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Sanbaizu: Essential Vinegar Seasoning (三杯酢)


Sanbaizu (三杯酢) is a popular vinegar-based seasoning made with vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin.

Sometimes, sugar is used instead of mirin.

Sanbaizu is most commonly used for making tsukemono (i.e. vinegar pickled dishes). It is also used in various dressings, sauces, and some stir fried dishes.

Learn more about this versatile ingredient, including:

  • How to make sanbaizu
  • Example recipes that use sanbaizu
  • What does sanbaizu mean?

Let’s get started ~

How to Make Sanbaizu

Originally, sanbaizu was made by mixing equal portions of each ingredient — vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin (1:1:1 ratio).

The ratio can be adjusted to suit your own personal taste.

For example, a popular ratio used is three parts vinegar, one part soy sauce, and 2 parts sugar (3:1:2 ratio).  If you want something less sweet, you can use a 2:2:1 ratio. If you want to cut back on the salt, then use a 2:1:2 ratio.

Here is a simple sanbaizu recipe:

Basic Sanbaizu Recipe (三杯酢)

Recipe by Chef GokuCourse: Seasoning, Dressing, SauceCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



Simple sanbaizu recipe (1:1:1 ratio)

Equipment & Ingredients

  • Equipment
  • Pot

  • Measuring spoon or cup

  • Ingredients
  • Rice vinegar … 100 ml

  • Soy sauce … 100 ml

  • Mirin … 100 ml


  • Put all ingredients into a pot
  • Heat until just before mixture starts to boil (to remove alcohol from mirin)
  • Finished!


  • You can also use a microwave. Simply heat up the mirin first to remove the alcohol, then mix in the soy sauce and vinegar.
  • If using sugar instead of mirin, adjust to 1/3 the amount
  • Adjust the ratio to your own preferences

What is Sanbaizu used for?

Now that you have some sanbaizu, what can you do with it?

Dishes made with sanbaizu

cucumber wakame tsukemono
Cucumber and Wakame Tsukemono made with sanbaizu

The most popular dish to make with sanbaizu is pickled cucumbers or other vegetables (i.e. tsukemono).

Here are some example recipes:

Dressings & Sauces

tosazu mizkan feature
Tosazu is sanbaizu with dashi

Other dressings, sauces, or marinades use sanbaizu as a base.

  • Tosazu (土佐酢): Sanbaizu mixed with bonito dashi

What does sanbaizu mean?

The word sanbaizu (三杯酢) literally means “three cups vinegar”.

It is in reference to three cups traditionally used to make the seasoning — one cup of vinegar, one cup of soy sauce, and one cup of mirin.

Sanbaizuke (三杯酢け) or sanbaizuzuke refers to vegetables pickled with sanbaizu.

If you completely remove the sugar, and just have vinegar and soy sauce, then it is called nihaizu (二杯酢), or “two cups vinegar”.


Have you ever tried sanbaizu before?

What is your favorite type of Japanese pickled dish?

Let me know in the comments below!

Chef Goku

Chef Goku

Chef Goku is the founder and sole operator of The Chef Dojo. He loves Japanese food, and has lived in and out of Japan for many years. He started this blog in 2018 to share everything he learns about Japanese food and cooking. He is also a self-certified Japanese knife nerd. Contact Chef Goku

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