Japanese Pan Fried Chicken with Wafu Sauce

Get ready to elevate your dinner game with my Japanese Pan Fried Chicken with Wafu Sauce recipe! This delightful dish features tender chicken thighs stir-fried to perfection and generously coated in a delectable Japanese wafu-style sauce, known for its tangy and umami flavors. It’s easy to make, bursting with unique taste, and perfect for a satisfying meal any day of the week. You won’t want to miss out on this one-of-a-kind Japanese-inspired experience!

Japanese style pan fried chicken thigh served over a bed of lettuce being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

Why I Love This Recipe

As a former assistant chef, I’m thrilled to share with you my rendition of this Japanese Pan Fried Chicken with Wafu Sauce recipe, which was a beloved dish at the restaurant where I worked! This dish is a delightful blend of tender chicken thighs, pan-fried to golden perfection, and bathed in a zesty ponzu-based sauce, all served over a bed of rice or greens! What really sets my recipe off is the flavors found in my beloved Japanese Wafu Dressing paired with my pan-searing technique used in dishes like my Hibachi Chicken and Garlic Chicken Stir Fry!

With its savory, garlic-infused flavors and umami-packed chicken, this dish is perfect for anyone craving an easy yet flavorful meal made with real, natural ingredients. If you’re ready to magic in your own kitchen, this recipe is calling your name—let’s get cooking and savor the taste of Japan tonight!



  • Chicken – boneless and skinless chicken thigh. Can substitute with chicken breast if preferred.
  • Neutral Oil no taste or flavor with high cooking temperature. Some choices are sunflower oil, peanut oil, sallower oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil.
  • Salt sea salt preferred.
  • Black Pepper ground.
  • Green Onion – finely chopped green onion scallions.
  • Leafy Greens – your favorite greens to use as a bed for the pan-fried chicken.
  • Ponzu – a citrus flavored soy sauce found in most Japanese supermarkets, Mizkan brand preferred.
  • Japanese Sake – typically will come in a large bottle labeled junmai sake. Can also substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine, found at local grocery stores or Asian markets. 
  • Onion – yellow or brown onion.
  • Sweetener – use your preferred sweetener.
  • Garlic– freshly grated garlic.
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds – optional garnish.

Additional Sauce Add Ins

Yuzu Juice and Lemon Juice add citrusy brightness, while Red Pepper adds a touch of heat, and Toasted Sesame Oil lends a nutty flavor to the dressing.

Pan fried chicken thigh served over a bed of lettuce with Japanese style wafu dressing sauce being poured on.

Essential Kitchen Equipment


☑ Before Getting Started

Prep Your Ingredients in advance for efficiency and use a roomy Wok or Deep Skillet. Opt for High-Temperature Cooking Oil to achieve best results.

Step 1 Start by preparing the wafu sauce. Add chopped onions, neutral oil, boiled Japanese sake, sweetener, garlic, toasted sesame seeds, and ponzu inside a food processor. Blend until well combined and place in the fridge to allow all the flavors to mend together.

Wafu dressing in a food processor.

🍶 Boiling Sake Pro Tip

For a quicker alternative to boiling sake, you can simply Microwave for 30-45 Seconds.

🌀 Blending Pro Tip

When blending ingredients in a shallow food processor, consider Covering With a Towel to prevent liquids from splattering out the top.

Step 2 Add oil to a large skillet and bring up to temp under medium heat to medium-high heat. Add cubed chicken thigh, season with salt and black pepper and cook until browned, around 3-4 minutes.

Chicken thigh being cooked in a frying pan.

🍳 Pan Fry Pro Tip

Avoid Overcrowding the pan, allowing the chicken enough space to brown evenly. This pro tip ensures a golden crust and flavorful result.

Step 3 Once the chicken is cooked, pour 3/4 of the sauce over it and cook for an additional 5-10 seconds, allowing the flavors to meld. Then, transfer the browned chicken on top of a bed of greens or a bed of rice. Finally, drizzle the remaining sauce on top.

Japanese pan fried chicken served on top of bed of greens.

💡 Garnishing Pro Tip

Garnish with freshly chopped Green Onions.

Recipe Variations

Create a simple variation by substituting chicken with a Japanese Hamburger Steak and using the same dressing for a Wafu Japanese Hamburger Steak. Enjoy juicy beef patties infused with tangy and savory Wafu dressing flavors, providing a satisfying and comforting Japanese-inspired meal option.

Pairing Recommendations

Complement this flavorful dish with a refreshing side like Japanese Cucumber Salad Sunomono or Japanese Soy Sauce Pickled Garlic, enhancing the meal with vibrant and tangy flavors. Alternatively, serve it alongside rice and a comforting bowl of Tofu Miso Soup for a complete and satisfying Japanese-inspired feast.

Japanese style pan fried chicken thigh served over a bed of lettuce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does wafu mean?

Wafu simply means 'Japanese style'. So there are many variations of what wafu would taste like, but for the most part, they all use a vinegary/citrus soy sauce base as the flavor.

Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?

Yes, you can definitely use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs in this recipe. The chicken breast will result in a leaner dish, but it can still be used.

How can I ensure the chicken stays juicy while pan-frying?

To ensure the chicken stays juicy while pan-frying, it's essential not to overcook it. Since the chicken is cubed into small pieces for this recipe, it will cook much faster than a whole piece of chicken. Once it's browned, it's ready to go, ensuring it remains tender and juicy.

Can I make the wafu sauce ahead of time?

Yes, you can make the sauce ahead of time. It will hold well in the fridge for 10-14 days, allowing you to prepare it in advance for convenience.

Storage Tips

To store leftovers, transfer them into an airtight container and refrigerate. The dish will remain fresh for 3-5 days when stored properly. Similarly, any unused dressing can also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, where it will maintain its quality for 10-14 days.

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Watch How To Make It

Japanese style pan fried chicken thigh served over a bed of lettuce being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

Japanese Pan Fried Chicken with Wafu Sauce

Dive into the savory delight of my Japanese Pan Fried Chicken with Wafu Sauce recipe. Perfectly seared chicken thighs bathed in a flavorful Japanese-inspired sauce, this dish is a delightful addition to your dinner table. Get ready to savor the crispy exterior and tender interior of this pan-fried chicken, a surefire crowd-pleaser for any occasion!
4.86 from 7 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: pan fried chicken
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe
Calories: 554kcal



  • 1/2 lb Chicken Thigh can sub with chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil neutral, no flavor or taste
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Stalk Green Onion


  • 3 tbsp Ponzu
  • 1 tbsp Japanese Sake
  • 1 tbsp Onion chopped
  • 2 tsp Sweetener your preferred sweetener
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Cooking Oil neutral, no flavor or taste
  • 1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds


  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Ingredients for Japanese pan fried chicken with wafu sauce.
  • Loosely chop onions.
    Chopped onions.
  • In a stove top pot or frying pan, add Japanese sake and bring to boil. Let it boil for 15 seconds, remove from heat and then set aside.
    Boiled Japanese sake.
  • In a food processor or blender, add in all the ingredients for the sauce, ponzu, boiled Japanese sake, onion, sweetener, garlic cloves, neutral oil, toasted sesame seeds and pulse until evenly blended.
    Wafu dressing in a food processor.
  • Cut chicken into 1/2 x 1/2 cube size bites.
    Cubed chicken thigh.
  • Finely chop green onions.
    Chopped green onions.
  • Add neutral cooking oil into a large frying pan on high heat and bring up to temperature. Once the oil is preheated, reduce to medium high, add the cubed chicken, sprinkle salt and black pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes occasionally stirring until chicken is browned.
    Chicken thigh being cooked in a frying pan.
  • Once chicken is browned, pour about 3/4 of the sauce, cook for an additional 10-15 seconds and then transfer on top green salad bed or bed or rice, along with any leftover juices from the fry pan. Pour remaining sauce over final plate and top with a sprinkle of chopped green onions.
    Japanese pan fried chicken served on top of bed of greens.


Calories: 554kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 1488mg | Potassium: 472mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 237IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 2mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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