Is yakitori sauce the same as teriyaki? Uses & recipes

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Most of us have heard of teriyaki sauce and teriyaki-style cooking.

Yakitori? Maybe not so much.

So is yakitori the same as teriyaki? And if not? What’s the difference?

A plate of yakitori and one of teriyaki with different sauces

Yakitori sauce is quite similar to teriyaki in both the ways they’re made and their uses, but they’re 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. It also has less seasoning.

They’re both used not as a dipping sauce, but instead, as a sauce for glazing the meat before it’s cooked. This isn’t even that common in Japanese cooking!

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

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

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Yakitori and teriyaki sauce: Ingredients

Yakitori and teriyaki sauce are very similar in the way they’re 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 sauce.

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; it has ginger and garlic added 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 has slightly different uses as well:

  • Teriyaki can be used on a variety of foods
  • 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! It was created by Japanese immigrants when they came to Hawaii and were looking to thicken up soy sauce to use as a marinade.

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

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 won't only give you a great way to enjoy the authentic taste of the food, but it'll also give you a hint as to how it differs from teriyaki sauce.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
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 scallion. 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’s 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


  1. Combine the water, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, ginger, and garlic powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until heated through (about 1 minute).
  2. Mix cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water. Stir until dissolved and add to the saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened (about 5 to 7 minutes).

Teriyaki recipes

Once you’ve 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

Yakitori recipes

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 (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

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

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.