A teriyaki sauce substitute needs to have some amazing depth of flavor to truly be a great alternative to this popular sauce! Try some of my very best substitutes for teriyaki that I share here, whether you've run out of teriyaki or just need an idea for an easy swap!
What Is Teriyaki Sauce?
Originating in Japan, teriyaki sauce is now a worldwide favorite. It's perfect for adding a balance of sweet and savory flavors to a variety of dishes.
Most teriyaki sauce recipes combine the staple ingredients of soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake in varying amounts. Teriyaki sauce is used as a base for marinades, dipping sauces, glazes, stir-fry sauces, and much more.
Best Teriyaki Sauce Substitutes
The best teriyaki sauce substitute is a homemade one. Making teriyaki sauce at home is quite easy and allows you to achieve your desired flavor.
However, you may not have all the ingredients, or you simply may not have the time for a DIY teriyaki sauce. If that's the case, there are several other quick swaps you can make!
1. BBQ Sauce
When it comes to glazing meat, BBQ is a good alternative to teriyaki sauce. Especially if you are grilling.
American BBQ sauce has a similar texture to teriyaki sauce. In addition, it shares a similar sweet flavor although the savory undertones are quite different.
BBQ sauce traditionally has a ketchup or tomato base. In contrast, teriyaki sauce is a soy sauce base. Therefore, while you will still get a sweet flavor it will have an overall different flavor profile.
Despite the different flavor bases, BBQ sauce is one of the easiest swaps for teriyaki sauce because it is one that most of us have at home.
While it is not ideal for substituting in an Asian stir-fry it is a great choice to glaze chicken, pork, beef, and even veggies.
Use BBQ sauce in a 1:1 substitution in select recipes.
2. Korean BBQ Sauce
While not as common to have on hand as American BBQ sauce, Korean BBQ sauce is an even better substitution for teriyaki sauce. It has a soy sauce base and is essentially the Korean version of teriyaki sauce.
Korean BBQ sauce is also sweeter than its American counterpart. Therefore, making it an even closer match for Teriyaki sauce.
If you happen to have Korean BBQ sauce at home give it a go as a teriyaki substitute. It can be used as a glaze for meats, as well as in stir-fry and rice dishes.
Since it has a soy sauce base it will provide a familiar Asian flavor as the teriyaki sauce.
Use in a 1:1 substitution in most recipes.
3. Oyster Sauce
Another substitute that will provide a similar flavor to Asian cuisine is oyster sauce. Again, this may not be one that you typically have at home, but if you do it, is a great option.
Oyster sauce is commonly used in Chinese cooking and has a sweet and savory flavor profile similar to teriyaki sauce. In addition, it has a similar consistency to teriyaki sauce.
While oyster sauce can be used as a glaze for meats, it is best used as a substitute in dishes like fried rice or stir-fry. Its flavor is a bit stronger than teriyaki sauce, so it is best used to enhance the other flavors around it.
To avoid overpowering your dish, start with half the suggested measurement. You can add more if desired once you taste the dish.
An important thing to remember when using oyster sauce is that it is made from oyster juice. Therefore, it is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Another substitute that is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians, but that you may have at home, is Worcestershire Sauce. Made from fermenting small fish like anchovies or krill, along with several other spices, Worcestershire lends a wonderful and complex flavor profile.
This complex flavor profile is naturally more savory than teriyaki sauce though. So, to get the best flavor, combine it with a bit of a sweetener such as sugar or honey. This will also help to thicken up the Worcestershire sauce a bit.
The ratio of sweetener to Worcestershire will vary depending on your flavor preference. Therefore, it may take a bit of trial and error to find the exact match. The best thing is to go slow and taste as you go.
Whether you choose to use Worcestershire alone or with a sweetener, start slowly with only half the measurement the recipe calls for. Like the oyster sauce, the flavor is more potent than teriyaki sauce, so you don’t want to overdo it.
This substitute can be used as a marinade or mixed into a dish.
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5. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is one that you are less likely to have on hand but is a great alternative. Especially if you want something with a bit of a kick.
Made from a blend of soybeans, vinegar, sugar, and chili peppers, hoisin sauce is much spicier than teriyaki sauce.
This spicy alternative has a lovely thick consistency that is perfect for glazing meats. It is also great to use as a dip. In addition, it can be used to add flavor to other sauces or stir-fries.
If your goal is to get a bold flavor that is spicy and sweet, then you can easily use a 1:1 ratio of hoisin sauce in place of teriyaki sauce. However, if you are worried about it being too spicy start with half the measurement.
6. Ponzu Sauce
Ponzu is a Japanese sauce that is made from soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, and fish flakes. Some brands also add mirin to it. This blend of ingredients is quite similar to how teriyaki sauce is made.
Therefore, it has a similar flavor profile that is sweet and savory. One of the key differences is that ponzu sauce has notes of citrus that are not typically found in teriyaki sauce.
Although you may not have ponzu sauce at your house it is easy to find in the grocery store. So, if you want a teriyaki alternative to keep on hand look for it next to soy sauce and other Asian sauces.
This sauce can be used in a 1:1 substitution for teriyaki sauce in any recipe.
7. Soy Sauce
One of the quickest and easiest substitutes for teriyaki sauce is plain old soy sauce. Since soy sauce is the base for teriyaki sauce, using it as a substitute will provide a similar (but basic) flavor profile.
However, soy sauce on its own is a much simpler flavor profile than teriyaki sauce. Moreover, it is not sweet like teriyaki sauce. In addition, it has a much thinner consistency.
With these differences in mind, I would suggest using soy sauce only in a pinch. Moreover, it is best used as a substitute in a dish that has several other flavors to draw from (such as fried rice).
Use in an equal 1:1 ratio.
8. Soy Sauce + Brown Sugar
While soy sauce on its own does not provide the complex flavor profile of teriyaki sauce, the easy addition of brown sugar can help improve that.
Just mix equal parts soy sauce and brown sugar to create 1 part of teriyaki sauce. For example, 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 1 teaspoon brown sugar = 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce.
This is the beginning of making your homemade teriyaki sauce. If you want to take it to the next level, check out the next substitute for a more complete teriyaki sauce recipe.
If you have soy sauce and either granulated sugar or brown sugar at home, you are two-thirds of the way to making your own easy homemade teriyaki sauce. The final ingredient is mirin.
Mirin is a rice wine that is used in Japanese cooking. It has an acidic base that is slightly sweet. This helps bring together the flavors in the soy sauce and brown sugar and elevated both flavor profiles.
While it is easy to buy mirin at most grocery stores, you may not have it on hand at home. However, if you have some around then you can use it to make your own simple teriyaki sauce.
This easy mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin will create a nice complex flavor to use as a 1:1 substitution for teriyaki sauce.
- 2 parts soy sauce
- 2 parts sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 parts mirin
For a homemade teriyaki sauce with the best flavor, see my favorite recipe here!
While all the substitutions above are excellent choices, they have one thing in common that may not be suitable for some people. Most of them (except for BBQ sauce) are made with soy sauce.
Soy sauce is made from soybeans. Moreover, it is made with wheat. Therefore, if you have a soy allergy or gluten intolerance, then many teriyaki substitutes will not work for you.
However, while the substitutions above may not work there are a couple that great alternatives. One is Tamari.
Tamari is also made from soybeans but is traditionally not made with wheat. So, if you only need a gluten-free alternative this is an excellent choice.
It has a similar savory flavor base as soy sauce but it is slightly sweeter and even a bit thicker. Like soy sauce, it can be combined with honey, sugar, or brown sugar, to increase the sweetness.
You can use it as a teriyaki substitute in any dish in a 1:1 ratio.
Read more about the differences between soy sauce vs tamari in my guide here!
11. Coconut Aminos
If you are looking for both a soy-free and gluten-free substitute, then grab a bottle of coconut aminos. These are made from fermented coconut palm sap and are naturally gluten-free and soy free.
Often used as a substitute for soy sauce, these have a nice savory flavor that is less salty than soy sauce. Moreover, they are naturally sweeter. Therefore, making them a great swap for teriyaki sauce.
Coconut aminos can be used in a 1:1 ratio for teriyaki sauce in any recipe but are best used in stir-fries and other similar dishes. They can also be used to make soy-free and gluten-free teriyaki sauce by replacing the soy sauce with coconut aminos in the DIY recipe above.
Choose the Teriyaki Substitute for You
Choosing the best teriyaki substitute will depend on what you have available at home and the dish you are making. In addition, it may depend on your preference in taste.
Whether you want something saltier and savory, or a bit sweeter, you can find a great alternative to teriyaki sauce above! You may even find a couple to try with different dishes!
Let me know in the comments below which is your favorite teriyaki substitute to use in cooking! Or share your results when trying out one of these tasty options!
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📖 Recipe Card
Best Teriyaki Sauce Substitute: Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (Easy DIY Recipe + More Tasty Alternatives!)
- Combine the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, orange juice, water, light brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger) in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the brown sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl whisk the cornstarch and cold water together to make your slurry.
- Pour the slurry into your sauce mixture and whisk to combine. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, as the sauce thickens. This typically takes about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and use in your favorite recipe or allow to cool completely before storing.
- If your sauce thickens too much, add a drizzle of water to thin to your desired consistency.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!