Tangy, sweet, salty, and oh so easy to make! This 6-ingredient Teriyaki Sauce recipe is a condiment to keep on hand to whip up week-night stir-fries. It’s freezer friendly too. This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
Teriyaki sauce has been on my radar for quite a while now. I’ve read ingredient labels, perused Google, and experimented in small batches. I’ve way too many jars of teriyaki sauce experiments in the fridge that will eventually get used. Still, it’s this simple, totally mouth-watering and the best teriyaki sauce recipe I finally landed on. And all in an effort to make a fabulous Tofu Teriyaki Rice Bowl!
Table of Contents
What is Traditional Teriyaki Sauce Made Of?
When I first started learning how to make teriyaki sauce, I found a vast array of ingredients from one recipe to another. But in its most basic form, there are only a few ingredients that make up a traditional recipe:
- Soy Sauce
These are not ingredients I typically keep in my larder, and mirin can be quite expensive. So, I started futzing around with various ingredients. I attempted a cornstarch-thickened recipe, one that included balsamic vinegar and a long list of ingredients, and a naturally sweetened recipe I worked on. Still, I wasn’t getting the flavor I was after. They were either too sweet or too salty and didn’t have the full-on umami I was looking for. Also, because I was on a gluten-free trial, I needed to create an easy gluten-free teriyaki sauce recipe.
I eventually came across a recipe from Epicurious. Their recipe included mirin and soy sauce, but instead of using mirin, I subbed pineapple juice and also subbed gluten free Tamari for soy sauce. I added garlic and ginger to give this teriyaki sauce a bit of a wow factor. For the sugar, I use a 1:1 ratio of maple syrup and brown sugar because it was just a bit too sweet with all the brown sugar. Using these subs, I created my best ginge garlic teriyaki sauce yet!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Six simple ingredients are all you need to make this ginger teriyaki sauce recipe (see recipe card for details)!
- Low Sodium Tamari – low sodium to balance the salty. I found regular tamari too sweet.
- Pineapple Juice – I often use the juice from a can of pineapple juice rather than purchasing a bottle of juice as this is what I typically keep stocked in the pantry. The pineapple chunks are delicious in smoothies and muffins and can be frozen if needed.
- Brown Sugar – use light brown sugar.
- Maple Syrup – a hit of maple lowers the sugar load and aids in a rich texture.
- Fresh Ginger and Garlic – offer a fresh earthy flavor to this flavorful sauce.
Although my take on this Japanese sauce is not authentic, I find it to work with the ingredients I typically have on hand and, I love its flavor.
What Does Teriyaki Sauce Taste Like?
This sauce has a tangy flavor with a good balance of sweet, a little acidic and salty but is not spicy. It’s rich, thick, gooey and has a fabulous umami flavor. Teriyaki sauce is perfect in stir fries, on tofu, or stirred into fried rice. It’s sooo good too as a dipping sauce for oven fries! Think of it as a Japanese(ish) BBQ sauce. Because of its concentrated flavors, a little goes a long way.
Is Teriyaki Sauce Gluten Free?
It depends on the recipe. Some recipes include soy sauce, not a gluten-free food. But gluten-free Tamari is a fabulous sub for soy sauce with delicious results. This recipe is gluten free – and another reminder that homemade is better anyway than store-bought. You control the ingredients!
Quick Guide: How to Make Ginger – Garlic Teriyaki Sauce
This teriyaki sauce recipe is super simple to whip up and to keep on hand when those teriyaki cravings strike (see recipe card for details)!
- First, in a medium sauce-pan, add Tamari, brown sugar, maple syrup, pineapple juice, ginger and garlic. Whisk to combine.
- Next, heat on medium high and bring to a simmer. Turn to low and simmer, whisking occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
- Last, remove from heat, strain into a lidded container. Teriyaki sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Freezer friendly? Yes please! I’ve stored this sauce for up to a month in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer. The sugars and salt act as preservatives.
- Use low sodium Tamari for a balanced flavor. I find regular Tamari too salty in this recipe and to balance the salt, I’d need to increase the sugar. Stick with low sodium for this recipe.
- Use as a Sauce or Marinade: This easy teriyaki sauce recipe is best as a sauce. Because of the sugar content, if cooked at a high heat, the sauce can easily burn.
- Thin Before Using: If using as a marinade thin with water or pineapple juice.
- Reheat this sauce on a low gentle heat on stove top or in the microwave.
- After you make this sauce, whip up some mouthwatering Speedy Tofu Teriyaki Bowls!
More Homemade Sauces and Condiments to Love
- Homemade Pizza Sauce
- Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
- Homemade Smoky Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Green Salsa Verde
Ginger-Garlic Teriyaki Sauce
- In a medium sauce-pot add the Tamari, pineapple juice, sugar, maple syrup, garlic and fresh ginger. Whisk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then turn to medium low. Simmer on a low gentle heat for about 20-30 minutes, whisking occasionally. Towards the end of cooking, when whisked, it will boil up, so be careful here and adjust the heat as needed. The sauce will reduce by about 1/2 and thicken as it cooks.Once the sauce coats the back of a metal spoon and stays in place when your finger runs through the sauce on the back of the spoon (careful it's HOT), the sauce is ready. The sauce will thicken further as it cools.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer and into a storage jar. Discard the solids. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to months.
- To thin the sauce, add more pineapple juice or water, a tablespoon at a time to thin as needed once cooled or reheated. Use as a sauce, as is or thin with water to use as a marinade. Reheat on low heat stove top or for 30 seconds at a time in the microwave.