The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Teriyaki Sauce Substitute

bowl of Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a popular Japanese condiment that adds a burst of flavor to many dishes. Often used as a marinade or glaze, this sweet and savory sauce combines soy sauce, sugar, and mirin to create its signature taste. However, there may be times when you find yourself without any teriyaki sauce on hand, or perhaps you’re looking to try a slightly different flavor profile for your meal. You are in luck because we have created the ultimate guide to finding the best teriyaki sauce substitute.

As you explore these substitutes for teriyaki sauce, keep in mind that each option can lend a unique twist to your dish, allowing you to experiment with different flavors while still achieving a delicious and satisfying result. Whether you’re looking for a quick fix or a creative culinary adventure, these teriyaki sauce substitutes have got you covered.


What is Teriyaki Sauce?

bottle of Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a popular Japanese condiment that has gained fame across the globe for its unique sweet and savory flavor. It is particularly famous for adding an umami touch to dishes like grilled chicken, rice, and other meats.

The main ingredients of teriyaki sauce typically include soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger. You can also find variations with added honey, mirin, or both, which enhance the overall sweetness of the sauce. The combination of these ingredients creates a beautifully balanced flavor that compliments a wide range of dishes.

Teriyaki sauce is often used to marinate meats such as chicken, beef, and fish before grilling or broiling, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat for a delightful tasting experience. It can also be incorporated as a glaze or dipping sauce for various dishes like rice and vegetables, adding depth and richness to the overall taste.

When it comes to finding a good substitute for teriyaki sauce, it’s essential to consider the key elements that make up its flavor profile, namely: the umami from soy sauce, the sweetness from sugar or honey, and the distinctive taste from garlic and ginger.


Common Teriyaki Sauce Substitutes

Finding a good substitute for teriyaki sauce can be a lifesaver when you’re in the middle of a recipe, and you suddenly realize you’re out of it. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives that can give your dish a similar flavor and texture. Let’s explore some of the most common substitutes that you can easily find in your pantry or nearby store.

  • Barbecue sauce is one of the best alternatives due to its similarity in cooking applications with teriyaki sauce. Although it has a smokier taste, it can work well for grilled meats and give them a delicious flavor.
  • Korean BBQ sauce or bulgogi sauce can also be a great substitute, particularly when you’re cooking Asian-inspired dishes. These sauces are savory and sweet and have a umami taste that is often associated with teriyaki sauce.
  • Hoisin sauce is another popular alternative with a sweet and tangy flavor profile, though it’s thicker than teriyaki sauce. You can thin it down with a little water if needed.
  • Ponzu sauce is a lighter condiment with a tangy taste. It’s a citrus-based sauce that pairs well with fish and seafood, adding a refreshing twist to your dish.
  • Oyster sauce is a versatile substitute with a savory and slightly sweet taste. It works great in stir-fries and can be easily mixed with other sauces to create a delicious teriyaki-style blend.


More Teriyaki Sauce Substitutes

  • Sweet and tangy mango sauce can bring a fruity spin to your dish. It’s excellent for balancing savory flavors, especially in tropical-themed meals.
  • Worcestershire sauce can be another option, but keep in mind that it has a strong and distinct taste. It’s best to use it sparingly and combine it with other ingredients like soy sauce, sugar, and pineapple juice to create a makeshift teriyaki sauce.
  • Kecap manis can also come in handy as a substitute for teriyaki sauce, thanks to its sweet and syrupy texture. You can easily find kecap manis in most Asian grocery stores or make your own by mixing soy sauce and a sweetener.
  • Coconut aminos is an excellent soy-free alternative. This sauce is derived from the sap of the coconut tree and boasts a slightly sweet and salty flavor, mimicking the taste of teriyaki sauce.


Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

Making a homemade teriyaki sauce is a great option when you’re looking for a substitute. It’s a simple and easy process, and you can tailor the recipe to fit your preferences. Just gather your ingredients and follow the steps mentioned below.


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water



  • First, combine the soy sauce, sugar, honey (if using), and mirin (if using) in a saucepan and heat it over low heat until the sugar dissolves. At this point, taste the mixture and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.
  • Next, add the garlic and ginger to the saucepan and cook for another minute to release their flavors. Be sure to keep an eye on the mixture to prevent it from burning.
  • To thicken the sauce, dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold water to create a slurry. Slowly pour this into the saucepan while stirring constantly.
  • Continue to cook the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency, typically when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. When you’re satisfied with the thickness, remove the sauce from the heat.


Alternative Sauce Combinations

bottle of Ketchup

  • Soy sauce with sugar: Combine equal parts of soy sauce and sugar. You can also add a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to recreate the tangy flavor of teriyaki sauce.
  • Sweet soy sauce, also known as kecap manis, can be another excellent alternative. This sauce is a thick, syrupy blend of soy sauce and palm sugar with a similar sweetness to teriyaki sauce. Use it as a 1:1 replacement in recipes that call for teriyaki sauce.
  • Korean BBQ sauce is another tasty substitute that can be easily found in most grocery stores. This sauce is a close match to teriyaki sauce in terms of flavor, but it tends to be a bit spicier. It can be used as a marinade, dipping sauce, or glaze for grilled meats and vegetables.
  • Ketchup is a simple alternative that you most likely have on hand. While it might not resemble teriyaki sauce closely, mixing ketchup with soy sauce, sugar, and a splash of vinegar can yield a surprisingly delicious and versatile sauce.



Can I use soy sauce instead of teriyaki?

Soy sauce can be used as a base to create a teriyaki-like sauce, but it’s not a direct substitute since teriyaki sauce has additional ingredients like sugar, mirin, and ginger. To make a simple teriyaki substitute, mix soy sauce with a sweetener (such as sugar or honey) and an acid (like vinegar or lemon juice).


What can replace teriyaki sauce in a recipe?

Several sauces can replace teriyaki sauce in a recipe, such as barbecue sauce, Korean BBQ sauce, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), ponzu sauce, hoisin sauce, or oyster sauce. Each has a unique flavor profile but can work as a suitable alternative depending on the recipe and personal preferences.


Is hoisin sauce a good alternative to teriyaki sauce?

Hoisin sauce can be a good alternative to teriyaki sauce due to its sweet and tangy flavor profile. However, hoisin sauce has a more intense flavor and is thicker than teriyaki sauce. It’s best to use sparingly and adjust the quantity of the sauce to your taste preference.


Can you replace brown sugar in teriyaki sauce?

Yes, brown sugar can be replaced in teriyaki sauce with other sweeteners such as white sugar, honey, maple syrup, or even a sugar substitute like stevia. Experiment to find out the one that tastes best for you.


What’s the main difference between teriyaki and soy sauce?

Teriyaki sauce and soy sauce are both derived from soy, but teriyaki sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and ginger. Teriyaki sauce is thicker, sweeter, and milder than soy sauce. Soy sauce, on the other hand, is a more concentrated, salty, and strong-flavored condiment.


What sauce is similar to teriyaki?

Several sauces are similar to teriyaki sauce, such as kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), Korean BBQ sauce, and ponzu sauce. These alternatives have their own unique flavors but can work well as substitutes for teriyaki sauce in various recipes.


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Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.