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.
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.
In this post we'll cover:
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
- Yakitori literally means grilled chicken. Yaki means grill and tori means chicken
- Teriyaki means gloss grill. Teri means gloss while yaki, once again, means grill
Each of these sauces have slightly different uses as well.
- Teriyaki can be used on a variety of foods
- while yakitori is used on chicken only
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.
Easy and authentic yakitori sauce
- 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.
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
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.
Once you have made your teriyaki sauce, here are some dishes you can use it in:
- Teriyaki Fried Rice
- Teriyaki Salmon Quinoa Bowls
- Teriyaki Chicken Thighs
- Teriyaki Ahi
- Teriyaki Beef Stir-Fry
- Teriyaki Noodles
- Kalbi Short Ribs in Teriyaki Sauce
And here are some recipes you can make with your tasty yakitori sauce:
- Chicken Yakitori with Purple Cabbage and Jasmine Rice
- Chicken Meatball Shishito Yakitori
- Chicken Thigh Yakitori
- Soy Glazed Chicken Yakitori
- Chicken Meatball Yakitori
- Chicken and Leek Yakitori
- Chicken and Veggie Yakitori
Now that you know the difference between yakitori and teriyaki, 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?