Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

Hawaiian Style Shoyu Chicken

There is a little hole-in-the-wall cafe here in town the serves the BEST Hawaiian plate lunch you can get short of flying to Hawaii. The ribs are probably their claim to fame, but I’m a sucker for their shoyu chicken and macaroni salad. It’s been a while in the making, but I think the recipe I’ve come up with makes for a stinkin’ good substitute when I have a hankering for big plate of sweet meat, rice, and mac– which happens at least twice a week. Today I’m going to focus on the chicken and will share the macaroni salad recipe soon, promise!

Hawaiian Shoyu chicken is one of the simplest things to make. Seriously. Yet somehow the few, simple ingredients turn into deep flavors, tender meat and an all-around unforgettable meal. Shoyu is just another name for soy sauce, so as you might guess, we’re using a lot of soy sauce here. Other ingredients include Worcestershire sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, water, and a little red pepper.

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

You’ll need about 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I know I’ll have someone ask if they can use breasts, and the answer it yes, yes you CAN. But try it once with chicken thighs just for me, please? The thighs have so much flavor and really make this shoyu chicken what it’s supposed to be. This recipe can be made on the stove-top or in a slow cooker. Directions for both will be in the recipe below.

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

You’ll make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients except for the chicken, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

Pour the sauce over the chicken in either a pot or slow cooker and give it a little stir.

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

You’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

And then let it cook. That’s it! Once the chicken is nice and tender, I like to shred it up and stir it back into the cooking juices to absorb more flavor before serving. My favorite way of eating it is with lots of rice and a little concoction our local cafe serves with all of its meats: “Da Sauce” (recipe below).


Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken
Serves: 6-8 Servings
  • 3 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1½ C soy sauce
  • 1½ C water
  • 1½ C sugar
  • 1½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 in piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ C soy sauce
  • ¼ C water
  • ¼ C + 2 tbsp sugar
  1. Place chicken in a large pot on the stove top or in a slow-cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over chicken and stir until all chicken is immersed in sauce.
Stove Top Cooking:
  1. Bring to a low boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 1 hour at a low simmer until the chicken is tender.
Slow Cooker:
  1. Cook on LOW for up to 8 hours or HIGH for 4.
  2. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, shred and return to pan to soak up some more flavor. Serve over steamed rice with the sauce below.
  1. Combine and stir all ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.

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  1. Michelle says

    I love chicken thighs. They stand up to crock pot cooking way way WAY better then chicken breasts do. this looks wonderful. can’t wait to see the mac salad recipe.

  2. Mandie Murk says

    Do you remove the ginger, or is it supposed to cook down enough to eat? I bit into a chunk of ginger once in my shoyu chick and it was horrible (but not enough to make me stop ordering it-still my favorite). but it did scare me off from ever using fresh ginger.

    • Heather says

      Once cooked it will keep on the warm setting for about 4 hours. Much longer than that and you’ll lose some quality.

  3. Muir says

    Loved this recipe, made it both in the pan and in the crock pot. I think the pan version turned out better. I may have cooked it too long in the crock pot. I was curious if you had posted the mac salad recipe yet?

  4. Travis says

    Just curious, is the Hawaiian restaurant you’re talking about Local Boyz? From the description is sounds a lot like it.

  5. Lisa says

    I don’t like kikkoman either. I take my packets of aloha shoyu with me in my purse for when I eat out and have rice it chow mein 😉

  6. Conner says

    I When I read that your local cafe serves a special sauce that they call “da sauce” I was intrigued because my favorite Hawaiian cafe calls their secret sauce “da sauce” as well. So I checked your link and was pleasantly surprised when I saw Local Boys come up. I’m glad that you are attempting to recreate their amazing shoyu chicken. I can’t wait to try your recipe! Remember, don’t steal “da sauce”!

  7. Brian says

    What a small world, Local Boyz (while visiting a friend in Corvallis) was what started my love of the plate lunch, now its a weekly trip to Roxy’s in Beaverton.

    Tried this out with friends this Weekend, was fantastic, very similar to what I get at Roxy’s. I only had chicken breast on hand, and I could tell the difference, will be using thighs next time.

  8. Jennifer says

    You just made my day with two words “Local Boyz”. Since we are stationed in Yokosuka Japan I’m craving some good Hawaiian food. This will be made for dinner tomorrow.

  9. Melena says

    So happy I found this…I can’t wait to try your shoyu! My husband and I went to OSU and LOVE Local Boyz!! When we moved to Beaverton we started going to Roxy’s, like the person above mentioned, and it definitely rivals Local Boyz. I actually like Roxy’s mac salad better, and recently found a recipe that’s pretty similar. I’ve shared the link below – (my recommendation though would be to use less apple cider vinegar, maybe half; it was a little potent for our taste.). It would go great with the shoyu.


  10. says

    I had a feeling you’d be somewhere in the Pac Northwest. Might I suggest adding star anise to your shoyu chicken. 1-2 pieces. It gives it that something special :-)

  11. Amy says

    I’ve been looking for a recipe to replicate the Shoyu chicken at Local Boyz. So lucky I found this one! My hubby and I both graduated from OSU but now we’re in Alaska. Can’t wait to try this!

  12. Kay Jaysons says

    I didn’t use regular sugar because I didn’t have any. I use brown sugar and it made it sweeter compared to what I think yours tasted like. It was in perfect harmony to the ginger.

  13. Sean says

    Way too much ginger. I’m a decent cook and my fiance typically loves my meals but the amount of ginger this recipe calls for is so off putting that we both decided taco bell was a better option. I will try the recipe again but will definitely use less than a quarter the amount of ginger this one calls for.

  14. Dan says

    Made this today and used your recipe. So good! Had never made shoyu chicken before and was impressed with how good it was (compared to the spots I’d visited in Portland) and how easy it was to make. Thanks so much!

  15. Tim H says

    Small world. Preparing to try this and read comments for “tips”. Local Boyz used to be the go to joint for me before moving to Eugene. Was surprised to see but “da sauce” was indeed a good hint at local connection.

    • Heather Cheney says

      I’ve been so surprised by the amount of people that have emailed or commented that they are familiar with Local Boyz. Small world! Hope you love the chicken.

  16. Kristin says

    Made this the other day. It was really good. Your advice was correct about my slow cooker, it was cooking to hot. Turning it to low and cooking it for a shorter time worked well. I also thickened the liquid on the stove with corn starch. Yum


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