Whenever my family wants to eat out for dinner (which isn’t very often), we choose Japanese food 9 times outta 10. Always have. My mom was always the real sushi fanatic in our family, and we stayed loyal to our favorite Japanese restaurant of the time period in question. For a long time, our favorite place was a restaurant called Liquid, and it had a Benihana-style grill in the back, with a regular restaurant in front.
I was a notoriously picky eater growing up. For every restaurant our family frequented, there was always only ONE thing on the menu I would order. I’ve always been a creature of habit. My mom would rarely bother asking me what I wanted, because she knew I was going to get the same thing every time. When it came to Japanese food, it took awhile for my taste buds to mature enough to appreciate quality sushi, which finally happened in high school. For a long time, though, I wouldn’t even consider eating raw fish.
Young Christina’s Japanese food order? Always teriyaki chicken. Teriyaki chicken, white rice, side salad, and orange wedges. It came in a Bento Box. What was special about Liquid’s teriyaki chicken, though, was that sometimes it came out with a creamy teriyaki sauce instead of the standard teriyaki.
I always knew it was a special day when the creamy Teriyaki sauce came out, because it was only once in awhile. I’m still not sure if it was a fluke or not. Instead of drowning my rice in soy sauce (no exaggeration) like I usually did, I’d try to mix it in with the teriyaki sauce, and I’d try to get some of that sauce on my salad as the dressing, too. There was never enough for me! Liquid closed when I was in high school, sadly, but I’ll never forget that creamy Teriyaki chicken. Thankfully I learned to love sashimi by the time we had to switch our go-to restaurant, so I didn’t spend too much time harping over the loss of that special teriyaki sauce.
This creamy teriyaki sauce is my tribute to the teriyaki chicken I used to love ordering from Liquid, but this is definitely a much healthier version. It’s completely paleo and extremely easy to make, and the best part is that there is no sweetener! Most teriyaki sauces use some type of sweetener, like honey or orange juice, but none is needed here. That means it’s also great for anyone watching their sugar intake, whether you’re doing Whole 30, keto, paleo, low-carb, or just low-sugar.
This recipe also doesn’t require any sesame oil, which I generally try to avoid. I used tahini to provide the creamy texture and sesame flavor. When there’s tahini involved, you know it has to taste good! AND there’s no SOY! Soy is an ingredient I always try to avoid because it contains phytates, protease inhibitors, and estrogenic properties (in addition to being one of the most common GMOs). Instead of using soy sauce, I used my favorite healthy alternative – coconut aminos!
You can make this sauce separate and put it on anything you want – I could honestly drink it straight. I love using this as a salad dressing.
When making teriyaki chicken, you have a few options. You can marinate the chicken in the sauce and then cook it, you can pour the sauce on top while you’re cooking the chicken, or you can cook the chicken and then pour the sauce on after. Any way works. The important part is that you make the sauce!
This is a fun way to dress up boring chicken, although this sauce would be delicious with anything! This recipe is Whole 30-approved, low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, AND soy-free. If you love traditional teriyaki sauce, give this spin a try!
Creamy Teriyaki Chicken (Paleo / Whole 30)
- 1 lb organic pastured chicken breast, cut into small pieces
- Coconut oil or avocado oil for your pan
- Creamy Teriyaki Sauce
- Optional: 1 tbsp sesame seeds for topping
- Combine all of the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a small bowl or small saucepan. A whisk can be helpful for this. If your tahini is on the thick side, it might be easier to combine this over low heat in a saucepan so everything mixes together.
- Optional: You can marinate the chicken in about half the teriyaki sauce for a few hours to give it a richer flavor. Not required, though.
- Put a pan over medium heat and add your coconut oil or avocado oil. Add the diced chicken to the cooked pan, moving around gently as it cooks.
- Once the chicken is cooked about halfway through, add about half of the teriyaki sauce. Mix things around so as much of the chicken is coated with the sauce as possible.
- As the chicken gets closer to being cooked, you can add the rest of the sauce or save it to pour on at the very end.
- Once the chicken is cooked through in the sauce, remove from the pan and pour any remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle on sesame seeds if you like!
What’s your favorite thing to order at a Japanese restaurant?!