What does teriyaki taste like?

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Japan has the most exciting sauces and condiments. One famous sauce is teriyaki, a dark brown sauce loved for its flavor. Many people outside Japan have not tried it, even though it’s popular in the United States. So, understanding how it really tastes could be challenging to many. So, what does teriyaki taste like really?

Well, teriyaki is a versatile sauce that tastes like a mixture of soy sauce and honey. Some sauce might contain additional flavors that significantly change its taste. Generally, the sauce has a rich sweetness and saltiness with some tang.

So this post will explore further what teriyaki is, what it tastes like, its uses, and so much more! So let’s dig into it!

What does teriyaki mean?

The word teriyaki is derived from Teri (shine given by the sugar) and yaki (a grilling method). Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking technique where foods are grilled with soy sauce and sake(traditional Japanese rice wine) or mirin (a sweeter version of sake).

This dish was discovered in the 17th century when Japanese immigrants recreated teriyaki recipes. The first teriyaki was considered a blend of soy sauce and pineapple juice.

What does teriyaki sauce taste like?

Teriyaki is a sweet yet tangy sauce with the authenticity of salty umami brought about by the soy sauce and mirin. Teriyaki sauce is much sweeter than soy sauce that’s a little salty. These two sauces have higher salt and sugar content, and at times, you can find either low salt soy sauce or low sugar teriyaki sauce. There are also less traditional flavored teriyaki sauces with flavors like sesame, garlic, ginger, and citrus.

What does teriyaki chicken sauce taste like?

Teriyaki translates to sauce grilled. Chicken teriyakirefers to a dish made by marinating chicken in teriyaki sauce. The sauce contains sugars and soy sauce,giving the chicken a sweet and savory taste.However, the chicken teriyaki could have other flavors depending on the recipe and flavors used.

How to prepare teriyaki chicken

Teriyaki chicken is made from boneless chicken legs(thigh and the drumstick). Check out how to prepare it.


  • 5 large chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Sake
  • ¼ tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar


  1. The first step is sprinkling salt over the chicken thighs and setting it aside to draw out the excess moisture.
  2. Pat dry the chicken with paper towels.
  3. Place the chicken onto the pan, then heat on medium heat.
  4. Pour some oil onto the pan if your chicken is skinless.
  5. Leave the chicken to fry until it starts browning and getting crisp.
  6. Flip over the chicken to the other side and cook till it crisps.
  7. Drain excess oil by patting the pan dry with paper towels.
  8. Add soy sauce and sake and leave to cook for 2 to 5 minutes under high heat. Flip the chicken as it cooks with some tongs until all the liquid on the pan dries out.
  9. Your chicken should be coated in the thick glaze once ready.


  • Salt the chicken first, then pat it dry using a paper towel.
  • Brush some oil onto the chicken to avoid sticking to the grill.
  • Grill the teriyaki chicken till almost fully cooked, then brush the teriyaki glaze onto it.
  • Glaze the chicken more than once to get that beautiful gloss finish.

Other recipes you can make with teriyaki include:

  • Grilled teriyaki shrimp
  • Teriyaki salmon
  • Teriyaki tofu
  • Beef teriyaki

Types of teriyaki sauce

The word teriyaki comes with many different types of sauces. Some examples include:

  • Ponzu citrus

This sauce is made up of acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice. This ponzu sauce is lighter and acidic than the miso and tamari sauces. The ponzu citrus doesn’t have a strong soy sauce taste but has this tangy and citrusy taste.

  • Miso sauce

Miso sauce is made from fermented soybeans and rice, barley, or other grains, making it thicker in consistency than ponzu sauce when it’s cooked down. It tastes sweet with a tangy flavor that’s salty and slightly sweet. This definitely gives teriyaki’s unique taste.

  • Tamari sauce

Tamari sauce is made from fermented soybeans and has a thicker consistency when compared to ponzu sauce. This miso byproduct doesn’t have any wheat like the conventional sauce, making it perfect for grilling as it doesn’t run off the meat. Tamari sauce features a salty taste that’s not as sweet as miso.

  • Soy-based teriyaki sauce

Soy-based sauces have the classic teriyaki flavor. They are sweet and have a savory undertone that’s perfect with seafood, beef, and chicken to add some depth of flavor.

  • Honey-based teriyaki sauce

Honey-based sauces have a characteristic sweetness with some bit of savoriness. They have a thicker consistency. Adding sesame oil gives it an appetizing aroma that you won’t resist.

  • Pineapple-based teriyaki sauces

Do you love sweeter sauces? Then this pineapple-based sauce is all you need. It has a prominent pineapple taste and might contain other flavors like garlic and ginger.

  • Curry-based teriyaki sauce

This sauce is perfect for those who love spicy food. It has moderate heat with a sweet, savory, and spicy note.

Uses of teriyaki sauce

Teriyaki is used mainly in glazing or marinades in meat products like beef burgers or barbecued ribs. Teriyaki sauce also combines well with grilled chicken.

 It’s also a perfect addition to slow-cooked dishes due to its sweetness. It, however, can be used in other cooking methods like in the oven, stir fry, or on the stovetop. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over a plate during serving or even dip it with kabobs or pots tickers.

Teriyaki sauce ingredients

Teriyaki sauce needs just three ingredients to be ready. Here is what you need:

Soy sauce

Soy sauce is the most essential ingredient that shouldn’t lack in teriyaki sauce. This soy gives teriyaki sauce its dark color and a savory taste. Instead of using just any other sauce, it’s is much better to use the Japanese soy sauce for perfect results.

Sake and mirin

Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. Yeast growth ferments the sugars in the sake and turns them into alcohol. Sake is added not because of the alcohol but for the amino acids that stimulate umami receptors in our mouths.

Be keen during purchase, so you don’t buy the cooking sake as it is made with low-level alcohol. One downside of sake is that it’s loaded with salt and flavorings that may not go well with the recipe at hand.

Mirin contains a considerable amount of alcohol, colorings, flavorings, and corn syrup. It is used to ad umami ad taste of the teriyaki. The downside of mirin is that it’s not really easy to find.


Sugar balances the saltiness and sweetness and gives the teriyaki its signature sweet and savory taste. You can use raw sugar or old white sugar to add more flavor to the sauce. Use rice maltose, a sugar type made by saccharifying starch, and rice for a shinier glaze.

Making teriyaki sauce

The process of making teriyaki sauce is quite straightforward. This is what you will need for the process.


  • ½ cup Mirin or sake
  • 4tbsp. Sugar
  • ½ cup Soy sauce
  • Spices- garlic, ginger(optional)


  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large pan.
  2. Place the pan over a heat source.
  3. Let the mixture boil for up to 15 minutes.
  4. Usually, teriyaki sauce shouldn’t be thick, but it might thicken after bringing it to boil.
  5. The traditional version of teriyaki is watery with a richer flavor. If you want the teriyaki sauce thick, you can use cornstarch or potato starch.

Video : How to make Teriyaki for Dinners

Frequently asked questions(FAQS)

How should I properly store teriyaki sauce?

You can store opened teriyaki bottles in the refrigerator to last for a year or in your pantry for up to 6 months. The sauce can stay in your pantry for 2 to 3 years if unopened.

Where to find teriyaki sauce

Teriyaki sauce is available in grocery stores and online stores. You can also make some homemade teriyaki since the ingredients are readily available.


Teriyaki sauce is a simple sauce that makes food more delicious. It has a sweet and tangy taste that you will love. So you can give it a try today by adding it to your meat dishes.

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