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Keto Chicken Yakitori

by Chris Carlton

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Chicken yakitori is an easy and delicious appetizer or main dish. And this keto yakitori recipe is sugar-free and yet maintains all the classic flavor.

Titled image of keto chicken yakitori skewers on a grey plate with a white dish of yakitori sauce

Before I go any further, let me just tell you that this chicken yakitori recipe was a huge hit with my whole family. Call me jaded, but it’s always a shocker for me when all three of my kids agree on a meal.

And it’s a rare treat to see my reserved 15 year old son be so enthusiastic about anything I’ve made. He’s in that delightful phase of being naturally suspicious of anything his parents do. He always eats what I make, because he’s growing like a weed and is extremely hungry. But there is often plenty of grumbling to go along with it.

When I stated that we were having chicken yakitori for dinner, his expression was a muddled look of confusion and distain. But upon one bite of this asian-inspired grilled chicken, his faced opened up to pure happiness.

He’s been raving about it ever since and keeps asking me to make it again. And since it’s so easy and delicious, I am happy to oblige!

Top down photo of keto chicken skewers on a grey plate with a grey patterned napkin and a dish of yakitori sauce.

What is chicken yakitori?

I had only heard of these Japanese grilled chicken skewers myself a few years ago. They really are just that: Japanese chicken skewers.

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They often use many parts of the chicken, including gizzards and liver, as well as thigh meat. It’s all cut up into bite-sized pieces, and threaded onto bamboo skewers, then basted and grilled.

Chicken yakitori has plenty of that classic umami flavor. And it makes a great handheld appetizer or an easy dinner recipe.

A hand brushing sauce over chicken yakitori skewers

Making keto friendly chicken yakitori

When I saw chicken yakitori for the first time, I inquired about the sauce and whether it had sugar in it. That was a strong affirmative, so I had to give it a pass at the time.

But I started researching homemade yakitori recipes to see if I could make a keto-friendly version. The sauce is usually made of soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, sometimes sake, and sometimes other seasonings like ginger and garlic. It’s also often thickened with cornstarch.

This combination results in a salty sweet sauce that pairs perfectly with grilled chicken.

For my keto chicken yakitori, I used tamari instead of soy sauce, because it’s gluten-free. I know many keto and paleo proponents recommend coconut aminos but it simply doesn’t have that classic umami flavor, and I find it a weak substitute for keto Asian recipes. Additionally, it’s actually much higher carb than real soy sauce or tamari.

I skipped the mirin because it tends to have a high sugar content as well. I also skipped the sake.

For the sweetener, I used mostly Swerve Brown, with a bit of BochaSweet so that the sauce wouldn’t recrystallize as it cooled. And then I added garlic, ginger, and a dash of hot pepper flakes, as I love that spicy kick in Asian inspired dishes.

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Finally, I used xanthan gum as my thickener. You could also try using glucomannan, if you prefer.

This sauce. Oh, this sauce! People, if I could drink the sauce alone, I would. It was so good and I think it’s easily going to become my favorite keto stir fry sauce.

A pile of chicken yakitori on a grey plate with a dish of sauce and a pattered napkin in the background

How to serve chicken yakitori

Chicken yakitori can be an appetizer, if you serve it on small skewers. This keto recipe would probably make 12 to 15 small skewers.

As a main course, it can be paired with any sort of vegetable. I’ve seen yakitori include veggies like zucchini or mushrooms right on the same skewers.

Cauliflower rice is an ideal side dish for chicken yakitori, and the extra sauce can be tossed in to give it a true Asian flavor. You could also serve it with sautéed zucchini noodles or shiritaki noodles. Or with these delicious Broccoli Stem Noodles.

More delicious keto Asian recipes to try

Asian Steak Bites

These Asian Steak Bites are tender, juicy, and oh so easy to make. A deceptively simple keto dinner recipe that the whole family loves. Paleo and dairy-free too!

Check out this recipe

Easy Steak Bites being picked up with chopsticks
Keto California Rolls

No need to miss sushi on your keto diet! This low carb California Roll features thinly sliced cucumber, cauliflower rice, and plenty of fresh avocado.

Check out this recipe

Keto Sushi wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber on a white platter
Keto Sushi Roll Salad

Sushi roll in a bowl! This low carb cauliflower rice salad has all the great flavors of your favorite sushi in a much healthier, lighter package. It’s the perfect summer side dish.

Check out this recipe

Healthy Sushi Roll Salad made with Cauliflower Rice
Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

This keto chicken salad uses Asian flavours and konjac noodles and has a delicious freshness.

Check out this recipe

Garlic Ginger Shrimp Stir Fry

Nothing beats a stir fry for an easy and healthy dinner. The problem is that those of us on a low carb diet can’t rely on cornstarch to thicken our stir fry sauce. My favourite alternative thickener is glucomannan, a fibre made from konjac root, the same ingredient found in shiratake noodles.

Check out this recipe

Titled image of keto chicken yakitori skewers on a grey plate with a white dish of yakitori sauce

Keto Chicken Yakitori

Chicken yakitori is an easy and delicious appetizer or main dish. And this keto yakitori recipe is sugar-free and yet maintains all the classic flavor.


Course: Appetizer, Main Course

Cuisine: Japanese

Keyword: chicken yakitori recipe, keto chicken yakitori

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

Servings: 6 servings

Calories: 278kcal


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the tamari, water, Swerve, BochaSweet, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

  • Sprinkle the surface with the xanthan gum and whisk vigorously to combine. Continue to boil 2 to 3 minutes until somewhat thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely.

  • Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with ⅔ of the sauce. Refrigerate 2 hours to marinate. Reserve the remaining sauce for serving with the chicken.

  • If you’re using bamboo skewers, place in a pan with water to soak for at least an hour. You will need 6 to 8 large skewers or 12 small appetizer-sized skewers.

  • Preheat the grill to medium high and grease the grates to prevent sticking. Thread the chicken onto the skewers. Place the skewers on the grill and brush the the marinating liquid.

  • Grill 5 to 6 minutes per side, brushing frequently with the marinating liquid. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with the reserved sauce at the table.

Nutrition Facts

Keto Chicken Yakitori

Amount Per Serving (1 serving = ⅙th of recipe)

Calories 278
Calories from Fat 107

% Daily Value*

Fat 11.9g18%

Carbohydrates 1.1g0%

Protein 35.8g72%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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