This easy teriyaki sauce recipe makes for a sweet, savory flavor booster! It’s a combination of soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, rice wine, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil thickened with cornstarch.
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A classic Japanese-style teriyaki sauce can be swiftly made at home in five minutes. Balancing the proper savory, sweet, and spicy ingredient ratio elevates the umami flavors. Cornstarch helps create a luxurious glaze that thickens in seconds when heated. Now you can skip the store-bought bottles!
This quick and easy sauce clings nicely to slices of meat, tofu, steamed vegetables, and tiny rice granules. This condiment is versatile to add flavor as a stir fry sauce when making wok-fired dishes or as a dipping sauce.
The main ingredients
This homemade teriyaki sauce recipe comprises soy sauce, water, rice wine, rice vinegar, and a sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar as the base ingredients. These provide a balance of savory, sweet, and tangy notes. To make the sauce gluten-free, use coconut aminos, gluten-free tamari, or Bragg liquid aminos instead of soy sauce.
I use freshly minced garlic, fresh ginger, and sesame oil to add depth and appetizing aromatics. You can substitute ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger for fresh as a convenient swap. Dried seasonings are more intense in flavor, so less is needed.
How to make teriyaki sauce
Start by whisking together the water, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, rice wine, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. To thicken the sauce, in a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
Adding dry cornstarch to the hot soy sauce mixture will clump together instead of creating a smooth sauce. Simmer the soy mixture in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it begins to simmer, whisk in the slurry. It takes less than a minute to thicken.
Thicken the sauce
A thickening agent like cornstarch is essential to create a shiny glaze that sticks to the food. It’s best to disperse the starch in water before heating the sauce. Adding the cool cornstarch slurry to the hot liquid prevents the sauce from clumping.
Always constantly whisk the sauce as the slurry is added, so the starch granules stay separate, swell, and effectively thicken.
Perfect for stir-fry cooking
This teriyaki sauce recipe works well when making a stir-fry in a large wok or pan. Move the protein or vegetables away from the center, creating a well-shape, then add the sauce towards the end of the cooking process.
Let it bubble and simmer over medium-high heat for 1 minute, then add in the cornstarch slurry, continuously stirring until the sauce thickens. Toss the ingredients with the sauce and serve immediately.
Use as a marinade
Love a sweet, salty marinade to season beef, chicken, shrimp, fish, or pork? Use the base as a teriyaki marinade sauce. Omit the cornstarch slurry, as you don’t need to thicken the mixture. Use ½ cup of marinade for every 1 pound of meat. Marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.
How long will it last?
It’s best to use the teriyaki sauce the same day for the best consistency. Cornstarch loses its thickening power when it’s reheated and thinned out. The sauce base can be mixed and stored in an airtight container or jar up to 3 days in advance. Then add the slurry when heating the sauce so that it stays nice and thick.
Ways to use teriyaki sauce
- Teriyaki chicken bowls
- Drizzle over baked tofu
- Serve with steamed broccoli or asparagus
- Pour over cauliflower rice or broccoli rice
Substituting the cornstarch
Arrowroot powder is a comparable substitute for cornstarch, keeping the sauce translucent. Use 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder dissolved in 4 tablespoons water. Although flour is an effective thickener, it will make the sauce opaque and murky, which is great for gravy but not teriyaki sauce.
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Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
- Combine Sauce Ingredients – In a medium bowl whisk together ¾ cup water, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, rice wine, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil.
- Make a Cornstarch Slurry – In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water.
- Simmer the Sauce – Add the sauce mixture to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, once the liquid begins to simmer, cook for 1 minute.
- Thicken the Sauce – Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce, and whisk to combine. Continuously whisk until the consistency thickens and is able to lightly coat the back of a spoon, 30 to 60 seconds. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
- Transfer – If desired, strain the sauce to remove the garlic and ginger. Once cooled, store it in a mason jar for use later, or serve immediately with desired food.
- Recipe Yield: 1 ⅓ cup (315ml)
- Serving size: 1 tablespoon (15ml)
- Substitute for Fresh Garlic: ¼ teaspoon garlic powder for minced garlic.
- Substitute for Fresh Ginger: ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger for minced ginger.
- Substitute for Cornstarch: Substitute 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder dissolved in 4 tablespoons of water for cornstarch slurry.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari for soy sauce.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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