Five Ingredient Japanese Sticky Chicken

Japanese sticky chicken made with only five basic pantry staples. Umami-packed, slightly sweet, and perfect for a quick Sunday dinner!

Five Ingredient Japanese Sticky Chicken | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Hello, I’m back! Marc and I celebrated our anniversary last weekend in Tahoe at the cutest little woodsy cabin! It started with a tour of the new Bently Heritage Distillery in Minden which is absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. Also, the sherry rested vodka is v good. Then we headed to South Lake where the weekend was filled with walks along the beach, plenty of wine, and all kinds of other mushy-wuvy stuff. We also found an amazing Greek restaurant that had saganaki which may have been the highlight of the trip. Oh, and we found a speakeasy!! I can never find speakeasies, but we made a 30-minute hike to the bar and actually found it. We had to go through a walk-in fridge which led to a tiny little bar with lovely, boozy drinks. Mine had plenty of bourbon so you know I was happy.

The next day, we spent the entire morning laying on the beach eating leftover kebab and drinking vodka Arnold Palmers from the beach bar. I purposefully let myself get a little sunburned to prepare for our beach trip at the end of the month. Speaking of, where should we go in Newport Beach?? Restaurants, bars, attractions, not-too-crowded beaches? Oh, and coffeeshops obviously. Gimme all the tips!

Easy Japanese Chicken with Soy Sauce and Sherry
Japanese Sticky Chicken with Soy Sauce and Sherry

Now that we’re back, I’ve been having a very hard time getting back into the groove of things. After work, I just want to go to sleep? I think it’s a summer thing for me, the heat just ruins my productivity. I haven’t even unpacked from Tahoe, *please don’t judge me*. And I don’t want to even talk about the laundry mountain forming in my closet. It’s too soon.

The weekends are the worst, especially for cooking. Essentially, I only want to eat tacos from the street taco shop down the street. But on Sunday nights, I muster up just enough energy to make an easy meal, preferably on the grill, maybe in the oven. The meal must use the most minimal amount of utensils and ingredients. All sides must be made in under thirty minutes total. Also, a complimentary beer is necessary!

My favorite summer meal for such occasion is Japanese sticky chicken. The story goes that my aunt got the recipe from her Japanese roommate when they were flight attendants in the 70s. She has been making it ever since and now it’s one of my all-time favorite quick weekend meals! Japanese sticky chicken is made with literally five ingredients total (ok six, if you include black pepper, whatevs). You can make it on the grill in the summer or in the oven during the colder months. And it goes great with Sapporo!

We like to serve Japanese sticky chicken with edamame, pan-fried dumplings, and/or cabbage salad. Occasionally, I will go all out izakaya-style with some fried rice or miso-roasted broccoli. But in the end, the chicken is the real important part. Soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and a sprinkle of pepper somehow equals perfection. Not really sure how, but why question a good thing, ya know?

Homemade izakaya with soy sauce drumsticks, dumplings, and edamame.

Five Ingredient Japanese Sticky Chicken

Five Ingredient Japanese Sticky Chicken

Made with only five ingredients, this grilled Japanese chicken is sticky, sweet, and savory. Perfect for a weekend BBQ or dinner party!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 6 people


  • 2 lb chicken drumsticks (about 6 total)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup medium-dry sherry
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • Black pepper, to taste


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, and white sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the drumsticks, and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with a lid (or plastic wrap) and marinate the chicken for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

To cook the drumsticks on the grill…

  • Heat the grill to 350º F and brush the grates with oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle with plenty of black pepper (discard remaining marinade). Place the drumsticks on the grill. Cook, turning once or twice until the skin is lightly charred and the chicken is cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. Remove the drumsticks from the grill and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Serve.

To cook the drumsticks in the oven…

  • Preheat the oven to 400º F. Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle with plenty of black pepper (discard remaining marinade). Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the drumsticks to the pan, cooking in batches if necessary. Sear the chicken on all sides until the skin is lightly browned. Transfer the drumsticks to a baking dish and place it in the oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Let the drumsticks rest for about 5 minutes. Serve.


Serving: 1drumstickCalories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 9.6gProtein: 42.3gFat: 13.3gSaturated Fat: 2.6gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 720mgPotassium: 324mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 8.5gCalcium: 19mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chicken, grill, japanese, main meals
Did you make this recipe?Tag @serendipitybysaralynn on Instagram!

xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: California Stars by Billy Bragg & Wilco

Five Ingredient Japanese Sticky Chicken | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
Japanese Sticky Chicken made with only five ingredients!

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