I’m going to go ahead and say it: This isn’t authentic Japanese teriyaki sauce. It’s the American version of teriyaki sauce, with loads of ginger and garlic. It tastes way better than the store-bought varieties, without the additives. It’s also naturally sweetened and easily made gluten free!
I came up with this recipe because I wanted a homemade alternative to store-bought teriyaki sauces. My husband made a great stir-fry with the jarred kind the other day. I set out to recreate it, starting with the teriyaki sauce. I’ll share the stir-fry later this week.
This homemade teriyaki sauce is sweet, salty and thick. It makes a great glaze for grilled or roasted ingredients, or a flavorful addition to a basic stir-fry. Stir or brush it on near the end of cooking, not the beginning, or it could burn.
I love this sauce with veggies and crispy baked tofu, over rice or noodles. It will also liven up your hodge-podge weeknight fried rice. When it comes to veggies, teriyaki sauce goes particularly well with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers, and snow peas.
Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Americanized version of teriyaki sauce. I based the ingredients on the labels of store-bought teriyaki sauces, and you can find all of these ingredients in a regular grocery store. Keep in mind that traditional teriyaki sauce is made with soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine) and Sake.
Reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
Most recipes call for regular, but I prefer to use reduced-sodium for more control over the salt content. Even then, this sauce is plenty salty. You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away.
Tamari is a wheat-free Japanese variety of soy sauce, and you’ll find it by the soy sauce in well-stocked grocery stores. Use a certified gluten-free tamari if you want to make gluten-free teriyaki sauce (soy sauce typically contains gluten).
Honey or maple syrup
Typically, you’ll find a combination of honey and brown sugar in teriyaki recipes. I wanted this recipe to be entirely naturally sweetened, so I used all honey instead.
If you want teriyaki sauce without honey, simply use maple syrup. It’s great, too!
Add a splash of rice vinegar to liven up the flavor and cut the sweetness of the honey.
Fresh ginger and garlic
Fresh ginger and garlic make this sauce taste so bold. Fresh ginger and garlic are common in American teriyaki stir fries, so they taste “right” to me. Authentic Japanese teriyaki sauce is made without these ingredients, with the addition of sake or mirin.
Cornstarch or arrowroot starch
Starch helps thicken the sauce. Without it, the sauce would be quite watery. If you want to make your teriyaki sauce without cornstarch, arrowroot is the perfect substitute.
We’ll mix the starch with an equal amount of water to make a slurry. We make a slurry so we can liquify the starch and work out any lumps before pouring it into the simmering sauce.
How to Prep Your Fresh Ingredients
This sauce is very easy to make. Preparing the ginger and garlic is the only semi-tedious step.
To grate ginger: You don’t have to peel your ginger first if you’re using a fine grater (a Microplane is best). Here’s my favorite tool for the task (affiliate link).
To peel and mince garlic: You can use a garlic press or mince it by hand. I’m all for the garlic press.
Garlic and ginger shortcuts: Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any that work. I don’t ever recommend using store-bought minced garlic. It isn’t the same. I also tried this sauce with ginger and garlic powder instead of fresh (1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground garlic), and it wasn’t nearly as good. In fact, it bordered on gross. Fresh is best!
Please let me know how your teriyaki sauce turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Craving more? Here are a few of my favorite recipes with Asian influences:
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Baked Tofu with Honey-Sesame Glaze
- Peanut Slaw with Soba Noodles
- Extra Vegetable Fried Rice
- Mango “Burrito” Bowls with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Sauce
- Colorful Chopped Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
Bold Teriyaki Sauce
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 ¼ cups 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Japanese
Make delicious teriyaki sauce with this simple recipe! Unlike store-bought teriyaki sauce, this recipe is naturally sweetened and easily gluten free. Recipe yields about 1 ¼ cups sauce.
- ½ cup reduced-sodium tamari, shoyu or soy sauce*
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Slurry (to thicken sauce)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 1 tablespoon water
- In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, water, honey, vinegar, ginger and garlic. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overflow.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth (we’re creating a slurry, which will thicken the sauce). Set aside.
- Once the sauce is simmering, whisk the slurry once more and pour it all into the sauce. Continue cooking, while stirring continuously, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and use as desired. To store for later, let it cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating. Teriyaki sauce tastes best when it’s fresh, but will keep for 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge.
*Make it gluten free: Standard soy sauces contain gluten, so choose certified gluten-free tamari instead (I used San-J brand).
Make it vegan: Choose maple syrup instead of honey.
Serving suggestions: Use up leftover teriyaki sauce on a simple veggie stir-fry. Just cook up your leftover vegetables with some olive oil or avocado oil. Once they’re tender and caramelized on the edges, pour in some teriyaki sauce, stir a few times, and remove the skillet from the heat.