Cooking is one of my greatest joys, as evidenced by the plethora of recipes on this site, so I more than understand the importance of having the right ingredients on hand. Teriyaki sauce is one of my favorites to cook with, and I always try to make sure to have some in my pantry or fridge.
It's perfect for adding a savory and slightly sweet flavor to side dishes, stir-fries, and marinades. Though sometimes I need to find a substitute for teriyaki sauce, whether due to running out or for dietary restrictions of friends I'm cooking for.
This has led me to finding several workarounds, including a homemade teriyaki sauce recipe and several store-bought substitutes for teriyaki sauce. Whatever your own reasons, when you have the right swap you can still achieve a mouth-watering flavor in your recipes without compromising your health or your taste buds.
Best Substitutes for Teriyaki Sauce
DIY Teriyaki Sauce
Let's start off with a teriyaki sauce made at home, rather than a trip back to the store. By making it yourself, you can control the ingredients and adjust the flavors to your liking and tolerances. Homemade teriyaki sauce is easy to make and requires only seven ingredients you likely already have in your pantry.
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves minced garlic)
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder (or 1" minced ginger)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the honey is dissolved.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer on very low for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens and sticks lightly to the back of your spoon.
- Remove from heat to a cool burner or surface, and let it cool before using.
In addition to being easier to control the ingredients in the sauce, learning how to make teriyaki sauce at home is also generally a quicker option than heading to the store. It's also free of any additives or preservatives that may be in store-bought sauces, so be sure to use it within a week and store it in the fridge.
Barbecue sauce is a fantastic alternative to teriyaki sauce when you need an easily available sauce that's also sweet and tangy. However, it's crucial to choose a barbecue sauce that complements the other flavors in your dish, as there are numerous types to choose from, especially in the US.
For instance, a smoky barbecue sauce would pair perfectly with chicken, while a sweeter barbecue sauce would be an excellent choice for a vegetable stir-fry, and a Carolina-style vinegar BBQ sauce would be best on pork.
This sauce isn't just limited to meat and stir-fries, either, but can also be used as a dipping sauce for vegetables, a topping for burgers, or even a marinade for tofu.
Ponzu sauce is a tangy and citrusy Chinese sauce that's thin and watery and also made from a base of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and citrus juice, such as lemon or lime. This sauce has a refreshing flavor that can add dimensions of flavor to various dishes.
It's also a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine, and can be used as a dipping sauce, marinade, or dressing for anything under the sun, though it's most popular with dumplings.
For those seeking a healthier option, it's the perfect Asian sauce whose uses extend well beyond meat and stir-fries. It's a great dressing for salads or a dipping sauce for sushi. With fewer calories and less sugar than teriyaki sauce, it's an excellent choice for those who are prioritizing their caloric intake.
Worcestershire sauce is a thin, dark sauce made from vinegar, molasses, and various seasonings, depending on the brand. This sauce packs a tangy and slightly sweet flavor that can add a distinctive level of flavor to your dishes, though it's important to choose a type that goes well with the other ingredients in your dish.
Let's say you find a smoky Worcestershire sauce; this would work well with beef, while a milder one may be a better choice for vegetarian options. One of its best selling points, however, is its accessibility. It's available in most grocery stores with several different types to choose from, ranging from classic to spicy.
If you're looking for a sweet and savory sauce that's similar to teriyaki, hoisin sauce is just what you've been looking for. It's a thick, dark sauce that's made from soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and a variety of spices, including garlic, chili peppers, and five-spice powder.
Hoisin has a complex flavor that's both sweet and salty, with a hint of umami. It's commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meats, a dipping sauce for spring rolls, and a condiment for stir-fries.
This sauce is also sweeter and thicker than traditional teriyaki sauce, so you may need to adjust the amount of sugar or honey in your recipe to balance out this sweetness.
Oyster sauce is a thick, dark sauce made from oyster extracts, soy sauce, and sugar. This sauce has a savory and slightly sweet flavor and is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine that's used as a marinade, stir-fry sauce, or dipping sauce.
Using this sauce has some major advantages, one of which is its health benefits. Compared to teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce contains fewer calories and less sugar, making it an ideal choice for those who are health orientated.
Its versatility is also an added bonus as it can be used in various dishes, not just meat and stir-fries, as it complements vegetables, tofu, and seafood.
Soy Sauce + Brown Sugar
Soy sauce and brown sugar is a classic combination that can be used as a superb alternative to teriyaki sauce. The sweetness of brown sugar and the salty flavor of soy sauce makes for a great flavor combination that can be used in a variety of dishes.
To create a soy sauce and brown sugar sauce, simply mix equal parts of soy sauce and brown sugar in a saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened. You can also add garlic, ginger, or other seasonings to the mixture to enhance the flavor and better mimic teriyaki.
Indonesian Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce)
Indonesian Kecap Manis, also known as sweet soy sauce, is made from soy sauce, palm sugar, and a blend of spices. This delicious combination resulted in a sweet and salty flavor that's perfect for marinades, stir-fries, and dipping sauces.
Kecap manis is a staple in Indonesian cuisine and is used in many traditional dishes such as Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) and Satay (grilled skewered meat). It's also commonly used as a condiment for fried foods like spring rolls or as a dipping sauce for dumplings.
One of this sauce's key takeaways is that it has a thicker consistency, which makes it great for glazing meats. It also has a more complex flavor profile due to the addition of spices like star anise and garlic.
Korean Galbi Sauce
Korean galbi sauce is just down your street if you're seeking a unique flavor profile in a teriyaki sauce substitute. This sauce is made with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and pear juice, which gives it a distinctive sweet and savory taste.
Although traditionally used as a marinade for Korean-style short ribs, it can also be used as a dipping sauce or glaze for grilled meats, vegetables, and seafood. Its thick consistency makes it ideal for brushing onto food while grilling or roasting.
Korean galbi sauce is also a healthier substitute for teriyaki sauce due to its lower sodium content.