Mom’s 5-Minute Homemade Teriyaki Marinade

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Making chicken, steak, pork chops, or salmon at home has never been easier with this 5-minute Hawaiian-style Teriyaki Marinade made from scratch! A treasured family recipe, my Mom's teriyaki marinade is simple to make (just 6 ingredients) and boasts bold flavor. For best results, pour the simple marinade over your meat or veggies of choice, and let marinate for at least 6 hours overnight.
Featured In Grilling Series
Grilled Teriyaki chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with sliced green onion & sesame seeds.

Mom Knows Best, Especially When It Comes To Teriyaki!

Mom’s recipes are some of our most popular here on PWWB! This comes as no surprise as she’s basically the queen of quick, easy, satisfying meals.

Everything she makes is totally craveable, making you feel completely comforted and cared for, but she also cooks with a certain pragmatism. Her approach in the kitchen is straight-forward, no-fuss, and her food is always so darn good.

Mom’s Teriyaki Marinade is no exception.

This totally simple 5-minute recipe has inspired several other well-loved PWWB recipes featuring teriyaki-inspired flavors like our Best-Ever Spam Musubi, Soy-Glazed Seared Salmon, or our easy Honey Sesame Baked Wings.

This well-balanced teriyaki marinade combines salty shoyu with zippy aromatics and a touch of brown sugar sweetness!

The secret lies in using just 6 simple yet flavorful ingredients to create a marinade that’s perfectly balanced but also boasts big, bold flavor.

Traditionally a soy-sauce based marinade, Mom loves using rich, salty shoyu to provide an umami-filled backdrop for fragrant and zippy aromatics like green onions, ginger, and garlic. A generous amount of brown sugar adds sweetness, which translates to crave-worthy caramelized char on whatever you’re grilling.

It’s the BEST teriyaki marinade for chicken, teriyaki beef or pork. You can even use it to add instant flavor to your favorite kebabs or brush it over beef patties for Hawaiian-style teriyaki burgers. You know what they say, Mom really does know best!

Want more marinades for grilling season? Got you covered! Check out PWWB’s 15 Go-To Grilling Marinades. Happy grilling! ♡

Key Ingredients

Mom’s teriyaki sauce marinade is super easy to throw together, mostly because all of the ingredients you need are staple ingredients you probably already have on hand!

Assorted bowls and containers filled with soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, green onions, & fresh ginger arranged on a light blue surface.
A Tip From Mom! ⇢ No need to slice or chop anything when using it in a marinade since all you’re looking to do is draw out its flavors. Simply, smash the garlic cloves and slice the ginger thin then toss both right into your marinade!

Here’s what you’ll need

  • Shoyu – A staple in Hawaiian kitchens, and one of the star ingredients in teriyaki! In Hawaii, soy sauce is commonly called shoyu, the Japanese word for soy sauce. Aloha Shoyu is my go-to.
  • Brown sugar – Another key element, brown sugar adds irresistible sweetness to offset the salty flavor of shoyu. If possible, use dark brown sugar, which adds extra rich and caramelly flavor.
  • Aromatics – Namely generous amounts of green onion, garlic, and fresh ginger, which add lots of aromatic flavor to the teriyaki marinade.
  • Water – Just a splash, to dilute the shoyu and help bring the teriyaki marinade together.

How to Make Homemade Teriyaki Marinade

Aside from being a seriously versatile summer grilling superstar, the best thing about this homemade teriyaki marinade recipe is how quickly it comes together!

It’s a really simple one bowl, 5-minute operation!

Chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Teriyaki marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.
Use as a teriyaki marinade for chicken…
Ribeye steak in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Teriyaki marinade. The bowl sits atop a gray and white marble surface.
…or for teriayki beef, seafood or veggies – there are endless ways to use this marinade!

To make this easy teriyaki marinade, simply add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl, whisk to combine, and add all your protein or veggies of choice. That’s it!

A Quick Tip from Mom!

There’s no need to slice or chop any ingredients for this marinade since all you’re looking to do is draw out their flavors. Simply, smash the garlic cloves and thinly slice the ginger then toss both right into your marinade – so simple!

Suggested Marinating Time: Marinating time will vary based on the type of protein you use. Having tested this recipe with a variety of different proteins and marinating times, here’s what I suggest:

  • Mild proteins like chicken and pork should soak in this teriyaki marinade for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days. The longer, the better, so be sure to plan ahead if possible!
  • Rich or gamey proteins like beef and lamb should soak in this teriyaki marinade for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Same here, the longer you can marinate, the better, so be sure to plan ahead if possible!
  • Veggies last even longer – you can marinate them for at least 20 minutes or up to 5 days.
  • Delicate proteins (i.e. seafood – salmon, shrimp, flaky white fish) have a shorter marinade time – aim for at least 20 minutes and no more than 1 hour.
Chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag, marinating in Teriyaki marinade. The bag sits atop a light blue surface. "Teriyaki Marinade" is penned in the bag's memo area.
The flavors of this homemade teriyaki marinade meld together, even more, the longer they sit! Refer to the notes above for suggested marinade times.

Meal Prep

Despite the suggested marinating times for this teriyaki marinade recipe, you can still get ahead on your dinner by prepping the marinade in advance. Prep the marinade and store it in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to start marinating, simply give the marinade a shake and pour it over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy!

Serving Suggestions

Since you can’t really beat perfectly salty-sweet teriyaki chicken or teriyaki steak, we like to keep things pretty traditional when we grill with Mom’s teriyaki marinade.

You can, however, use it on whatever you love most because it’s really versatile – a staple homemade teriyaki marinade for grilling season, for sure!

Grilled Teriyaki chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with sliced green onion & sesame seeds.
For teriyaki chicken, use whatever cuts of meat you love most – the sweet, umami notes in this teriyaki add so much flavor to boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs or bone-in skin on parts, like legs and drumsticks.

Here are a few ideas…

  • Teriyaki chicken. Probably the most classic use for teriyaki marinade, with good reason – grilled teriyaki chicken is so satisfying!
  • Seafood. The savory-sweet notes make it the perfect teriyaki marinade for salmon and grilled shrimp.
  • Pork. Grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin practically beg for brown sugar and aromatics like garlic and ginger!
  • Teriyaki beef. My personal favorite! Salty-sweet grilled teriyaki beef is simply the best. Use it as teriyaki marinade for steak, like a tender cut of grilled ribeye or sirloin. It’s also great on slightly tougher cuts like flank steak and short ribs!
  • Grilled teriyaki burgers! A local-style Hawaiian favorite, reduce the marinade some and brush over beef or chicken patties for the perfect umami-sweet burger.

No Grill? Use Your Stovetop or Oven!

If you do not have access to a grill, this teriyaki marinade also works great with any other preparation – stovetop, skillet meals, sheet pan meals, etc. Tip! ⇢ You can create a similar caramelized, grilled effect by using a grill pan on the stove or baking in the oven and finishing under the broiler.

Grilled Teriyaki Ribeye Steaks shown on a white plate with seasoned sticky rice & grilled asparagus sits atop a gray and white marble surface. The ribeye has been marinated teriyaki & is garnished with freshly snipped chives & sesame seeds.
My ideal plate? ⇢ Grilled Teriyaki Ribeye serve alongside grilled asparagus and rice, with a generous sprinkling of freshly snipped chives and furikake. Be sure to let steaks rest and spoon any drippings over the rice…they’re teriyaki gold!

I can’t wait for you to try Mom’s Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Marinade recipe! This is one of our family’s favorites, and I know you’ll love it just as much as we do.

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations!

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Grilled Teriyaki chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with sliced green onion & sesame seeds.

Mom’s 5-Minute Homemade Teriyaki Marinade

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 4 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Description

Making chicken, steak, pork chops, or salmon at home has never been easier with this 5-minute Hawaiian-style teriayki marinade recipe made from scratch! A treasured family recipe, my Mom’s teriyaki marinade is simple to make and boasts bold flavor.

For best results, pour the simple marinade over your meat or veggies of choice, and let marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds meat or veggies of choice
  • ¾ cup soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced

Soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, green onions, and fresh ginger arranged on a light blue surface.


Instructions

  1. Mix the teriyaki marinade: Add the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar to a bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Add the garlic, green onion, and ginger and stir to combine.Teriyaki marinade shown in a small ball jar, sitting atop a light blue surface with green onion & fresh ginger in the foreground & the background.
  2. Marinate: Pour the teriyaki sauce over your meat or veggies of choice. Marinate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
    Chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Teriyaki marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.
  3. Grill as desired. Enjoy!
    Grilled Teriyaki chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with sliced green onion & sesame seeds.

Equipment


Notes

  • Teriyaki Marinade vs Teriyaki Sauce: As written, this recipe yields a loose teriyaki marinade. If you’d like to make teriyaki sauce for glazing or for dipping, all you have to do is thicken it up some. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan. Whisking occasionally, bring it to a boil and let it simmer until it reduces slightly. Finish it by whisking in cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked into water), which will tighten the teriyaki into a beautiful, thick and glossy sauce.
  • Suggested marinade time: Marinating time will vary based on the type of protein you’d like to use. Having tested this teriyaki marinade on a variety of different proteins with a variety of different marinating times, here’s what we suggest:
    • Seafood – At least 20 minutes and no more than 1 hour.
    • Chicken and pork – At least 6 hours and up to 3 days for maximum flavor.
    • Beef and lamb – At least 12 hours and up to 3 days for maximum flavor.
    • Veggies – At least 20 minutes or up to 5 days.
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: If you’d like to marinate something beyond the suggested marinade times above but would like to do some meal prep, I suggest prepping the marinade in advance. Store it in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days – the flavors meld together even more as the marinade sits. When you’re ready to start marinating (refer to the suggested marinating times above), simply give it the marinade a shake and pour it over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy!

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

Grilled Teriyaki chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with sliced green onion & sesame seeds.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 4.20.23
    Tabitha said:

    Ive never tried any of your recipes that didn’t come out amazing. This is a Delicious marinade! Was craving teriyaki and this didn’t disappoint! Used to marinate chicken breasts and needed to get dinner on the table quick so ended up air frying the chicken and came out perfectly and really tasty. Thank you! Will definitely be using this recipe again!






    • 4.21.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks for your kind review, Tabitha!! We’re so happy to hear you’re a fan of our recipes, and that you loved the marinade! It’s one of our favorites 🙂

  2. 1.5.23
    Morgan said:

    I have made this marinade twice in the past week! Once with boneless/skinless chicken thighs and the other time with salmon. I absolutely love it! I was a little afraid of the proteins burning because of the brown sugar but it created the most beautiful and delicious glaze. I also pulled some of the marinade to make a sauce using the cornstarch slurry as suggested and it worked out great. Would highly recommend this marinade!






  3. 6.12.21
    Brenda Haines said:

    I made this last night. Grilled the chicken to perfection and it was so good!






    • 6.12.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad to hear it Brenda! We love this teriyaki sauce as a marinade – be on the lookout for more grilling marinades coming soon! 🙂

  4. 6.29.20
    Marit said:

    Love this recipe! Used it for chicken and pork, and used the leftover sauce to mix in cooked rice – it is delicious!






    • 6.30.20

      Yesss, drizzling the leftover sauce over rice is THE best part. So glad you enjoyed, Marit! xx

  5. 5.14.19
    Alisha said:

    Used this with steak. It was so flavorful and delicious. Had it with Brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. Such a simple dinner, but the marinade made it perfect!