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How to Thicken and Sweeten Teriyaki Sauce Best Ingredient Options

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Teriyaki sauce is a delicious sweet and savory sauce that is used as a marinade, dipping sauce, and glaze for all types of meat and vegetable dishes.

Probably the most notable is the teriyaki chicken, the ultimate delicious chicken with sticky sauce, vegetables and rice.

Many people like to make teriyaki sauce from scratch but don't know how to thicken and sweeten the sauce.

If you want a thicker teriyaki sauce, cornstarch is your favorite ingredient, while honey adds extra sweetness to your homemade sauce, and many also use it to sweeten their store-bought sauces.

In this post, I am sharing different methods to thicken and sweeten teriyaki sauce, both homemade and bottled, to make it taste better.

In this post we cover:

How to thicken teriyaki sauce

If you just need to make the teriyaki sauce a little thicker, just cook it longer and it tends to thicken.

If the sauce is just too runny, there are a few different ways to fix it.


Teriyaki sauce is best thickened with cornstarch.

When making teriyaki sauce at home, most recipes recommend adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and that is usually enough. It makes the teriyaki sauce thick and syrupy.

But if it's still too runny add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch.

For the best thick sauce, use 1 tablespoon cornstarch for every ¼ cup of water you add to the sauce. Whisk the water and cornstarch together until a paste is formed.

Heat all of the other ingredients that you will use to make the teriyaki sauce, then add the cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly and watch how it thickens.

wheat flour

You can add wheat flour to thicken the teriyaki sauce, but don't add it directly. If you do this it will get lumpy and ruin the sauce.

First you have to make a roux with flour and oil. Add an equal amount of vegetable oil and wheat flour and stir in a small saucepan.

Then add about ¼ cup of water for every tablespoon of flour for a thicker liquid.

Rice flour

Rice flour is a healthier alternative to wheat flour and is made from ground rice. As it cooks, it absorbs the liquid and thus acts as a thickener for sauces.

If you want to make the teriyaki sauce thicker, drizzle rice flour over it while you heat the sauce.

Unlike other flours, this one starts to thicken immediately so you can tell right away how much to add depending on how thick you like it.

Brown sugar

The latter is a great option when you want the teriyaki sauce to be thicker AND sweeter. So if you are using brown sugar, prepare yourself for a very sweet sauce.

Brown sugar acts as a thickener because it contains molasses and they get thick. Add two or more tablespoons of brown sugar to the teriyaki sauce as you heat it and watch it get thicker and sweeter.

How about a healthy vegan stir fry sauce with no sugar? That's the recipe

How to sweeten teriyaki sauce

Especially if you're making teriyaki sauce at home, it's easy to make it sweeter (and thicker).

Honey or brown sugar

The easiest way to sweeten teriyaki sauce is to add a teaspoon of honey. Since honey has a syrupy consistency, it is quite similar to teriyaki sauce and mixes well with teriyaki sauce.

For ¾ one cup of teriyaki sauce, you can add ⅓ one cup of honey. This really sweetens the sauce and makes it perfect if you want to use it as a marinade for meat, especially chicken wings.

Homemade recipes require water, about 5 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey, garlic, mirin or sake, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

If you use MirinIt also adds more sweetness than sake.

To make any teriyaki sauce even sweeter, you can add an extra tablespoon of brown sugar or honey.

In case you were wondering, is teriyaki healthy? It depends how you do it!

How to sweeten store-bought teriyaki sauce

Well, you bought bottled teriyaki sauce like Kikkoman from the store. But it's just not sweet enough for your tastes. What can you do? It's pretty easy to sweeten it.

How to Make Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce Sweeter and Better

Add a splash or a tablespoon of pineapple juice. This sweetens the sauce and gives it a subtle fruity flavor that enhances the flavor of most store-bought teriyaki sauces.

Another option is a teaspoon of brown sugar dissolved in the teriyaki sauce.

The final way to sweeten it is to make a soy sauce and sugar reduction. You can use any type of sugar for this, including white or brown.

For healthier and less refined varieties, use cane sugar, palm sugar, or coconut sugar.

Many people feel the store-bought teriyaki sauce is less flavorful than the homemade version. But that's because it's processed and has a "universal" taste that is supposed to go with all types of food.

There's nothing wrong with tweaking and improving it by adding more sugar, honey, or pineapple juice for sweetness and a little cornstarch to make a thick sauce out of it.

Did you know that Kikkoman also sells a sweet teriyaki sauce?

The Kikkoman Teriyaki Bake and Glaze with Honey and Pineapple is a sweeter alternative to their classic Teriyaki sauce.

Customers like to use this sauce as a glaze for fish, salmon and sweet chicken teriyaki dishes.

Why is thick teriyaki sauce so popular?

If you use teriyaki sauce, especially bottled varieties, you will find that it is a liquid brown liquid that is similar to soy sauce. It's great for marinades, but if you want to coat chicken, pork, beef, or vegetables, a thick glaze is even better.

Thick and sweet teriyaki sauce is a very popular variant of the classic thin teriyaki sauce. Not only is it popular in Japan, but Americans seem to really love the thick and sweet version, probably because it's a tasty substitute for BBQ sauce.

It's versatile: you can use it as a dipping sauce on all types of food, even pizza. Or you can marinate meat for the grill in it. Then, of course, you can use thick teriyaki sauce to make all of your favorite Japanese dishes.

The bottom line, however, is that a thick sauce can coat the food very well and "sticks" to it, in contrast to a thin sauce that drips from the meat.

Read More About Popular Sauces: 9 Best Sushi Sauces You Must Try! List of names + recipes!

How to make your own (better) Kikkoman teriyaki sauce

I was surprised to read the ingredients list for the Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce. It doesn't contain any classic Japanese ingredients like mirin or sake. That's probably why people want to improve the taste.

Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce is made from soy sauce, wine, sugar, garlic powder, spirit vinegar, salt, spices, onion powder, and water.

To make a similar teriyaki sauce at home, I recommend using soy sauce, mirin or sake (mirin for a sweeter sauce), brown sugar (adds thickness), garlic powder, onion powder, rice vinegar, salt, spices, and water.

Also add some cornstarch to make it thicker.

Heat the liquid ingredients, then when the sauce starts to form add the brown sugar and a few tablespoons of cornstarch to make a thick sauce.

In summary

Next time you're a bit frustrated with the texture and taste of your teriyaki sauce, don't hesitate to find a quick fix. A little cornstarch, flour, or brown sugar will go a long way and thicken the sauce.

If you want it sweeter, use honey and sugar. It doesn't taste like the artificial sweeteners you find in most bottled sauces.

Now that you've perfected your teriyaki sauce, why not make this delicious and healthy teriyaki salmon recipe (includes variations and pairing tips).

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun, is a content marketing designer, father and loves to try new food - with Japanese food as a passion. Together with his team, he has been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.