Classic Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

5 from 2 votes

Teriyaki sauce is anything but simple: salty but sweet, bold yet bright, with a delicious savoriness that defines “umami” Japanese cuisine. So it might surprise you that it’s incredibly easy to make at home! All you need are 4 ingredients and 15 minutes.

side view: brushing teriyaki sauce on a whole roasted chicken with a jar of more sauce visible

You’ll never get the same sweet and savory Japanese restaurant taste without getting the teriyaki sauce just right — it’s the foundation that all other flavors build on!

To create an umami teriyaki from scratch, you only need 4 ingredients: soy sauce, mirin, sake, and water. Just boil it, bottle it, and use it however you like!

Plus, the simplicity of this teriyaki recipe also leaves plenty of room for experimentation and customization! Infuse sweet and fruity flavors, like my pineapple teriyaki sauce, or add a bit of heat with a scoop of chili crisp.

side view: pouring my teriyaki sauce recipe into a glass jar

If you’re interested in authentic Japanese teriyaki, you may also want to check out how to make your own furikake (rice seasoning), pickled ginger, tonkatsu, or ginger sauce just like you’d get at the steakhouse!

There’s no better way to save money than to learn to make your own pantry staples from scratch, especially condiments like teriyaki.

Tip From Kevin

Is mirin rice vinegar?

Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine used in cooking to add depth and sweetness to dishes. It has a low alcohol content and a unique flavor profile with a balance of sweetness and umami. Commonly used in marinades, glazes, and sauces like this teriyaki sauce, mirin enhances the overall taste of Japanese cuisine.

Mirin and rice vinegar are distinct Japanese condiments. Mirin is a sweet rice wine with low alcohol, adding sweetness and depth to dishes. Rice vinegar, on the other hand, is fermented rice that offers acidity and tanginess. While both enhance flavors, mirin contributes sweetness, while rice vinegar adds a sour note to recipes.

extreme closeup: lifting a spoon out of a small glass jar of teriyaki sauce

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Soy Sauce – As one of the major elements of this teriyaki sauce recipe, you want to be sure you’re using good soy! You can never go wrong with all-purpose Kikkoman. Use dark soy for a stronger, bolder flavor. 
  • Sake – This clean, sweet-tasting alcohol is popular in Japanese cooking. You can substitute sake with Chinese cooking wine or a dry sherry. For a non-alcoholic substitute, try rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar. 
  • Mirin – A sweet, syrupy rice wine. Boiling it removes the alcohol content. If you still want a non-alcoholic substitute, you can again use rice wine vinegar — but add a bit of honey or sugar to achieve a similar sweet flavor. 
  • Water – Just a little more liquid to fill out the mixture.
side view: pouring my teriyaki sauce recipe into a glass jar with a spoon in front of the jar

How to Make Teriyaki Sauce

  1. Combine Ingredients. Add the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and water to a medium saucepan or skillet. Whisk together.
  2. Boil. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for just one or two minutes. 
  3. Let Cool & Store. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. Use right away as a marinade for beef, poultry, or seafood, or store for later use.
  • Skillet or Saucepan I recommend using a wider pan for homemade sauces. A wider pan increases the amount of liquid in direct contact with the hot pan, heating it quicker. It’s also important to use a good quality pan that heats evenly, like a skillet — teriyaki burns easily because of the sugar content in the mixture.

Storing and Reheating

Let the sauce cool completely before transferring it to an airtight storage container that will be easier to pour or scoop the teriyaki from — a wide-mouthed mason jar or condiment bottle, for example.

Don’t let it sit at room temperature for too long if you’re not planning on consuming it. Stored properly, it will last for a week in the refrigerator.

brushing teriyaki sauce onto a whole roast chicken with a jar full of more sauce visible

Frequently Asked Questions

Is teriyaki sauce hot or spicy?


Not on its own, no. However, it is very easy to modify a teriyaki sauce recipe to make it spicy! Adding hot sauces, crushed red peppers, or some chili crisp will heat it right up.

Are you supposed to dilute teriyaki sauce?


It depends on what you’re using it for. To use it for dipping, to flavor rice or noodles, or any other use during which you’d prefer a sticky texture, diluting isn’t necessary.

However, if you want to use it as a marinade, then it’s best to dilute a thicker mixture. I will note that my teriyaki sauce recipe results in a relatively thin liquid already suited for marinating.

What kind of teriyaki sauce do hibachi restaurants use?


Restaurant-style teriyaki is very similar to the kind I make here. In addition to soy sauce and rice wine, it may also contain additional sugar or honey as a sweetener.

How can I make teriyaki sauce thicker?


To thicken homemade sauces, simply let the contents simmer for a longer period of time and reduce until it’s thickened nicely. Bear in mind that this will reduce the total amount you’ll end up with, so you may want to double the recipe if you want the same amount of a thicker, reduced liquid.

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basting teriyaki sauce on roast chicken

Classic Teriyaki Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Japanese teriyaki sauce is a great sauce to have on hand for stir fries, rice, noodles, and even grilling. Make your own in just 15 minutes!
Servings: 12
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 13 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sake (See Note 1)
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions 

For Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan or skillet, mix together the soy sauce, sake, mirin and water. Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to simmer and cook until reduced and thickened. It turns into a glossy, syrupy sauce (See Note 2).
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before using. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 weeks.

For Marinade

  • In a medium saucepan or skillet, mix together the soy sauce, sake, mirin and water. Bring to a boil and simmer 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to use as is for a teriyaki marinade for beef, poultry or seafood.

Video

Notes

  1. Substitute sake with Chinese cooking wine or a dry sherry.
  2. Simmer for about 8 minutes if using a saucepan or 5-6 minutes if using a skillet.

Nutrition

Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.01g | Saturated Fat: 0.001g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.001g | Sodium: 308mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 0.04g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: condiments
Cuisine: Japanese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): teriyaki sauce classic recipe/4 ingredients

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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