Whether used as a marinade, dipping sauce or even a glaze, this homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe is full of flavor and perfectly sweet!
I love an amazing sauce with nearly any meal. I drizzle my salmon with pesto, I adore some chicken wings drenched in buffalo sauce. And while I’ll let my littles hoard the ketchup to have on their scrambled eggs, my omelets and breakfast burritos get the sriracha treatment.
But while I like those spicy and savory sauces, I also can’t pass up an Asian-style sauce like teriyaki. Teriyaki on salmon is one of my go-to weeknight meals; but you can use it on virtually any vegetable or protein. It’s so easy to make and your dinner will look and taste like you spent all day on it.
Substitutes for Teriyaki Sauce
There really is no substitute for teriyaki. Its base of soy sauce that mingles with the sweetness of mirin and brown sugar, all rounded out with the unique flavors of rice vinegar and sesame oil, makes it a sauce that is so handy for making the most mundane meals magnificent.
Is Teriyaki Sauce Healthy?
Teriyaki sauce is healthy, generally, as long as you don’t eat it by the spoonful. The calories and carbs in teriyaki are fairly low in each serving since you need to use so little even though it contains sugar.
If you’re worried about the carbs in the sauce, you can always use an alternative sweetener. Another bonus is that it can be gluten free if you use tamari (without wheat) instead of soy sauce.
What is Teriyaki Sauce?
The term “teriyaki” initially referred to a cooking method (grilling with a seasoned soy sauce marinade) from as early as the 17th century in Japan. However, while teriyaki sauce is often equated with Japanese cuisine, it was actually created in Hawaii (albeit by Japanese immigrants).
The original soy sauce based delicacy was created in the 1960s and incorporated pineapple juice in addition to many of the other flavors we associate it with today.
Today, teriyaki sauce still remains based in soy sauce with sweeteners and thickeners to create a burst of salty, sweet, umami flavors that delicately coat any food that is graced with it.
Instead of pineapple, mirin, rice vinegar, and brown sugar often serve to sweeten it while cornstarch is popular for thickening the sauce, doing double duty making it either a heartier marinade or delectably dippable.
Teriyaki chicken is among one of the most popular dishes made with the well-known sauce, but there are an abundance of other uses for the versatile sauce.
It may not rank in the top ten sauces in the U.S. like sriracha, soy, tzatziki, or Worcestershire, but it probably should. And it’s also a lot easier to spell than some of those others.
- Mirin – with more sugar and less alcohol than sake, this rice wine will add just the level of sweetness you need to the sauce.
- Soy sauce – originating from China, soy sauce imparts umami into this recipe, as well as the saltiness necessary to bring out the other flavors.
- Rice vinegar – made from fermented rice, rice vinegar is sweet. Avoid substituting other vinegars and ensure to use this specifically.
- Sesame oil – made from sesame seeds, this oil is sometimes challenging to source. If you can’t find it at your grocery store, check the “variations” section of this post for some alternative options.
- Light brown sugar – with less molasses than dark brown sugar, light brown sugar is the option to use here. There is plenty of sweetness already derived from the mirin and rice vinegar.
- Garlic cloves – while you can chop or grate, mincing cloves is the best option if you want a smooth sauce.
- Fresh ginger – just like the garlic cloves, ensure that you mince the ginger unless you want a chunkier texture (like for a dipping sauce).
- Cornstarch or arrowroot – cornstarch is the first choice to use for thickening this sauce but arrowroot is a reasonable alternative.
- Water – this helps to achieve the consistency you want to create for this sauce.
How to Make Teriyaki Sauce
- Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil before simmering.
- Blend the mixture until smooth using a small food processor or an immersion blender.
- To make the marinade into a sauce, first make a slurry by whisking together cornstarch and water.
- Add the slurry to the marinade and whisk until the mixture has a glossy appearance.
- Remove from heat and allow the mixture to thicken.
How To Use Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki sauce has tons of uses from marinating meats and fish to dipping appetizers and veggies.
Salmon, beef, tofu, chicken, pork… you name the protein and teriyaki will take it up a notch. Brush it on the meat, fish, shrimp, or alternative protein, then cook as you typically would. You can even slather it on teriyaki burgers!
Turn your game day traditions around and use teriyaki instead of buffalo sauce for your wings. Make a creamy peanut sauce to give your wings a Thai flair. Or if you choose to add some heat to your teriyaki sauce, whip up a quick, creamy green curry sauce to offset it. Yum yum sauce is another great dipping option.
Another great appetizer or snack that dips well in teriyaki is crab rangoon. These tasty cheese-filled wontons are perfect for Saturday night snacking; but they’re also perfect for a party, and they pair amazingly with teriyaki sauce.
If you don’t have crab just omit it – the cheesy crispy rangoons will still serve as amazing vehicles for that sauce. Egg rolls or dumplings are delicious dippers as well.
You can even elevate standard weeknight dishes with teriyaki sauce. Spread it on a burger, dip your fries in it, even drizzle it on a takeout cheesesteak.
And don’t sleep on using it outside of the evening hours! Scrambled eggs would love the teriyaki treatment and you could transform your eggs benedict by replacing the hollandaise.
Starch substitutions – in addition to arrowroot, other substitutions for cornstarch are rice flour, tapioca powder, potato starch, and flaxseed gel. Not all are 1:1 substitutions, so make sure to check before adding them to your sauce.
Oils – while sesame oil is the best option to use in this teriyaki sauce recipe, you can use other oils. Oil options include olive, walnut, grapeseed, or avocado.
Heat – want to add some extra heat to your sauce? Toss in some crushed red pepper, fresh hot peppers, sriracha, Thai chili sauce or curry pastes, or even cayenne.
Sweetness – drizzle some honey into your teriyaki sauce for some added sweet flavor or just add some extra mirin.
You can store this homemade teriyaki sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
More Easy Sauce Recipes
Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
- 2/3 cup mirin
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 7 large garlic cloves minced*
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced*
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
- 3 tablespoons water
- Combine all ingredients for teriyaki marinade in a small sauce pan. Bring to a low boil, then a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Mixture will be thin. Use this for marinating.
- Using an immersion blender or small food processor, blend well.
- To make marinade into a sauce, whisk together cornstarch and water until fully combined. Mix with teriyaki marinade until it becomes glossy. Remove from heat, mixture will thicken as it cools.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!