Learn how to make delicious and easy homemade teriyaki sauce with this authentic Japanese method. Only 4 ingredients needed! Sweet, savory, and versatile, it will be your go-to sauce for chicken, salmon, tofu, pork, or even meatballs!
Savory and versatile, Teriyaki Sauce (照り焼きのたれ) has been becoming the mainstay seasoning outside of Japan. Many of you have asked me if you could make your own homemade teriyaki sauce without having to get the store-bought stuff. I am happy that you asked because most Japanese home cooks actually make our own sauce at home.
The best part about homemade teriyaki sauce? It takes only 4 simple ingredients, and you’ll get the most delicious sauce that goes well with everything! It’s so easy that you want to keep it on hand at all times.
What is Teriyaki?
First of all, if you aren’t aware, Teriyaki (照り焼き) in Japanese actually describes a cooking method. “Teri” (照り) means luster and “yaki” (焼き) means grilled, broiled or pan-fried. It’s not the sauce we refer to, but rather how the food is prepared. So teriyaki essentially refers to any grilled/broiled/pan-fried food with shining glaze.
All Teriyaki Sauce in Japan is Homemade
When the food is prepared in “teriyaki” style, we season the food with soy sauce, sake, and mirin (and sometimes sugar). Mirin gives the food a nice luster and it’s an important ingredient for teriyaki style cooking. Since the meaning of ‘teriyaki’ has been deviated by simply referring to a Japanese sauce outside of Japan, I’d just refer it as a sauce in this post.
How to Make Authentic Teriyaki Sauce
To make Teriyaki sauce, all you need is 4 most essential Japanese pantry: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. The basic formula is to use equal parts of the first three ingredients, then adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. The easiest way? Have this formula memorized:
2 Tbsp soy sauce : 2 Tbsp sake : 2 Tbsp mirin: 1 Tbsp sugar
Americanized teriyaki sauce always includes grated or minced ginger and garlic to produce a slightly different teriyaki flavor. You can add them if you like and in Japan we sometimes add them too as a variation of teriyaki sauce.
How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce
Americanized teriyaki sauce is very thick and syrupy compared to the teriyaki sauce in Japan. Japanese teriyaki sauce is reduced in the pan until it becomes thicker consistency. We do not use cornstarch or honey, like other non-Japanese versions.
Of course, there is no strict rule on the recipe, you can still make a thick sauce by adding a mixture of 2 Tbsp water and 1 Tbsp cornstarch or potato starch if that’s your preference.
In a nutshell, there is no one “perfect” teriyaki sauce that fits all kinds of recipes. Adjust the ratio of ingredients each time you make a teriyaki recipe. Homemade teriyaki sauce is healthier than store-bought ones since it does not contain any additives.
The wonderful thing about teriyaki sauce is its versatility. You can use it as a marinade or a glaze, and make many of your favorite family dishes like teriyaki chicken, teriyaki salmon to beef teriyaki. Once you start to experiment with your own teriyaki sauce, you will have fun dishing out different delicious recipes with this all-purpose seasoning.
Watch How to Make the Best Teriyaki Sauce
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- Gather all the ingredients. See Notes for half portion ingredients or substitute info on sake and mirin.
- In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Add sake and mirin.
- Add soy sauce and sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and continuously stir the sauce until sugar is dissolved. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low. Cook on simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
- When you mix the sauce or tilt the saucepan, small bubbles start to rise/appear. When this happens, the sauce is ready to use. Pour the sauce to a sterilized jar and keep the jar open until cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.
How to Use Teriyaki Sauce
- Teriyaki Salmon: Season the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lightly coat the salmon with all-purpose flour. Heat the cooking oil or butter in the frying pan and cook the salmon one side for 3 minutes. Once nicely brown, flip the salmon. Add 1 Tbsp sake and cover to cook for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and pour the Teriyaki Sauce. Spoon the sauce over the salmon to coat well.
- Teriyaki Chicken: Season the skin-on chicken thigh (or chicken breast if you prefer) with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lightly coat the chicken with all-purpose flour. Heat the cooking oil or butter in the frying pan and cook the chicken one side. Flip and cover to cook until it's cooked through. Wipe off the frying pan with paper towel. Pour the Teriyaki Sauce and coat the chicken well with the sauce.
- Teriyaki Tofu: Drain the firm tofu well (pressing it or microwaving it for 1 minute). Cut the tofu into smaller pieces (slabs) and lightly coat them with all-purpose flour. Heat the cooking oil in the frying pan and cook the tofu on both sides. Pour the Teriyaki Sauce and coat with the tofu.
- You can also pour additional Teriyaki Sauce on the finish dish.
- If you can take alcohol: Use ½ cup dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
- If you can't take alcohol: Use ½ cup water
- If you have sake: ¼ cup sake + ¼ cup water + 3 Tbsp sugar
- If you don't have sake: ½ cup water + 3 Tbsp sugar
Use Your Homemade Teriyaki Sauce in These Delicious Recipes:
- Chicken Teriyaki
- Teriyaki Burger
- Teriyaki Salmon
- Beef Teriyaki
- Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs
- Teriyaki Steak Rolls
- Butter Shoyu Chicken
- Teriyaki Pork Loin Donburi
- Teriyaki Chicken Quesadilla
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Jun 12, 2013. It’s been updated with a new video, images, and content in January 2018.