Yakitori is a delicious Japanese skewered dish that is not only popular in its country of origin, but also in other parts of the world.
In Japan, Yakitori is served at restaurants commonly known as Yakitori-Ya, but you can also find it at other restaurants.
The dish is usually made to order, and most restaurants typically use the Yakitori charcoal grill.
If you’re hearing about Yakitori for the first time, and you are asking yourself what kind of a dish it is, here is a simple definition;
Yakitori is chicken skewers that are usually made from pieces of chicken meat. In some parts of the world, a similar dish is called Kebab.
The bite-size pieces of meat are generally cut from different parts such as the thighs, liver, breasts among others and are usually grilled over charcoal.
Making and eating yakitori is a fantastic culinary experience. But did you know you can make your own Yakitori at home?
What’s the overall best yakitori grill?
The best grill I’ve found you can buy over here is this Fire Sense grill for Yakitori, which has the perfect mix between traditional grills and modern features and it can withstand the high heats of binchotan charcoal.
Grilling traditional Japanese Yakitori is not only fun, but it’s also very very tasty. Just look at this video on how to make some delicious foods:
However, the art of recreating the Yakitori experience at home is not an easy one, and it requires both skills and the right equipment.
I’ve reviewed a few different grills for you that are best suited in different situations.
Let’s look at each of these in a table. I also have an in-depth review of each of these further down below:
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Best Yakitori Grills
- 2 What to Look For In a Grill
- 3 Best Yakitori Grills reviewed
- 3.1 Best tabletop Charcoal Yakitori grill: Fire Sense
- 3.2 Best portable Yakitori grill: Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill
- 3.3 Best standing Yakitori grill: C-Hopetree 22” Stainless Steel Charcoal Satay Grill
- 3.4 Largest Yakitori grill: Party Griller 32”
- 3.5 Best Gas Yakitori grill: Iwatani Aburiya
- 3.6 Best Electric Indoor Yakitori Grill: Zojirushi EB-CC15
- 3.7 Best Small Grill for One Person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill
- 4 Brief History of the Yakitori Grill
- 5 How Do You Make Yakitori?
- 6 How Do You Eat Yakitori?
- 7 Bottom Line
Best Yakitori Grills
|Model Yakitori grill||Images|
|Best tabletop Charcoal Yakitori grill: Fire Sense||(view more images)|
|Best portable Yakitori grill: Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill||(view more images)|
|Best standing Yakitori grill: C-Hopetree 22” Stainless Steel Charcoal Satay Grill||(view more images)|
|Largest Yakitori grill: Party Griller 32”||(view more images)|
|Best Gas Yakitori grill: Iwatani Aburiya||(view more images)|
|Best Electric Indoor Yakitori Grill: Zojirushi EB-CC15||(view more images)|
|Best Small Grill for One Person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill||(view more images)|
What to Look For In a Grill
First up, let’s check out some extra information about what to look for in a yakitori grill before making a purchase.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself is ‘what kind of grill do I need?’. Also, consider your budget. Then you have to consider the size, which mainly depends on where you intend to use it. But let’s get more into details.
You must consider the material that is used to make the grill. You will probably need a grill that is made of durable material and one that does not rust easily. The most common material is aluminum and stainless steel.
Heat is an integral part of any grill, and this is why you should consider the amount of heat created.
It is not just the heat produced by the burner but also how well the grill holds and also how the heat generated is distributed.
The interior should probably be made with ceramic coating since this will help radiate the heat and help you have a slow and consistent grill.
Traditionally, the Yakitori was made out of iron but that’s a heavy material, so most brands use aluminum, steel, and zinc-iron alloys. This way, the grills are lightweight and portable.
After all, customers want convenient grills.
Size and Cooking Surface
When it comes to Yakitori grills, there are several things you should consider, top among them being the size.
Since most Yakitori cuisines are mostly table-side dishes, and so you don’t need a huge grill. You should also consider grills that are rectangular and compact.
This will allow you to have more surface area that will be important in preparing the chicken skewers. The main thing to think about is the cooking surface.
If you regularly cook for a family, you need a larger grill than if you only cook for yourself. In that case, the 5-inch will suffice.
Some grill models have a narrow cooking surface that works best for Yakitori and other kebab-style dishes.
Other models have a wide cooking surface, so you can cook all kinds of large meats and vegetables.
Portability & Indoor/Outdoor Use
First, consider the portability of the grill. Does it have foldable legs? Can you take it camping with you?
Is it compact enough to store easily? Look for sturdy handles and easy carrying handles to ensure you can move the grill around safely.
Some grills are made for outdoor use only, while some are indoor.
Then, there are also indoor/outdoor Yakitori grills and these are the most convenient because you can cook anywhere with them.
Can you use the Yakitori grill indoors?
Yes, you can use the grill inside as long as the package says so. Some types of grills are designed for outdoor use exclusively and they are safety hazards if you use them indoors.
Make sure to check before you use the grill inside.
Electric models are suitable for indoor use.
Best Yakitori Grills reviewed
The most important being the Yakitori charcoal grill. Don’t worry if you don’t know the grill to buy as we will give you several options and even give you a few tips on making the best Yakitori dish.
Let’s jump straight in shall we?
Best tabletop Charcoal Yakitori grill: Fire Sense
Up first on our list is the Large Yakitori Grill that comes from Fire Sense. It’s my absolute favorite because it combines traditional Yakitori charcoal cooking techniques with convenience.
When I use the grill, the food tastes delicious every time and my meat is cooked to perfection. I don’t need to worry about overcooking.
This traditional Japanese grill is made of clay mold, and its interior is made of ceramic. The ceramic interior helps distribute the heat evenly when you grill.
This fire sense grill comes with two ventilation doors which allow the user to control the heat.
The grill is large, and it has a whole 157 inch of cooking space, which is excellently tailored at the top for easier cooking.
The large cooking surface fits right into the Yakitori cooking needs, and it gives users a chance to do many chicken skewers at a go.
For safety purposes, the manufacturer has ensured that the grill will clip into place right on top of the heat source.
Some of the downsides of this grill are the fact that it is very fragile since it is made of ceramic and it is not exactly safe for indoor use.
Users should also ensure that the grill does not get wet since it tends to break when wet.
Besides that, this traditional Japanese Fire Sense is excellent for cooking not only Yakitori dishes but also many others.
The manufacturer is quite confident of this grill that they have given a one-year user satisfaction guarantee. I highly recommend this particular grill if you love to grill outdoors.
It’s easy to move around and it has a large enough cooking surface so you can cook for the whole family in one go when you’re strapped for time.
Best portable Yakitori grill: Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill
If you love camping and grilling, then this is your go-to grill. This grill is not only small and compatible, but it also folds quite easily making it ideal for frequent travelers and camping folks.
If you’re like me, you probably want to make your favorite skewers on the go. It’s an easy way to cook healthy food and it’s a fun process too!
The manufacturer used iron and chrome as the main materials making it durable and robust. Therefore, the cold-rolled iron makes it both rust and scratch-resistant.
Additionally, the grill can withstand both heat and moisture making it ideal for barbecuing.
The grill is lightweight and if you are probably wondering about the heat control, well, here is your answer, the manufacturer has crafted 12 different airway vents giving the user absolute heat control.
The size and structure of this grill make it ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this grill lets you enjoy tasty Yakitori cuisines while you are on the move.
The fact that it is easily foldable does not mean that it cannot be damaged and users are encouraged to take excellent care of the grill.
It is advisable that you cushion it while traveling to prevent denting.
The Uten BBQ Charcoal Grill lets you not miss out on Yakitori cuisines while on the move. However, it is not recommended for heavy-duty assignments.
I prefer to take this grill on camping trips or when I invite a couple of friends over in my backyard.
Best standing Yakitori grill: C-Hopetree 22” Stainless Steel Charcoal Satay Grill
One other grill to consider for Yakitori cuisines is the C-Hopetree Satay Grill. The grill is very portable, and it is very lightweight.
Just like the Uten BBQ Charcoal Grill, this is also another great addition if you like outdoor events such as tailgating and camping.
You can set this up in minutes and get ready to grill. It’s large enough to make lots of food for a large group.
So if you’re the kind of person who loves to BBQ outdoors, this will really help you cook better.
The charcoal-burning rack is raised and can accommodate up to 20 skewers. To ensure that the grill is durable, the manufacturer uses the 304-grade stainless steel that gives users quality service.
For optimal heat and excellent heat control, this grill has a bottom venting mechanism.
The C-Hopetree 22” Stainless Steel Charcoal Satay Grill is easy to clean, and it also has detachable legs.
If you like to show off your excellent barbecuing skills, and you happen to love having an outdoor setting, then this one is tailored for you. Its large grilling surface makes it ideal for cooking Yakitori cuisines.
It is also suitable for other grilling requirements, and thus it’s guaranteed proper use of your money.
The venting system at the bottom is not so great. Some customers complain that the design is lacking. But, if you just want convenient Yakotari during your camping trip, then it is fine.
At such a low price, the material is not as sturdy as it can be.
This is a cheap way to make Yakitori in the comfort of your backyard or outdoors in the park. It has great foldable legs which make this product easy to move around.
That’s why we really love it because you can cook all kinds of food. The large cooking surface gives you the versatility to make meats, veggies, and side dishes in one go.
Largest Yakitori grill: Party Griller 32”
If you like to entertain and have guests over, you need a large grill. The last thing you want to do is waste time grilling for ages.
Instead, you can enjoy time with your guests. That’s where this extra-large party size grill comes in handy.
The free tall-standing grill has a grilling area that measures 32 inches by 8 inches by 7 inches. It weighs about 16 pounds and stands at 34 inches high. So, imagine all the Yakitori you can cook at once.
The grill is made of stainless steel and has multi-functional capabilities.
The manufacturer ensured that the user would have even temperature control and this is the reason why ventilation units on each side.
Furthermore, the grill comes with two seasoning shakers that are made of stainless steel. The manufacturer also includes a cover and BBQ tongs.
Even though the grill is not your typical Yakitori grill, it is still tailored to fit when you are preparing your Yakitori dishes. It has a nonstick cooking surface so there’s no need to worry about burning your foods.
The height of this grill does not make it ideal for table sided cuisines, and it is probably not child-friendly. It is also not suitable for outdoor use, and it is a delicate piece of equipment.
However, the grill has a fantastic heat control mechanism, and its multi-functional capabilities mean it is one of the best grills.
There’s no better way to cook for a large group than with this grill. It has enough cooking space for many skewers plus veggie sides.
You can make the skewers on one side of the grill and smoke some tasty mushrooms and corn as side dishes.
So, you can spend more time with your friends, and less time in the kitchen.
Best Gas Yakitori grill: Iwatani Aburiya
It’s tough to find a high-quality gas yakitori grill. Most options out there are only charcoal-based, and the alternatives are mostly electric-powered.
However, sometimes you won’t have access to electricity and you don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with charcoal.
This is where gas yakitori grills come into play.
After a wonderful eating experience overseas, I wanted a Japanese grill to cook thin sliced meat just like they do.
After a lot of research and comparisons, I finally found a gas yakitori grill that met my minimum requirements and was able to do the job: the Iwatani Fired Burning (ABURIYA) CB-ABR-1:
I also purchased a couple of accessories for this grill in order to enjoy a more authentic experience.
My first purchase was a meat slicer so we could have thin slices of meat to put on the grill.
I got the Chefman Electric since it has a powerful 180 watt AC motor and a thick stainless steel blade.
It has a dial that you can use to adjust the thickness of the cuts which is perfect for Yakitori as you probably want those thinly sliced beef strips.
The Iwatani Yakitori Grill has proven to be so good that I already ordered a second one since we like to entertain and it’s nice to have enough at home so guests can cook with each other or as a couples activity. It’s an entire experience on its own.
I got about 6 grillings out of a $4 can of gas, and the best part is that you can find the cans at any sporting goods place.
This works perfectly to take it to the beach and enjoy a nice grilled meal.
Get a good set of tongs, not too big. I personally chose the Hiash Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Kitchen Tongs that are 9 inches long.
They’re just enough to have a good grip on the meat without getting too close to the heat.
I’ve only included one gas yakitori grill in this “best” section since other options out there had serious problems and I wouldn’t be able to recommend them to anyone.
You’re safer choosing this yakitori grill and trying to tailor it to any specific needs you might have.
Let’s face it: gas is not the same as charcoal, so you won’t quite get the same flavors. Plus, you need to keep repurchasing the gas canisters but if you are comfortable with gas cooking devices, you’ll be fine to use this one.
We still classify it as a Yakitori grill to be used mainly outdoors, because it still generates quite a bit of smoke. But, the grill has a drip pan that you fill with water to decrease smoke.
This is why we recommend that you keep it close to a window if you plan to use it indoors. However, you can also use it indoors under your exhaust hood because it’s not too large.
Why is this a good grill?
The Iwatani yakitori gas grill is perfect for use on the tabletop and is ideal for yakitori grilling. It has a surface of 15.8 x 9.7x 5.3 inches and is pretty light at 5.8 pounds.
There are 3 heat levels that can be adjusted and Iwatani is a Japanese quality brand. You can sear your skewers or steaks very quickly and this little grill does a pretty good job bringing the heat!
The instructions are entirely in Japanese, but the assembly is pretty intuitive so you don’t really need the instructions.
This grill utilizes canisters that you can purchase for quite cheap, we suggest that you stick to the Iwatani brand, but any canister works.
Although the grill smokes fairly well, you may want to set up a fan close to a window to keep from triggering your smoke alarm.
This grill is perfect for cooking for 1 person or for a couple.
I thought it would also be good to look at some gas Yakitori grill options, particularly the Iwatani. It’s just that not everyone wants the hassle of working with a charcoal grill.
The Iwatani is constructed to work with cassettes of butane gas to heat the grill. This makes setting up and grilling in minutes simple and quick, you’ll be up and running in no time.
This Japanese built barbecue grill cooks for 2 to 4 people at the same time. As mentioned before, you can cook usually cook around 6 meals with a single canister.
This is a great grill to create and enjoy a cozy barbecue moment with a partner, loved ones, or close friends.
It’s also a great alternative if you don’t want to deal with charcoal. Perfect Japanese grill to meet your Japanese barbecue requirements.
Best Electric Indoor Yakitori Grill: Zojirushi EB-CC15
When it comes to indoor electric yakitori grills, nothing beats the original Zorijushi Japanese grill. It’s not made exclusively for Yakitori, but you can use it to make this dish and a whole array of others.
For those of you like me who love to cook chicken, this is the best type of grill because you can cook at specific temperatures.
Therefore you won’t burn your food! When you’re cooking skewers, it’s important to have a constant temperature to ensure even cooking on all sides.
This grill makes meat taste tender and juicy.
The grill is quite small and compact, so it fits on the countertop. Its nonstick grill surface measures 12-1/2 by 9-1/4 inches, so that’s enough to cook Yakitori for at least 4 people at once.
Since it’s such a versatile cooking device, you can simultaneously cook the skewers as well as some side dishes (like veggies).
If you prefer seafood to chicken, you can also cook shrimp Yakitori which is healthy and tasty!
The handles remain cool to the touch so you can maneuver this grill without burning yourself. Since you use electricity instead of charcoal with this grill, you can set the temperature.
This is extremely helpful if you are not an expert at Yakitori style cooking. It means you don’t burn undercook or overcook food.
Note that this grill is made of plastic and aluminum components.
Since it is an indoor electric grill, so you don’t need to use charcoal. Also, the grill has low energy consumption because it heats up fast.
Unfortunately, this grill is not dishwasher safe, only some parts of it are, like the drip-tray. So, this grill is a bit harder to clean because it requires handwashing.
The electric grill doesn’t impart the food with that classic charcoal flavor, so it does make the Yakitori taste slightly different.
As far as electric indoor grills go, this one is extremely versatile and you can cook any type of meats and vegetables, not just Yakitori.
So, that’s why it’s a great addition to any kitchen. It cooks yummy food without filling your kitchen up with smoke.
Best Small Grill for One Person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill
Who says you can’t enjoy Yakitory alone? It’s such a delicious way to cook meat, you can always cook it when you’re in the mood for some tasty Japanese cuisine.
This small grill is as small as it gets in terms of charcoal grills. The 5-inch is large enough to fit about 2 skewers, so it’s ideal for 1 or 2 people at most.
We recommend this charcoal grill for students or single adults who love Japanese dishes. It’s small enough to store even in the tightest of spaces, so you can always have the grill on hand.
This is a very traditional Japanese Yakitori grill. But, you can also cook Yakiniku, Robata, Takoyaki, and any type of BBQ.
It works easily and it’s made for use with charcoal briquettes.
There is an inner charcoal holder where you place the briquettes. This is where all the smokiness comes from to infuse the chicken.
You can place the grill on any countertop because it has a wooden base plate for protection.
The grill is constructed out of high-quality aluminum and has steel grates. There are holes in the base of the steel charcoal holder.
These allow ash to drip through to the bottom. So, you can be sure of continuous and effective charcoal burning to cook the food perfectly.
It heats up quite fast, so you can get cooking right away. After you’re finished, simply hand wash the grill and store away for next time.
And at only $35, this small grill is a total bargain. It’s the perfect cooking device for individuals. It works indoors and outdoors, so you can take it on a camping adventure or you can make tasty skewers in your kitchen.
Due to its small size, the cooking surface is limited to a couple of skewers at a time. Since the charcoal bowl is also small, you can’t cook for long periods of time.
This is the perfect sized grill for singles and students. Since you can use it indoors and outdoors, you can take it with you anywhere.
Every time you crave chicken skewers, you can get this grill flaming hot with just a handful of charcoals.
So, it’s a fun cooking experience and we recommend it for newbie yakitori grillers.
Brief History of the Yakitori Grill
Yakitori is old Japanese street food. It originated sometime in the Meiji Era (1868 to 1912). At that time, skewered pork was very popular.
Yakiton (grilled pork) and kushikatsu (deep-fried pork on skewers) were two streetfood dishes.
So, the pork skewers are the real inspiration behind Yakitori. The reason chicken became available was because of changing meat preferences and scarcity.
In this period, the Japanese started mass farming and breeding chicken. Since there was so much chicken available, people began to experiment with chicken dishes.
The Yakitori skewer originated in large urban areas where busy people were looking for convenient and tasty street food to get on the go. Thus, the Yakitori was born as classic street food sold at many street stalls across Japan.
The same cooking method was used then as is today: charcoal.
How Do You Make Yakitori?
Making delicious Yakitori requires both skill and the right equipment. Once you get your charcoal grill, the next step is making tasty Yakitori dishes.
For an authentic Yakitori experience, you need to try to make it on a charcoal grill. The meat tastes amazing when cooked this way.
What kind of charcoal do you use for Yakitori?
There is traditional Japanese charcoal and it’s called Binchotan. It is a premium type of charcoal and it is quite costly.
If you want to try it, we recommend one you can find on Amazon, it’s called IPPINKA KISHU Pro-Grade Binchotan Charcoal.
This type of charcoal burns very well so you don’t need to use a lot at once. It is made from Japanese Oak from Kishu. This is known to produce the best grade of charcoal for the Yakitori grill. Also, it is completely natural and free of chemicals.
Can you re-use Binchotan charcoal?
If you are careful, then yes, you can reuse the charcoal. This is great news because this charcoal is very expensive compared to other BBQ woods and charcoals.
How do you reuse the Binchotan charcoal?
You can reuse the charcoal a few times if you submerge the hot coals in cold water as soon as you take them out of the grill. Let them soak a bit then dry them for at least 24 hours, or until completely dry. Keep in mind that they burn well when reused.
This requires the perfect cut of chicken. If you want to try the traditional way, the innards (liver) are the most ideal.
Here are all the chicken parts you can use for Yakitori:
Seasoning and Sauce
Next, choose the right sauce for your skewers. Most restaurants offer two types of seasoning or sauce.
Shio is just salt. Many people prefer to season the meat with salt only because it allows the meat’s flavors to come through. This is especially tasty with innards, so you can taste them properly.
If you want a classic Yakitori sauce, try Tare.
Tare is a special sauce made from mirin, soy sauce, sake, and sugar. It has a sweet and savory flavor, perfect for dipping your meat.
The bamboo skewers are considered to be the best. These are called teppogushi in Japanese. To prevent the skewers from catching fire while grilling, you will need to soak them in water 20 or so minutes before grilling.
This type of skewer is different because it has a tapered end to make it easy to turn.
Once this is done, you will need to cut the meat into small cube-like sizes and then pierce the flesh right through the middle using the skewers.
You can add scallions between the pieces of meat, but this is optional. Once you have done this, then the next question to ask is, how do you cook the Yakitori.
Also read about these delicious red mung bean paste buns
How to Cook the Meat
The best Yakitori cuisines are barbecued on a charcoal grill, charcoal being preferred because it gives a consistent moderate heat.
However, you will have to wait for the charcoal to burn until they are white so as they get the optimal temperature.
Once you are done the grilling, you can serve the Yakitori with any other dish of your choice.
Check out this complete Yakitori cooking guide and find a tasty recipe.
How Do You Eat Yakitori?
By now you probably know how to make the best Yakitori cuisines and the right grill to use when grilling.
So, it comes to the question of how best do you eat your Yakitori cuisines.
Since the Yakitori dishes are made to order, you can start by ordering small bits first rather than doing huge chunks all at once.
When the dishes finally land on your plate, you should start by eating the lightly seasoned meals first and then increase the flavors as you go by.
This way you will be able to have the best Yakitori experience.
It is always advisable to bite the meat while it is still on the skewer.
The amount of effort that has been put into making the Yakitori dish is enormous, and this is why the taste is even better on the while eating the meat while it’s still on the skewer.
Can I use chopsticks to eat Yakitori?
However, you can use chopsticks to remove the meat from the skewers if you are not comfortable eating on the skewer. So, yes, you can use chopsticks to avoid messy eating.
Most of the restaurants usually place a small cup where the used skewers are placed, so there is no need to worry about where to place them after use.
In case you cannot find the cup, it is always nice to ask for one.
How To Order Yakitori
It’s very easy to order Yakitori because it is just like ordering fast-food or other street-foods. You want to order at least two types of skewers to really appreciate the taste of this dish.
Foodicles recommend ordering a few sticks with your drink and then ordering a few more with another drink.
If you want to order like a local, order chicken wings (tebasaki) in the first round.
This cut of meat takes at least 20-30 minutes to properly grill, so you need to wait around. In the meantime, order something that’s ready quickly.
The portions are relatively small so you want to order different sticks to satisfy your hunger. Each skewer has approximately 4 or 5 pieces of meat on it.
Yakitori is best served alongside Japanese draft beer or sake. That’s the way to enjoy this food like the locals.
How Much Does Yakitori Cost In Japan?
In Japan, they sell Yakitori cuisines by the stick. So, there are many types of Yakitori skewers and you choose your favorites. Some food stalls and restaurants offer them in pairs.
The price of one stick of Yakitori goes for about 100 Yens. But in some areas, the cost can be as high as 200 Yens, depending on the restaurant’s prestige.
In some eateries, they offer different combination plates that come with different kinds of Yakitori. This is the best option for you when you want to try many types.
The Japanese have named the different types of Yakitori cuisines depending on which part of the meat is used.
Some of the most famous Yakitori cuisines are:
- Tebasaki which is made with wings
- Reba which is made with liver
- Torikawa, which is also called Tawa and uses meat from fatty chicken skin.
Momo and Negima are made with meat from the thighs with the latter having additional pieces of leek in between.
Those, among others, are just but a few types of famous Yakitori dishes. The flavor and texture of a different kind of meat usually make a difference.
Different types of sauces can be used to season the skewers with the most common ones being seasoned with Tare (Yakitori sauce) or Shio (salt).
Most meat lovers will probably have tried the sweet and savory Yakitori cuisines that are every BBQ lover’s list.
Knowing how to prepare the cuisine and using the right grill will go a long way in ensuring that you can recreate the fantastic Yakitori experience at your home.
Japanese cuisines are one of the fastest-growing in the industry. This is why there are many grills in the market right now. Hopefully, with the information we have provided you, you can make the right choice.
The best part about Yakitori grills is that they are versatile. You can cook all kinds of foods on them. And you can even make Yakitori on a classic smoker grill.
Choose a grill size suited for your family because this is an excellent way to get value for your money. Now, you can be on your way to making delicious Yakitori dishes in your kitchen or outdoors.
Also read: a recipe for every type of Japanese noodle