8 best yakitori grills: from electric indoor to charcoal for home

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  October 22, 2021

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Yakitori is a delicious Japanese skewered dish that isn’t just 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 establishments.

The dish is usually made to order, and most restaurants typically use the yakitori charcoal grill.

yakitori

If you’re hearing about yakitori for the first time, and you’re asking yourself what kind of a dish it is, here’s 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-sized 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 yakitori 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. Plus, 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:

Model yakitori grill Images
Best tabletop ceramic yakitori grill box: Fire Sense Fire-sense-large-bincho-grill(view more images)
   
Best portable yakitori grill for camping: Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill Uten portable lightweight charcoal grill for binchotan(view more images)
   
Best large yakitori charcoal grillKayso Home 32″  KAYSO HOME yakitori grill(view more images)
   
Best mini grill for one person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill Best Small Grill for One Person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill(view more images)
Best cast iron yakitori grill: IAXSEE Cast iron grill

Iaxsee Cast iron grill

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Best infrared yakitori grill: Tenergy Redigrill Smoke-less Infrared Grill

Tenergy Infrared Grill

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Best electric indoor yakitori grill: Zojirushi EB-CC15 Zojirushi-Japanese-indoor-tabletop-yakitori-grill(view more images)
Best electric plate yakitori grill: Yatai Yokotyo Electric  Yatai Yokotyo Yakitori
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What to look for in a yakitori 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. Let’s get more into details.

What temperature do you need for yakitori?

Did you know that if you use binchotan charcoal, it can get as hot as 1,600 F? But you definitely don’t need such high temperatures for cooking yakitori on the grill. 

At some restaurants, they slow cook yakitori at about 200 F and might go as high as 300 F. This is not the norm though, and you need to cook the meat on high heat at approximately 450 degrees F.

So your grill must be made of materials like cast iron, steel, or diatomaceous earth, which can withstand cooking at high temperatures. 

Type

The traditional yakitori grill is fuelled by charcoal.

So when you search for “yakitori grill”, you’ll most likely get charcoal grill results. Honestly, these are the best grills because they produce food that has a tasty smoky aroma and char marks. 

An electric yakitori is the second most popular and it’s the easiest to use because you can control the temperature with the buttons. 

All these types are usually portable, small, and easy to set up and use. 

Material

You’ll probably need a grill that’s made of durable material and one that doesn’t rust easily. The most common materials are 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 isn’t 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 grill 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, the top among them being the size.

Since most yakitori cuisines are mostly tableside dishes, you don’t need a huge grill.

You should also consider grills that are rectangular and compact, as the main thing to think about is the cooking surface. This will allow you to have more surface area that’ll be important in preparing the chicken skewers.

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 one 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 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 grills. Then, there are also indoor/outdoor yakitori grills and these are the most convenient because you can cook anywhere with them.

Grate

Your grill grate is more important than you’d think.

The traditional yakitori grill has a mesh wire grate, which is different than your regular griddle or horizontal grate. The actual wire is thin and usually made of durable stainless steel. 

Hibachi and konro grills also have this type of mesh grate. Japanese grills are smaller and you can cook all kinds of foods on them, even small seafood, or mushrooms. So the wire mesh prevents the food from falling through the grates. 

When choosing a yakitori grill, you can choose mesh or regular grates and they’ll both work well. But many grills come with interchangeable grates or you can order different kinds separately on Amazon. 

Also read: Japanese grill grates | What materials and how are they different?

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’re safety hazards if you use them indoors. 

Make sure to check before you use the grill inside!

Electric models are suitable for indoor use. It’s not the same as traditional yakitori, but it’s a lot safer than using charcoal indoors.

Read our full article on indoor charcoal use here

Best yakitori grills reviewed

yakitori grills

The most important thing when cooking yakitori is the yakitori grill.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the grill to buy, as ‘ill 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 ceramic yakitori grill box: 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. It can withstand high cooking temps of over 450 degrees F.

Fire-sense-large-bincho-grill

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This Fire Sense grill comes with two ventilation doors that allow you to control the heat. Since these are adjustable vents, you can be sure that you won’t burn the meat. 

The grill is large, and it has a whole 157 inches of cooking space, which is excellently tailored at the top for easier cooking.

The large cooking surface fits right into yakitori cooking needs, and it gives users a chance to cook many chicken skewers in 1 go.

Because of the mesh wire grates, your meat gets those beautiful char marks that you also get with other types of Japanese and Korean BBQ.

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 it’s very fragile since it’s made of ceramic and it isn’t exactly safe for indoor use. You should avoid using charcoal grills indoors because there’s always a minimal fire hazard. 

You should also ensure that the grill doesn’t get wet since it tends to break. So cleaning is a bit harder, but all you need to do is wait for the grill to cool, then throw out the ashes and wash the grill grate separately. 

Besides the minor inconvenience of cleaning, this traditional Japanese Fire Sense yakitori grill is excellent for cooking not only yakitori dishes, but also many others.

The manufacturer is so confident about this grill that they’ve given a 1-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 1 go when you’re strapped for time. Any outdoor gathering will be so much better when you can make authentic Japanese yakitori for your guests. 

Check out the latest price on Amazon

Also read: these are the differences between Sushi and Sashimi

Best portable yakitori grill for camping: Uten Barbecue Charcoal Grill

If you love camping and grilling, then this is your go-to grill. This yakitori 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’ll 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 uses iron and chrome as the main materials, making the grill durable and robust. So the cold-rolled iron makes it both rust and scratch-resistant. 

You’ve got plenty of cooking space for up to 6 people or about 6-8 skewers at once. That’s why this grill is a great option for larger groups.

Plus, you can cook corn, Japanese cabbage, seafood, pork, beef, and even ribs alongside the famous chicken yakitori. 

Additionally, the grill can withstand both heat and moisture, making it ideal for barbecuing. It’s resistant to high temps of up to 550 F. 

Also, the grill is lightweight and if you’re wondering about heat control, well, here’s your answer: the manufacturer has crafted 12 different airway vents, giving you 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’re on the move.

The fact that it’s easily foldable doesn’t mean that it can’t be damaged. Users are encouraged to take excellent care of the yakitori grill.

It’s advisable that you cushion it while traveling to prevent denting. The legs aren’t super sturdy, so they might rust and corrode or crumble if you put too much weight on them. 

The Uten BBQ Charcoal Grill lets you not miss out on yakitori cuisines while on the move. However, it’s not recommended for heavy-duty assignments.

I prefer to take this grill on camping trips or when I invite a couple of friends over to my backyard. 

Check out the latest prices here on Amazon

Best large yakitori charcoal grillKayso Home 32″ 

If you like to entertain and have guests over, then you’ll 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. Actually, it’s a commercial-grade yakitori and shish kebab grill, which makes it also suitable for small restaurants. 

The tall and free-standing grill has a grilling area that measures 32.5 x 8 x 5.5 inches. The grill stand measures 30 x 9 x 27 inches.

It weighs about 10 pounds, which is actually very light! So imagine all the yakitori you can cook at once on this portable and easy-to-move cooker.

The grill is made of heavy-duty stainless steel and it’s well-built. The legs look and feel stable, although you should be careful not to overload the grill rack.

It has a classic Japanese mesh wire grill grate and you’ll feel like you’re cooking in one of Tokyo’s food markets!

The manufacturer ensured that the user would have even temperature control and this is the reason why ventilation units on each side. These are small holes all around the yakitori grill but still, I think the heat control is rather limited, even with these adjustable vents.

The height of this grill doesn’t make it ideal for tableside cuisines, and it’s probably not child-friendly. Be careful that people don’t knock the hot grill over; you should leave plenty of space around it. 

However, the grill has a decent heat control mechanism, and its multi-functional capabilities mean it’s one of the best yakitori grills around!

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!

Check the price on Amazon

Best mini grill for one person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill

Best Small Grill for One Person: StyleMbro Japanese Yakiniku Grill

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Who says you can’t enjoy yakitori 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 if you want a charcoal grill. Its 5-inch surface 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, Ttakoyaki, and any type of BBQ.

It works easily and it’s made for use with charcoal briquettes. 

There’s an inner charcoal holder where you place the briquettes. This is where all the smokiness comes from to infuse the chicken. Just because it’s small, doesn’t mean you don’t get enough aroma for your meat.

What I like is that you can place the grill on any countertop because it has a wooden base plate for protection. So you can cook on your kitchen countertop or patio on cold winter nights when you need comforting BBQ. 

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 your food perfectly.

It heats up quite fast, so you can get cooking right away. After you’re finished, simply handwash the grill and store it away for next time. 

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. 

There’s one downside though. 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. 

But this is the perfect-sized grill for singles and students. Every time you crave chicken skewers, you can get this grill flaming hot with just a handful of charcoal. So, it’s a fun cooking experience and we recommend it for newbie yakitori grillers!

Check the latest prices on Amazon

Best cast iron yakitori grill: Iaxsee Cast Iron Grill

Iaxsee Cast iron grill

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As far as portable cast iron yakitori grills are concerned, you don’t need to spend a lot of money because even this affordable one does a great job at cooking on high heat at around 450 F. 

While you have to control the temperature manually, it’s not really a challenge because the grill has some small holes that act as vents. Even though the vents aren’t adjustable, there are holes at the sides of the grill to ensure proper airflow. 

People like metallic and cast iron grills because they retain heat very well and if you want to cook lots of Japanese food, you want to maintain the constant heat. With this grill, you can.

Compared to the mini which is really only meant for 1 person, this grill lets you cook for 2 or 3 people comfortably. There’s enough room to make about 4 to 6 delicious yakitori chicken skewers. 

Another advantage is that this grill has a stainless steel interior tray where you add your charcoal briquettes or binchotan, and it’s easy to clean.

There’s a lifting ring design handle that makes the steel tray easy to remove and you won’t risk burning yourself. Simply remove it while holding the handles, toss out the ashes, and then wipe clean. 

As with other yakitori grills, this one is very good because it’s high-heat resistant and doesn’t warp under high temperatures. So it’s the kind of cooker that can last you many seasons of outdoor barbeques with family and friends!

Check the latest prices here

StyleMbro grill for one vs Iaxsee cast iron grill

These two grills look similar and the StyleMbro is like the smaller brother grill. They’re both excellent for singles, couples, or small gatherings.

If you like to have people over, the Iaxsee is much more spacious so you can cook more than just a couple of skewers at a time. With the small grill, you’re very tight with cooking space and limited with time since the charcoal won’t burn for too long. 

For those of you that really want to try Japanese binchotan charcoal, I recommend the cast iron grill because there’s sufficient space to use that type of coal.

With the tiny grill, you’d better use a briquette but with the bigger one, you can really benefit from binchotan. Plus, it’s almost smokeless so it’s the better option when you want to cook indoors. 

But if we compare the build and the strength of the two grills, they’re both similar.

The one issue they both have is the wooden base, which is actually a bit prone to breaking and could be an issue after extended use of your cooker. But if you don’t mind replacing that once in a while, then these two grills are great choices. 

Best infrared & smokeless yakitori grill: Tenergy Redigrill Smoke-less Infrared Grill

Tenergy Infrared Grill

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This budget-friendly Tenergy Infrared Grill is an innovative yakitori grill that uses infrared technology for heating rather than a heating element. Impressive, isn’t it?

One exciting thing about the infrared heating technology in this grill is that it’s been designed not to heat the drip tray at the grill’s bottom, which means you won’t need water to cool these drippings. This means up to 80% less smoke, which makes this grill a great indoor cooker!

This technology is paired with specialized reflectors, which distribute heat evenly to the cooking surface, and can reach temperatures of up to 446 degrees Fahrenheit, which you need if you want to sear meat.

There are just 2 heat settings but they work well and you don’t need vents for electric cookers. So this yakitori grill has all the basic features you’d want. 

Even though the grill is made of aluminum, it comes with a non-stick surface, which means you can easily clean it by using wet towels or putting it into your dishwasher. 

The Tenergy is a high-quality product that can be used on a tabletop, and also for grilling yakitori in your home. But if you have a power outlet on the balcony or patio, you can use it there too and it can replace classic charcoal grills.

One minor disadvantage is that the flavor is not smoky like when you cook with charcoal, but it’s still delicious and succulent. 

The best advantage though is that the grill heats up very fast in about 6 minutes, giving you the temperature you need to grill your meat. The end product is tender and juicy on the inside. You can even seak steak or make seared Japanese wagyu beef!

So if you like the idea of an electric grill but want something that doesn’t smoke up your house, this Tenergy yakitori grill is a great cheap option. 

Check out prices and availability here

Best electric indoor yakitori grill: Zojirushi EB-CC15

Zojirushi-Japanese-indoor-tabletop-yakitori-grill

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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. Just know that Zorijushi is Japan’s favorite electric cooker manufacturer!

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. When you’re cooking skewers, it’s important to have a constant temperature to ensure even cooking on all sides.

The temperature is controlled automatically when you turn the temp button. It means you don’t burn, undercook, or overcook food. As a result, you won’t burn your food either!

This indoor grill makes meat taste tender and juicy and it’s also quite smokeless compared to other models so you don’t stink up your place. 

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, which makes it ideal for Japanese BBQ parties.

Since it’s such a versatile cooking device, you can simultaneously cook the skewers, as well as some side dishes (like veggies).

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 indoor grill, you can set the temperature. Also, the grill has low energy consumption because it heats up fast, so you don’t need to fret about the power bill. 

Note that this grill is made of plastic and aluminum components along with stainless steel. The Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill is made of high-quality materials, which makes it look aesthetically pleasing, well built, and very sturdy.

Unfortunately, this grill is not dishwasher safe; only some parts of it are, like the drip tray. The grilling surface and drip tray are detachable, which makes cleaning easier. So the fact that it’s handwash-only isn’t too much of an inconvenience.

The electric grill doesn’t impart the food with that classic charcoal flavor, so it does make yakitori taste slightly different.

Although this indoor tabletop yakitori grill is a bit costly, it’s the best yakitori grill you can find out there and will give you good value for your money.

Another interesting thing about this grill is its 1300W heating element, which gives you easier temperature control (between 170 – 410 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperatures are ideal for yakitori grilling since it doesn’t need extremely hot temperatures.

One interesting thing about this grill is its amazing safety feature, which makes the grill not turn on when you forget to put the drip tray back in place or fix the grilling surface correctly.

Overall, this is a high-end product, made out of quality materials, and it’s easy and safe to use, and clean.

 Check the latest prices on Amazon 

Best electric plate yakitori grill: Kakuse Yatai Yokotyo Electric 

Yatai Yokotyo Yakitori

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If your favorite grilled foods are skewers, you’ll be pleased with this ultra-lightweight (3 lbs) electric plate specialty yakitori grill. It’s the authentic Japanese device for quickly making yakitori!

But the best and most interesting aspect is that you can change up the grill grates and use a mesh grate if you want to make other yakiniku. 

The heating element is a classic metal coil that’s in the middle of the grill. Then, you place the grate of your choice on top and then you can put the meat on. If you want to make just skewers, you can add the meat or fish on the special bars and they’ll be cooking right over the heat source. 

So this is the kind of grill that doesn’t need too many temperature control features because you can turn the skewers and see when they’re done.

A reason why I like this type of electric grill is that it’s perfect for turning the skewers while you cook.

Also, you can make a lot of courses with it since it’s versatile. For example, once you’re done with yakitori, you can add the baking tray grates and cook some Japanese pancakes. 

Just a heads up: since this item is shipped from Japan, you need a transformer to use it at 120V. But you’ll be surprised how such a small grill can make so much food at once in very little time!

Check the price on Amazon here

Tenergy Infrared vs Zojirushi Electric Grill vs Kakuse

These 3 grills are for those of you who only like to do indoor grilling. I agree with you that there’s something so convenient and comforting about turning on the electric cooker, placing the meat and veggies, and having a meal in about 30 minutes or so.

The electric grill is a great cooker for busy people who want tasty and convenient meals regardless of the weather. So now you have to choose between the smokeless infrared grill, the classic electric grill with a powerful heating element, or the one with interchangeable grates and accessories.

If you want a classic Japanese electric grill that sears and cooks meat to perfection, the Zojirushi is the best bet. It can be used on any countertop and doesn’t really create too much smoke or bad smells.

But the Tenergy doesn’t let the drippings pool down and smoke away, so it’s even better if you hate the smoke associated with BBQ!

The main advantage of infrared grills is that they get hot very fast and are more efficient, so you can cook delicious BBQ in record time compared to a regular electric grill like the Zojirushi. Both these electric cookers eliminate most of the fatty drippings and it makes the food healthier. 

Now, if you think you’re mostly going to cook skewers, then the Kakuse grill is ideal, even without a mesh or other grate attachments.

I don’t blame you if you love yakitori so much that you want a specialty electric cooker just for that dish. Then, if you want to cook other Asian foods too, you can get more grill grates and expand your cooking skills. 

Best yakitori grill accessories

Tongs

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 a bit pricier but they’re not going to rust after a few uses like those cheap aluminum ones you find at the supermarket. 

You need tongs when manipulating food on the yakitori grill because the claw offers a good grip and makes turning food around simple and safe while cooking. 

Hiash Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Kitchen Tongs

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The advantage of longer tongs is that you don’t have to put your hands close to the heat source and they’re safer to use. 

They’re just long enough to have a good grip on the meat without getting too close to the heat. The tongs are made of heavy-duty stainless steel and won’t get scorched or damaged when exposed to the hot grill top. 

Check the price on Amazon

Hand fan 

Japanese chefs use a traditional hand fan for blowing the binchotan charcoal. It’s really the simplest way to get the fire going to heat the yakitori grill!

I’ve found a great heat-resistant plastic fan that costs less than $10 dollars. This OFXDD Heat Resistant Flame Fan is quite thick so you can create airflow really quickly.

Also, even though it’s plastic, it’s heat-proof and safe for use near the grill. 

OFXDD Heat Resistant Plastic Barbecue Hand Fan

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With charcoal briquettes, you want to have good ventilation to start them up. So a good hand fan is the cheapest alternative to those more pricey battery-powered fans. Honestly, you don’t need those for a small yakitori grill. 

Check the price on Amazon

Binchotan charcoal

A real Japanese barbecue involves binchotan charcoal. It’s a premium type of charcoal produced only in Japan. The best comes from the Kinshu region and it’s quite pricey, but the difference is very notable when compared to regular charcoal. 

IPPINKA Binchotan is Japan’s famous binchotan producer. It’s known as white charcoal and burns much cleaner than regular charcoal. 

IPPINKA Binchotan

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This charcoal is made from burning Ubame Kashi or Ubame Oak at 1,000 degrees. Each piece has a thin log shape as opposed to briquettes.

But the real defining feature that makes it worth the price is the flavor it imparts. Since it’s such pure charcoal, it burns odorless and you get a true smoky wood taste on your meat.

It’s pretty hard to explain, but once you taste it, you’ll realize there’s no bitter aftertaste or weird aroma. 

The good news is that this charcoal is also reusable if you take care of it. So it’s pretty good value for money and if you love real tasty yakiniku, this is the charcoal to choose!

Check the current price here

Also read: This is how you light Japanese charcoal | 3 easy steps and some tips

Saibashi chopsticks

At Japanese restaurants, the chef uses special long wooden chopsticks called saibashi to turn the delicate ingredients on the grill.

Donxote Wooden Saibashi Chopsticks

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Very delicate fish, seafood, or veggies like tomatoes can disintegrate when handled with tongs. So to avoid this issue, use long chopsticks instead!

The Donxote Wooden Saibashi Chopsticks are 16.5 inches long so they’re like tongs and you won’t burn yourself. 

These are made of natural wood and polishes, which make them moisture and heat-resistant. 

Check the price on Amazon

Seasoning shakers for yakitori

If you want to add the seasoning evenly to your chicken, then you need a good seasoning shaker. You can put salt, pepper, or the famous togarashi spice in it and coat the meat to give it amazing flavor.

You don’t need expensive seasoning shakers and the Winware Stainless Steel Dredges is perfect because it has a handle so it’s easy to hold and refill. Plus, it’s made of stainless steel so it won’t rust in your pantry and spice rack.

Winware Stainless Steel Dredges

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Don’t forget about liquid seasonings like soy sauce and tare when making yakitori. But for solids, this durable shaker is a nice bargain buy.

Check out the latest prices

Also, check out our best spatulas for Hibachi and Teppanyaki grills. 

Best yakitori cookbook: The Japanese Grill

Yakitori Cookbook

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For all things Japanese barbeque, Tadashi Ono has the knowledge and recipes you need to know about. He’s a renowned Japanese chef and his cookbook “The Japanese Grill” teaches you all about how to make the best BBQ dishes!

While the book isn’t completely about yakitori, it does have many yakitori recipes and that’s the main topic of the book. 

You’ll find a nice mix of traditional Japanese recipes and many modern contemporary ingredients, methods, and flavors, all with step-by-step instructions. 

Grilling has been a huge part of Japanese cuisine for many centuries and this book shows you how to use hibachi, yakitori, and konro grills to make succulent meats, seafood, and veggies. Basically, it’s got something for everyone!

“The Japanese Grill” is packed with easy recipes, versatile marinades, and many colorful images.

By following the recipes, you’ll be able to grill amazing steaks, salmon, chicken, whole chickens, and traditional favorites such as yakitori, onigiri, or whole salt-packed fish. Then, you can also learn how to make American BBQ favorites like crispy chicken wings with a Japanese food twist.

There are options for sophisticated entertaining, as well as quick-grilling options for healthy weekday meals. There are also a variety of delicious sides to complement your meals.

Grab your copy here

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 street food 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. So yakitori was born as a classic street food sold at many street stalls across Japan.

The same cooking method was used then as is today: charcoal. 

How does a yakitori grill work?

The yakitori grill works pretty much like other charcoal grills but since it’s a tabletop grill, you’ll have to use it a bit differently compared to a large outdoor Weber Smokey Mountain, for example. 

In most restaurants, the yakitori is a small rectangular grill that measures only a few inches in depth. Chefs often prepare their dishes at the table or at a central grill that’s surrounded by bars.

Binchotan (Japanese white coal) is the best fuel source to prepare traditional yakitori. The heat source is very clean and doesn’t impart any flavor to the chicken (or other meats and veggies).

All that yummy charred flavor comes from the binchotan smoke and the contact with the hot grill grates. 

As opposed to cooking at home or outdoors, restaurant grills in Japan can be set to only 200 degrees Fahrenheit so meat takes time to cook. 

The grill is manned by a chef who rotates the meat and allows it to cook until the flames are just below. This chef also monitors the meat’s moisture and adjusts the sauce with tare. 

Since yakitori is a unique dining experience, people aren’t necessarily in a rush. So they can socialize and watch their food getting cooked.

Before being served, the skewers are dunked or brushed with the tare sauce again. The final dip leaves a lacquer-like surface on the chicken, which is sweet and salty, yet subtle enough to let the chicken’s flavor shine through.

So you see, it’s similar to other types of grilling methods!

How do you make yakitori at home?

Yakitori chefs use sweet soy sauce or basic seasonings like pepper and salt to flavor the chicken. However, your choice won’t be with the flavor used, but the part of the chicken that you want to be grilled on the skewers.

Yakitori grilling uses different parts of a chicken, and this includes the skin, thighs, wings, and liver.

Check out this video from Iccocook on YouTube on making yakitori at home:

So if you’re searching for an indoor tabletop yakitori grill, then you’ll understand how delicious yakitori is and why it’s very popular in Japan.

The advancement in technology has made it possible to have tabletop yakitori grill options, which allows you to enjoy this Japanese delicacy from the comfort of your home without having to visit Japan.

Most of these tabletop yakitori grills aren’t costly and are portable, which means you can move them around your home. Also, they can be an amazing addition to your existing traditional grill since they won’t take up a lot of your space.

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.

About yakitori charcoal

For an authentic yakitori experience, you need to try making it on a charcoal grill. The meat tastes amazing when cooked this way!

What kind of charcoal do you use for yakitori?

There’s traditional Japanese charcoal and it’s called binchotan. It is a premium type of charcoal and is quite costly.

If you want to try it, we recommend one you can find on Amazo. It’s called IPPINKA KISHU Pro-Grade Binchotan Charcoal. 

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This type of charcoal burns very well, so you don’t need to use a lot at once. It’s made from Japanese oak from Kishu. This is known to produce the best grade of charcoal for the yakitori grill. Also, it’s completely natural and free of chemicals.

Check out the latest prices here

Can you reuse binchotan charcoal?

If you’re careful, then yes, you can reuse binchotan charcoal. This is great news because this charcoal is very expensive when compared to other BBQ woods and charcoals. 

How do you reuse 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. 

Yakitori meat

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 2 types of seasoning or sauce: shio and tare.

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. 

Skewers

Bamboo skewers are considered to be the best. These are called teppogushi in Japanese.

This type of skewer is different because it has a tapered end to make it easy to turn. 

To prevent the skewers from catching fire while grilling, you’ll need to soak them in water 20 or so minutes before grilling.

Once this is done, you’ll 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’ve done this, then the next question to ask is, “how do you cook 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’s preferred because it gives a consistent moderate heat.

However, you’ll have to wait for the charcoal to burn until they’re white and at the optimal temperature.

Once you’re done with 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!

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How do you eat yakitori?

By now, you probably know how to make the best yakitori dishes and the right grill to use when grilling.

So now, the question is how best do you eat your yakitori dishes?

Since they’re 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 dishes first and then increase the flavors as you go. This way, you’ll be able to have the best yakitori experience!

It’s always advisable to bite the meat while it’s still on the skewer.

The amount of effort that’s been put into making the yakitori dish is enormous. And this is why the taste is even better when you eat the meat while it’s still on the skewer!

Can I use chopsticks to eat yakitori?

You can use chopsticks to remove the meat from the skewers if you aren’t comfortable eating it on the skewer. So yes, you can use chopsticks to avoid messy eating. 

Most restaurants usually give you a small cup to place used skewers, so there’s no need to worry about where to put them after use.

In case you can’t find the cup, it’s always good to ask for one.

How to order yakitori

It’s very easy to order yakitori because it’s just like ordering fast food or other street foods. You want to order at least 2 types of skewers to really appreciate the taste of this dish.

Foodicles recommends 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 do!

How much does yakitori cost in Japan?

In Japan, they sell yakitori dishes by the stick. Some food stalls and restaurants offer them in pairs. 

The price of one stick of yakitori is about 100 yen. But in some areas, the cost can be as high as 200 yen, depending on the restaurant’s prestige.

In some eateries, they offer combination plates that come with different kinds of yakitori. This is the best option when you want to try many types. 

The Japanese have named the different types of yakitori dishes depending on which part of the meat is used.

Some of the most famous yakitori dishes are:

Momo and negima are made with meat from the thighs, with the latter having additional pieces of leek in between.

Those, among others, are but just a few types of famous yakitori dishes. The flavor and texture of a different kind of meat usually make all the difference!

What are traditional yakitori grills made of?

The first yakitori-like grills were made of clay. It’s a special type of clay called diatomaceous earth and it’s very heat-resistant, but can be fragile and crack over time. 

But it’s believed that real yakitori grills were made of iron. Those are too heavy to move around, so these days, the grills are made of lightweight steel and that makes them portable.

Yakitori vs hibachi grill

Many people still don’t know that there’s a difference between yakitori and hibachi grills!

The main similarity between the 2 is that they’re both Japanese tabletop grills and use charcoal as the fuel source. 

In the past, the hibachi was a room heater, not a grill for cooking. 

Hibachi

Although traditional hibachi was used for heating rather than cooking, the name hibachi was adopted to market traditional tabletop grills abroad.

The term “hibachi”, which is used to describe small Japanese charcoal grills or Japanese food, is frequently used outside Japan. 

Hibachi is available in a round porcelain form as well as a rectangular design made of cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminum.

Yakitori

Yakitori is a grill as well as a cooking method and food (skewers). 

2 popular Japanese grilled foods are yakiton and yakitori. Yakitori is grilled chicken meat in the form of a skewer.

Different parts of the chicken are grilled on charcoal until they’re crisp on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside.

The thing is, you can make yakitori on hibachi grills too! 

Yakiton is the same method of cooking, but for pork. Both cooking styles aim to use all parts of the animal. It’s not uncommon to see dishes like chicken hearts or pork intestines.

The yakitori grill is used to cook all kinds of yakiniku (Japanese BBQ). 

Get yourself a yakitori grill that suits your needs

Most meat lovers will have probably tried the sweet and savory yakitori dishes that are every BBQ lover’s list.

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 I’ve provided you, you can make the right choice.

Knowing how to prepare the cuisine and using the right grill will go a long way in ensuring that you recreate the fantastic yakitori experience in your home. And the best part about yakitori grills is that they’re versatile. 

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 in your yard! 

Also read: can you use binchotan charcoal on a konro grill indoors?

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.