Easy Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: November 16, 2023
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Easy Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

Teriyaki sauce ready in just 10 minutes. Sweet, salty, umami full authentic teriyaki sauce that’s so much better than shop-bought. And, only four ingredients!

Teriyaki Sauce

While teriyaki sauce is everywhere in super markets in many countries, I’ve never seen it in Japan. Teriyaki sauce is something Japanese people rarely buy. There’s really no need when it’s so easy, and so tasty to make at home.

What is teriyaki sauce
Credit: Instagram @mommypotamus

What is teriyaki sauce?

In Japanese teri means shiny, and yaki means fried or grilled. This thick and umami rich magical sauce turns almost any ingredient into appetizing deliciousness instantly. It’s not soy sauce or no need to confused with ponzu sauce. That’s why it’s so popular and can be found at almost any super markets.

What’s in teriyaki sauce?

So I’d like to share a traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce recipe with you.

Sometimes teriyaki dishes are a bit Westernised with garlic or onion powder. That can be tasty but it’s not common for teriyaki in Japan. Making teriyaki extra thick and sticky is also not necessary.

The ingredients we use are very simple and that’s the key for success.

This simple and easy teriyaki sauce is based only four ingredients – soy sauce, mirin, sake and brown sugar. I know that it’s tempting to add more ingredients or make the sauce sticky, but really there’s no need. You can cook it a bit longer to thicken it if you want.

But when the simple, umami rich ingredients are blended together, something special happens. The flavour becomes intense, balanced and direct. It’s so powerful!

Ingredients for teriyaki sauce

Only four ingredients are required for this authentic sauce, and no need to add oil, water, pepper or salt.

Soy Sauce is the star of this recipe. Either koikuchi (dark coloured) or usukuchi (light coloured) shoyu (soy sauce) works, but koikuchi is better. My favorite is “Kikkoman Yuki Organic Soy Sauce”.

Mirin: (or Hon Mirin): A umami rich and great flavor enhancer, naturally sweetened, mirin shines through in broths, marinades and glazes. Mirin brings the rich and complex sweetness. It can also be used for salad dressing, ramen soup, stir-fried vegetables or almost any Japanese dishes. So keep some in your fridge.

Japanese sake is rice wine, and is one of the well kept secrets of Japanese cooking. There are many varieties but you can use inexpensive drinking sake for cooking.

Sugar: I use brown sugar for this recipe.

How to Make Teriyaki Sauce

What you need are those essential Japanese ingredients:

  • Soy sauce
  • Sake
  • Mirin
  • Sugar

The importance for success is to use even amounts of soy, sake and mirin. Then add sugar in accordance with your preference. I usually use one tablespoon (or half the amount of each of the other ingredients).

This is the traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce golden formula. It’s easy to remember:

2 tbsp Soy sauce : 2 tbsp Sake : 2 tbsp Mirin : 1 tbsp Sugar

One thing to avoid is adding oil. It prevents the sauce from caramelising with the ingredients (such as tofu or vegetables)

This is the reason to remove the oil with kitchen paper from the frying pan once the ingredients are cooked. Then pour teriyaki sauce into the pan. This way the ingredients and the sauce are well mixed together and create an intense flavour!

How to Use Teriyaki Sauce

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
Credit: Instagram @everyday_eileen

I made teriyaki stir fry with tofu the other day. It was super delicious and takes just 15 minutes to make. But you can really use this on just about anything – try it.

Variations

Once you master the golden formula , you can make your own original version with other ingredients.

GARLIC TERIYAKI SAUCE

The American style often includes garlic. When the sauce meets garlic, the flavour becomes slightly different. My favorite is to add fresh garlic when the ingredients are stair fried or baked with broccoli.

TERIYAKI GINGER SAUCE

Baked tofu and vegetables like eggplant work well with a slightly gingered. Add shaved ginger into the sauce and caramelize with the cooked vegetables in the frying pan. Or pour the sauce once tofu and vegetables and bake in the oven.

TERIYAKI SAUCE FOR BBQ

Why not? We use it at our family and friends’ gatherings. The sauce works very well with corn, onion, broccoli and many more. Let me know how you find this or if you discovered something new!

FAQs

How long can you save teriyaki sauce?

It can be saved in the fridge for 2 weeks. You can pour it into an ice cube maker and keep it in the freezer for 3 months. Use the amount of ice cubes you need for cooking.

Is teriyaki sauce plant based?

It’s mostly plant based, like from Kikkoman, a leading Japanese soy sauce manufacturer. (source) It includes soy sauce, Japanese sake and mirin, which are naturally animal free.

But shop-bought bottles may include honey, fish sauce or washed sugar by bone char. Homemade is always good because we know what ingredients are included, and it’s so easy to make. It seems so mystical in a Japanese restaurant, but you’ll wonder what took you so long to discover making it at home.

Collection for Sauce Recipes

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Teriyaki sauce ready in just 10 minutes. Sweet, salty, umami full authentic teriyaki sauce that’s so much better than shop-bought. And, only four ingredients!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 1 cup

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup soy sauce (or gluten free soy sauce)
  • ½ cup sake
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup sugar

Instructions
 

  • Add soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar into a small pan. Simmer with low heat until the sauce is thickened. It usually takes 10 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally.
  • Use teriyaki sauce with tofu and vegetable dishes. It can be used as teriyaki BBQ sauce. Or save it in the fridge for 2 weeks. Or make ice cubes with the sauce and leave them in freezer for 3 months. Use the amount of ice cubes to be needed for cooking.

Notes

Making the variations of teriyaki sauce
 
You can add finely chopped garlic, shaved ginger or onion powder into the sauce if you want to vary it. But keep the golden formula as the base: 
 
  • 2 table spoon soy sauce
  • 2 table spoon sake
  • 2 table spoon mirin
  • 1 table spoon sugar 

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