What does teriyaki sauce taste like? Let me describe the flavor

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 7, 2021

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Japan has some of the most interesting condiments and sauces in its cuisine. And one of those is teriyaki sauce, which has a dark brown color and a luminous gloss.

This sauce is an everyday cooking or dipping item in many Japanese dishes due to its versatility and flavor. But for those who haven’t tried this type of sauce before, what does teriyaki sauce taste like?

What does teriyaki sauce taste like? Let me describe the flavor

Teriyaki sauce has a distinctly rich sweetness and saltiness with a little bit of tang. If there are 3 different words to describe the taste perfectly, they’d be savory, sweet, and salty.

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Another description that people use to describe it is soy sauce mixed with honey. Additional spices like pepper and fresh garlic can change the flavor significantly.

It’s kind of like the Japanese version of barbecue sauce!

The origin of teriyaki sauce

Interestingly, there’s no official history for teriyaki sauce in Japan other than the word “teriyaki” itself.

Teriyaki is a grilling method discovered way back in the 17th century, along with “yakitori” and “sukiyaki.” The sweet, savory, and tangy teriyaki sauce was first made in Hawaii by Japanese immigrants years ago.

Back then, the aforementioned Japanese immigrants in Hawaii tried to recreate teriyaki recipes from home. However, because there were no Japanese marts or Amazon back then, people used what was distinctly available in Hawaii: pineapple.

The first-ever form of teriyaki sauce is considered to be soy sauce blended with pineapple juice.

Also read: Teriyaki vs. sukiyaki | Let’s compare these 2 popular Japanese classics

Can you use teriyaki sauce in other dishes?

Since the sauce was originally used for teriyaki, the main purpose of teriyaki sauce is marinating meat.

It works great on almost all available meat products, including fish (like teriyaki salmon), chicken, and beef. If you want to add an additional layer of flavor, you can add other spices as well.

The marinated meat is then grilled teriyaki-style after marinating for at least 30 minutes. People usually serve this grilled meat with white rice and stir-fried vegetables.

You can also use this sauce as a glaze for other products or as a dipping sauce. Due to its sweetness, the unconventional use of teriyaki sauce in slow cooker dishes can add extra flavor.

Is teriyaki sauce gluten-free

How do you make teriyaki sauce?

Making a basic homemade teriyaki sauce is quite simple. The ingredients are usually available in any pantry, except for mirin and sake.

In fact, you only need 4 ingredients to make a traditional teriyaki sauce recipe:

  1. Soy sauce
  2. Sake
  3. Mirin
  4. Sugar

You can add spices for some variation, but that’s optional.

All the liquid ingredients measurements are half cups, while you’ll need at least 4 tablespoons of sugar.

Mix all the ingredients and taste; add sugar or other ingredients until it’s perfect. Bring the mixture to boil until it simmers, usually after 10-15 minutes.

Traditional teriyaki sauce isn’t really made with a thick viscosity. However, the sauce will thicken after boiling.

You can add cornstarch or potato starch to make the sauce even thicker. But just like the spices, this step is optional.

Original Japanese teriyaki sauces are usually more watery and have a more pronounced flavor.

Check out The Sauce and Gravy Channel’s YouTube video on making homemade teriyaki sauce:

Where can I buy teriyaki sauce?

Like other Japanese cooking essentials (such as mirin or sake,) teriyaki sauces are available in almost all grocery stores nationwide.

There are brands like Kikkoman that sell traditional flavors, while other brands like Tabasco have a spicy teriyaki sauce variety.

Just grab a bottle of your favorite teriyaki brand if you’re extremely busy!

How to store teriyaki sauce properly

Store-bought teriyaki sauce can be stored in the pantry with other condiments like soy sauce. As long as it’s unopened, you can keep these bottles in a cool and dry place.

However, your homemade teriyaki sauce should stay in the refrigerator, especially if you added spices and other things to improve the flavor.

Now you know what the teriyaki sauce taste is like

If you’ve never had teriyaki sauce before, then now you know what it tastes like. The teriyaki sauce taste is richly sweet and salty, like soy sauce mixed with honey.

If this sounds appealing to you, then give it a try by either making your own or buying it from the store. Then, use it to make dishes like teriyaki chicken and salmon. Once you’ve had a taste of teriyaki sauce, you’ll never look back!

Read next: Is teriyaki sauce gluten-free? Safe brands to buy & how to make your own

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.