeting you

  9. This looks so yummy! I love chicken recipes that really add flavor. My hubby makes fun of me when I say, “This chicken tastes chickeny…” I love this as I am sure the flavor gets boiled into the chicken as it cooks. Yum! Thanks Erlene.

  10. This looks good. And spicy, I can’t do spicy or too much salt but it looks delicious! Thanks for linking up with #yuckstopshere link up. Please come share with us next week.

  11. I’ve tried Hawaiian chicken before and loved it but this recipe is slightly different. Pinning and can’t wait to give it a try – I’m sure this one will be just as good (if not better!) than the one I tried before 🙂

    1. I don’t know if I would consider this Hawaiian chicken. I think of Huli Huli chicken as Hawaiian chicken. This is more of an island favorite 🙂 and practically everyone on the island has a version. If you try it, let me know how you like it.