Homemade Japanese Teriyaki Sauce Recipe (照り焼のタレ)

A little sweet. A little salty.  Full of umami. And, f*cking delicious! That’s the best way to describe teriyaki sauce.

If someone says they don’t like Japanese food, make them eat something with teriyaki sauce, and they will change their mind. Most people will know of teriyaki chicken, but really, you can use this sauce on anything — beef / pork / fish / tofu / mushrooms / broccoli / whatever!

You could buy a bottle of pre-made teriyaki sauce at the supermarket, but it’s easy to make, so you should just do it yourself!  Making it at home is also healthier than any store bought versions which will have added more preservatives and sugar.

Here’s my go-to, authentic Japanese teriyaki sauce recipe. All you need is four essential ingredients.  I don’t know if it can even be considered a recipe — it’s just mixing some ingredients together. Well, I guess that’s exactly what a recipe is. 🙃

Simple Japanese teriyaki sauce recipe

I have split this recipe into two options — (1) make the sauce as needed, or (2) make a big batch of it for later use.

I usually just make it as needed since it’s easy enough. But, if you want to eat teriyaki often, then making a batch would definitely be more convenient. Maybe, you can bottle it and sell it to your friends 🙂

In either case, the most important thing is the ratio of ingredients.  This recipe is adapted from 白ごはん.com.

Required Ingredients

The amount/volume listed below is an example for if you want to make 2-3 portions of teriyaki “something” (i.e. chicken, beef, tofu, etc.).

Ingredient Amount / Volume
Soy sauce 3 tablespoons / 45 mL
Mirin 3 tablespoons / 45 mL
Sake / rice wine 3 tablespoons / 45 mL
Sugar 1 tablespoon / 15 mL

Magic teriyaki ratio
3:3:3:1 (soy sauce : mirin : sake : sugar)

Required Equipment

  • a pot or pan
  • a spoon
  • bowl to mix together ingredients
  • Optional: jar or bottle to store sauce (if making a large batch)

Option 1: Make as required

This option is for if you just want to make teriyaki sauce as you need it.  Let’s say you’re cooking some good ol’ teriyaki chicken:

1. First, mix all sauce ingredients together in a bowl. 

2. Cook the chicken (or other ingredient) in a pan until fully cooked through (or about 80% cooked). Then, pour the sauce mixture into the pan on medium to medium-high heat.  The sauce mixture should start bubbling violently like below:

japanese teriyaki sauce recipe, Homemade Japanese Teriyaki Sauce Recipe (照り焼のタレ)

3. Let the sauce bubble and reduce. The bubbles should start getting bigger as the liquid boils away.  

japanese teriyaki sauce recipe, Homemade Japanese Teriyaki Sauce Recipe (照り焼のタレ)

 

4. When the liquid has 90% disappeared, turn the heat to low, and continue cooking for a bit.  When the sauce is thick enough so that it is sticking to the chicken (and your spoon), you’re done!

japanese teriyaki sauce recipe, Homemade Japanese Teriyaki Sauce Recipe (照り焼のタレ)

4.  Let the food cool down a bit, and the sauce will thicken even more.   Eat!

Optionally, you could cook the sauce separately, and then lather it on top of the chicken or other ingredient. If you do this, you can just put the sauce ingredients directly into the pan/pot to mix (and save yourself from washing an extra bowl).  The benefit of cooking the sauce together with your chicken (or other ingredients) is that the chicken will absorb more flavor when cooking.

Option 2: Make a large batch

If you want to make a large batch of teriyaki sauce,  increase the volume of each ingredient, but keep the same ratio (i.e. 3:3:3:1).  For example, you can use 3 CUPS of soy sauce/mirin/sake to 1 CUP of sugar.

  1. Put all ingredients into a pot and stir together.
  2. Warm the mixture on medium/medium-low heat until just the sugar is dissolved.  We DON’T want the liquid to bubble/boil, or even cook the alcohol off.  We just want the sugar to dissolve into the liquid.
  3. Use your spoon to see if there are any sugar granules remaining.  When there’s none left, you’re done!
     
    japanese teriyaki sauce recipe, Homemade Japanese Teriyaki Sauce Recipe (照り焼のタレ)

    Still some sugar left

    japanese teriyaki sauce recipe, Homemade Japanese Teriyaki Sauce Recipe (照り焼のタレ)

    Sugar completely dissolved

  4. Let the sauce cool, and pour it into a jar or bottle.  You can store the sauce in your fridge for an extremely long time.

Now, whenever you want to make some teriyaki flavoured dish, just take your homemade sauce out of the fridge and you’re good to go!  Technically, you don’t even need to store it in your fridge, as none of the ingredients used need to be refrigerated.  Just remember to cook the sauce as there is still alcohol in it. 

(Batch technique adapted from Adam Liaw on Youtube)

Notes:

  • Adjust the ratio of soy sauce/mirin/sake/sugar to your personal taste.  I like things a bit saltier, so use the 3:3:3:1 ratio in this recipe.  If you like like things a bit sweeter, you can increase the proportion of sugar; maybe try a 2:2:2:1 ratio.   Play around with it until you find something you like.
  • Saltiness may depend on the brand of soy sauce you are using, as well as the sake/rice wine.  Many rice wines made for cooking have added salt content so that they are not considered drinking alcohol.  Keep this in mind when making your sauce.
  • If you like things spicy, add some chili powder to the mixture.  Try other seasonings/spices and see what you get!
  • You can also try adding some dashi stock to the mixture for more depth of flavour.
  • Marinade your meat/fish in the teriyaki sauce before cooking for even more flavour!

Healthy teriyaki sauce?

Is teriyaki sauce healthy?  Not really — the classic Japanese teriyaki sauce recipe has plenty of sodium and sugar.  On the bright side, this homemade version will be much healthier than any store bought ones which have added preservatives and even higher sugar content.

If you want to make an even healthier version, you can try substituting sugar with honey, or some other sweetener (maple syrup teriyaki anyone??).  The taste will change, but I’m sure it will still be delicious.  You can also use low-sodium soy sauce, and make sure your cooking sake and mirin has no (or minimal) salt added.

Conclusion

Awesome! Now you can make your own authentic, and f*cking delicious teriyaki sauce.  It’s super easy, and only requires four ingredients.  You can make it as needed, or make a large batch for extra convenience whenever you want to whip up a quick Japanese meal. 

What’s your favourite teriyaki dish?  Let me know in the comments below!

Make sure to check out the 9 Essential Japanese ingredients for seasoning/flavor.

Also see the Easy Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry recipe to make use of your homemade sauce!

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