The BEST easy teriyaki sauce recipe and it is made in just 10 minutes! It is so simple to make this homemade, you will wonder why you ever bought teriyaki sauce!
Sometimes the cupboards are close to bare for a variety of reasons and you just have to get dinner on the table. At those times I turn to a small handful of standby recipes that I always have the ingredients for.
This easy teriyaki sauce recipe is one of them and my kids happily declare it is the best dinner ever on the regular. It’s delicious, super easy and way better for you than any store bought sauce filled with tons of sugar and corn syrup!
What Is Teriyaki Sauce Made Of?
Teriyaki sauce is popular all around the world with its savory-salty-sweet flavor with lots of umami undertones.
Traditionally from Japan it’s main ingredients are soy sauce, mirin and sake with a few pinches of sugar and ginger in some cases.
But many people (in America especially) add a significant amount of brown sugar or honey, garlic, ginger, pineapple juice and sesame seeds to their teriyaki sauce.
This variation actually hails from Hawaii where Japanese immigrants introduced the concept, locals mixed in their local addition of pineapples and began using it as a marinade and sauce on chicken and pork especially.
What Is Teriyaki?
Teriyaki in it’s most classic form is actually describing the way the food is prepared, NOT the sauce.
It is used to describe grilling, broiling or pan frying a dish with a beautiful shining glaze. Using it to describe the sauce is a product of americanization of this dish and you will not find the teriyaki you are used to on a classic Japanese menu.
Traditionally, teriyaki sauce was used with fish. In Japanese cuisine, it is mainly used to top mackerel, salmon, marlin, trout, yellowtail and skipjack tuna.
In the west, the sauce is more popularly served with meat such as chicken, beef, and pork. Read more on the history of teriyaki here.
Ingredients You Need:
How To Customize Your Sauce:
Creating your own asian sauce from scratch is easy once you understand the types of ingredients you need. Once you understand this you can mix and match within reason with what you have on hand!
- Salty base: soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos. Thinned with water to tame the salt overwhelm.
- Sweetness: traditionally mirin and sake but in our recipe we sweeten with honey and crushed pineapple. Substitute: white sugar, brown sugar, or a sweet wine.
- Acidity: traditionally sake adds some acidity, but in our recipe rice wine vinegar and pineapple juice. Substitute: orange juice, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Even if you are making the base recipe it’s best to add the acidity in if you can in some fashion, it’s really not well balanced without it.
- Thickener: you can boil it down to thicken or cornstarch creates a beautiful shiny glaze. Substitute: flour, potato starch or arrowroot powder.
- Aromatics: ginger and garlic add amazing depth to the recipe. Substitute: finely minced shallots, finely minced onion, dried ginger and garlic powder (start with 1/2 teaspoon and increase to taste)
- Garnish: sesame seeds add visual interest and a crunch that is delightful. A small dash of sesame seed oil is also lovely (be careful it is powerful!)
While each substitution is not perfect, the ratio and balance is super important to create something edible. Start with our ratios and then tweak to adjust with what you have on hand!
Step By Step Instructions
What’s the difference between soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and teriyaki marinade?
Soy sauce is an ingredient of teriyaki sauce made from a fermented paste of soybeans, roasted grain, brine, and Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds. It is the consistency of water and considered to contain a strong umami flavor. It is very salty so many people recommend low sodium soy sauce when making teriyaki sauce to help prevent the salt from overpowering the dish.
Teriyaki marinade is a thinner version of teriyaki sauce that marinade flavors chicken, beef and fish by slowly being slowly absorbed into the meat for several hours. It is kept thinner so the sauce can be absorbed more easily.
Teriyaki sauce (also called teriyaki glaze) is for instant cooking by brushing on meats before grilling, stir frying and as a dipping sauce. It tends to have more sugar and be thickened more, either by boiling it down or by adding cornstarch or other thickening agents.
Is Teriyaki Sauce Gluten Free?
Yes! So long as you use gluten free soy sauce and thicken with cornstarch. You can also use tamari or liquid aminos if you prefer though the flavor will be slightly different.
How Long Will It Keep?
This sauce keeps well in the fridge for several weeks, so I will often whip up a double batch at the start of the week so we can use it in multiple recipes. It’s perfect for meal prepping on the weekends!
Ways to Use This Homemade Teriyaki Sauce:
We love to make noodle stir fry, teriyaki chicken over rice and we use this all the time to brush on meats to toss on the grill quickly. It is completely addicting and I know it will become a pantry staple in your house too!
Try these recipes:
3 Ingredient Easy Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
Basic Easy Teriyaki Sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce, I like reduced sodium
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4-5 tablespoons honey, to taste
Flavor Add Ins
- 2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar, to taste
- 4 tablespoons crushed pineapple
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon green onions
- In a small pot whisk soy sauce, water, cornstarch and honey together until smooth. Add any of the optional additional ingredients you are using (vinegar, garlic, ginger, etc) .
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and whisk constantly until desired thickness is reached, about 8-10 minutes. Do not leave unattended it thickens quickly once it gets boiling and will rapidly burn. It will continue to thicken as it cools so remove it before it looks to the consistency you are after.
- Taste and adjust as desired. If too thick, thin with additional water to desired consistency.