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Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a simple Japanese sauce made from just four ingredients – soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar. It’s got a sticky sweet and salty taste, making it the perfect glaze over cooked chicken or salmon. And once you make it, I guarantee you won’t touch store-bought bottles again.

Teriyaki sauce in a glass jar.

If you’ve had teriyaki chicken at a Japanese restaurant, you know what I’m talking about. That irresistibly sweet and sticky chicken with a spoonful of rice is a match made in heaven. But what it really comes down to is the teriyaki sauce itself.

And there’s no chance that restaurants are using store-bought stuff. Why? Because it’s so easy to make. So if you’re looking to make this at home, you’re in luck. All you need to do is put a few ingredients through a simple reduction process.

Authentic Japanese Teriyaki Sauce

When teriyaki sauce was adapted by Americans, we certainly put our twist on it. Crushed garlic and ginger was added for flavor and cornstarch was added to thicken it up. But for this recipe, I want to keep it more authentic.

So if you love restaurant-style teriyaki sauce, then stick to this version of four basic ingredients. Use equal parts of the first three ingredients, then adjust the sugar amount to your liking.

  • Soy Sauce: I’m using Tamari for gluten-free soy sauce. But, you can also use coconut aminos for a soy-free version.
  • Sake: A Japanese alcohol made from fermented rice. The alcohol is burned off during cooking, but it imparts depth of flavor.
  • Mirin: It’s similar to sake but has a lower alcohol content and more sugar. It also gives our sauce that lovely glaze.
  • Honey: Traditional teriyaki sauce uses granulated sugar, but I’m using honey in this version.

Reducing teriyaki sauce in a pot on the stove.

Teriyaki Sauce Variations

  • If you don’t have sake: you could use more mirin and reduce the honey. You could also substitute dry sherry or white wine.
  • If you don’t have mirin: you could use more sake and add a more honey. You could also substitute a 3:1 ratio of water to honey.

But whatever you do, don’t use rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar). It will add a sour flavor to the sauce. Just imagine adding vinegar in place of wine in an American dish, it would completely alter it. When you see vinegar used in American teriyaki sauce recipes they usually add much more sugar to compensate for the sour, but it’s not ideal.

What about thickening the sauce? Traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce is much thinner than American store-bought versions. And the sauce will naturally thicken when it’s reduced on the stove.

But if you want to make your sauce even thicker, you can add arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Just mix 1 tablespoon of either powder with 1 tablespoon of water. Then stir it into the sauce when it’s nearly done simmering.

Can You Add Flavors?

I love garlic and ginger but I don’t add them to the sauce, because I want to keep the sauce more shelf stable. So I add crushed garlic and ginger directly to whatever recipe I’m making, like I do in my teriyaki chicken recipe.

A spoon in a jar of teriyaki sauce.

How To Make Teriyaki Sauce

  1. Add the soy sauce, sake, mirin and honey into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring it to a boil and continuously stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and use it immediately or store in the fridge. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Teriyaki Sauce Recipe Video

While this recipe is easy to make, you can see how quickly I make it in this recipe video. Give it a watch below!

Storing Instructions

Once the sauce has cooked and is slightly cooled, pour it into a glass container. You can store it in the fridge for up to a month.

How To Use Teriyaki Sauce

One thing to note is that teriyaki sauce should be used as a glaze, not a marinade. Because we’ve already reduced it, if you apply this to chicken or veggies early in the cooking process, the sugar will burn while cooking. Always add this sauce towards the end of your cooking:

So here are two ways to use it:

  • Brush it on: If you’re cooking a piece of salmon, brush the sauce onto it a few minutes before it’s done cooking.
  • Mix this into a stir-fry: Right before you finish stir-frying chicken, drizzle on the sauce and mix it in until the chicken is well coated.

More Sauces To Use As a Glaze

Teriyaki sauce in a glass jar with a spoon.
5 from 13 votes

Easy Teriyaki Sauce (So Flavorful!)

Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Teriyaki sauce is a simple Japanese sauce made from just four ingredients - soy sauce, sake, mirin and honey - but you can use it on so many different recipes!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  • Add the soy sauce, sake, mirin and honey into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Bring it to a boil and continuously stir the mixture until the honey dissolves. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it's slightly thickened.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and use it immediately or store away. If you plan to store it away, make sure to let the sauce cool a little before refrigerating.

Lisa's Tips

  • 1 serving is about 2 tablespoons and this recipe makes about 1/2 cup of sauce after it's reduced.
  • You can usually find sake and mirin in most big supermarkets, but if you have trouble finding them look for a local Asian supermarket.

Nutrition

Calories: 82kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 924mg, Potassium: 31mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Calcium: 3mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: How To Make Teriyaki Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce
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50 comments on “Teriyaki Sauce”

  1. Hi Lisa:
    I really enjoyed watching your videos, it gives me so much inspiration to try a new recipe. I was wondering where is a good place to buy the Sake and Mirin sauce to prepare the teriyaki sauce? You didn’t mention it on your video.
    Thank you,
    Marissa

    • Hi Marissa- Typically you can buy them at any asian market! But, they should have them at regular markets now such as Ralphs, Whole Foods, etc… in an Asian section :)

  2. Thank you for all of your great recipes! What can be substituted if you are unable to use any alcohol? I would like to make this but cannot use alcohol due to allergies even if it does cook off.

  3. Can you use this sauce in slow cooker?

  4. The perfect teriyaki sauce!

  5. This is the perfect recipe for quick weeknight meals. Now that i have found mirin at my local grocery it is so easy! And honestly it was easy with the mirin substitute that Lisa provides as well. Everytime I make it, my husband provides endless compliments. It is nice that is not the goopy bottled teriyaki sauce i have been used to. So light and fresh and makes a hearty dinner in no time at all!

  6. This is the best teriyaki sauce! I used it over leftover Thanksgiving turkey thigh and it was a great way to finish off the leftovers, a nice change after a few days of eating more traditional Thanksgiving food. Thanks for the great recipe, Lisa!

  7. Seriously this best teriyaki recipe! So simple and so delicious, my husband and I are addicted to this stuff. 

  8. I love all your recipes!
    Just wondering if oyster sauce could be substituted for mirin ?

    • Hi Rita – thanks so much! And that’s an interesting question, unfortunately I haven’t tried it so not sure how it would change the flavor. It’s definitely got that umami vibe, but quite different in flavor.

    • Wait… Did you change this recipe, or am I imagining things?  It used to have ginger and garlic in it? How much garlic and ginger should I add in if I’m going to marinate chicken thighs? 

  9. Can you suggest a sub for the sake?
    Thanks

  10. Thus teriyaki sauce is the best! I’ve always shied away from teriyaki because it’s usually a sticky glob when ever I’ve ordered it in restaurants. Super easy to make, love it on chicken and salmon. It’s going on my chicken tonight for dinner using your tried and true chicken teriyaki recipe!

  11. What brand of mirin and what brand for sake is good? All of this is now to me.

  12. I have looked all over and will the coronavirus I can not find sake anywhere. Can u plz tell me what I can use instead?I have really tried I live in the Midwest

    • Hi Angel – I have written in the post a few substitutions can use if you don’t have some of the ingredients :) But in this case, you could use more mirin and reduce the honey. You could also substitute dry sherry or white wine.

  13. Hi Lisa
    I cant wait to make this. Is this recipe with regular soy sauce or reduced sodium soy sauce?
    Thanks

  14. I tried the teriyaki sauce last night. The flavor was wonderful. But I couldn’t get it to thicken up. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Pam – authentic Japanese teriyaki sauces aren’t thick glazes like American versions. But this should thicken up when sauteed on the stove with other ingredients after a couple of minutes, as it will reduce down more in a hot pan.

  15. Hi! my try with this gorgeus recipe is 60 ml tamari soy sauce, 60 ml white wine, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tbs brown sugar, 2 tbs cornstarch. Even with subs, it tasted amazing. No more store-bought sauce!! thank you Lisa!

  16. Best sauce recipe ever! So easy and so yummy. This sauce has made it to my weekly repertoire ;-)

    • Wonderful! I’m glad this recipe came together easily for you. It definitely adds tons of flavor to your normal chicken routine :)

  17. I never realized how easy it was to make teriyaki sauce! You’ve inspired me to make teriyaki chicken for dinner tonight; sounds delish!

  18. This is indeed a great recipe for teriyaki sauce. No need to buy teriyaki sauce again, ever. :)

  19. I have never made my own Teriyaki sauce before but now I know how to. Thank you!!

  20. I love how easy this is to make!! Comes out perfectly every time!

  21. I absolutely LOVE Teriyaki sauce, I didn’t realise it was this easy to make!! Definitely going to whip up a batch :)

  22. I know this is a silly question but what part of the store would I find Mirin.  I looked in the alcohol section. Found saki, but no Mirin.  Didn’t see it in the Asian section or near the vinegar section.  

    • Hi Pam – Usually you can find Mirin where all the vinegars are! But if you couldn’t find it, I have a few substitutions in the blog post :)

  23. This is the BEST teriyaki sauce ever and I LOVE those little glass storage jars….Where do you purchase them?
     

    • Hi Terri – So glad you loved this sauce! You can find all my storage jars in the Shop page on my website :)