Is yakitori sauce the same as teriyaki? Uses & recipes

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  March 9, 2021

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Most of us have heard of teriyaki sauce and teriyaki style cooking. Yakitori, maybe not so much.

Yakitori sauce is quite similar to teriyaki in both the ways it’s made and their uses, but they are not the same. Both use sugar as well as soy sauce to get a sweet-salty taste but yakitori sauce adds mirin to the mix but has less seasoning.

Let’s look at how and why to use yakitori over teriyaki sauce so you can become an expert in distinguishing the differences.

A plate of yakitori and one of teriyaki with different sauces

They’re both used not as a dipping sauce, but as a sauce for glazing the meat before it’s cooked. Which is not even that common in Japanese cooking.

Most Japanese cooking styles cook the ingredients au natural and maybe provide some sauces on the dinner table to dip the food in.

Yakitori and Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients

Yakitori and teriyaki sauce are very similar in the way they are made. Both use sugar and soy sauce.

The difference is that mirin is also included in yakitori sauce and a little honey is added to teriyaki.

Mirin is a Japanese condiment similar to rice wine, only it has a lower alcohol content and a higher sugar content.

Teriyaki is also a little more seasoned adding ginger and garlic to the mix.

Yakitori and Teriyaki Sauce Uses

Each of these sauces have slightly different uses as well.

When applied to chicken, yakitori sauce is usually used on broiled skewers of thigh or leg meat whereas teriyaki is used on whole pieces of chicken that can be grilled or pan fried.

It might also surprise you to learn that teriyaki isn’t Japanese at all, but was created by Japanese immigrants when they came to Hawaii and were looking to thicken up their soy sauce to use it as a marinade.

Teriyaki was mostly used to glaze fish but has moved its way over to chicken as well when it became more popular on the mainland of the US.

Let’s check out the recipe for both so you can see the difference in all of their ingredients.

Also read: how yakitori usually is served and how you eat it

Easy and authentic yakitori sauce

Easy and authentic yakitori sauce

Joost Nusselder
This recipe for yakitori sauce will not only give you a great way to enjoy the authentic taste of the food, it will also give you a hint as to how it differs from teriyaki sauce.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people


  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 scallion


  • Combine mirin, soy sauce, sake, water, brown sugar and the green part of a scallion and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half. This will take about 30 minutes.
  • Sauce will be thick and glossy. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Keyword Sauce, Yakitori
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Also check out my favorite Japanese ingredients list here for more flavors.

Recipe for Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce can be purchased in most supermarkets but if you want a more authentic taste, here is a recipe you may want to try.


1 cup water

¼ cup soy sauce

5 tbsp. packed brown sugar

1 tbsp. honey

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. garlic powder

2 tbsp. cornstarch

Favorite Asian Recipes x
Favorite Asian Recipes

¼ cup cold water


Combine 1 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, ginger, and garlic powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Mix cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water. Stir until dissolved. Add to saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Teriyaki Recipes

Once you have made your teriyaki sauce, here are some dishes you can use it in:

Yakitori Recipes

And here are some recipes you can make with your tasty yakitori sauce:

Now that you know the difference between yakitori and teriyaki (and maybe delve into the differences between kushiyaki skewers and yakitori), you’re prepared to order at the finest exotic establishments or make your own delicious Asian dishes.

Which of these sauces will you be using in your next meal?

Also read: the best charcoal grills for yakitori reviewed

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.