Unagi Sauce Recipe

Unagi Sauce | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

This sweet and flavorful sauce is commonly used for Unagi Don (Unadon/Unaju).  It is super easy to make at home and it can be used for many purpose.  I also used this sauce for Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Ball).

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Unagi Sauce
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Sauce for 2 unagi fillets
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 2½ Tbsp. sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp. sake
  1. Combine mirin and sake in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil to evaporate alcohol.
  2. Add sugar and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Then add soy sauce and bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat and continue cooking on simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat to cool it down. You can store the sauce in the refrigerator.
My original recipe: ¾ cup soy sauce, ¾ cup mirin, ½ cup (4.4oz/125g) sugar, ¼ cup sake.

The step-by-step pictures above show my original recipe portion.

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.


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  1. Kerry

    Thanks so much for this recipe! We love Unagi. I am going to try this on different fish as I haven’t seen eel in my local supermarket.

    • Hi Kerry! If you don’t have a Japanese grocery store around, try Chinese/Korean market. They should carry at least one kind of packaged precooked eel. :) Hope you enjoy this sauce!

    • Hi Thor! Um… it’s a tough question. Mirin and honey are quite different in sweetness and flavor (fragrance too). For this particular dish, I think it’s a bit strange to use honey… For some recipes (like baked goods, marinades, etc), mirin can be replaced with honey and it will work, but for Unagi sauce, I just don’t think it’ll work… You can replace with sugar though, if you cannot/don’t want to use alcohol. Hope that helps! :)

  2. Serge

    This site is exceptional! Thank you Nami, I appreciate it greatly, especially the hyperlinks of ingredients within the ingredient table on how to make them.. Extremely nice and professional.. definitely the “AsiaN” touch on that one;-)

    • Hi Serge! Aww thank you so much for your kind compliments! Well, I really wish to make my blog even more organized but I just don’t have enough time to clean up and organize my blog…. 😉 Thank you!

  3. Pauline

    Hello Nami,

    This is a great blog, I really enjoy it. I am just wondering can I make this sauce without sake? Thanks.

    • Hi Pauline! In Japanese cooking, sake is included often for certain purpose (to reduce the smell of fish/meat, to tender the meat/fish, make the sauce mild, etc). Without sake the result won’t be the same, but you can omit it if you cannot use it. :) Just to make sure, if you cannot use sake because of alcohol content, mirin has sake in it too, so you may want to avoid it also. Don’t worry, you can make it with soy sauce and sugar, and adjust with water if it’s too strong (as you will be lacking liquid from mirin and sake). Hope this helps! :)

    • Hi Smilem. Please know that sake and mirin are very important ingredients in Japanese cooking and if you cook without them, the final result will not be the same.

      So I highly recommend buying them if you want to cook Japanese foods (and we always use them).

      However, if you cannot use alcohol, then the best you can substitute with is water and sugar. I know it’s not the same flavor at all…but you need sweetness from sugar for mirin, and water to add more liquid (so it’s not too much soy sauce flavor). I hope this helps! :)

  4. nguyen truong

    hi, I love your recipe so much but I wonder is there the difference from unagi hand-made and the one bought from shop ?

    • Oh yes! Homemade taste much better in my humble opinion. If you have time and all the ingredients, I highly recommend for homemade one. Once you taste it, you won’t go back to the store bought. :)

    • Hi Amy! Without simmering the sauce will not be thicken, so it’s very watery. Unagi sauce should be thick and flavor is rich. With the thick sauce, it stays on top of unagi. :) Hope this helps!

        • We call it Unagi Sauce and I guess direct translation is “eel” sauce. No Unagi in it though but during the cooking process, we put unagi head and tail in it for flavor (the part we don’t put on top of rice). Hope this helps!

  5. dianne

    Can excess Unagi sauce be stored and for how long? Does it need to be refrigerated the whole time or can it be bottled and shipped to a vacation destination? Thx

    • Hi Dianne! If we don’t put water or vegetables (for example), theoretically it doesn’t go bad. However, I’d recommend to keep in a bottle or air tight container, and keep in the fridge. When you use it, make sure to boil it first. If you keep it longer, you should at least boil it once a week. You can also keep in the freezer too. :) Hope this helps!

  6. Denise

    One more recipe to try. Right now!
    I am so happy I found your blog!!! Yesterday I made the Miso Ramen again for my relatives that are visiting and they loved it! I’ll make the unagui sauce because my kids love unagui maki and they will have it today for lunch but I was missing the sauce…As always, I can count on you!
    Thank you!

    • Hi Denise! This homemade Unagi Sauce is so delicious and I hope you and your family liked it. I’m so happy to hear you and your relatives enjoyed the ramen recipe! It’s pretty easy to make, but so delicious! :) Thank you for trying out my recipes and writing the kind feedback. :)

  7. alan

    Thanks for the excellent recipe! I really enjoy when pictures are included that show the steps in the process. Very nice. :^D