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The ever-popular teriyaki sauce is a marinade, a glaze, and a sauce all rolled into one. And teriyaki, by itself, is a Japanese technique of grilling over an open flame while basting the food with a glaze. The sight of crackly and crispy morsels of grilled meat, fish, or vegetables glistening with viscous teriyaki sauce is bound to make anyone hungry. Even the picky eaters in the family can’t resist a teriyaki meal.
Present-day teriyaki sauces have evolved from a soy sauce and mirin base to including ingredients like onions, ginger, garlic, pineapple juice, sugar, and even bourbon. Some of the sauces don’t even contain soy and yet are full of umami—which, translated, means "pleasant savory taste"—and pack a punch.
There is an option out there for your cooking style, and we picked the best teriyaki sauces to help you make a selection.
Best Overall: Kikkoman Original Takumi Teriyaki Sauce
The Kikkoman Takumi series of sauces are created using an age-old method of traditionally brewed soy sauce with sweet rice wine. Then ginger, garlic, onions, and sesame are added in to create bold flavors and sumptuous texture. It is great to use as a marinade and as a dipping sauce for a variety of dishes.
We think it's especially good for grilled or baked salmon to complement all the richness in the fish. When rich, fatty fish meets sublime Asian flavors, together they make a dish that is simply irresistible.
Best Low-Sodium: Asian Fusion Low Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
It’s easy to indulge in seasonings and sauces that taste great. But with only 125 milligrams of sodium per serving, the Asian Fusion sauce will allow you to enjoy great-tasting teriyaki without as much sodium as others on this list. This sauce is also organic, gluten-free, non-GMO verified, and pareve. It has a good balance of flavors without too much salt.
Best Keto: Kevin's Natural Foods Keto and Paleo Teriyaki Sauce
Made with coconut aminos and shitake mushrooms for that soy sauce-like umami that delivers, this sauce is also keto, paleo, and gluten-free certified with 2 grams of sugar. It has monk fruit extract and stevia leaf extract for sweetness to round off the flavors, and there is paprika for some kick. This sauce can be used on any meats and vegetables for a quick stir fry and also works as a marinade. According to the brand, there are no artificial ingredients in the sauce, and it's also non-GMO verified.
Best for Rice: 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Teriyaki Sauce
A little teriyaki sauce, when added to a bowl of plain rice, adds that savory, undeniable umami flavor. It basically just pops. Do you still have all those little leftover rice boxes that you saved from your takeout two nights ago? Bring them forth and make them the main meal with some protein and vegetables thrown in for good measure. This one is a bit thinner than most teriyaki sauces. It works well in a stir fry and rice bowls, and for the times when you just want a thin glaze on your food.
Best Vegan: Sky Valley Organic Teriyaki Sauce
Not all teriyaki sauces are vegan because some sauces contain lactic acid, honey, refined sugar, and other ingredients that are not vegan-friendly. This teriyaki sauce is all organic and certified gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. It has bold flavors that go well with vegetables and tofu. You can use this sauce to stir-fry, grill, or marinate and even create a sauce to serve things with.
Best Soy-Free: Coconut Secret Soy-Free Coconut Aminos Teriyaki Sauce
If you are allergic to soy, you can still have a full teriyaki experience with this soy-free teriyaki sauce. Soy sauce is known for the umami it lends to dishes and that same savory flavor can be found in coconut aminos. This sauce is organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher, and lower in sodium. It's a soy-alternative sauce that you can use just as you would use a soy-base teriyaki sauce.
Best Gluten-Free: Soy Vay Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce
The Soy Vay teriyaki sauce is made with gluten-free tamari (a Japanese style of soy sauce). Since the gluten-free tamari is made with just soybeans, it has a more pronounced flavor and richer color than regular soy sauce. It is a full-bodied sauce, making it suitable for dipping and marinades for meat and fish. You will be making amazing gluten-free Asian food in no time with this savory and sweet sauce.
Best for Steak: Bourbon Barrel Kentuckyaki Sauce
You may think Kentuckyaki isn’t exactly teriyaki, but we are talking about a Japanese sauce that Americans made their own. Teriyaki sauce evolved from a mix of soy sauce and mirin to all the different varieties we now have available. And the Kentuckyaki fits rights in. Bourbon and steak! What’s not to like? This sauce is sweetened with Kentucky-grown sorghum syrup and has a kick of ginger and garlic. This all-natural sauce is ready when you are to fire up the grill.
Best for Chicken: Mr. Yoshida's Original Sweet Teriyaki Gourmet Marinade
Sweet, sticky, and tangy—this sauce just goes well with chicken. Whether you want to air-fry some wings or make chicken baked in teriyaki sauce this well-rounded sauce can handle all kinds of cooking. It's all-purpose teriyaki sauce that doubles up as a dip after you cook with it. The sauce also comes in a generous 17-ounce package.
Best Paleo: Primal Kitchen No Soy Teriyaki Sauce
This paleo-friendly sauce is made with coconut aminos, balsamic vinegar, tamarind, dates, orange juice concentrate, tapioca starch, ginger, and garlic among other things. It doesn’t contain any gluten, grains, or soy. Its zesty flavors work well with stir-frying, glazing, and marinating as well as using as a dressing for greens and salads.
What to Look for in a Store-Bought Teriyaki Sauce
Read the labels to see what is in each brand of teriyaki sauce. Most of these sauces contain ingredients that people can be allergic to, such as soy sauce, which contains soybeans. If you're looking for ones that are soy free, gluten free, organic, low in sodium, or fit well with the paleo or keto diets, double-check the labels, so you know what is in the product you're buying.
When describing the taste of teriyaki sauce, sweet, sticky,and salty, come to mind for its flavor. Additional seasonings have been added to some of the brands, including bourbon, garlic, pineapple, ginger, and others, providing more options to fit taste preferences and the type of protein you are using it on. Choose the one that tastes and works best for you.
Teriyaki sauces come in both thin and thick consistency. The thicker sauce functions well for marinades, dipping, and glazing, while the thinner one does well for marinating and basting. Preference comes into play here too, as it depends on what you are looking for in a teriyaki sauce.
Does teriyaki sauce need to be refrigerated?
Teriyaki sauce can be kept in the pantry if unopened, but after opening, this sauce should be kept in the refrigerator, where it will last for up to one year. Check the expiration date on the bottle so you are aware of it.
What is a good substitute for teriyaki sauce?
There is nothing more frustrating than starting to make a dish and finding out that you're out of an ingredient. Barbecue sauce can be used as a substitute for teriyaki sauce, or make your own teriyaki sauce with soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and a few other ingredients.
Can teriyaki sauce be used as a substitute for soy sauce?
Most teriyaki sauces use soy sauce as a base and have additional ingredients, so these sauces provide a sweeter, tangier taste, potentially changing the taste of a recipe entirely. Teriyaki sauce is not the best substitute for soy sauce; while it can work in a few recipes, it won't work in all, so keep this in mind. A better substitute for soy sauce would be using a Worcestershire sauce and water combination.
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Personal chef and food educator Renu Dhar has been turning seasonal ingredients into sensational food. She likes to use quality ingredients in food to achieve that desired result and spends time testing many brands for her clients.