Mom’s Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

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My mom’s teriyaki recipe is the perfectly balanced Teriyaki Sauce, with just the right amount of umami from soy sauce, ginger, & garlic, & a beautiful sweetness from brown sugar, which helps create an addictively caramelized crust on whatever you’re grilling. Made with just 6 main ingredients & in 5 minutes or less, this dual-purpose homemade teriyaki marinade & sauce recipe is the perfect way to make teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, or teriyaki burgers!

Can’t wait to hit the grill? Be sure to check out our 3rd Annual PWWB Grilling Series, created to help you grill more confidently & deliciously all summer long!

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.

Pin this easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe for later!!!

My family’s easy homemade Teriyaki Sauce:

My Mom’s teriyaki sauce is one of my most treasured family recipes. I’m so excited to share it with you right in time for grilling season!

Out of all the recipes I’ll be sharing throughout the entire PWWB Annual Grilling Series, my Mom’s teriyaki sauce is the one that’s by far nearest & dearest to my heart. Every summer my family headed to lake superior for our annual family trip: sailing the apostle islands.

Since the boat we chartered had a teeny tiny kitchen, my Mom always prepped a few amazing meals we could make easily throughout the week on the sailboat’s grill. Her teriyaki was always the highlight of our trip. In fact, this teriyaki sauce recipe is likely the very recipe that ignited my love affair for all things grilled.

Teriyaki marinade shown in a small ball jar, sitting atop a light blue surface with green onion & fresh ginger in the foreground & the background.

Homemade Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce – Recipe Highlights

This teriyaki sauce is…

  • UMAMI & SWEET. The perfect combination of savory & sweet flavors for all of your grilling needs!
  • SIMPLE. This recipe calls for just 6 total ingredients & it can be mixed up in 5 minutes or less. It doesn’t get simpler than that!
  • VERSATILE. The best part? You can use it on just about everything. Teriyaki chicken. The BEST grilled steaks. Juicy & flavorful grilled pork. Grilled teriyaki kebabs or brushed over teriyaki burgers!

And I hope you’ll love it as much as I do! ♡ Read on to learn more about this homemade Teriyaki sauce & how to use or jump straight to the recipe & get grilling!

This Teriyaki Sauce & Marinade is made with humble pantry ingredients.

Mom’s teriyaki sauce is super easy to whip up, partly because all of the ingredients you need to make it are staple ingredients you probably already have on hand!

Teriyaki marinade ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, green onions, & fresh ginger.
Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You’ll need just 6 simple pantry ingredients…

  • Soy sauce – to yield that coveted umami flavor.
  • Brown sugar – to add the perfect touch of sweetness!
  • Garlic – 3 whole cloves to be exact.
  • Fresh Ginger & Green onions – for aromatic goodness!
  • & A splash of water – to help bring it all together.

So simple, right?

Mom’s recipe is perfectly balanced, with just the right amount of umami from soy sauce, ginger, & garlic, & beautiful sweetness from brown sugar, which helps create that addictively caramelized crust on whatever you’re grilling. A staple homemade teriyaki marinade for grilling season, for sure!

How to make Homemade Teriyaki Sauce:

The beauty of this teriyaki sauce recipe is that it can be used as a marinade or a thicker sauce for glazing & dipping.

To make a teriyaki marinade: Follow the directions in the recipe card as written: simply combine the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, & green onions in a large bowl or jar, whisking until the brown sugar dissolves. the sauce will be very liquidy, perfect for marinating.

If you’d prefer to use this teriyaki sauce as a glaze: All you have to do is thicken it up some. Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, & let it simmer until it reduces to your desired consistency. I like it best when it has reduced by half – it’s not too runny, but not too thick either.

& If you want your teriyaki sauce to be thicker yet (perhaps to use as a dipping sauce): Reduce it over on the stovetop (as described above), & finish it off by whisking in 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch. The cornstarch will help it tighten up into a beautiful, thick & glossy consistency.

How long to marinate:

The marinating time will vary based on the type of protein you’d like to use. This marinade is incredibly versatile so you’ll want to reference the times below when choosing which protein or veggie to marinate.

Having tested this teriyaki grilling marinade on a variety of different proteins with a variety of different marinating times, here’s what we suggest:

  • Seafood – at least 20 minutes & no more than 45 minutes.
  • Chicken & pork – at least 4 hours & up to 6 hours for maximum flavor.
  • Beef – at least 12 hours & up to 24 hours for maximum flavor.
  • Veggies – at least 20 minutes & up to 24 hours.
Side angle of chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Teriyaki marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.

Make-Ahead & Meal Prep:

Great news for meal preppers: this homemade teriyaki sauce & marinade is super meal-prep friendly & if you’d like you can prep the sauce or marinade itself well in advance.

To make it ahead of time, simply prep the marinade & store it in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator. The marinade will keep for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to start marinating (based on the suggested marinating periods, above), simply pour the marinade over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy peasy!

& a little bonus for prepping in advance? The flavors of this teriyaki sauce meld together even more as the marinade sits. Saving time & enhancing flavors? Now, that’s is a win-win!

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.

How to use Teriyaki for Grilling:

We keep things pretty traditional when we’re grilling with Mom’s teriyaki sauce, just because you really can’t beat a perfectly salty-sweet bite of teriyaki chicken or beef.

A few of our go-to’s when it comes to teriyaki include:

  • Grilled teriyaki chicken
  • Juicy grilled steaks
  • Flavor-filled grilled pork chops
  • Classic grilled kebabs
  • or brushed over grilled teriyaki burgers!

My personal favorite way to put this teriyaki sauce to use? Marinate some really nicely marbled ribeye steaks. Grill them over medium-high heat until crusty & charred & serve alongside some grilled asparagus & white rice – addictively good!

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce tips & tricks:

  • Keep it rustic. There’s no need to perfectly slice, chop or mince anything when you’re using it in a marinade since all you’re looking to do is draw out its flavors. Instead of mincing garlic, I like to leave the cloves whole, smashing them just a bit to help pull out its flavors. Similarly, there’s no need to peel & mince the ginger – just slice it into thin pieces & throw it right into your marinade!
  • Don’t let the juices go to waste! whenever you grill meat, you’ll want to let it rest a few minutes before serving to keep it nice & juicy. Do not let the juices & drippings that collect at the bottom of the plate go to waste – they’re teriyaki gold! We reserve them & spoon them over a bed of rice in our family…it may or may not be the part we all fight for!

I can’t wait for you to try my Mom’s Homemade Teriyaki Sauce recipe! There are so many ways you can use it and it means so much to be sharing it with you. I can’t wait for you to share it with your own friends & family! 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 & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Want more grilling marinade ideas? We’ve got you covered! Check out our 15 Go-To Grilling Marinades next. Happy grilling! ♡

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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 Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

  • 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

My Mom’s teriyaki recipe is the perfectly balanced teriyaki sauce, with just the right amount of umami from soy sauce, ginger, & garlic, & a beautiful sweetness from brown sugar, which helps create an addictively caramelized crust on whatever you’re grilling. The perfect teriyaki sauce recipe to make teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, or teriyaki burgers!


Ingredients

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

Teriyaki marinade ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: soy sauce, water, brown sugar, garlic, green onions, & fresh ginger.


Instructions

  1. Mix the teriyaki sauce: Add the soy sauce, water, & brown sugar to a bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Add the garlic, green onion, & 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.


Notes

  • Marinade vs sauce vs glaze: As written, this recipe will yield a very liquidy teriyaki sauce, perfect for marinating. If you’d prefer to use your teriyaki sauce as a glaze 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, & let it simmer until it reduces to your desired consistency. If you want your teriyaki sauce to be thicker yet (perhaps to use as a dipping sauce), finish it off by whisking in 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch. The cornstarch will help it tighten up into a beautiful, thick & glossy consistency.
  • Keep it rustic. there’s no need to perfectly slice, chop or mince anything when you’re using it in a marinade since all you’re looking to do is draw out its flavors. instead of mincing garlic, i like to leave the cloves whole, smashing them just a bit to help pull out its flavors. similarly, there’s no need to peel & mince the ginger – just slice it into thin pieces & throw it right into your marinade!
  • Don’t let the juices go to waste! whenever you grill meat, you’ll want to let it rest a few minutes before serving to keep it nice & juicy. do not let the juices & drippings that collect at the bottom of the plate go to waste – they’re teriyaki gold! we reserve them & spoon them over a bed of rice in our family…it may or may not be the part we all fight for!
  • 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 & no more than 45 minutes.
    • Chicken & pork – at least 4 hours & up to 6 hours for maximum flavor.
    • Beef & lamb – at least 12 hours & up to 24 hours for maximum flavor.
    • Veggies – at least 20 minutes & up to 24 hours.
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: If you’d like to marinate something later in the week, I suggest making the marinade in advance, whenever you’re meal prepping for the week. Store it in a jar or an airtight container for up to 5 days – the flavors meld together even more as the marinade sits. At least 4 hours before you’re ready to hit the grill, simply pour the marinade over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy peasy!

Keywords: teriyaki sauce, homemade teriyaki sauce, teriyaki sauce recipe

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.

If you love this Teriyaki Marinade Recipe, here are more grill marinade recipes you have to try this summer!

Obsessed with all things grilled? Here are some grilling recipes you’ll love this summer!

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Don’t forget to pin this Homemade Teriyaki Marinade & auce recipe for later!!!

My mom’s teriyaki recipe is the perfectly balanced teriyaki sauce, with just the right amount of umami from soy sauce, ginger, & garlic, & a beautiful sweetness from brown sugar, which helps create an addictively caramelized crust on whatever you’re grilling. The perfect teriyaki sauce recipe to make teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, or teriyaki burgers! #playswellwithbutter #marinaderecipe #easymarinade #grillingrecipes #teriyaki #teriyakisauce #teriyakimarinade #teriyakichicken #teriyakibeef

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. 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! 🙂

  2. 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

  3. 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!