Japanese Teriyaki Sushi Sauce: For Glazing Fish Or California Rolls

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Teriyaki is a sweet sauce that goes perfect with chicken dishes, but it’s used a lot with sushi as well.

Glazing fish is perfect because of the sweetness, but sushi chefs also use a little bit of it when making their California rolls.

Teriyaki sushi sauce

The best homemade teriyaki sauce only contains 4 basic ingredients: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. It only takes minutes to make and it gives meat and veggies an amazing sweet and savory flavor!

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Make your own teriyaki sushi sauce at home

Here’s a homemade recipe you can try if you want to make this yummy sauce for your at-home sushi party.

Teriyaki sushi sauce recipe

Japanese Teriyaki Sushi Sauce

Joost Nusselder
This delicious teriyaki sauce is a sweet and savory (umami) glaze or dipping sauce. It has a well-balanced flavor and sticky texture that adheres to foods, so you get delicious flavors in every bite.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


  • First, gather all the ingredients in separate bowls or cups.
  • In a saucepan, pour and mix the sake and mirin.
  • Next, add the soy sauce and stir.
  • Add the sugar and stir well until it is dissolved.
  • Turn on the heat to medium and bring all the ingredients to a boil. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes. At this point, the sauce should be thickened.
  • Small bubbles will start to rise to the surface as you stir the sauce or tilt the pan. The sauce is then prepared for usage at this point.
  • Put the sauce in a clean jar and let it cool there. As it cools, the sauce will get thicker. You can serve it once cooled.


For a smaller portion for 1 or 2 people, you can use about 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of mirin, 2 tbsp of sake, and 1 tbsp of brown sugar or honey. 
Keyword Sauce, Sushi
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Cooking tips

If you find your sauce isn’t thick enough or sticky enough, you can always add 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 or 2 tbsp of water.

Make sure you mix the cornstarch and water well, or you’ll get lumps in your sauce, and the measurements need to be perfect, or the sauce will become too thick to even pour or brush on your sushi.

Here are some good cooking brushes for glazing and basting reviewed

If, on the other hand, your sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to dilute it.

Be sure to dissolve the brown sugar or honey before the sauce boils and thickens, or else you’ll end up with a very sweet sauce that will overpower the other flavors if parts of it are full of sugar chunks.

My recommended mirin is Kikkoman Aji-Mirin because it has a well-balanced sweet flavor.

When it comes to sake, a good cooking sake like Kikkoman Ryorishi Cooking Sake which has a mild umami flavor, will tenderize your food.

You can use any type of soy sauce for your teriyaki sauce, but for the best results, I recommend using either a high-quality light or dark soy sauce.

Tamari is also a good choice if you don’t like soy sauce.

Substitutes & variations

Instead of brown sugar, you can substitute it with regular white sugar, cane sugar, or honey.

As I just mentioned above, you can use any type of soy sauce, but dark soy sauce gives it a richer, more complex flavor.

If you can’t find dark soy sauce, regular soy sauce will also work. Light soy sauce will make the teriyaki sauce take on a lighter amber color.

Gluten-free tamari or low-sodium soy sauce make good options too, depending on your dietary preferences.

The mirin and sake are essential components of a tasty teriyaki sauce. Don’t substitute these for anything else, or you may end up with an altogether different flavor profile.

There are tons of good teriyaki sauce recipes out there. The one I shared is a simple yet flavorful one that goes well with all types of Japanese foods.

However, you can use other ingredients to make this tasty sauce.

Some people like to add minced garlic and 1/4 tsp of ground ginger.

If you can’t mince the ginger and garlic small enough not to get large chunks in the sauce, you can always put the ingredients you’ll boil first (so not the water and cornstarch) in a blender.

You can cook the sauce for a few minutes and then check with a spoon if it’s thick enough to use (just let it drip off the spoon, it should be quite syrupy).

How to use teriyaki sauce with sushi

The best way to use this sauce is by glazing fish with it. You can do this by brushing it on sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri or on top of a seared piece of fish like tuna or salmon.

You can also use this as a dipping sauce for sushi, either on the side or mixed in with soy sauce.

Another way to use this teriyaki sauce is in a California roll.

Normally, these sushi rolls are made with mayo or eel sauce, but using this teriyaki glaze will give it an amazing flavor.

Simply brush some inside the nori sheet and add your fillings. Roll it up and brush some more on the outside before eating.

Normally, you would use this sauce as a marinade for chicken or beef. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (or overnight if you have the time), and then cook it however you like.

But adding it to your sushi gives a great sweetness to the roll that many will appreciate.

Learn more about the California roll (and why it is actually not traditional Japanese sushi) here

How to serve teriyaki sauce

Besides sushi, which I already mentioned, you can use teriyaki sauce on any food that goes with sweet and savory flavors, like meats, veggies, and tofu.

Some people like to drizzle teriyaki sauce over their meat before grilling or broiling, while others like to brush it on the food while cooking.

You can also use it as a dipping sauce for fried foods like chicken karaage or tempura.

Teriyaki sauce can even be added to stir-fry, rice dishes, noodle dishes, and even soups like ramen if you like sweeter seasonings.

No matter how you use it, teriyaki sauce is a delicious way to add flavor and savoriness to your favorite dishes!

How to store

Once you’ve made your teriyaki sauce, store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week or longer if you have a tight-sealing container or jar.

Just be sure to always stir your sauce well before using it.

If you notice any separation or any bits that have solidified, just give it a good whisk to mix everything together again.

Similar dishes

Teriyaki sauce is just one of the many popular Japanese sauces you can use to top and flavor your dishes.

Other popular options include ponzu sauce, sweet chili sauce, wasabi mayonnaise, and sesame sauce.

Yakiniku sauce is also similar, but it’s used as a marinade or dip for Japanese BBQ meat.

So why not try out different sauces to see which one you like best? There are so many to pick from!


Teriyaki sauce is a delicious and versatile Japanese condiment that can be used on all sorts of dishes, from sushi to fried foods, meats, veggies, and more.

It is made with a combination of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and brown sugar.

It has a viscous texture and rich, savory flavor that pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes.

There are many different ways to make and use teriyaki sauce, so be sure to give it a try soon!

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.