What is Yuzu Sauce?

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chicken with yuzu sauce


You may have come across yuzu sauce in a recipe or at a restaurant and wondered what exactly it is. Yuzu sauce is a unique and flavorful condiment that originates from Japan. It is made from the yuzu fruit, which is a citrus fruit similar to a lemon or a small grapefruit. The fruit has a distinct aroma and taste, combining sweet, sour, and slightly bitter notes, making it quite versatile in various dishes.

In Japanese cuisine, yuzu sauce is used to enhance the flavors of various dishes – from savory to sweet. You might find it drizzled over grilled fish, tossed in a salad dressing, or even incorporated into a refreshing dessert. It is simple to make, with the most common ingredients being yuzu fruit juice, soy sauce, and some form of sweetener, usually sugar or honey. This combination creates a delightful balance of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors that instantly elevates any dish.



First, you’ll need yuzu. Yuzu is a citrus fruit that originated in East Asia and boasts a beautiful tart flavor. It resembles a small grapefruit and has an unmistakable aroma. You can use fresh yuzu or bottled yuzu juice. If yuzu is not available in your area, a combination of lemon, lime, and grapefruit can be used as a substitute.

Another essential ingredient is soy sauce. Soy sauce adds depth and saltiness to the yuzu sauce, creating a harmonious balance of flavors. You can choose your preferred type of soy sauce, such as tamari, for a gluten-free option or a light or dark soy sauce, depending on your taste preference.

To give your yuzu sauce a touch of sweetness, include some sugar. You can adjust the amount of sugar according to your desired sweetness level. You may also use alternatives like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar if you prefer natural sweeteners.

A bit of mirin is also important as it enhances the overall flavor. Mirin is a sweet, low-alcohol rice wine commonly used in Japanese cooking. If you don’t have mirin at hand, you can substitute it with a mix of sugar and white wine, rice vinegar, or sake.

Finally, add a little katsuobushi for some extra depth and umami. Katsuobushi is dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna, which is typically shaved and sprinkled on top of various dishes in Japanese cuisine. You can find katsuobushi at Japanese grocery stores or online. If you cannot find it or prefer a vegetarian alternative, you can use dried shiitake mushrooms instead.


What to Make

jar of yuzu sauce

One popular option is to use yuzu sauce as a dipping sauce or marinade. It works well with seafood dishes, particularly sushi and sashimi. Just mix yuzu sauce with some soy sauce for a flavorful addition to your meal. It’s also great with grilled fish, such as salmon or cod. Simply marinate the fish in yuzu sauce for a few hours before grilling.

Yuzu sauce can also enliven noodle dishes. For a quick and easy meal, toss some cooked udon or soba noodles with yuzu sauce, sesame oil, and your choice of protein and vegetables. The tangy flavor adds depth and complexity, making for a tasty and satisfying dish.

A few more ways to enjoy it include:

  • Stirring into soups or stews for a hint of citrus.
  • Adding a splash to ceviche for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Use as a finishing sauce for steamed vegetables or rice bowls.
  • Drizzle over roasted potatoes or root vegetables for a touch of bright acidity.


Yuzu Sauce Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons yuzu juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the yuzu juice, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar.
  2. Heat the mixture over low heat and stir well until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  3. Add the grated ginger and garlic to the saucepan and stir.
  4. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and let it cool.
  5. Transfer the sauce to a jar or bottle, and store it in the refrigerator for up to a month.

You can easily modify or enhance your sauce by adding various ingredients. Here are some suggestions:

  • Spicy: Add 1-2 teaspoons of chili paste or chopped fresh chili peppers to the basic recipe for a spicy kick.
  • Ponzu: To create a delicious yuzu ponzu, replace the sake with an equal amount of rice vinegar.
  • Dressing: Combine your yuzu sauce with 3 tablespoons of neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed oil. Blend well and use as a dressing for salads or as a marinade for fish or chicken.



bottle of trader Joes yuzu sauce

Does yuzu sauce have a spicy flavor?

Yuzu sauce can have a mild spicy flavor, depending on the ingredients used. Typically, it is made from yuzu citrus, which has a tangy, slightly sweet taste. However, some variations may include chili peppers or other spices to give it a kick.


How does yuzu sauce compare to ponzu?

Both yuzu sauce and ponzu are Japanese citrus-based sauces, but they have their differences. Yuzu sauce is primarily made from yuzu fruit, while ponzu is a blend of citrus juices, including yuzu, with soy sauce and other flavorings. Yuzu sauce has a more tart, aromatic citrus flavor, while ponzu has a slightly sweeter, umami taste due to the addition of soy sauce.


Is there a yuzu BBQ sauce variation?

Yes! These sauces combine the tangy and aromatic yuzu flavor with the smoky, savory elements of traditional BBQ sauces. You can find pre-made yuzu BBQ sauces or create your own by adding yuzu juice or yuzu kosho. (a yuzu and chili pepper paste)

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