Bold Teriyaki Sauce

This bold teriyaki sauce is so easy to make and so delicious! By using less sugar than your typical teriyaki sauce, the flavor of the ginger, garlic, and sesame oil really shine through. Adding just a bit of fish sauce, five spice, black pepper, and red pepper flakes give this sauce a lot of dimension and depth. Using coconut aminos in place of soy sauce lends much less sodium without sacrificing any flavor.

Where does Teriyaki Sauce come from?

Teriyaki is actually a traditional cooking method from Japan in which meat or seafood is cooked in a sauce made with mirin (sweet cooking wine), soy sauce, sugar, sake, and sometimes ginger. In the US, Teriyaki became popular in the 1960’s along with Japanese cuisine. What we in the Western world largely know as ‘Teriyaki’ is a sauce resembling the flavors in true Japanese Teriyaki.

Read more on the history of Teriyaki here.

This bold Teriyaki sauce is not authentic and is closer to the Teriyaki-style sauces found in the US. While I have made Teriyaki with both Mirin and Sake, this version uses neither to make it easier to throw together with things you may already have on hand. I love using coconut aminos in Teriyaki sauce because it has an inherent seasoned flavor that is so tasty and is much lower in sodium than even light soy sauce. This allows you to use more, increasing the flavor, without making an overly salty sauce.

The garlic, ginger, red pepper flake, and black pepper in this sauce make it a bit spicy, but the spice is just enough to excite your taste buds without being ‘hot’ and it is cut by the sweetness. In contrast to many Teriyaki-style sauces in the US, this recipe uses only 2 tbsp. of sugar. It is just sweet enough and having less sugar lends a more complexly flavored and bold sauce.

The addition of fish sauce and five spice (which is a mix of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds) make this recipe unique. Five spice has warm, licorice-y flavor, but since this recipe uses only 1/4 of a tsp. the five spice adds seasoning and depth to the sauce without dominating the flavors. Just half a tbsp. of fish sauce is added to up the umami ante – it is undetectable in the final sauce (do not worry about a fish-y taste!).

This bold Teriyaki sauce is so addicting and will make any dish you use it in really sing!

Bold Teriyaki Sauce

Servings: makes about 1.25 cups

Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 cup of coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. sugar (see notes)
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger (on a microplane), lightly packed
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced or grated on a microplane
  • 1/4 tsp. ground five spice
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1-2 tbsp. corn starch and 1-2 tbsp. water, to thicken (see note)


  1. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes to reduce and allow flavors to infuse.
  3. Mix corn starch with water at a 1:1 ratio to make a slurry. Add to teriyaki sauce and stir. Let simmer for another 5 minutes until thickened.
  4. Serve or store in the fridge for use within 7 days.


  • Want a sweeter sauce? Increase the sugar to a quarter cup. Note that when you increase the sugar, the sauce will have a less bold flavor as the sweetness competes with the seasoning on your taste buds.
  • You can sub honey for the sugar, but you may want to add to taste. When I use honey in this recipe it tastes less sweet than when I use plain ole’ sugar, so I increased the amount of honey to 3 tbsp. and it was perfect. However, brands and types of honey vary a lot, so start with 2 tbsp. and then try the sauce after it simmers for about 10 minutes to determine if you want to add more honey.
  • Coconut sugar will work in place of regular sugar, but since it is less sweet, add 3-4 tbsp. versus the 2 tbsp. of regular sugar.
  • For the corn starch: one tablespoon is perfect for marinades and for a drizzling sauce to use in bowls etc. whereas 2 tbsp. makes a thick sauce perfect for coating (but too thick to drizzle or pour). I like to customize it to what I am using it for. If you want to use your sauce for different things, I suggest adding the one tbsp. of corn starch and then when you want to make a thicker glaze you can add cornstarch when you reheat the sauce for that recipe.
  • Want a completely smooth sauce? Strain it before adding the corn starch. Return to the pan, and proceed with step 3.

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