A teriyaki sauce recipe for everything teriyaki

This teriyaki sauce recipe is good enough to drink! But don't do that.

Teriyaki sauce makes chicken livers delicious. Photo by adactio

Teriyaki sauce is so popular outside of Japan that it isn't difficult to find any number of teriyaki sauces, marinades, and dressings at the grocery store, but it's easy to make your own at home, just the way you like it, and with fresh ingredients. Any decent teriyaki sauce recipe will include soy sauce or tamari (a kind of Japanese soy sauce), sake, mirin (a kind of sweet sake), ginger, and sugar, in different amounts. Experiment to find out which proportions work best for you. 

This teriyaki sauce recipe makes about one cup of sauce. You can certainly half or double it to suit your needs, or alter the amount of any of the ingredients to suit your taste. The kitchen is your laboratory!

Teriyaki sauce recipe
(makes about 1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 4 tablespoons sake
  • 4 tablespoons mirin*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

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Mix all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Heat it over low heat and allow to simmer for five minutes or so, until sauce is reduced to the desired consistency. Remove from heat. Be careful--it's hot and sticky! Use the sauce as a marinade or glaze for chicken, beef, seafood, tofu, or anything else you can grill up. If the leftover sauce has not been in contact with any raw meat, save it in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to four days. 

*A note about mirin: It's commonly defined at "sweet sake" in Japanese cookbooks, but you'll be able to find it any Asian grocery store or the "ethnic food" section of your local supermarket. However, this stuff is not "real" mirin, or sake, so it doesn't contain any alcohol. Instead, it's a concoction of sweeteners and other ingredients that loosely mimics the flavor of authentic mirin. Outside of East Asia, you might not even be able to find real mirin at a liquor store unless you live in a particularly trendy town. Look for it at specialty sake shops. We've only used the brands you can find easily in the US, with good results, but I bet the real stuff is awesome. 

Here are some teriyaki recipes that can easily be cooked with friends and families on your tabletop grill. Follow the links for more information about yakitori grills, konros, and electric tabletop grills.

Chicken on the Yakitori

Teriyaki chicken recipe (makes 4 servings)

I use chicken breast cutlets for this recipe because they are healthy and they cook up quickly and thoroughly on a tabletop grill. You can use any cuts you like, but I recommend using boneless chicken pieces to make sure you and your guests can keep cooking and eating without interruption.

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
  • 1 teriyaki sauce recipe or 1 cup prepared teriyaki sauce

Lay the chicken cutlets flat in a glass or other non-aluminum baking dish. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the chicken cutlets and cover the dish with plastic wrap. (Or marinate them in a large resealable plastic bag.) Let them marinate in the fridge for up to four hours, or at room temperature for twenty minutes before putting them on the hot grill. Pour the remaining sauce into a bowl and, using a marinade brush, take turns with your guests spreading it over the chicken pieces as they cook. 

Alternatively, you can skewer the chicken pieces before marinating them and you can grill them up yakitori style on your konro.

Warning: Make sure you don't use the teriyaki sauce that's been in contact with the raw chicken as a dipping sauce. If you want some teriyaki sauce to dip your chicken and other food into--and I'm sure you will--make a fresh batch for dipping!

Serve the teriyaki chicken with a salad with ginger salad dressing and other grilled meats and vegetables. Pair it with a cold Japanese beer, chilled sake, or iced green tea. If you're serving wine, try it with an off-dry Riesling or Traminette.

Teriyaki beef recipe

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 teriyaki sauce recipe or 1 cup prepared teriyaki sauce
Teriyaki beef

This is just a portion of all the meat we cooked for our Memorial Day barbecue

Slice the steak into thin strips and lay flat in a glass or other non-aluminum baking dish. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the steak and cover with plastic wrap. Let the steak marinate for at least four hours in the fridge. Pull them out 20 minutes before grilling so the steak can reach room temperature. Serve the raw steak strips on a platter and you and your guests can grill them up on your tabletop grill/konro throughout the course of the dinner. 

You can also thread a skewer through each beef slice before marinating them and grill them up Japanese-barbecue style on your yakitori grill

For a side dish, parboil potato wedges and grill them with salt and pepper. Provide a fresh bowl of teriyaki sauce, uncontaminated with raw meat, for everyone to dip their food in. 

Serve with cold Japanese beer, iced green tea, chilled sake, or an icy Sangria. For a wine pairing, try a fruity red Syrah or Zinfandel. 

Teriyaki shrimp recipe

  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 teriyaki sauce recipe or 1 cup prepared teriyaki sauce

Marinate the shrimp in a large ziploc bag for up to half an hour (but no longer). Serve the raw, marinated shrimp on a platter and let your guests cook them up on the tabletop grill as needed.

You can also skewer the shrimp with pineapple chunks and parboiled peppers, mushrooms, or broccoli before marinating them in a glass or other non-aluminum baking dish. Then just grill them up as sweet and savory teriyaki shrimp kebabs. 

Serve with cold Japanese beer, iced green tea, chilled sake, or pair with a sweet Moscato wine. 

Teriyaki tofu recipe (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 teriyaki sauce recipe or 1 cup prepared teriyaki sauce

Photo by Bob Duran 

Blot the tofu with a paper towel or, if you have time, dry it by placing the a clean towel on a baking sheet, placing the the tofu on the towel, cover it with a second towel, and put another baking sheet on top. Weigh down the second baking sheet with canned goods, a tea kettle, or anything else that has a bit of weight to it and let the tofu sit for about half an hour. Use the time to pour a glass of wine, think about your life choices, or make a batch of teriyaki sauce. 

Cut the tofu into squares or triangles as you prefer. You can also put the tofu onto skewers at this point if you like. I recommend using two skewers for every portion because tofu can be a jerk to grill. Lay the tofu pieces or skewers in a glass baking dish and cover them with the teriyaki sauce. Let them marinate for 20-30 minutes. Serve them uncooked and let guests grill their own tofu. Provide shiitake or portabello mushroom caps to grill as side dishes. 

Pair the tofu with cold Japanese beer, iced green tea, chilled sake, or a bright, citrusy, Sauvignon blanc.

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