I’ve received many requests from readers over the years who wanted to make their own homemade teriyaki sauce. It’s actually really easy. If you aren’t aware, Teriyaki (照り焼き) in Japanese describes a cooking method. In Japanese, “teri” (照り) means luster and “yaki” (焼き) means grilled/broiled/pan-fried. It’s not the sauce we refer to, but rather how the food is prepared (the shiny food being grilled/broiled/pan-fried).
Fun Fact: Grocery stores in Japan don’t carry bottled Teriyaki Sauce (unless they are imported).
When the food is prepared in “teriyaki” style, we use soy sauce, sake, mirin (and sometimes sugar) to season. Mirin gives the food a nice luster and it’s an important ingredient for teriyaki style cooking.
When someone asks me for teriyaki sauce recipe, I always say “combine equal parts of soy sauce, sake, and mirin and then add sugar to your liking“.
Each time you make the sauce, the teriyaki flavor could be a little different depending on the ingredients you are using. For example, you might add grated/minced ginger or garlic to the sauce to produce a slightly different flavor. And the sauce can also be thicken with corn starch mixture, if you want your food to be coated well with the sauce.
To make the story short, there is no “perfect” teriyaki sauce that fits to all kinds of food. Homemade teriyaki sauce is healthier than store bought ones since it does not contain all the additives.
For the teriyaki sauce recipe below, I completely omitted sake because I know sometimes it’s not easy finding sake everywhere or you prefer not to use alcohol in cooking. Mirin may be hard to find in some parts of the world so in that case, just substitute with sugar. You do not need to add corn starch mixture if you don’t need to thicken the sauce. I usually reduce the sauce by coating the food with the sauce while cooking. It allows the sauce to become a bit thicker. I only use corn starch mixture when the sauce needs to be very thick (like typical store-bought teriyaki sauce).
I hope you will experiment with the recipe and make your own teriyaki sauce!
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- In a small saucepan, combine sugar, mirin, and soy sauce and bring to a boil.
- In a small bowl, combine corn starch with water and whisk it all together. Add the mixture in the sauce.
- Quickly whisk the sauce to evenly distribute the corn starch mixture.
- Stir the sauce while it's being reduced to the consistency you like.
My authentic teriyaki sauce is to combine equal parts of soy sauce, sake, and mirin and then add sugar to your liking. Add grated/minced ginger or garlic to the sauce depending on the food you are cooking.
If you have sake but don't have mirin, for 4 Tbsp. mirin, please use 2 Tbsp. sake + 2 Tbsp. water + 1½ tsp. sugar.
If you can’t drink alcohol, for 4 Tbsp. mirin, please use 4 Tbsp. water + 1½ tsp. sugar.
Don't forget 2 Tbsp. sugar in the recipe as well!
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.