This easy teriyaki sauce recipe comes together in minutes with basic ingredients. Use it as a dipping sauce, marinade, or glaze — this is a great recipe to whip up in a pinch on those nights when takeout just sounds too tempting! You’re going to love making your own homemade teriyaki sauce.
How to Make the Best Teriyaki Sauce
We all know that one of the best parts of any meal is the sauce.
Now, imagine a homemade teriyaki sauce that’s super simple to make and tastes just as delicious as the one from your favorite Japanese restaurant and way better than any store bought sauce you can imagine.
That’s exactly what we have here!
This teriyaki sauce is perfect for dipping and makes a fantastic marinade or as a glaze for your favorite protein and vegetables. You’ve never had teriyaki chicken this good! I also love adding it to stir fry and noodle dishes! The possibilities are endless with this versatile recipe.
What is Teriyaki?
Teriyaki refers to the Japanese method of boiling or grilling foods in a delicious sauce, known commonly as teriyaki sauce. The rough translation is “glossy grill” referring to the shine the sauce take on from the sugar and the cooking method.
Here in the US, teriyaki is commonly used to refer to anything served with a sweet, soy-based sauce as well as to the sauce itself. Teriyaki chicken, teriyaki salmon, and stir fries are the most common items you’ll see that use this sauce, but it’s really very versatile.
Ingredients in homemade teriyaki sauce
There are only 7 ingredients in this quick teriyaki marinade recipe, but they work together to pack big flavor into every bite. Once you try it out yourself, you won’t want to go back to bottled sauce ever again!
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce. Soy sauce gives this sauce it’s deep savory flavor. I use a reduced sodium soy sauce to keep the flavors in balance.
- Mirin. Mirin is a sweet rice wine that adds acidity to sweet recipes. I always have a bottle of it in the fridge (it keeps for practically forever!)
- Light Brown Sugar. For sweetness and delicious molasses-y notes. You can also use equal parts dark brown sugar and white sugar.
- Sesame Oil. For richness and a hint of toasty flavor.
- Ground Ginger and Garlic. For aromatic flavor. I use dried spices instead of fresh ginger and garlic for the smoothest texture.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the sauce and make it fabulously glossy.
Instead of Soy Sauce:
Try tamari for a gluten-free soy sauce alternative or coconut aminos for a soy-free variation.
Instead of Mirin:
If you don’t have mirin around, use sake, rice wine vinegar, or white wine. You might want to add an extra teaspoon of sugar to account for mirin’s sweetness, but give the sauce a taste and see what you think. Apple cider vinegar also works in a pinch.
Instead of Brown Sugar:
You can swap in honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. For keto teriyaki sauce, try Swerve brown sugar substitute!
Instead of Ground Spices:
You can use grated ginger and minced fresh garlic in place of the dried and ground versions, but note that your sauce won’t be as smooth. You can also leave the ginger and/or garlic out. The sauce is still great without them, but they really take it to the next level. For a hint of spice, you can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes!
Instead of cornstarch:
You can use arrowroot or tapioca powder instead of a cornstarch slurry. Or omit it for a thinner sauce. You can also thicken the sauce by simmering it longer (about 30 minutes)
For a sweeter Hawaiian-inspired teriyaki sauce:
Substitute half of the water for pineapple juice.
How to make your own teriyaki sauce
To make teriyaki sauce, add all of the ingredients except the cornstarch to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth, then stir into the sauce and simmer until thickened.
Transfer the homemade sauce to a glass jar with a lid. I love these Weck jars, but you can use something as simple as an old jelly jar. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. The sauce will thicken as it cools, but will thin back out if you reheat it. You can also add water to thin it further.
This homemade teriyaki sauce is great as a dip for grilled chicken skewers or eggrolls. I also love slathering it onto salmon before popping it into the air fryer. You can also use it as a stir fry sauce for your favorite protein (I love it with tofu!) or with noodles.
Yes! This is a great marinade for chicken or steak. Depending on how much your sauce reduced, you can use it as is or thin it with a little water or both to make a marinade.
This homemade teriyaki sauce does have brown sugar in it, but since you only need about 1 tablespoon per serving it is pretty low carb with about 2 net carbs per serving. You can easily reduce the carbs farther or make a keto teriyaki sauce by using the substitutions listed above.
Start to finish, this recipe takes about 15 minutes to make and will last for a few weeks in the fridge.
The fresh flavor of this sauce i unmatched by any store- bought sauces I’ve tried. It also doesn’t have any additional preservatives and is sweetened with brown sugar instead of corn syrup.
Want more easy dinner recipes? Try:
- 10 minute Cacio e Pepe
- Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches
- Ginger-Soy Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner
- Skillet French Onion Chicken
- Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas
- Air Fryer Chicken Katsu (Torikatsu)
You’ll also love my free 5 day meal plan!
Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons water divided
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons water
- In a small saucepan, mix together 1 cup water with the soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons water in a small dish to dissolve into a slurry. Whisk into the pot and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Note the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve this homemade sauce immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.