Teriyaki sauce is a must in my famous teriyaki chicken dish, but what happens if your local grocery store has run out of stock or you forgot to buy some? Luckily, there are various teriyaki sauce alternatives that can save the day.
What are the best substitutes for teriyaki sauce?
If you don’t have teriyaki sauce in your pantry, you can easily make your own teriyaki sauce with soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, brown sugar and honey, garlic powder, ginger, and water. Alternatively, use ponzu sauce, oyster sauce, Korean BBQ sauce, kecap manis, Worcestershire sauce, hoisin sauce, or a mix of soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar.
Here’s a deep dive into the best teriyaki sauce substitutes so your dish can taste just as yummy as if you had teriyaki sauce on hand.
What Is Teriyaki Sauce?
Teriyaki sauce is a Japanese condiment. It is a glossy black sauce with a thick consistency and a sweet, savory flavor.
It’s typically used as a marinade for fish, poultry, or meat, but it’s also great in fusion dishes. You can also add some teriyaki sauce to your sushi for a unique flavor.
Did you know? The word “teriyaki” refers to a cooking method. For teriyaki, food is to broil or grill it with a sweet and savory glaze.
What Is Teriyaki Sauce Made Of?
Teriyaki sauce is typically made from soy sauce, honey, sugar, and mirin. But it can also be made from sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sweeteners like brown sugar or honey.
Commercial teriyaki sauces contain soy sauce, mirin, sugar, hydrolyzed soy protein, corn starch, concentrated fruit juice, yeast extract, spices, and various flavor enhancers.
5 Best Substitutes for Teriyaki Sauce
Before I share the best substitutes for teriyaki sauce, here are two you should avoid:
- Maggi seasoning is delicious but it doesn’t properly add flavor to a whole dish like teriyaki sauce can.
- American BBQ sauce works well if you want to glaze meat, but it’s too smokey in flavor to really replicate teriyaki sauce.
With the can’t out of the way, here are the best alternatives if you’ve run out of teriyaki sauce:
1. Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
If you have the ingredients in your pantry, you can easily and quickly make your own teriyaki sauce. This is probably the best alternative to commercial teriyaki sauce (and it’s my go-to).
One of the pros of homemade teriyaki sauce is that you can adjust the sweetness and saltiness levels while keeping that overall umami teriyaki flavor profile.
Here’s how to make your own teriyaki sauce in about 10 minutes:
- ½ cup of soy sauce or tamari
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup water
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch (optional if you are making a marinade)
- Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan.
- On low-medium heat, simmer the mixture until it’s thick and glossy like teriyaki sauce. It takes roughly four minutes.
- Enjoy the sauce in your favorite Asian-inspired dish in a 1:1 ratio with store-bought teriyaki. Or let it cool and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you need to use it.
2. Ponzu Sauce
Another teriyaki sauce alternative is ponzu sauce, also a Japanese soy-based condiment. Ponzu sauce has a strong umaminess with hints of citrus to help shake up your recipe.
If you need a sweet element to better balance the flavors in your dish, add a dollop or two of honey or maple syrup.
You can easily swap teriyaki sauce for ponzu sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
3. Soy Sauce, Honey, and Rice Vinegar
For a quick and easy alternative to teriyaki sauce, mix one tablespoon of soy sauce with half a teaspoon each of honey and rice vinegar (since soy sauce, a sweetener, and acid forms the base of the Japanese condiment).
You can also add some ginger and even use apricot jelly or brown sugar if you don’t have honey.
If you don’t have soy sauce in your kitchen, consider using tamari, coconut aminos, or liquid aminos, all of which are gluten-free.
4. Hoisin Sauce
If you want to add complexity to your dish, hoisin sauce is it. It is a great teriyaki substitute – if you are in a pinch. Except, it hints of chili and 5-spice when you add hoisin sauce instead of teriyaki sauce.
Hoisin sauce is also a lot thicker than teriyaki sauce, so you may need to dilute it with some water.
Replace hoisin sauce in a teriyaki sauce recipe in a 1:1 ratio.
5. Kecap Manis
Indonesian sweet soy sauce, also called kacap manis, is a yummy teriyaki sauce substitute. Kacap manis is rich and syrupy in texture and has a sweet and salty flavor.
If you find that your dish is too sweet after adding the kecap manis, you can add a dash of lime or lemon juice, or rice vinegar.
Use kecap manis for teriyaki sauce in a ratio of 1:1.
What Tastes Like Teriyaki Sauce?
Homemade teriyaki sauce will taste like teriyaki sauce. If you are short on time, you can mix soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar, or opt for ponzu sauce with honey, hoisin sauce, or Indonesian sweet soy sauce called kacap manis.
Can You Substitute Soy Sauce With Teriyaki Sauce?
You can substitute soy sauce if you don’t have any teriyaki sauce since soy sauce is one of the base ingredients for the Japanese sweet-salty condiment. However, for a more authentic teriyaki flavor, consider adding some maple syrup or honey to the soy sauce to achieve that sweet element.
Can I Substitute Hoisin Sauce for Teriyaki Sauce?
You can definitely use hoisin sauce as an alternative to teriyaki sauce. The Chinese condiment has a more complicated flavor profile since you get hints of chili and Chinese 5 spice so you need to taste your dish to ensure your flavors are balanced.
My Last Foodie Thoughts
It’s easy to substitute teriyaki sauce if you’ve run out of the original.
Here are a few quick cheats:
- For sauces, dips, and marinades, use homemade teriyaki sauce, kecap manis, or a mix of soy sauce, honey, and rice vinegar
- For basting and glazing, use hoisin sauce or homemade teriyaki sauce
- As a condiment, use ponzu sauce, hoisin sauce, or homemade teriyaki sauce