Tonkatsu Sauce

Put It On Everything

Tonkatsu Sauce

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
191 Calories
0g Fat
48g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 191
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3211mg 140%
Total Carbohydrate 48g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 33g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 14mg 69%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 4mg 25%
Potassium 999mg 21%
*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.)

What do Italy, Germany, and Japan have in common? They all serve a family favorite: crispy, breadcrumb-coated, fried pork cutlets. In Italy, it's called Milanese and is made with chicken, pork, or veal. Germans call it schnitzel. In Japan, it’s called katsu, which roughly translates to "cutlet." Unlike other cutlets coated with fine-textured breadcrumbs, katsu is prepared with Panko, a coarser textured crumb, resulting in maximum crispiness. 

Aside from the panko coating, what also sets katsu apart from fried cutlets in other countries is the sauce. Tonkatsu refers to deep-fried pork cutlets and is where the popular sauce derives its name.

Tonkatsu sauce is super easy to make at home, especially if you can't find the popular Bull-Dog brand at your local supermarket. All you need are four basic pantry ingredients—ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard. Another bonus: no cooking is required to make this recipe.

What Does Tonkatsu Sauce Taste Like?

Often referred to as Japanese-style barbecue sauce or katsu sauce. tonkatsu sauce is savory and sweet, with a slight tang. In this recipe, ketchup adds the sugary tartness, while soy sauce and Worcestershire lend some umami power.

Adapt Tonkatsu Sauce to Your Diet

Making tonkatsu sauce at home also means you can customize it to fit your dietary needs.

  • If you’re keto, then choose sugar-free ketchup.
  • For a gluten-free version, be sure to buy Worcestershire sauce that’s wheat-free and use tamari instead of the soy sauce (or find a gluten-free soy sauce).
  • Worcestershire sauce usually contains anchovies or fish sauce, but vegan versions are available, which means you can even make a vegan tonkatsu sauce.

How to Use Tonkatsu Sauce

While tonkatsu refers to pork cutlets, tonkatsu sauce is used on all kinds of fried fare—chicken, beef, and even tofu. It's also the perfect dipping sauce for anything you'd normally pair with ketchup or barbecue sauce.

Looking to boost your burger game? Tonkatsu sauce is the answer. Next time you're serving pulled pork, swap in this sauce for a Japanese twist on an American classic. Here are more ideas:

"This recipe is so easy. I had all four ingredients in my fridge and it took minutes to mix up. It truly tastes just like the tonkatsu sauce you get at the store and the sweet-tart flavor goes so perfectly with fried tonkatsu cutlets." —Patty Lee

Tonkatsu Sauce Tester Photo
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for tonkatsu sauce

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and mustard until smooth.

    Tonkatsu Sauce ingredients combined in a bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Use sauce immediately.

    Tonkatsu Sauce (Katsu sauce) in a white bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

Recipe Variations

We love the ease of this 4-ingredient tonkatsu sauce recipe, but you can put your own spin on it.

  • Butter adds a creamy texture and mellows the acidity a little. If you want to try this variation, add all the ingredients to a small pot and cook it over medium-low heat until the butter melts.
  • Want to punch up the flavor? Add mirin, a Japanese rice wine, and a few splashes of hot sauce for a spicy tonkatsu sauce.

How to Store

Tonkatsu sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.