You might need a teriyaki sauce substitute at some point if you’re a fan of making Japanese cuisine at home. Perhaps you have run out of the sauce or maybe you are catering to a dietary restriction. Either way, there are several alternative options for teriyaki sauce.
What is Teriyaki Sauce?
Teriyaki sauce is a sweet and savory sauce that originated in Japan. It is made from soy sauce, mirin, and sugar or honey, with the addition of garlic and ginger for flavor.
The sauce is thickened with cornstarch or flour, and sometimes sake is used to enhance the flavor. The sauce is typically used in Japanese cuisine as a marinade for meat, seafood, or vegetables or as a glaze for grilled or broiled dishes.
Difference between Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce
Soy sauce is a salty condiment made from fermented soybeans, roasted grains, salt, and water. It is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine and tastes much saltier than teriyaki sauce.
Soy Sauce Ingredients
- Fermented soybeans
- Roasted grains
Teriyaki sauce, on the other hand, is a blend of soy sauce, sweetener, and other ingredients to create a sweet and savory flavor. It is thicker and sweeter than soy sauce.
- Soy sauce
- Sugar or honey
- Cornstarch or flour
- Sake (optional)
Common Uses for Teriyaki Sauce
- Marinade for meat, seafood, or vegetables
- Glaze for grilled or broiled dishes
- Dipping sauce for sushi or tempura
- Stir-fry sauce
- Salad dressing
- Pizza topping
Why You May Need a Teriyaki Alternative
- You have dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance or soy allergy.
- You ran out of teriyaki sauce and need a quick substitute.
- You prefer a balance of sweet to savory.
- You want to avoid the high sodium content in teriyaki sauce.
9 Best Teriyaki Substitute Options
Gluten-free Teriyaki Substitutes
1. Coconut Aminos
Coconut aminos are often used as a soy sauce substitute but are much sweeter than soy, making for a great teriyaki substitute that has a slightly thinner consistency. Eating Well has a great overview of coconut aminos.
2. Tamari Sauce
Tamari sauce is ideal to use if you have a gluten intolerance since it is not made with wheat as some soy sauces may contain. It is slightly thicker than soy sauce with a similar flavor profile, so you can add honey or syrup to make it thicker and sweeter, as The Heirloom Pantry did.
3. Balsamic Glaze
You can use a balsamic glaze or reduction to substitute for teriyaki sauce since it has a sweet and sour base similar to teriyaki sauce. If you only have balsamic vinegar, follow Cafe Delites’ recipe on how to make it a glaze.
Teriyaki Substitutes with Gluten:
4. Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce is not gluten-free, but it is also important to know that it is not vegan and vegetarian-friendly. This sauce is savory but complex in flavor, making it an ideal replacement for teriyaki if you add some sweetener to it. Julie’s Cafe Bakery explains the difference between the two.
5. Oyster Sauce
The Spruce Eats has a great recipe for glazed chicken using oyster sauce as an alternative to teriyaki sauce. It is a complex yet tasty sauce that can easily be sweetened to your liking.
6. BBQ Sauce
Although most BBQ sauces we know are tomato or ketchup-based, if you use a sweet BBQ sauce, you can easily use it as a substitute for teriyaki if used on meats. It doesn’t work as well in stir-fries. Top Food Info compares both sauces.
7. Korean BBQ Sauce
Korean BBQ sauce is soy-based and, therefore, closer to teriyaki sauce than standard BBQ sauce. All Recipes has an easy-to-follow recipe to make your own using more commonly found ingredients than teriyaki sauce.
- Hoisin sauce
- Oyster sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Honey mustard
- Maple syrup
8. Ponzu Sauce
Ponzu sauce is made in a very similar way to Teriyaki sauce but is slightly more citrus-forward than other sauces. It works well as a replacement for teriyaki in any recipe, and you can learn more about using this sauce from Serious Eats.
9. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is the base of Teriyaki sauce, hence by adding a little bit of sugar, honey, or other sweetener and vinegar or lime juice, you can come relatively close to an alternative. Food.com has a great recipe with extra ingredients added, which you can adjust to your liking.
Tips for Teriyaki Substitution:
- Read the ingredient labels carefully to ensure the substitute is suitable for your dietary needs or allergies.
- Adjust the sweetness level by adding more or less sugar or honey to your substitute.
- Experiment with different flavors, such as garlic, ginger, or chili flakes to add to more basic alternatives such as soy & honey.