Crispy teriyaki-glazed chicken, creamy cucumbers and avocado all piled in a tortilla makes these teriyaki chicken tacos a fusion dinner the whole family will love! They’re simple to make, so yummy and I can’t wait for you to try them.

two hands holding a plate of teriyaki chicken tacos with cream cucumber salad

The recipe story:

This recipe was born when I looked in my bare fridge on a Friday afternoon and spotted a few cucumbers and some herbs dying a slow, sad death. I knew I had chicken thighs in the freezer so I thought to myself okay cucumbers and chicken thighs, what can I make with this? I was craving tacos, but cucumbers in tacos? Does that work?

In a traditional taco, maybe not. But a creamy sesame cucumber ‘slaw’ of sorts piled on top of sweet chili teriyaki chicken? IT WORKS. And so good. The chicken is cooked in the instant pot so it absolutely falls apart and is super moist and tender. Then the key here is crisping up the shredded chicken under the broiler so that it’s sticky and caramelized and almost carnitas-like. I’ve made this three times since first developing the recipe and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.

What you’ll need to make teriyaki chicken tacos:

ingredients needed to make the recipe

Boneless skinless chicken thighs: chicken thighs are cooked in the instant pot and thanks to the slightly higher fat content (compared to chicken breast) shred up perfectly and are very forgiving. I really recommend using thighs for this recipe for best results, but if chicken breast is all you have that can work.

Teriyaki sauce: for a simple shortcut, we use premade teriyaki sauce, I like the SoyVay veri veri teriyaki but you could of course make a homemade teriyaki sauce.

Sweet chili sauce: for a final sweet, caramelized flavor on the chicken we hit it with some sweet chili sauce before putting it under the broiler. We also use a tablespoon sweet chili sauce as part of our cucumber dressing.

Cucumbers: I like using the smaller-sized Persian cucumbers but you could also use a large English cucumber. Try to avoid fat, large cucumbers as these are extra watery and usually full of seeds.

Greek yogurt: this a savory, creamy salad so opt for plain Greek yogurt. Any fat content will work.

Mayo: mayo adds another layer of creaminess and flavor to the cucumbers.

Rice vinegar: seasoned rice vinegar provides the tang and acidity for the cucumber salad. You can find rice vinegar in the international foods aisle or baking aisle of any grocery store.

Toasted sesame oil: toasted sesame oil adds amazing depth of flavor to the creamy dressing.

Chili crunch: oh chili crunch how I love these. This adds just a tiny bit of heat but it’s easy to leave out if you’re sensitive to spice. You can find chili crunch at most grocery stores in the international foods aisle next to the hot sauces like sriracha and chili garlic sauce.

Fresh herbs: fresh herbs are so underestimated and they are so good tossed in these tacos. I recommend fresh cilantro, green onions and mint.

Sesame seeds: sesame seeds get folded into the dressing and sprinkled on as a finishing touch.

Tortillas: I think flour tortillas work best but you can use whatever kind of tortillas you enjoy. I used 6-inch (fajita-size) flour tortillas.

Avocado: sliced avocado pairs perfectly with the teriyaki chicken and creamy cucumbers.

plate with two flour tortillas, crispy teriyaki chicken, avocado and creamy cucumber salad

How to make:

Chicken part one: season the chicken thighs on both sides with big pinches of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place them in an instant pot and add 1/3 cup teriyaki marinade. Toss to the chicken to fully coat each thigh with sauce. Place the lid on the instant pot and set it to sealing. Set the pot to pressure cook for ten minutes.

side by side shot of creamy dressing being whisked together

Creamy cucumbers: Add sliced cucumbers to a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing in a medium bowl. Combine Greek yogurt, mayo, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, sesame oil, chili crunch and salt until well combined. Toss the dressing with the cucumbers and fresh herbs. I like to reserve a couple tablespoons of dressing to drizzle on the finished tacos.

cucumbers with fresh herbs and creamy dressing

Chicken part two: natural release or quick release the pressure from the instant pot. Remove chicken and use tongs, two forks or your fingers to shred the chicken, it should fall apart easily. Place shredded chicken on a lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to broil. Drizzle with ¼ cup of the teriyaki sauce and two tablespoons of sweet chili sauce, and toss to coat the chicken in sauces. Broil for 3-6 minutes (watch closely because all ovens are different!) until the chicken is crispy and caramelized and golden brown. Remove from the oven.

shredded chicken drizzled with teriyaki sauce and sweet chili sauce

Assemble: warm tortillas. I like to place the tortillas directly onto the gas flame of my stove top to get a little char on each. If you don’t have a gas oven simply warm them in the oven or microwave. Layer each tortilla with crispy teriyaki chicken, creamy cucumber and herbs, sliced avocado, an extra drizzle of the dressing, crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. So, so good.

broiled teriyaki chicken with crispy edges

Variation ideas:

  • Make it a rice bowl: this meal would be amazing as a rice bowl. Instead of tortillas serve up the teriyaki chicken, cucumbers and avocado on rice!
  • Switch up the slaw: instead of cucumbers, drizzle the dressing over finely shredded green cabbage.
  • Add more veg! To the cucumbers, add thinly sliced red onion, julienned carrot and red bell pepper for more color and nutrition.
  • Consider other toppings: grilled pineapple salsa, thinly sliced red cabbage, pickled red onions or sliced jalapeños would all be fabulous on these teriyaki chicken tacos.
teriyaki chicken tacos on a plate topped with cucumbers and chopped peanuts

FAQs

How do I make this gluten-free?

To make this gluten-free, ensure you use a gluten-free teriyaki sauce and corn tortillas or gluten-free tortillas.

Can I make this with a different protein?

The cooking method is going to be different but you could make this with ground beef, ground turkey or crumbled tofu. Although I strongly recommend using chicken thighs, you could also use chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins.

What if I don’t have an instant pot?

See notes section in the recipe card for crockpot, stovetop and oven instructions.

Can I prep this in advance?

Chicken part one can be done ahead of time (ie cooking and shredding the chicken) Wait to toss with sauces and broil until right before serving. You can slice the cucumbers and whisk together the dressing ahead of time but wait to toss the cucumber salad together until ready to serve.

How should I store the leftovers?

Store chicken and cucumbers separately in airtight containers in the fridge. I’d avoid storing them as assembled tacos or the tortilla will get soggy.

What if I don’t have teriyaki sauce?

For a very simple homemade teriyaki sauce combine 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup brown sugar or honey in a jar and shake vigorously until combined. You can add fresh ginger and garlic if desired.

What should I do with the leftover liquid in the Instant pot?

All three times I’ve made this recipe I saved the leftover chicken cooking liquid and added it to ramen broth for a huge flavor boost!

close up view of one taco- crispy chicken, cucumber salad, black sesame seeds and chopped peanuts

Need more dinner ideas? Check these other main dish recipes:

Watch how to make teriyaki chicken tacos:

 Let me know if you all want more taco recipes! And if you give this recipe a try please drop a comment and star rating, I appreciate it! And don’t forget to come find me on Instagram @itsaflavorfullife, I love to see your creations.

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two hands holding a plate with two teriyaki chicken tacos with creamy sesame cucumbers

Teriyaki Chicken Tacos with creamy sesame cucumbers

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 16 reviews
  • Author: Erica
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Asian

Description

An unconventional taco to say the least- these teriyaki chicken tacos are nothing short of a total flavorbomb!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Creamy cucumbers:

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili crunch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh herbs, finely minced (cilantro, green onions and/or mint)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 large English cucumber or 34 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced

Teriyaki chicken:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Pinches of salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (I like this one)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

For serving:

  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
  • sesame seeds

Instructions

Chicken part one: season the chicken thighs on both sides with big pinches of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place them in an instant pot and add 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce. Toss to the chicken to fully coat each thigh with sauce. Place the lid on the instant pot and set it to sealing. Set the pot to pressure cook for ten minutes.

Creamy cucumbers: thinly slice cucumbers (I like to use my mandolin for this) Whisk together the dressing. Combine Greek yogurt, mayo, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, sesame oil, chili crunch and salt until well combined. Toss the dressing with the cucumbers and fresh herbs. I like to reserve a couple tablespoons of dressing to drizzle on the finished tacos.

Chicken part two: natural release or quick release the pressure from the instant pot. Remove chicken and use tongs, two forks or your fingers to shred the chicken, it should fall apart easily. Place shredded chicken on a lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to broil. Drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup teriyaki sauce and two tablespoons sweet chili sauce, toss to coat the chicken in sauces. Broil for 3-6 minutes (watch closely because all ovens are different!) until the chicken is crispy and caramelized with dark edges around some of the pieces. Remove from the oven.

Assemble: warm the tortillas. I like to place the tortillas directly onto the gas flame of my stove top to get a little char on each. If you don’t have a gas oven simply warm them in the oven or microwave. Layer each tortilla with crispy teriyaki chicken, creamy cucumber and herbs, sliced avocado, an extra drizzle of the dressing, crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. So, so good.


Notes

Crockpot instructions: add chicken thighs and teriyaki sauce to crockpot and cook for 2.5-3.5 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low. Shred and broil as stated in the recipe.

Oven instructions: add chicken thighs to a baking dish and cover with teriyaki sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until internal temperature registers 165 degrees. Shred and broil as stated in the recipe.

Stovetop instructions: bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Boil the chicken thighs for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Shred and broil as stated in the recipe.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 tacos
  • Calories: 523
  • Sugar: 8.9 g
  • Sodium: 1636.1 mg
  • Fat: 22.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.6 g
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Cholesterol: 109.7 mg

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