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Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs) つくね
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Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs) つくね

Tsukune are my absolute favorite yakitori bar order and something I get multiple times when I'm in Japan. This recipe is for home cooking and is adapted to use the oven. An easy straightforward recipe for an almost authentic Japanese Tsukune.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Tapas
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword Authentic Japanese Recipes, Japanese Chicken Meatballs, Tsukune, Yakitori Tare
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Sauce Time 5 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 skewers
Calories 127kcal
Cost $5


  • Baking Tray
  • Bowl
  • Silicone Mat (highly recommended)


  • 5 Chicken Thighs bone in, skin on
  • 1 Shallot finely chopped
  • 3 Green Onions finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Potato Starch
  • 1 Egg plus more yolks for dipping

Yakitori Tare

  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tbsp Sugar


  • In a small pan simmer together the yakitori tare ingredients until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Also at this point put your skewers in a tray of water to soak.
  • Remove the chicken thighs from the bone and mince everything with a sharp knife. Chop until you get something slightly more rough than ground.
  • Add the chicken thigh mince to a bowl along with the egg, potato starch, green onion, shallot, and a pinch of salt. Knead everything together for quite a while, around 10 minutes should do it. Treat it like kneading bread, you want to knead for so long the mixture is sticky-tacky.
  • Preheat your oven to 225 Celsius. Oil your hands and shape the mixture into elliptical cylinders. Run them through with two skewers and place on a silicone mat lined baking tray.
  • Place the tray with the tsukune on the topmost rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove, flip, and brush with the yakitori tare sauce. Place back in the oven on a middle shelf and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove, flip, brush with more yakitori tare, and place back on the topmost shelf for 5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to caramelize.
  • Serve these tsukune with a raw egg yolk and some more chopped green onion. You can also sprinkle a bit more coarse salt right on top.


I end up using about 1 egg yolk per 2-3 tsukune, so you may be wondering what to make with all the leftover whites. You can of course save them in the fridge in a sealed jar until you are ready. I recommend my Egg White Frittata if you want food, Cocoa Hazelnut Meringue Cookies if you want dessert, or the Japanese Silver Fizz if you want to try an egg white cocktail. 


Sodium: 232mg | Calcium: 8mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 86IU | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 130mg | Cholesterol: 60mg | Calories: 127kcal | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fat: 8g | Protein: 9g | Carbohydrates: 5g | Iron: 1mg