Tonkatsu Sauce

Tonkatsu sauce

The Spruce Eats / Jennifer Perillo

  • Total: 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins

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 is 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 is all about the sweet, tangy sauce, often referred to as Japanese-style barbecue sauce. 

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

While tonkatsu refers to pork cutlets, tonkatsu sauce is used on all kinds of fried cutlets—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 tonkatsu sauce for a Japanese twist on an American classic. 


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Gather the ingredients for tonkatsu sauce
    The Spruce Eats / Jennifer Perillo
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and mustard until smooth.

    Mix the tonkatsu sauce
    The Spruce Eats / Jennifer Perillo
  3. Use the sauce immediately, or store, covered, in the fridge for up to 1 month.

    Tonkatsu Sauce
    The Spruce Eats / Jennifer Perillo


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 swap in tamari for the 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.

Recipe Variations

We love the ease of this 4-ingredient tonkatsu sauce recipe, but as with all recipes, 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.