How To Make Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

How To Make Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

by Megumi Moriya

Chicken Drinking Snack Easy Weeknight Dinner Idea Kid Friendly Lunch Box Main Dish Meal-prep Friendly Side Dish Under 30 Minutes

Tsukune is a versatile dish that can serve as a main dish, a side dish, a sake accompaniment, or even in an obento. It maintains its quality and softness even when cold, making it a convenient option.

The name "Tsukune" comes from the Japanese word "Tsukuneru," which is rarely used in daily conversation. "Tsukuneru" means kneading and shaping with hands, reflecting the traditional method of making Tsukune.

Tsukune doesn’t have specific ingredients or flavors, allowing for various seasonings and ingredients to be used. Typically made with ground chicken or pork mixed with vegetables, edamame, or hijiki seaweed, there are also fish variations. In this recipe, we'll introduce Tsukune made with ground chicken and a sweetened soy sauce-based seasoning, perfect for various occasions.

To enhance your Tsukune experience, consider garnishing with toppings like Shiso leaves, sesame seeds, Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese mixed spice seasoning), or green onions. These ingredients complement Tsukune well. Additionally, dipping Tsukune in raw egg yolk adds creaminess and pairs nicely with steamed rice.

Why not try making this delicious Tsukune at home for a quick weeknight dinner, sake accompaniment, or bento?


Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 15 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Total servings: 2

Difficulty: Easy

  • 300 g Ground Chicken Thighs
  • 50 g Onion
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 Tbsp Potato Starch
  • 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Mirin
  • 20 g Grated Ginger
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Water (for steaming Tsukune)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Cooking Sake (for the soy glaze)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Mirin (for the soy glaze)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Soy Sauce (for the soy glaze)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Sugar (for the soy glaze)
  • Chopped Green Onion (for serving, optional)
  • Shiso Leaves (for serving, optional)
  • Bamboo Skewers (Optional)

Expert's Tip

How To Make Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

Once you've mastered making homemade Tsukune, why not host a Yakitori party at home? If you're not familiar with Japanese Yakitori, that's totally fine! Simply grill your preferred chicken cuts and glaze them with this ready-to-use Yakitori sauce. Yakitori pairs well with beer or sake and, of course, complement steamed rice perfectly. Enjoy the Japanese Izakaya-like atmosphere at home!


1) Gathering the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients. Separate an egg into egg white and yolk. Use the egg white for the meat mixture. Set aside the yolk in the fridge with plastic wrap until serving.

If you want to make stick-type Tsukune, prepare some bamboo skewers.

2) Chopping the Onion

Chop the onion into small pieces.

3) Making the Tsukune Mixture

Prepare a bowl and add ground chicken, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of mirin, grated ginger, and a pinch of salt. Mix them well with your hands. Add the egg white and mix well again. Finally, add potato starch and combine until the mixture becomes sticky.

4) Adding the Chopped Onions to the Tsukune Mixture

Add the chopped onions and mix everything well together.

5) Shaping the Tsukune

Pour cooking oil into a frying pan. Since the meat mixture is sticky, we recommend using spoons to shape it. Scoop some meat mixture with two spoons and form a round, oval, or ball-like shape. Place it in the frying pan. Repeat the process for the remaining mixture.

6) Pan-Frying the Tsukune

Cook the tsukune over medium heat until the bottom sides turn golden brown. Then flip them over and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid and steam them over low to medium heat until almost cooked.

7) Glazing the Tsukune

While cooking Tsukune, prepare a small bowl and mix soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and cooking sake.

Add the seasoning mixture to the frying pan. Simmer Tsukune in the seasoning, moving and flipping them over occasionally, until the liquid evaporates.

8) Serving Tsukune

Skewer Tsukune with bamboo skewers if you prefer, and plate them, topping with chopped green onion and Shiso leaf. Serve with raw egg yolk for dipping or topping. Enjoy!

*Do not use raw egg yolk if serving as a lunch box item.

Recommended products for this recipe


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published