Having an air fryer is a total game-changer. Rarely do appliances come onto the market and completely change the cooking world. You can find an air fryer recipe for just about anything these days.
Air fryers are known for making crispy food healthy, such as fries, chicken nuggets, and jalapeno poppers, for example. I even see my favorite celebrity chefs making bacon in their air fryer! My new favorite dish in the air fryer is healthy chicken teriyaki, which uses crispy air fried dark meat chicken pieces and a sweet, flavorful sauce. Even the homemade sauce can be cooked in the air fryer if you like.
Chicken teriyaki is very popular for a reason. It is typically tender, yet crisp chicken smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce and served with rice and veggies. You can buy store-bought teriyaki sauce, but why would you? Most staple pantry ingredients are used in teriyaki sauce, and making your sauce is healthier than processed bottled sauces.
Homemade teriyaki sauce is not only healthier, but it is also more delicious! If you are a fan of ginger or garlic, you can add more to the sauce as you wish. The beautiful thing about making your sauces is that recipes are customizable. It is what makes cooking so fun!
Before the sauce is made, cook your chicken in the air fryer as per the manufacturer’s instructions. I like to coat the chicken in some cornstarch because it crisps up the chicken slightly, giving excellent texture to the dish. You can skip this step if you like, but I appreciate the crispness.
Although you can cook the sauce in a glass bowl inside your air fryer, I like to cook the sauce separately over the stove to ensure it is the exact texture that I want. Cooking with cornstarch can be tricky due to its clumpy nature. I find it easier to control on the stove.
Teriyaki sauce should be thick, smooth, and very flavorful. If the sauce is too runny, it won’t stick to the chicken. Too thick and it will be gloppy. You can always add more cornstarch to the sauce if it is too runny, ½ tablespoon at a time.
This recipe uses boneless chicken thighs, which is dark meat. You can use chicken breasts if you like instead and the recipe will be perfectly delicious. I like dark meat and the extra richness that it brings to the dish, but white meat chicken would be another healthy protein to use. Don’t eat chicken? Try tofu instead!
This dish is delicious on its own, however, serving with sides makes it a full well-rounded meal. I love the flavors of teriyaki sauce with broccoli, so serve this dish with some yummy steamed broccoli. Rice is a classic side with chicken teriyaki, so I serve this with healthy brown rice for a nice texture.
Start by cutting your chicken into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle the chicken with cornstarch and massage to evenly distribute.
Place in the air fryer and cook per your air fryer manual’s instructions. I cooked mine at 400 degrees for 15 minutes per side.
While the chicken is cooking in the air fryer, place a small saucepan on your burner. Combine soy sauce, mirin, water, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, garlic, and ginger in the pan and whisk to combine. Bring this mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and allow the sauce to simmer and reduce.
In a small bowl, make your thickening agent. Combine cornstarch and water and mix until it is a fine paste. Be sure that no lumps of cornstarch remain in the slurry, otherwise, there will be lumps in the sauce.
Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and whisk. Continue cooking for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. The sauce should be perfectly thickened at this point. If it is too thin, add some more cornstarch. If it is too thick, add some water. Set aside.
Once the chicken is cooked through, add it to your sauce. You can do this inside the saucepan and toss it together, or you can simply top your chicken with sauce. You could also add the chicken to a skillet and fry it in the sauce to caramelize further, but it is also delicious without this step.
Top your chicken with the sliced green onions. Serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli or any other vegetable of your choice.