9 Amazing Substitutes for Teriyaki Sauce

So you’ve just prepared a meal and are excited to sit down and eat it. But you realize you’re missing something–the perfect condiment. You check the pantry and you’re fresh out of teriyaki sauce. The good news is, there are plenty of other condiments that will suffice in place of teriyaki sauce.

The 9 Best Substitutes for Teriyaki Sauce

If you’ve run out of teriyaki sauce and can’t find any, there are plenty of other suitable options. Some of these include oyster sauce, sweet and tangy mango sauce, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue, Korean BBQ sauce, hoisin sauce, and bulgogi sauce. You can even make your own teriyaki sauce at home.

What is Teriyaki Sauce?

The word teriyaki is a combination of two Japanese words; “teri” which means luster, and “yaki” which means to boil or grill. Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking style, but in America is best known as a delectable sauce.

It adds a nice amber coating to meats and vegetables, and a sweet but salty flavor. The sauce has a base of soy and mirin, which is usually combined with sugar and sake. This combination creates a tangy, mouth-watering sauce that can be added to just about any dish.

What’s the Difference Between Teriyaki Sauce and Soy Sauce?

Teriyaki and soy sauce can be confused for each other, although they are very different. For starters, they look the same in their dark brown hue. This is one of the only similarities between soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce

What makes the two sauces different is, unsurprisingly, their ingredients. Teriyaki sauce does contain soy sauce as one of its ingredients, which can get confusing. But if you’ve tried both of them before, you know this doesn’t make them taste the same.

Along with the base of soy sauce in teriyaki, more ingredients are added. It can vary from different brands, but some of these other ingredients may include ginger, sugar, or other spices. These also give teriyaki its sweeter taste that it is known for.

Teriyaki has a more colorful flavor than soy sauce, and it is also thicker in texture. It also tends to have more calories due to the added sugar. The two can be used for the same recipes, but it won’t taste the same. It comes down to one’s personal flavor preferences.

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Soy Sauce

For the general American population, soy sauce is likely more well-known by name than teriyaki sauce is. Soy sauce has water as an ingredient, while teriyaki does not, so it is much more thin in consistency and liquid-like. 

It is extremely salty in flavor, unlike teriyaki which has a combination of saltiness, sweetness, and spice. Soy sauce is derived from soybeans which are pressed and mixed in with water. At the beginning of the process, it is more paste-like, but then it becomes much thinner.

Salt is then added to the soy sauce to give it the famous pungent taste. Soy sauce has a very high sodium content because of the added salt. The same is true for teriyaki, as it uses soy sauce for one of its ingredients, but teriyaki sauce also has a high sugar content.

What’s A Good Teriyaki Sauce Alternative?

Instead of using teriyaki sauce, there are many other options to try. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones.

1. Oyster Sauce

The salty-sweetness of teriyaki sauce is what many people crave it for. If you enjoy that flavor element, oyster sauce may just be the teriyaki sauce replacement for you. It is not as strong as teriyaki sauce, but the flavor is still complex enough to be enjoyed just the same.

As you might have guessed, oyster sauce is made from oysters. But it doesn’t have the fishy taste that many expect from seafood. The sweetness of oyster sauce is rich, and the saltiness is comparable to what you expect from sea salt, rather than table salt.

Oyster sauce is not a perfect replica of teriyaki sauce, but it’s worth trying out as a substitute. Many Japanese chefs like to use the two together because of the alignments in their flavors. If you want to try to replicate teriyaki sauce, try adding vinegar, mirin, and soy sauce to your oyster sauce.

2. Sweet and Tangy Mango Sauce

The contrast of the tang and sweetness in teriyaki sauce is a big reason people can’t get enough of it. If that’s what you look for in teriyaki sauce, try out sweet and tangy mango sauce. It has a nice blend of these two flavors, in addition to some saltiness.

There are plenty of recipes online to make your own sweet and tangy mango sauce, but it can also be found in grocery stores. The bonus to making your own is that you have control over the balance of flavors. When purchasing it, be careful reading ingredients as some sweet and tangy mango sauces can also be rather spicy.

3. Barbecue Sauce

At first, barbecue sauce may seem like an outlandish choice for teriyaki sauce replacements. But, the two are used for the same purpose so it can work. In Japan, teriyaki sauce is used to marinate and glaze meat. We do the same in the U.S. with barbecue sauce.

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The consistency is very similar to teriyaki sauce, but the flavor is not so much. There are some brands of sweet barbecue sauce, or you can replicate the teriyaki flavor at home. If you have some brown sugar and honey, try adding that to your barbecue sauce. 

4. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire makes for an adequate teriyaki sauce replacement as well. Oftentimes its consistency is much thinner, but this can depend greatly on the brand you choose. But Worcestershire shares many of the same ingredients that teriyaki has, giving it the salty sweet taste that not many other sauces have.

5. Korean BBQ Sauce (Kalbi)

In America, we have several types of popular barbecue sauces. The same is true in Korea; some of their most popular barbecue sauces are gochujang, bulgogi, ssamjang, and kalbi. Some of these are named for a specific meal, and others are simply the name of the sauce.

Kalbi, for example, is for short ribs, although you can add it to whatever you please. It has a similar tang to teriyaki sauce but is more smoky in taste. Kalbi uses the same ingredients that teriyaki sauce does (soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, honey) plus added ingredients depending on the region.

Some varieties of kalbi sauce are made with rice wine, and some have pears as an ingredient to create more sweetness. Traditionally, Korean barbecue sauce is used to marinate meat before it is prepared instead of adding it while it’s being cooked.

6. Ponzu Sauce

Ponzu sauce is certainly one of the less common sauces on this list. If you’re looking for a teriyaki sauce replacement, it is very similar. It is another Japanese sauce that shares many of the same ingredients as teriyaki sauce.

The biggest difference is that ponzu sauce tends to be much thicker than teriyaki sauce, and it uses citrus juice as a main ingredient. This makes it more sweet and tart. Some of its other ingredients are soy sauce, rice wine, and rice vinegar. Ponzu sauce is best for seafood dishes.

7. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is not identical to teriyaki sauce, but is a good all-rounder Asian sauce to have on hand. It is thicker than teriyaki sauce, and has a lot more spice and heat. If you’re a fan of spicy food, hoisin sauce is definitely worth looking into.

Furthermore, ingredients can be added to teriyaki sauce to make it taste like hoisin, if you end up loving the taste of hoisin sauce. But the inverse cannot be done, unfortunately. If you want to add a kick to your food and don’t have any teriyaki sauce on hand, give hoisin sauce a try.

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It’s important to note that if you do not like foods on the spicier side, you should probably stay away from hoisin sauce.

8. Bulgogi Sauce

Bulgogi sauce is a type of Korean barbecue sauce. It is a combination of two words; “bul” which means fire, and “gogi” which means meat. So the literal translation of the word is “fire meat.” It can be used as either a finishing sauce or a marinade.

Teriyaki sauce and bulgogi sauce share sugar and soy sauce as two of their main ingredients. Bulgogi sauce may use other sweeteners like Asian pear or honey, and sometimes both. Its flavor is pretty similar to teriyaki sauce.

9. Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Because teriyaki sauce only contains a few simple ingredients, you can easily make it at home. To do this, all you need is ¼ cup of soy sauce, ½ cup water, one tablespoon of cornstarch, and a few tablespoons of honey for sweetness.

Whisk all of these ingredients together until they become smooth. Boil this mixture, and keep it on medium heat whilst whisking continuously. Keep doing so for eight to ten minutes, and you have your own teriyaki sauce made from scratch!

For added flavor, there are a few other ingredients you could try adding to suit your own taste. Some of these include minced garlic, pineapple juice, ginger, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, or green onions. 

Related Questions

What is teriyaki sauce made of?

Teriyaki sauce is made of the same four ingredients: soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and other spices that will vary between different chefs. These might include onions or garlic.

What flavor is teriyaki?

Teriyaki sauce has a very complex flavor profile. It is sweet but salty and tangy all at the same time. It brings out the flavor of whatever it’s added to, making it an easily craveable sauce and one many Japanese chefs like to have on hand at all times.

Is teriyaki sauce unhealthy?

Teriyaki sauce is not necessarily healthy. It has few health benefits, and a high sodium and sugar content. It is also considerably high in calories, so it’s safe to say that teriyaki sauce is unhealthy. But its taste makes up for this fact.

Final Thoughts

Teriyaki sauce is a delicious Japanese sauce with a complex flavor that makes it a perfect addition to meats and vegetables. If you can’t find any teriyaki sauce, there are plenty of other sauces that get close to it in terms of flavor. You can also make teriyaki sauce at home.