Having an arsenal of quick-to-assemble sauces made out of pantry staples can absolutely save you on those nights when you forgot to plan ahead. Simple sauces are the key to transforming refrigerator leftovers or freezer finds into a legit meal. So I’m going to be sharing more sauce recipes on their own to give you the tools to mix and match your way to your own quick weeknight dinners. This Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (or marinade) is probably my most used sauce because it’s so versatile and uses only a few ingredients that I always have on hand.
Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce or Marinade
How to Use This Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
This Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce begins with just four ingredients that form a fast and easy marinade, or they can be thickened up into a shiny glaze or sauce with the addition of a little cornstarch, water, and heat. Here is how it can be used:
As a Marinade: Flavor your chicken breast or thighs, pork chops or tenderloins, tofu cubes, or even fish (it’s great with salmon!). Marinate chicken, pork, or tofu for at least 30 minutes, and marinate fish for only 15 minutes. Then toss your meat, fish, or tofu on to the grill, cook in a skillet, bake, or even transfer everything to a slow cooker.
As a Sauce: The thickened sauce can be brushed onto grilled or baked meat, or tofu. Or, use it as a stir fry sauce by pouring the not-thickened sauce directly into your hot stir fry pant. The extreme heat of the pan will instantly simmer and thicken the sauce as it coats your stir fry vegetables or meat. *Do not use used marinade to make the sauce. Instead, make two separate batches to avoid cross contamination.
How Much Does it Make?
The quantities listed below make about 1/2 cup marinade or 1 cup of thickened sauce. 1/2 cup marinade is about enough for 2 chicken breasts, 4 boneless chicken thighs, one 14oz. block of tofu, or about four pork chops. As a sauce, one cup would be enough for about one four serving portion of stir fry, or to brush onto about four chicken breasts. You can easily scale the recipe below up or down by changing the number in the “servings” box and the rest of the ingredients will adjust automatically.
Easy Homemade Teriyaki Sauce or Marinade
To Make the Marinade:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce ($0.24)
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.12)
- 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger ($0.10)
- 1 Tbsp water
To Make the Sauce Also Add:
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.03)
- 1/2 cup water
- To make the marinade, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger, and water. Pour this mixture over your meat, tofu, or fish and marinate for 15-30 minutes, depending on the item.
- To make the sauce, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger, water, AND add an additional 1/2 cup water and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. (Do not turn used marinade into a sauce. Rather, make separate batches to prevent cross contamination.) Bring this mixture up to a simmer in a small sauce pot over medium heat, while whisking. Once it reaches a simmer, it will thicken into a shiny sauce. Pour or brush the sauce over your cooked meat, vegetables, or tofu.
- To use as a stir fry sauce, stir together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Once your stir fry meat or vegetables are cooked, pour the sauce mixture directly into your hot stir fry pan instead of simmering separately in a sauce pot. The heat from the pan will simmer the sauce on contact and thicken the sauce (make sure the stir fry pan is very hot). Stir to coat your cooked vegetables or meat.
Recipes that use variations of this sauce and marinade:
- Slow Cooker Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken
- Sticky Ginger Soy Glazed Chicken
- Soy Marinated Tofu Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Teriyaki Meatball Bowls
- Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Mayo
Step by Step Photos
It all starts with these four ingredients, which can be kept on hand at all times. I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer (in a quart-sized freezer bag), so I can take it out and grate a little bit as needed at any time. It is much easier to grate when frozen.
To make the marinade, simply stir together 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp water, 1 clove of garlic (minced), and about 1 tsp grated ginger. That’s it. That only takes about 5 minutes.
This mixture is very concentrated in flavor, so it will flavor whatever you soak in it deeply. Meat or tofu can marinate for about 30 minutes, fish for 15 minutes. Then just cook your meat, seafood, or tofu using your favorite method.
To make a teriyaki SAUCE, prepare the marinade as described above but also add an additional 1/2 cup water and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. The cornstarch will make it look kind of milky, like in the photo above…
Add the mixture to a sauce pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, while stirring. Once it simmers, it will go from milky to clear and watery to thick. Your sauce is now ready to pour over your cooked meat, vegetables, or tofu. OR, if you want to use it as a stir fry sauce, you can just pour the un-thickened sauce directly into your hot stir fry pan and it will simmer and thicken on contact.
If you would like to both marinate meat and have a teriyaki sauce to add after cooking, it is best to make two batches (one to use as a marinade and one for the sauce) rather than turning the used marinade into the sauce. Reusing the marinade can cause cross contamination issues if it is not boiled long or hard enough, so it’s best to just keep the two separate.