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Is Teriyaki Chicken Healthy? Nutrition, Calories
Nutrition

Is Teriyaki Chicken Healthy? Nutrition, Calories

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 31
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8 min

Chicken is a high-protein food and a staple of many healthful diets. How you prepare your chicken dishes, however, determines whether you are eating healthy food. As a family favorite, we explain if teriyaki chicken makes a positive addition to your meal plan, covering nutrition facts, recipes, and more.

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Teriyaki is a cooking method that originates in Japanese cooking. It is a mixture consisting of soy sauce, sake (or mirin), and other spices. It is used as a flavorsome glaze, marinade, or basting sauce for meat and seafood dishes. In Japanese, teriyaki translates to “glossy broil.”

Teriyaki chicken, or chicken teriyaki, is a well-known dish with teriyaki sauce as the key ingredient. An authentic chicken teriyaki recipe has a sweet, tangy taste with a sticky consistency. Chicken is an excellent source of protein, but is the dish as a whole good for you?

In this article, you will discover if teriyaki chicken is good to include in your diet.

Is Teriyaki Chicken Healthy?

In some cases, teriyaki chicken is healthy. However, it depends on how the dish is prepared. Many chicken teriyaki recipes include ingredients high in added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. You can improve the nutritional value by following a healthy chicken teriyaki recipe that limits these ingredients.

The primary component of chicken teriyaki is chicken, usually chicken breasts or chicken thighs, which are a good source of protein, niacin, selenium, and phosphorus. Skinless chicken breasts provide lean protein and are the healthiest cut as they are lower in calories and fat.

Protein is a staple macronutrient in a healthy diet. It supplies energy, repairs cells, and aids muscle and bone recovery. If you are trying to lose weight, protein intake can keep you feeling fuller for longer after meals and helps you lose fat without losing muscle while working out.

Ultimately, some recipes are healthier than others.

Many people who make teriyaki chicken intend it to be a healthy dish. It is often served with healthy ingredients, like brown rice, cauliflower rice, and steamed broccoli. Teriyaki chicken stir fry is another popular meal that pairs chicken pieces with lots of fresh veggies, like bell peppers, broccoli florets, and green beans.

Is Teriyaki Sauce Healthy?

Generally speaking, teriyaki sauce is not particularly healthy. It has too much salt and sugar to be considered a healthful food. Eating teriyaki sauce in moderation within a balanced diet should not harm your health when added to nutrient-dense foods, such as poultry and fish.

Teriyaki is a delicious sauce that combines soy sauce, brown sugar, and mirin (a traditional Japanese rice wine). Depending on the teriyaki sauce recipe, it may include other ingredients, such as honey, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, sesame oil, garlic, and fresh ginger.

Bottled sauces of premade teriyaki are usually high in sodium. Eating too much sodium is harmful to your health. It can increase your risk of obesity, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. Most high-sodium foods are high in calories, too, making them bad for weight loss.

To create a healthier version of teriyaki chicken, it is always best to make the sauce yourself at home. With your own teriyaki sauce, you can monitor exactly what goes into it. For example, you can create a healthier homemade teriyaki sauce using a low-sodium soy sauce.

How Is Teriyaki Chicken Made?

Teriyaki chicken is easy to make. A typical teriyaki chicken recipe cooks all the ingredients in one pan or a single baking dish. The chicken is usually fried over medium-high heat before adding your homemade teriyaki sauce. When the sauce thickens, you can evenly coat the chicken.

Whether making a traditional chicken teriyaki or a teriyaki chicken stir fry, you will need some key ingredients. The ingredients list looks something like this:

  • Chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or chicken drumsticks
  • Cooking oil, such as olive oil or sesame oil
  • Soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce (you can substitute with coconut aminos)
  • Sake or mirin
  • Rice vinegar
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar
  • Fresh ginger
  • Garlic
  • Sesame seeds

Teriyaki Chicken Nutritional Facts

If you want to eat healthy chicken teriyaki, it is vital to check the nutrition label if purchasing a ready-made, store-bought dish or if purchasing bottled sauce. This allows you to review the ingredients and take note of important factors, such as the sodium and sugar content.

A great recipe for chicken teriyaki has lots of nutritional value. Let’s take a look at the macronutrients in a nutrition serving.

Nutritional table (per 100g)

The table below shows the total nutritional value of teriyaki chicken per 100g serving:

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)163
Sodium (mg)723
Net Carbs (g)1.62
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)1.47
Fats (Total)5.96
Protein (g)25.7
Cholesterol (mg)105

Low in carbohydrates

There are only 1.62 grams of net carbs in teriyaki chicken, making it a low-carb dish. While carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient, reducing your intake of unhealthy carbs from highly-processed foods can improve your overall health.

Teriyaki chicken can fit easily into a low-carb diet plan. If making healthy chicken teriyaki that limits sugar, it may be a good match for those following the keto diet. A low-carbohydrate diet can help you shed excess weight and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Low in calories

A 100g serving of healthy chicken teriyaki has only 163 calories. Many people follow a calorie-restricted meal plan and count calories to create a calorie deficit. A successful calorie deficit is essential for those who want to lose weight and burn excess fat.

Just remember that store-bought teriyaki chicken and teriyaki sauce can contain a lot more calories than your homemade version. Many bottled sauces and pre-packed meals contain high-fructose corn syrup, which increases the number of calories. Eating too much added sugar and unnecessary calories can cause health problems like weight gain and obesity.

High in proteins

Chicken teriyaki contains lots of protein thanks to its main ingredient – chicken. Chicken is a complete protein source as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Adding chicken to your diet can support weight loss, strong muscles, and healthy bones.

If you are training to build muscles and increase your strength, the protein content in teriyaki chicken can help. A high-protein diet can enhance body composition by reducing fat mass and preserving your fat-free mass, supporting your ideal body goals.

For most people, 10–35% of total daily calories should come from protein to keep the body functioning sufficiently. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s around 50–175 grams of protein per day. The 25.7 grams of protein in chicken teriyaki will contribute significantly to your daily intake.

High in vitamins and minerals

Healthy teriyaki chicken is rich in important vitamins and minerals that are good for your general health. Consuming plenty of nutrients in your daily diet is essential for keeping your body healthy.

In a 100g serving, you can find the following:

  • 16mg of calcium
  • 0.86mg of iron
  • 28mg of magnesium
  • 239mg of phosphorus
  • 285mg of potassium
  • 1.52mg of zinc
  • 22.6µg of selenium

It is also a good source of B vitamins which help keep your cells functioning properly. They also help to transport other nutrients through the body.

Depending on the teriyaki chicken recipe you use, you can increase the number of vitamins and minerals in your meal. For example, adding broccoli, bell pepper, kale, and green onions to your teriyaki chicken stir fry will add a good dose of vitamin C and increase the iron content.

High in cholesterol

Most adults should limit cholesterol intake to under 300 milligrams per day. For people with heart disease and other health conditions, it is best to have no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol daily.

100g of teriyaki chicken has 105mg of cholesterol – almost half of the recommendation for those who need to reduce their dietary cholesterol intake. High-cholesterol foods tend to be high in saturated fat, which can elevate your LDL cholesterol levels and increase heart disease risk.

Healthy Teriyaki Chicken Recipe

There are lots of ways to prepare healthy teriyaki chicken. Stir fries are a super easy, super fast way to squeeze in your veggies, and there are so many chicken stir fry recipes to try.

Below you can find an example of a healthy chicken teriyaki recipe.

Ingredients for the teriyaki chicken stir fry:

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into pieces (boneless, skinless chicken breast is best for lean protein)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Freshly grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup of cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp of sesame seeds

Ingredients for the homemade teriyaki sauce:

  • 1/3 cup of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch

How to prepare:

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, coat the pan with one tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned (approximately 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a separate plate once cooked.
  2. Add the second tablespoon of oil to the same skillet and add all of the stir fry vegetables. Stir frequently and cook until tender (approximately 4–5 minutes).
  3. Combine the soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk. Set this aside.
  4. When the vegetables are tender, add the chicken back to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for around 1 minute before adding the cashew nuts. Then, pour the teriyaki sauce over all ingredients and coat evenly. Bring the sauce to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  5. Finally, sprinkle the dish with green onions and sesame seeds.

You can eat your stir fry on its own or pair it with brown rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa. White rice is another popular serving suggestion, but it is less nutritious.

FAQs

Is teriyaki chicken good or bad for you?

Teriyaki chicken is not the healthiest dish around, but it can be good for you with some simple recipe modifications. Store-bought teriyaki chicken is usually high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. If you make the dish at home, you can improve its nutritional value.

Is teriyaki sauce high in sodium?

Yes, teriyaki sauce is high in sodium. The sodium content comes from its primary ingredient – soy sauce. To make teriyaki sauce healthier, you can significantly reduce the amount of sodium by making homemade teriyaki sauce using a reduced-sodium soy sauce.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Teriyaki chicken can be moderately healthy if it contains lean poultry and reduced-sodium sauce. It still contains a fair amount of sodium, so you shouldn’t consume this dish regularly. Occasionally eating teriyaki chicken won’t harm your health when added to a balanced diet.

Lots of people enjoy teriyaki chicken because of its salty taste, but consuming too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. You can still enjoy the sweet and savory flavor of teriyaki chicken without having to consume a high amount of salt.

Make your own teriyaki sauce, and you can create incredible flavors using fresh ingredients like garlic and ginger. The calorie count is far lower than if you make teriyaki chicken using highly-processed foods with lots of unhealthy fats, like bottled teriyaki sauce or deep-fried chicken.

You can also increase the health benefits of teriyaki chicken by serving it with nutritious foods, like brightly-colored vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains. Brown rice is one of the best for weight loss and is a lot more nutritious than white rice. Quinoa is another great choice.

Conclusion

Craving the salty, sweet flavor of teriyaki chicken?

If so, you can incorporate this tasty dish into a balanced diet with a little mindfulness. For best results, make your own with a recipe low in calories, fat, and sodium. The best teriyaki sauce is homemade, as it doesn’t contain half of the sodium that you’ll find in bottled varieties.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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