Smoked Shoyu Chicken Recipe

Smoke ’em if you got ’em!

Smoked Shoyu Chicken

Smoked Shoyu Chicken Drumsticks

Shoyu chicken is a very popular dish often served at Hawaiian parties. Chicken pieces are braised in a sweet shoyu (or soy sauce) based sauce until tender, and then served over rice. Sometimes, the chicken is marinated first, then baked or grilled. But if you’ve got a barbecue smoker, you can take shoyu chicken to new levels of taste!

Annie got this shoyu chicken recipe from her friend Shannon. We used it to make a double batch of shoyu chicken for our son Daniel’s birthday party last Saturday. It was a hit at the party. Not quite as popular as our no-bake char siew but still going faster even than a batch of our killer kalbi.

Since the kalbi was going to take all of the grill space, I decided to fire up the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker and smoke my shoyu chicken on that.

Shoyu Chicken Recipe


25 pieces of skin-on chicken (drumsticks and thighs are best)
3/4 cup shoyu / soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-1/2 pieces of ginger, crushed


1. Combine all ingredients together in a zip-top bag or sealable container. Marinate overnight, turning occasionally to ensure all the pieces are covered by marinade.

2. About half an hour before cooking, light the charcoal in the smoker. Once the coals are lit, set up the smoker for indirect cooking.

3. Lay the chicken pieces down first on the bottom grate, then the top grate. (Notice I lay the pieces down with the bone-side out. This is so that the meat won’t get burned by the heat coming up the inside edge of the smoker.)

Smoking Shoyu Chicken on the WSM

Smoking Shoyu Chicken on the WSM

4. Cook at approximately 300*F for 1 hour. Just put down the cover and walk away. No peeking! (Peeking lets out heat and increases cooking time.)

5. To test for doneness, insert a knife into one of the drumsticks, going all the way to the bone. Remove the knife. Chicken juice will seep out of the hole. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. If the juices are still pink, cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Smoking Shoyu Chicken on the WSM

Smoking Shoyu Chicken on the WSM

6. Remove the shoyu chicken from the smoker, place in a tray, and cover with foil to rest.

WSM Smoked Shoyu Chicken

WSM Smoked Shoyu Chicken

This smoked shoyu chicken was delicious! You get that really nice salty-sweet flavor of the shoyu and sugar, plus the undeniably irresistible smoke component. Best of all, because the shoyu chicken was smoked over indirect heat, they didn’t get dried out or burned in a grease fire like they are prone to on a grill. The chicken was still juicy, even though they had a longer cooking time than grilling.

If you don’t have a smoker, you can still grill or bake the shoyu chicken for 30-45 minutes at around 350*F. But why miss out on all the great barbecue you could be turning out? Get the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker today!

Aloha, Nate

23 thoughts on “Smoked Shoyu Chicken Recipe”

  1. >Fantastic looking smoked chicken. It’s still too cold up here to use the grill. Gotta keep this recipe for Spring time.. Thanks for sharing, Nate.

  2. >I’ve just sent this recipe to a friend up the road who bought a smoker, with a plea to make this for me!

  3. >Yum. No way I can smoke anything up here. And I might just be totally New England-y and use brown sugar. I suppose that’ll work. But it looks so darn good.

  4. >:( I don’t have a smoker. I guess you’re going to have to send me some! 🙂

    I like how you use a whole bunch of drumsticks. I can just imagine all the kids just digging into it! Good job!

  5. >That looks ONO. We do a similar recipe. We use the special soy sauce with the Swan on it. It is so good. All you need is a pile of rice and some mac salad!

  6. >We have been blessed by NAnnie’s hospitality on many occasions. I could park myself in front of this chicken if not for all the other scrumptious dishes they prepare.

    Captain Underpants Jr. has requested the recipe for your goody bag cookies. Fer reals! He declared them “99 point ten percent” yummy, with Toothpick wholeheartedly concurring. No, you are not 0.09% shy of perfection, rather it’s 99+1=100%. In a rare move, they polished off all the cookies in two days. They usually take two bites then let the rest fester on the table for two weeks.

    The chap chae would have perfect if not for Toothpick picking out all my noodles then grinning from ear to ear about it! What she did leave behind was really, really yummy, especially with all the added goodies.

    Oh, and Toothpick stole all the fruit from my cake too! Once again, I really enjoyed what she left behind. I liked the texture of the cake – not too fluffy and not too dense.

    Thank you for packing a plate for me!

  7. >@all – thank you so much for your comments. We really appreciate it!

    @Pearl – yes, for our son Daniel’s 7th birthday party.

    @Tuty – you’re welcome!

    @Lydia – I hope you and they like it!

    @Mark – you could use brown sugar, honey, maybe even maple syrup!

    @Mrs. L – tell you what, if your hubby buys a WSM, I’ll teach him how to use it!

    @Chef Ben – kids sure love drumsticks…and so do adults!

    @farida – great! Let us know how it turns out for you!

    @holly – the problem with shoyu chicken and rice is that you can really eat a lot of rice when you pour the sauce on top of it!

    @mytasteheaven – you’re welcome! I’d love to hear what your party guests think!

    @J – another great testimonial!

    We will be posting the almond cookie recipe soon. It’s a great recipe – one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

    The chap chae at the party didn’t come out as good as we expected, so will have to get some advice from Sandy on how to make it better. We will post a recipe then.

    Cake recipe coming soon. Stay tuned!

  8. >These look amazing and tasty. You are so fortunate to cook outdoors this time of year. This would make a great snack for a party.

  9. >Awesome! these really stimulate my stomach. I love grilled chicken, but never thought about adding soy sauce. I use soy sauce when I saute chicken. But now I know what to do before grilling them. Thank you so much.

  10. >@Peter – hope it comes soon for you!

    @eric – do let us know how it comes out for you!

    @zerrin – trust me, it’s deeeelish!

  11. Never thought about smoking them, definately will try it that was soon. We never use the same recipe for this twice in our house, until now I was making it based on how my mom told me, her recipe “cook da chickens, den add some shoyu en wadda, den grate your ginga an garlic and cook some moa, maybe add some sake if you get it”. Seriously that is as close to a recipe as she has ever given me.

    Tried your recipe minus the smoking when you posted it, now my husband and I have our bachelor friends walk in the door and demand “Showme chicken”. During the winter I cook it in the marinade, so it is a fast easy dinner. For the bachelors I add some garlic ginger hotsauce to the mix and make ridiculous amounts of rice. Mac salad too.

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