Tonkatsu Sauce

5 from 1 vote

This 4-ingredient recipe for katsu sauce is fast, easy, and creates a phenomenal flavor. Ketchup, Worcestershire, oyster sauce, and brown sugar conspire to create a sauce that is insanely savory with a tantalizing tang.

closeup: a spoon full of katsu sauce over a bowl with more sauce

Today’s recipe for katsu sauce, or tonkatsu sauce, is a gift from the world of Japanese cuisine. Often referred to as Japanese barbecue sauce, this sauce is traditionally paired with breaded and fried cutlets of meat. 

As simple as the ingredient list seems, this sauce delivers a serious dose of flavor. It features the bright, enticing tanginess of ketchup and the scintillating savory-sweetness of Worcestershire and oyster sauce.

overhead: a small whisk in a bowl of katsu sauce

We add a touch of sweetness and get a concoction that will transform the simplest of meals into a sweet-and-sour sensation. This katsu sauce recipe is the perfect way to jazz up a quick weeknight meal! 

For more easy Asian sauces, check out my Ginger Sauce, Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce, and this Bulgogi Sauce (Korean BBQ Sauce).

ingredients needed for this katsu sauce recipe

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ketchup – Brings a variety of flavors to the tables with sweet, salty, savory, and sour hints. It also gives the katsu sauce a smooth, slightly thicker texture that makes it excellent for dipping and drizzling. 
  • Worcestershire Sauce – This intensely umami sauce infuses the recipe with salty, savory, sour, and sweet flavors. If you don’t have any available, or you want an anchovy-free option, you can try substituting in some balsamic vinegar or soy sauce with a bit of sugar added. The flavor of your sauce will be slightly different but still delicious. 
  • Oyster Sauce – Has a deep, complex profile that adds a uniquely fishy, savory-sweet flavor. It tastes somewhere between fish sauce and soy sauce. Look for this ingredient in the international food aisle or at a local Asian market. However, if you need an alternative, you have lots of options. You can use fish sauce, soy sauce, or even more Worcestershire sauce with a little bit of sugar added.  
  • Brown Sugar – Harmonizes the recipe and adds an earthy, caramel-like sweetness. I definitely prefer the taste of brown sugar for this katsu sauce recipe, but other sweeteners like white sugar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup could do the job. Feel free to add more or less sugar, depending on your tastes.
overhead: a black and white bowl of tonkatsu sauce with herbs

Tip From Kevin

What does katsu mean?

Katsu is a shortened version of the Japanese term katsuretsu. In English, this roughly translates to cutlet while tonkatsu translates to pork cutlet.  

closeup: a spoon full of katsu sauce over a bowl with more sauce

How to Make Katsu Sauce

  1. Combine Ingredients. Use a small bowl or jar to combine all the katsu sauce ingredients.
  2. Whisk or Shake. Whisk thoroughly (or shake if using a jar) until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has a nice, smooth consistency. That’s it!
overhead: katsu sauce over fried chicken and white rice

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Japanese katsu sauce made of?


Katsu sauce is a simple combination of a few intensely flavorful ingredients. This particular katsu sauce recipe is quite minimal, requiring only 4 ingredients. Ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, and brown sugar come together to create this sweet and savory masterpiece. 

Other recipes sometimes also include freshly chopped garlic, ginger, a dash of cayenne, or other zesty ingredients. In fact, a traditional katsu sauce recipe contains upwards of 10 different spices and includes a menagerie of fruits and vegetables. Carrots, onions, celery, tomatoes, lemon juice, prunes, dates, and apples are all likely candidates.

Don’t worry though! As I mentioned, this particular version is the quickest and easiest one you’ll find, letting the Worcestershire and oyster sauce to do the heavy lifting.

Is tonkatsu sauce the same as katsu sauce?


Yes, tonkatsu sauce is the same as katsu sauce. 

Although there are several different types of katsu out there, tonkatsu just so happens to be the original recipe this sauce was used for. Hence, the names are often used interchangeably.

So while all katsu is not necessarily tonkatsu, the sauces used are exactly the same.

What do you eat katsu sauce with?


This savory sweet sauce is traditionally served with breaded and fried cutlets, often chicken or Pork Tonkatsu (Katsu). It makes an amazing drizzle, dip, or even sandwich spread. Here are just a few ideas to get you started: 

– Drizzle your katsu sauce on any of the many different types of katsu dishes. Choose from tonkatsu (pork cutlet), chicken katsu, tofu katsu, salmon katsu, veggie katsu and more. 
– Use as a dipping sauce for Asian appetizers like Pork Pot Stickers or Crab Rangoon
Start your meal off right with a nice hot bowl of Hot and Sour or Miso Soup
– Pair your katsu dish with a steaming heap of Jasmine Rice or Hibachi Fried Rice.
– Freshen up your meal with a Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono Salad) or fresh garden salad of your choice. 
– Add some tender, stir-fried vegetables to the menu with this Bok Choy Stir Fry, Vegetable Stir Fry, or these Asian Green Beans.
– Feel free to get creative with your tonkatsu sauce too! Try it with chicken tenders, chicken wings, french fries, or any of your favorite snacks — anywhere you might use barbecue sauce.

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tonkatsu sauce in bowl with spoon dripping sauce

Tonkatsu Sauce

5 from 1 vote
My katsu sauce recipe is an easy to make version of classic Japanese tonkatsu sauce. It is sweet, savory, salty, and tangy — like BBQ sauce!
Servings: 7
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the ingredients until sugar is dissolved and a smooth sauce forms.
  • Store in an airtight container and keep in refrigerator for up to 2–3 weeks.

Video

Notes

This makes 14 tablespoons of tonkatsu sauce. Nutrition is based on 2 tablespoon serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 36kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.03g | Saturated Fat: 0.004g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 384mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 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): Japanese tonkatsu sauce

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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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe, I make pork and chicken tonkatsu often and I much prefer a homemade sauce. I also wanted to tell you that I’ve made your Spanish Gazpacho twice this week already, I’m in LOVE with it. I’m not vegan but boy that recipe can make you one! Its so rich and flavorful, you do not miss any meat! I’ve shared your post with my International cooking group, based in Washington State and so far 3 have made it and love it as much as I do!!!! Thank you Kevin, as always, you ROCK 🙂