Japanese Beef Skewers (Kushiyaki)

Japanese Beef Skewers (Kushiyaki)

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 2 hrs
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 2 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 2 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
437 Calories
19g Fat
30g Carbs
36g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 437
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 5g 24%
Cholesterol 90mg 30%
Sodium 2415mg 105%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 90mg 7%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 628mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Japanese cuisine, "kushiyaki " refers to all foods that are skewered and grilled. It includes beef, chicken, pork, offal, seafood, and vegetables. While less commonly used, the term "kushiyaki-ya" refers to restaurants that specialize in skewered foods.

Kushiyaki and Yakitori

A popular Japanese skewered and grilled dish that Westerners are quite familiar with is yakitori, which means skewered chicken (vegetables and chicken offal) grilled over an open flame. In the West, this term has been adopted to refer to almost anything that is skewered and grilled. Similarly, "yakitori-ya " refers to a Japanese restaurant that specializes in any type of skewered food.

While commonly enjoyed at restaurants, kushiyaki and yakitori can easily be made at home, especially during the summer when grilling is more popular.

This Japanese skewered beef recipe has a bold Asian flavor profile bursting with savory and sweet goodness from its soy sauce-based marinade. The sweetness of these beef skewers is reminiscent of a teriyaki sauce, yet the addition of Japanese sake, ginger, garlic, and scallions will remind you that this is not your average thick and sweet teriyaki skewer, but rather a sophisticated Asian beef dish. 

Beef kushiyaki is a great main dish for an intimate family meal or large parties or potlucks. The recipe below can easily be multiplied to accommodate large parties.


  • 1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cup soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sake

  • 1 small piece ginger, grated

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 2 green onions, chopped

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Japanese Beef Skewers (Kushiyaki) ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Soak bamboo skewers in water for a few hours. Alternatively, metal shish kebob skewers may be used.

    Soak the bamboo skewers in water

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Combine sugar, soy sauce, sake, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, oil, and green onions in a resealable storage bag or large secure container.

    Combine sugar, soy sauce, sake, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, oil, and green onions in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Shake or mix ingredients together and refrigerate.

    sauce ingredients in a bowl

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  5. Slice beef flank steak into thin 2 x 2 inch pieces.

    steak cut into pieces

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  6. Marinate sliced beef with prepared marinade in resealable storage bag or plastic storage container in refrigerator. For best flavor, marinate beef at least two hours. Marinating beef for over four hours or even overnight will result in meat that is overly salty given the potency of the soy sauce in marinade.

    steak pieces and sauce in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Remove bamboo skewers from water, and skewer several pieces of beef onto bamboo sticks. Discard marinade after meat has been skewered.

    steak on wood skewers

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  8. Grill beef kushiyaki on barbecue over medium to high heat until beef is cooked to desired wellness, about three minutes on each side. Because meat is thinly sliced, you’ll find that it cooks fairly quickly. Be careful not to overcook or burn meat, as it will become tough.

    Japanese Beef Skewers (Kushiyaki) on the grill

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi