Japanese Ponzu Sauce (With Variations)

Japanese Ponzu Sauce (With Variations)

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
39 Calories
0g Fat
7g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 39
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 252mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 42mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Japanese ponzu sauce is a condiment and ingredient based on soy sauce with both a citrus and savory flavor. You can make your own ponzu rather than seeking it out at the grocery store or international market. Ponzu has the umami element as well as sweet, salt, and sour flavor elements.

Ponzu can be used in many different ways. It's often used as a condiment or dipping sauce. It can be used as a marinade and may serve both of those purposes for chicken yakitori. Just keep in mind that you should discard the marinade used for the raw chicken and only serve untouched ponzu as the dipping sauce.

Serve or store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to three days. Add more lime juice if needed before serving.


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  • 3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons bonito flakes

  • 1/4 cup fresh or bottled yuzu juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Japanese Ponzu Sauce (With Variations) ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Combine mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and bonito flakes in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.

    Combine mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and bonito flakes in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Remove from the heat and let cool.

    sauce in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Pour sauce through a strainer into a bowl and discard bonito flakes. Add yuzu juice.

    Pour the ponzu sauce through a strainer into a bowl and discard bonito flakes

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi


  • Freeze ponzu to use later. One easy method is to freeze any you won't use immediately in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop out the cubes and keep them in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer. Then when you want ponzu to use in a recipe, simply thaw the amount you wish to use.
  • This sauce also complements traditional Japanese steamed or grilled fish or shrimp dishes. A drizzle of ponzu on sashimi or hiyayakko is also favored. It is often used as a dipping sauce for shabu shabu hot pots or for teppanyaki grilled meat, seafood, and vegetables.
  • Another use for ponzu is as a salad dressing. If you are making a simple green salad or a cold noodle salad to accompany other Japanese dishes, use ponzu as the dressing as is, or add it in a two to one ratio to oil, such as 1/2 cup ponzu to 1/4 cup oil.
  • If you use ponzu as a marinade for chicken, don't marinate it for longer than six hours. Fish should only be marinated for 30 minutes to an hour.

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute lime or orange juice for the traditional yuzu juice in this Japanese ponzu sauce. 
  • To make this recipe gluten-free, use tamari in place of soy sauce. 

This recipe appears in Asian Grilling, by Su-Mei Yu, reprinted with permission.