Easy Ponzu Sauce (Japanese Citrus Sauce) Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: October 27, 2023
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Easy Ponzu Sauce (Japanese Citrus Sauce) Recipe

Ponzu Sauce, also known ponzu, is Japan’s most famous citrus sauce! This ponzu sauce recipe is traditional and authentic and won’t disappoint! Add some of Japan’s delight, ponzu, to your everyday cooking today!

Ponzu Sauce

Tangy, aromatic and refreshing, ponzu sauce is an all purpose Japanese citrus sauce. This versatile sauce is perfect for almost any savory dish. Marinate, drizzle over a dish as you serve it, or you use as a dipping sauce.

This Japanese secret sauce, ponzu, will change your everyday cooking immediately. You can find it at your local super market these days, but why not make it fresh at home? Homemade ponzu is our pantry essential! Once you try this, you’ll never go back to store-bought ponzu again.

This ponzu sauce recipe shows you how to make our citrus flavoured sauce using a traditional method with Japanese ingredients. Add a splash of citrus flavor to your dish and bring some joy to your dinner table tonight! Read on!

Lemon Ponzu sauce
Credit: Instagram @japanesechef.cookingclass

What is ponzu sauce?

Ponzu is a Japanese citrus infused sauce. Not to be confused with soy sauce, yuzu kosho, Kewpie Mayo or teriyaki sauce. This sauce is one of the key secret ingredients in Japanese cuisine.

Tangy, aromatic and slightly salty, is what ponzu sauce tastes like. It has a refreshing umami rich, citrusy flavour you won’t be disappointed with. It’s the perfect way to enhance a wide variety of foods.

For recipe inspiration and how to use ponzu dipping sauce check out ‘Recipes with Ponzu Sauce’ below.

You’ll Love this Recipe for Ponzu Sauce

If you are looking for some new flavours and ingredients for your kitchen you’re in the right place.

Our recipe for ponzu sauce is perfect because it’s:


Ponzu is short for ponzu shoyu. Shoyu is soy sauce in Japanese. So Japanese ponzu is an umami rich citrus seasoned soy sauce. It’s hard to imagine a better combination.

This authentic ponzu sauce recipe is super easy to make. The key to success is to use the right ingredients. Of course, there’s variations that you can explore once you have the basics down.


Shop-bought ponzu sauce just doesn’t compare with homemade. It’s fresh, umami rich and full of aroma, with no additives or preservatives. You know exactly what ingredients are used.

Kikkoman ponzu sauce or Mitsukan ponzu are popular brands in Japan. Ponzu is also available outside the country these days. If you’re looking for where you can buy ponzu sauce, you can find it at Walmart, Trader Joe’s or even Amazon. But they may not be vegan.

Vegetarian friendly

Most of shop-bought ponzu contains animal products such as bonito flakes. (source) This ponzu sauce recipe won’t let you down if you look for the vegetarian friendly recipe. Our Japanese citrus ponzu sauce is not only plant based but delicious! Keep reading!

Recipes with Ponzu Sauce

Here are more ideas how to use ponzu:

  • Use for wakame seaweed salad and smashed cucumber salad.
  • Drizzle the sauce over tofu, and cooked or raw vegetables. I like it with spinach, sprouts, tomato or cucumber.
  • Add to any type of noodle dish like ramen, stir-fried noodles, udon or even pasta.

Want to know what can be used for more?

  • Dressing for salad such as Asian slaw!
  • Dipping sauce for tofu hot potand gyoza (Japanese dumplings) or gyoza sauce
  • Tsuyu dipping sauce for udon, soba and somen, or any types of noodles

Ponzu variation

Once you’ve mastered your homemade sauce, you can try some variations with your own favourite ingredients! Here’s a few ideas:

  • Garlic ponzu sauce (raw or cooked garlic works)
  • Chili ponzu sauce (add some chopped chili peppers)
  • Yuzu ponzu (add yuzu peels or other citrus fruit peels can work)
  • Ponzu Lime Sauce (add lime juice to your favourite citrus fruit)
  • Sesame seeds ponzu
  • Spring onion ponzu sauce (add spring onion and ginger)

Let me know how yours went in the comment section below!

Ponzu Sauce Ingredients

This is an easy ponzu sauce recipe – you just have to find the right Japanese ingredients. These should be available at your local supermarkets, your Japanese grocery stores, or online.

Citrus fruitsKabosusudachi and yuko (Japanese citrus fruits) are often used in traditional ponzu sauce making. When you add yuzu, the flavour and aroma of the sauce is elevated. When in season Japanese or Asian grocery stores stock Japanese citrus fruits.

Japanese citrus fruits are perfect for an authentic yuzu ponzu, but I know that sometimes they’re not so easy to find. If that’s the case, you can try lemon, orange and/or grapefruit. My recommendation is to make lemon and orange with a 3:1 ratio. (reference) Experiment with the amount and create your own original.

Seasoning ingredients

Japanese soy sauce (shoyu): Not tamari but koikuchi shoyu (dark-coloured soy sauce) works well with this authentic ponzu recipe. My favorite is “Kikkoman Yuki Organic Soy Sauce”. You can use it for many other dishes.

Japanese rice vinegar (su): Made with rice it’s rich, mellow and slightly sweeter that other vinegars. This milder, less acidic Japanese rice vinegar has anti-bacterial qualities which help avoid moulding ponzu. As well as ponzu, you can use it for sushi rice, pickling and various dishes.

Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine): Mirin is a secret weapon in Japanese cooking. It creates a strong umami and is used in teriyaki sauce, ramen noodles and dashi. It’s sweet but doesn’t contain sugar. This is how sugar free ponzu sauce is made. You can’t replace mirin with sugar unfortunately – it’s just not the same.

Japanese Sake: Sake draws out the umami of the citrus fruits and kombu. It creates a harmony with soy sauce, mirin and vinegar. It’s magical! You can use it for teriyaki tofuBBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, ramen noodles, dashi and other types of dishes. I use everyday drinking sake for cooking.

Kombu: Kombu is kelp seaweed. Don’t confuse it with nori or wakame which are both seaweed as well. They’re thin and kombu is thick.

Kombu is absolutely vital for drawing out the umami from the ingredients in this recipe. My favourite brands are Rishiri and Rausu from Hokkaido, Japan. But any brand can work with this ponzu recipe. You’ll find it at your local Japanese or Asian grocery store.

How to Make Ponzu Sauce

How to Make Ponzu Sauce

There’s only six basic ingredients for this recipe. And there’s just a few basic steps to take in making this recipe a success.


Wash the citrus fruit with running water. Dry them with a clean kitchen cloth. Clean all the utensils you use and the airtight glass jar that you’ll store it in thoroughly with hot water. If you’re storing it for more than 3 months, clean the inside of the jar and the lid with kitchen paper soaked with strong alcohol like vodka.


Make sure your hands are clean, and using a sieve, squeeze the citrus juice into a bowl or glass jar. You want to avoid any pith ending up in the sauce. I’ve found that if you combine different citrus fruits, the flavour becomes better.


Add all the ingredients into a clean airtight glass jar and mix together well with a whisk.

That’s basically it! Your homemade ponzu sauce is ready, and you can enjoy it immediately.

If you keep ponzu in an airtight container at room temperature, it will mature and become more refined. So while you can use it straight away, it’s good to let it develop a bit more for between one and four weeks. You’ll notice the difference! If you do this, take out the kombu from the container after 5 days.

You will never think of buying the bottle from the shop again!


How to store ponzu sauce

This citrus soy sauce can last for six months at room temperature in an airtight container. You’ll need to clean the air tight container with hot water and strong alcohol. Avoid any direct sunlight while storing.

Once you opened the stored glass jar for use, keep it in the fridge. It will last for one month.

Plastic or stainless steel containers can absorb unwanted aromas. So I prefer a clean airtight glass jar for storing.

Is ponzu sauce gluten free?

Unfortunately, the sauce is mostly not gluten-free. But you can make it gluten-free pretty easily. Simply use gluten-free soy sauce. Other ingredients we use are gluten-free.

Gluten-free light soy sauce, which is available from Kikkoman, a leading Japanese soy sauce brand. Tamari is not recommended to use for this ponzu sauce recipe.

More Collection of Sauces:

Easy Ponzu Sauce (Japanese Citrus Sauce) Recipe

Ponzu Sauce Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Make Japan's most famous citrus ponzu sauce simply from scratch! This ponzu sauce recipe is traditional and authentic and won’t disappoint! Add some of Japan’s delight to your everyday cooking today!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 2 cup


  • ¾ cup citrus juice*
  • 1 cup Japanese soy sauce (find koikuchi shoyu dark-coloured soy sauce)
  • ½ cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sake
  • 1 kombu (3×3 inch square)



  • Clean all the citrus fruit with running water. Dry with a clean kitchen cloth. Thoroughly clean all the utensils and airtight glass jar with hot water prior to storing.*


  • Using a sieve to separate out the pith, squeeze the citrus fruit to make juice. Make sure your hands are clean.


  • In a clean airtight glass jar combine the citrus juice, soy sauce, mirin, sake, rice vinegar and kombu. Mix together well. If kombu is too large to add into the container, break it into smaller pieces. That's it! Store or serve.


  • You can use ponzu immediately. Storing it for one to four weeks will make it milder and more refined in taste. If storing, remove the kombu after five days. Store at room temperature in an alcohol-cleaned airtight container for up to six months Avoid direct sunlight. Once you open the container, store in the fridge and use within a week.


*If storing for more than 3 months, wipe the inside of the jar and the lid with kitchen paper soaked with strong alcohol like vodka. A plastic or stainless steel container is not preferred as it may absorb unwanted.