What can I use instead of teriyaki sauce?

In this article, we answer the question of what can be used instead of teriyaki sauce and go in-depth about what is teriyaki sauce, what are its uses and all its substitutes.

What can I use instead of teriyaki sauce?

There are many substitutes for teriyaki sauce that can be commonly found at your nearby grocery store. These include:

What is teriyaki sauce?

Teriyaki sauce is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and it was initially used to coat meat which is then grilled over coal. However, it has grown to be used for a variety of dishes like burgers, vegetable sautees and so on. It is normally used as a marinade but can also be used in noodle dishes, as a glaze, sauce, or as seasoning.

Teriyaki sauce is comprised of four main ingredients: soy sauce, sake or mirin, sugar and ginger. Teriyaki sauce is a harmonious blend of umami, tangy and sweet flavour that is sure to spruce up your dish. If boiled down, it becomes thick and sticky; cornstarch can also be added to create this effect.

Teriyaki sauce burns easily due to its high sugar content and hence must always be cooked on a low flame or should be applied in the last few minutes onto the meat or vegetables in case of direct-heat cooking such as grilling/barbeque. 

Where is teriyaki sauce used?

Although primarily used as a marinade, teriyaki sauce can be used in a variety of ways:

  • It can be boiled down to make a thick, glossy sauce that can be coated over meat and vegetables or used as a glaze
  • It is used to marinate tofu, fish and meat before being grilled.
  • Can be used as a delicious dipping sauce for potstickers and kebabs.
  • Can be used as a dressing to liven up salads and vegetable bowls.
  • Marinade for barbeque meat as well as the patties in burgers.

What are some substitutes for teriyaki sauce?

  • Barbeque sauce
  • Barbeque sauce is a good alternative as it is also sweet and tangy. However, it is sweeter and milder than teriyaki and also has a hint of smokiness. The applications of barbeque sauce are similar as this too is used as marinades and to coat vegetables and meat before grilling. This is a popular and delectable option that is easily available.

    Barbeque sauce is quite easy to make at home, and the ratios of the ingredients can be altered to your preference. For example, you can add honey or brown sugar to increase the sweetness, or a dash of lemon juice to increase the tanginess.

    2. Soy sauce + sugar

    Both soy sauce and sugar are two of the four main ingredients in teriyaki sauce. The soy sauce gives an umami, salty flavour while the sugar offsets it by adding that tinge of sweetness. The proportions of both can be changed according to your liking, so this works as a good substitute. You can also use honey or brown sugar for a healthier option

    You can add 2 tablespoons of sugar to half a cup of soy sauce and apply it to your meat before grilling. A few cloves of garlic can be added for a kick. You can also thicken it in a slow boil to be used as a sauce or garnish. 

    3. Korean galbi sauce

    Korean Galbi (or Kalbi) sauce is a close alternative to teriyaki sauce. It also contains brown sugar, garlic, honey and soy sauce, as well as other ingredients. It is simply a Korean version of this sweet and tangy sauce, however, it has a noticeable smokiness to it that teriyaki sauce does not have. 

    Koreans use this sauce to marinate their ribs and pork (like in bulgogi). It is used more as a marinade than as a glaze or sauce. It is thus a popular part of Korean cuisine, but unfortunately is not easily available outside of Korea

    4. Oyster sauce

    A popularly used sauce especially in Asian cuisine, oyster sauce (made from oysters) is a good substitute that has both sweet and tang, although does have a slight fishy taste. It is much darker in colour and sticker in texture. It is great for using as a glaze or cooking with stir-fry vegetables/meat and noodles.

    There are two more options to consider, although these aren’t as close in flavour or texture as the ones mentioned above. These are Worcestershire sauce and Hoisin sauce. Hoisin is much spicier and involves a lot more intricate flavours, whereas Worcestershire is milder and sweeter with not much of an umami taste to it.


    Although you cannot get an exact replica of teriyaki sauce, the aforementioned alternatives are your next best options and each has its own unique flavours. The uses of each of these sauces do not vary much so can easily be substituted. 



    Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.