Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Recipes/ Roundup

10 Epic Japanese Sauces Anyone Can Make At Home

04/08/2021

These epic homemade Japanese sauces are quick and easy to make, perfect for marinating, dipping, or slathering over your favourite Japanese recipes. Bring authentic Japanese flavour to your cooking with these delicious sauces.

A row of condiment bottles behind a freshly prepared jar of Japanesesauce.

Why Make Japanese Sauces at Home?

While you can buy a lot of these sauces at supermarkets or import stores, they can often be quite expensive. Not to mention, they are sometimes hard to find depending on where you live and usually contain more additives, stabilisers and MSG.

When you make your own Japanese sauces at home, you know exactly what’s in them.

You can make the exact quantity you need for your chosen meal for a fraction of the cost of store-bought sauces!

Staple Ingredients You’ll Need

Here are the key ingredients you’ll need to have on hand for most of the sauces we’ve listed below.

If you love cooking Japanese cuisine, it’s worth investing in these base ingredients, as you’ll be able to use them across a whole range of recipes – not just sauces!

Dashi Stock Powder

We use dashi stock powder dissolved in hot water, which is our favourite shortcut to save time on making dashi stock from scratch. You can find it in two different styles – kombu dashi (vegan) or hondashi (made with smoked dried bonito). If you don’t have it or can’t source it, you can substitute for vegetable stock or chicken stock.

Soy Sauce

For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy brand such as Kikkoman which has the perfect balance of flavour and salt. Chinese or Korean soy sauces may be too salty or bitter, however Japanese tamari works great as a gluten-free option. If you only have dark soy sauce on hand you can still use it, you just may need to balance out the intensity with a little extra sugar. 

Cooking Sake

This is a type of rice wine made for cooking. It’s lighter and more delicate in flavour than Chinese cooking wine, but you can use either. Look for it at Asian grocers or online. Substitute with dry white wine, water, or add extra sugar.

Mirin

This is a sweet rice wine for cooking. You can sometimes find it in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online. If you don’t have it, just leave it out and add in extra sugar instead. 

Rice Vinegar / Rice Wine Vinegar

Both names refer to the same thing. Rice vinegar is a little sweeter than regular vinegar. You can substitute with apple cider vinegar, black vinegar or white wine vinegar if you need, but if you only have simple white vinegar on hand that will also do the trick.

Sesame Oil

This is essential for adding a rich, nutty flavour to a lot of our favourite Japanese recipes. Choose a high quality brand for the best flavour as some sesame oils can have less flavour than others.

Worcestershire Sauce

European style Worcestershire sauce tends to be quite tangy, while Japanese-style Worcestershire sauces are often sweeter. If you know your brand is QUITE tangy, you might like to adjust the amount to compensate. Ultimately it’s up to your personal flavour preference.

Tomato Sauce / Ketchup

They’re almost the same thing so either works fine for these sauces.

Miso Paste

Miso paste is a versatile Japanese ingredient made from fermented soybeans and salt. White miso is generally sweeter and lighter in intensity than red miso paste. See our miso paste e-cookbook for more information.

Other Basic Ingredients

  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sugar
  • Chilli flakes
  • Kewpie mayonnaise
  • Tahini (or peanut butter)

FAQs

Can I use just one main Japanese sauce for everything?

A lot of Japanese sauces share similar ingredients, but differ in the amount used to give a unique flavour profile to each sauce. This means that while you can substitute a lot of Japanese sauces for each other, they have been created to be the perfect match for their specific dish.

Therefore we do recommend pairing okonomiyaki sauce with okonomiyaki pancakes, takoyaki sauce with takoyaki, etc.

How long will these sauces last in the fridge?

They should last quite a while if stored in a clean, airtight container such as a glass bottle or jar. We recommend using them up within a month or two if you can. Always do a smell test – if it seems off, play it safe and throw it out.

Do homemade Japanese sauces taste like the commercially made versions?

These recipes are made to taste as close as possible to the commercial versions. However, the final flavour will depend on the quality and amount of the base ingredients you use in your final sauces. Always feel free to do plenty of taste testing and tweaking with the ingredients to get it just how you like it!

10 Epic Homemade Japanese Sauce Recipes

For Dipping

A bowl of mentsuyu sauce with noodles.
Quick Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Sauce)
This Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Sauce) is ready in minutes! Made from soy sauce, mirin, sake and dashi powder, it’s a super refreshing dipping sauce for a hot summer’s day.
Click for Quick Mentsuyu Recipe (Cold Soba Noodle Sauce)
Top view of goma dare topped with sesame seeds and sesame oil.
Goma Dare – Japanese Sesame Sauce
A creamy, nutty, Japanese sesame sauce known as Goma Dare. It's perfect for dipping pork and veggies in shabu shabu hot pot, drizzling over crisp salads or freshly cooked noodles.
Click for Goma Dare – Japanese Sesame Sauce
Ponzu sauce in a dipping bowl garnished with spring onion.
Japanese Ponzu Sauce
Featuring a delicious blend of Japanese ingredients amped up with zingy citrus and soy, this Japanese Ponzu Sauce recipe will set your favourite foods alight with umami flavour. It's super simple to make – two minutes and you're ready to get dipping or drizzling.
Click for Japanese Ponzu Sauce
Gyoza being dipped into sauce with chopsticks.
Super Quick Gyoza Sauce (Just 4 Ingredients!)
A quick and easy dumpling dipping sauce you can serve with Japanese gyoza or potstickers. Just 4 ingredients, with extra ideas to make it your own. Use it with your favourite homemade or store-bought dumplings.
Click for Super Quick Gyoza Sauce (Just 4 Ingredients!)

Marinades

Bowl of homemade teriyaki sauce with spoon in it.
The Best Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
This is the best teriyaki sauce recipe, full of umami flavour and so easy to make! Use it as a marinade, or cook down into glossy perfection. Try this homemade teriyaki sauce and you’ll never want to buy store-bought again.
Click for The Best Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

As a Dressing

White dish filled with creamy sesame sauce and a dash of rayu.
Sarah’s Creamy Sesame Dressing
Grab your hot chips, burgers or sushi bowls – it’s time to slather them in Sarah’s Creamy Sesame Dressing. Whipped up in a minute, this versatile Japanese sauce is SO necessary with your next meal!
Click for Sarah’s Creamy Sesame Dressing

As a Topping

Bowl of homemade okonomiyaki sauce topped with shichimi togarashi.
Easy 4 Ingredient Okonomiyaki Sauce for Japanese Pancakes
You've just made Japanese pancakes and realised you're out of sauce! Never fear – this 4 ingredient Okonomiyaki sauce recipe is here! With easy pantry ingredients, you'll have it ready in minutes.
Click for Easy 4 Ingredient Okonomiyaki Sauce for Japanese Pancakes
Bowl of homemade Japanese tonkatsu sauce with a garnish of white sesame seeds.
Easy Tonkatsu Sauce – Restaurant Style
Homemade Japanese tonkatsu sauce at its best. This easy restaurant style recipe includes the all important toasted sesame seeds for the perfect pairing with any katsu cutlet.
Click for Easy Tonkatsu Sauce – Restaurant Style
Bowl of homemade Takoyaki Sauce with Japanese takoyaki balls in the background.
Takoyaki Sauce
A quick and easy recipe for homemade Takoyaki Sauce, PERFECT for drizzling over crispy golden takoyaki (Japanese octopus snacks). Sweet, tangy and oh-so-delicious, it’s also an amazing sauce for other Japanese dishes like okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) and yakisoba (crispy fried noodles).
Click for Takoyaki Sauce
Spicy chilli oil in a white dish with a spoon.
3 Ingredient Simple Rayu Chilli Oil (La Yu)
Spice lovers – here's a chilli oil which only needs a minute to infuse! With just 3 ingredients, drizzle your homemade Rayu Chilli Oil all over your favourite Japanese dishes like Tantanmen Ramen and Gyoza.
Click for 3 Ingredient Simple Rayu Chilli Oil (La Yu)

★ Did you make one or more of these tasty sauces? Let us know how it turned out in the comments below!

Looking for MORE delicious ingredient ideas to use up those condiments in the cupboard? Try these:

10 Epic Japanese Sauces Anyone Can Make At Home

Miso E-cookbook

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