Oyako donburi

Oyako donburi (親子丼), which literally means “parent child bowl” is a popular chicken and egg rice bowl in Japan. It’s a simple one bowl meal with flavorful chunks of chicken wrapped in a custardy blanket of eggs, all seasoned with a mild dashi broth that tickles down onto the steamy bed of rice below.

At yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurants, the chicken is often skewered and grilled first. This allows the excess fat to render out the chicken while infusing a great charcoal grilled flavor into the oyakodon. Most home preparations however have you pan fry the chicken. It’s important to leave the skin-on because it keeps the chicken moist and adds flavor, but I’m not a huge fan of the fatty rubbery texture of the skin that gets left. That’s why I’ve developed a method to keep the chicken moistening benefits of the skin while making it all but disappear in the finished donburi.


The trick is to put the chicken into a cold, dry pan, skin side down with a weight on top. By giving the skin good contact with the pan and slowly raising the temperature, the fat in and around the skin has a chance to render out, leaving a crisp, paper-thin layer of chicken skin that’s brimming with flavor. Obviously, you’ll lose the crispness once you add the stock and eggs, but this is fine because the skin once crisped, turns into a sponge that absorbs all the wonderful flavors in the dashi, ensuring each juicy morsel of chicken is full of flavor.

I used a Japanese-style chicken thigh, which is basically the entire chicken leg (thigh and drumstick) deboned in one piece. You can buy a leg and debone it yourself, or just use skin-on boneless chicken thighs. I don’t recommend using chicken breast in this dish because it tends to dry out, but if you do decide to use it, make sure you get it skin-on and be careful not to overcook it.

In Japan, a country where eggs come with two expiration dates (an early date for eating them raw and a later one for eating them cooked), the eggs for oyakodon are served still runny on top. If that’s the way you like them (and you really trust that you’re eggs are salmonella-free), you can skip the step where you cover and steam the eggs. Personally, I wouldn’t take the risk with eggs outside Japan, which is why I cover them and cook them until the eggs are just barely set.

Equipment you'll need:

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  • Oyako donburi (親子丼) is a chicken and egg omelette served over rice.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
2 10 minutes 10 minutes


  • 300 grams chicken thighs – boneless skin-on
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dashi (chicken stock will work)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey (use a mild one)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon sake
  • 3 scallions cut into 2


  1. Rub 1/4 teaspoon of salt all over the chicken. Place the chicken in a cold sauté pan skin-side down, then place a smaller cast iron pan on top of the chicken to weigh it down (a pot filled with water would work too). This keeps the chicken from curling ensuring that every bit of skin makes contact with the pan.
  2. Put the pan on the stove over medium low heat. By gradually increasing the temperature, the chicken not only cooks more evenly, it allows as much of the fat in the skin to render out as possible. Fry until the skin is golden brown all over and crisp (about 7 minutes). If the oil is spattering too much, turn down the heat a little.
  3. While the chicken is frying, combine the dashi, soy sauce, honey and remaining salt in a small bowl. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and mix just enough to break up the yolks.
  4. Once the skin is browned, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. The meat may not be fully cooked, but this is fine as it will cook through later.
  5. Drain all the oil from the pan (its okay if there's a little still clinging to the pan) then put the pan over medium high heat. Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices.
  6. Add the sake and stir-fry until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the dashi mixture and bring to a boil.
  7. Add the scallions, then cover everything with the eggs. Cover the pan with a lid and turn down the heat to medium low.
  8. When the egg is cooked to your liking, portion the egg and chicken out onto steamed rice and drizzle with the remaining sauce.
  • http://explodyfull.com/ Explody Full

    I don’t think I’ve ever cooked starting from a cold pan before, intersting! Can this be applied to other recipes too to improve things?

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.houck Michael Houck

      It’s best when you want to render out fat, so it works great with bacon. It’s where the term “wake the bacon” comes from… you have to wake it up slowly in a cold pan in order to properly pull out the fat. Duck breasts benefit from this, too.

      • http://explodyfull.com/ Explody Full

        oooo interesting I am going to go test it out on some bacon. Thanks!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      When I say “cold” I don’t mean refrigerator cold, but just not hot. There’s lots of times when starting from a cold pan works better. I start grilled cheese sandwiches from a cold pan too. If you put a grilled cheese on thick bread in a hot pan, the outside will burn before the cheese melts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thymebombe Alayna Huft Tucker

    Yum! This is one of my favorite go-to meals at home. I’ve actually never used skin-on chicken for it though, but definitely thighs rather than breast for juicier chicken. I’ll try it this way next time!

  • angerraa

    love love loved it!!
    New technique incredible flavors
    Been in love with since seeing you on chopped and now after a few of your recipes later you continue to inspire me in the chicken!

  • Kyi-Sin

    Hi Marc,
    Is there a substitute for sake or omit it from the recipe? I don’t have it on hand but would like to try this recipe. Thanks!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You can substitute water.

      • http://thevirtualonlineassistant.com/ Nica, Virtual Assistant

        Just water? What else can we use?

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          You could increase the amount of dashi, but if you’re asking if there’s another type of alcohol similar to sake, then nope, you’d be better off substituting water than using something like wine, which doesn’t work because it’s acidic.

  • http://twitter.com/DocWends Journeys & Travels

    this left me cracing for chicken for lunch :) Yummy

  • Linna Wei

    absolutely delicious. Instead of SAKE i used white wine( since i didn’t have any), not sure if that would make any difference.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it! White wine is far more acidic than sake which might have changed the taste a little, but I’m sure it was good anyway!

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  • Pokai

    I’ve been trying your recipes these past 3 days. I’m sure you know they’re all great. Thanks for this one too. I used your chicken teriyaki brine overnight to get more flavors and an extra egg in the end. Fantastic results.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Those sound like some great tweaks! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the recipes:-)

  • Chelsea

    What a great recipe! It was thoroughly enjoyed by my husband and I, as well as it was much easier than I’d anticipated. The pictures really helped.

  • Jonathan Lim

    Hey Marc,

    Anyway to incorporate onions into this? I’ve tried sauteing them in the left over fat after rendering while raising the heat to medium high, but it all turned out a touch too salty. Of course, it may have because I put too much salt in to begin with…

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Jonathan, that should work. You only need a small amount 1/4 teaspoon of salt for the chicken, so that may have been the problem.

  • http://myeasychineserecipes.com/ Dan S

    Great Recipe and amazing photos!
    If you don’t mine, can I link to your recipe as a reference for “gourmet” version of Oyakodon?
    I am posting a easy Oykodon recipe but would like to give a reference for “gourmet” version.

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!