Yakiniku Sauce for Grilled Meat

Yakiniku sauce with floating sesame seeds next to a platter of sliced grilled meat

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 3 mins
Total: 8 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Yield: 1/3 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
171 Calories
6g Fat
25g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1752mg 76%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 160mg 3%
*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.)

Yakiniku sauce is a mixture of savory and sweet flavors with bold sesame essence that is used to season grilled meats in Japanese cuisine.

The term yakiniku is derived from the Japanese term yaki, which means "grilled," and niku, which means "meat," or "beef." It is a term that is used broadly to describe various grilled and cooked meats, including American outdoor BBQ-style meats and Korean-style barbecue, which is meat that is often marinated and cooked on a tabletop, open-flame grill. Yakiniku may also refer to meat that is cooked either in a pan or griddle on the stove or a teppanyaki tabletop grill.

Typical ingredients for making yakiniku sauce include soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sesame seeds. The addition of sesame oil and garlic adds more complexity and boldness to the sauce. The key to yakiniku sauce, however, is sesame seeds, and in this recipe, the addition of roasted ground sesame seeds takes the sauce to an entirely new level of "wow." The ground roasted sesame seeds impart a complexity of flavors that makes the sauce mouthwateringly delicious.

Regardless of the cooking method, Japanese grilled meat is often served with a yakiniku dipping sauce or is seasoned with the sauce before being cooked. Try this flavorful sauce the next time you fire up the grill.


Click Play to See This Yakiniku Sauce for Grilled Meat Recipe Come Together

"This is a very good versatile sauce. Use it as a marinade and dipping sauce for just about anything: meat, fish, tofu, vegetables, etc. It’s especially tasty on beef when it gets a little char from the grill. Drizzling a little over some rice is also a way to go. This sauce also freezes great." —Rick Horiike

Yakiniku sauce for grilled meat tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons mirin

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground roasted white sesame seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole roasted white sesame seeds

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for yakiniku sauce recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Peel and chop garlic clove.

    Peeled chopped garlic in a small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.

    Soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic combined in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Heat over medium to high heat until sugar dissolves—about 3 minutes. Stir constantly to help dissolve sugar and prevent burning. Allow sauce to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes.

    Simmering sauce being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Using a strainer, pour sauce into a small bowl to separate garlic pieces. Discard garlic.

    Garlic removed from the sauce with a fine metal strainer and bowl of strained sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Add ground roasted white sesame seeds and whole roasted sesame seeds to the strained sauce. Mix gently.

    Ground and whole sesame seeds added to sauce in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. The yakiniku sauce is now ready to use. Use to dip meats and vegetables, or as a sauce to pour over meat. 

    Piece of grilled meat being dipped in yakiniku sauce with chopsticks

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

How to Store

  • The sauce may be stored in an airtight container for 5 to 7 days. It can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a quick weeknight meal.


  • The sauce has a concentrated flavor, so a little bit goes a long way. If you're going to use it as a dipping sauce for yakiniku, for younger children, or for those that prefer a milder flavor, simply add a bit of hot water to the sauce to dilute it. 
  • We like to stir-fry thin shabu-shabu or sukiyaki cuts of beef in a frying or griddle pan until well done then pour some of the sauce over the cooked meat, toss, and serve.

What Do You Serve With Yakiniku?

Other than yakiniku sauce, serve the grilled meat with Japanese sides like fresh lettuce for wrapping the meat, steamed rice, and edamame.

How Do You Eat Yakiniku?

Yakiniku is often thinly sliced and grilled quickly on a hot indoor, tabletop. At restaurants, yakiniku is often grilled by the diners themselves; hot grills set in the center of the table can be used to cook the meat just before eating. After grilling yakiniku, dip it in yakiniku sauce or drizzle with lemon juice or other topping and enjoy. You can also wrap the grilled meat in a fresh lettuce leaf.