5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Japanese/ Recipes/ Super Simple

Quick Japanese Ponzu Sauce

06/02/2023

Ponzu sauce is the ultimate Japanese dipping sauce. Pair this tangy citrus-soy dressing with just about anything – noodles, hot pots, salads and more! Just 6 ingredients and no cooking required.

Ponzu sauce in a dipping bowl garnished with spring onion.

Why We Love This

Japanese ponzu sauce is the perfect balance of flavours: sweet + tart + bitter + salty. All of this comes about from ponzu’s unique blend of soy sauce, dashi stock, mirin, rice vinegar and a splash of citrus juice.

This easy Japanese dipping sauce is not just the perfect partner to Japanese hot pots or crunchy gyoza dumplings. You can even use it as a quick salad dressing, steak sauce, marinade or glaze! 

Keep some on hand in the fridge to use when you need it most. 

Related: 10+ Epic Japanese Sauces / Goma Dare Sesame Sauce

Ponzu sauce in a dipping bowl on a black plate with lemon in the background.

What is Ponzu? 

Ponzu (written as ポン酢 or ぽんず) is made up of the words ‘pon’ and ‘su’, where ‘su’ means ‘vinegar’ and ‘pon’ means ‘punch’ (borrowed from the Dutch language).

This popular Japanese dipping sauce or salad dressing comes in a few different varieties:

  • Ponzu / ポン酢 – A lighter coloured Japanese dressing similar to a citrus vinaigrette.
  • Ponzu Shōyu / ポン酢醤油 – A darker, bolder version infused with soy sauce (see our recipe below).
  • Yuzu Ponzu / Yuzupon / ゆずポン – Ponzu sauce infused with yuzu citrus specifically.

Japanese brands of store bought ponzu sauce are often seasoned with one (or a blend of) local Japanese citrus fruits like yuzu, sudachi or kabosu lime. Each fruit lends a unique flavour to the sauce. At home, you can use a simple mix of lemon and lime juice to get a similar result. 

P.S. For a non-citrus dipping sauce, try our gyoza dipping sauce instead.

What You’ll Need

  • Soy Sauce (Shoyu) – For the best flavour and quality, use a Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman which has the perfect balance of flavour and salt. Sub with tamari for a gluten-free option. 
  • Dashi Stock – We use hon dashi powder dissolved in hot water, or you can make your own dashi stock from scratch. Use kombu dashi (seaweed only) for a vegan alternative.
  • Mirin – A sweet rice wine for cooking. If you don’t have it, sub with ½ tsp of sugar instead. 
  • Rice Vinegar / Rice Wine Vinegar – For a more traditional flavour, make this with rice vinegar, which is a little sweeter than regular vinegar. Sub with apple cider vinegar, black vinegar or white wine vinegar. If you only have simple white vinegar on hand, use that along with a pinch of sugar for sweetness. 
  • Lemon Juice and Lime Juice – Fresh juice will always be better, but it’s fine to use bottled juices if you need.

You’ll find most of these ingredients at your local Asian grocery store, some larger chain supermarkets or online.

Ingredients laid out to make Ponzu sauce.

How to Make Ponzu Sauce

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. Pour all ingredients (soy sauce, dashi stock, mirin, rice vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice) into a small bowl and mix well.
  2. Taste test and add a little more of any ingredient until you’re satisfied with the flavour.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Citrus – Add an extra dash of citrus juice just before serving to amp up that tangy flavour. This is especially good if you’ve made the sauce in advance, as the flavour can sometimes fade over time.
  • Garnish – Only garnish the sauce when serving. (Don’t add it to any sauce you plan to store in the fridge as it can cause the sauce to spoil early).
  • Storage – Ponzu sauce will last for around 1 week in the fridge if stored in an airtight container or glass jar. 
  • To Avoid Contamination – Throw out any ponzu sauce you’ve already used for dipping (don’t keep it in the fridge to use later).

FAQs

Is ponzu sauce sweet?

Ponzu sauce is not overly sweet. It’s made with mirin, which is a type of Japanese rice wine used in cooking. It has a subtly sweet flavour and a delicious tanginess which blends with the other ingredients to give ponzu sauce its unique flavour profile.

What are the best substitutes for ponzu sauce?

The most simple substitute for ponzu is plain soy sauce, or soy sauce with a splash of lime juice and/or lemon juice. 

You can also try using mentsuyu, another Japanese dipping sauce / soup base made with soy sauce and dashi stock. This sauce is usually concentrated, so you may need to add water to get the right flavour depending on what you’re using it for.

What are the best store bought brands of ponzu?

There are so many brands out there, but our top favourites are Kikkoman and Mizkan yuzupon (yuzu ponzu).

Do I have to use katsuobushi and/or kombu?

No you don’t, that’s why we created our quick ponzu recipe with dashi stock powder for extra umami flavour. You can use kombu seaweed and bonito flakes to make your own homemade dashi stock to use as a base for your own homemade ponzu sauce if you prefer!

Variations

  • Garnish Ideas – Sprinkle the top of your dipping bowls with spring onion / green onion, shichimi togarashi, toasted sesame seeds, gomashio sesame salt or grated daikon radish. 
  • Yuzu Ponzu – Swap out the lemon and lime juice for yuzu juice for a more traditional flavour.
  • Other Citrus – Try it with orange juice, mandarin and/or grapefruit juice to mix it up. 
  • Add Ginger – Take it to the next level with freshly grated or minced ginger.
  • Ponzu Vinaigrette – Add a splash of sesame oil, wasabi paste or Japanese karashi mustard.
Ponzu sauce in a dipping bowl garnished with spring onion.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Ponzu sauce in a dipping bowl garnished with spring onion.

Quick Japanese Ponzu Sauce

Ponzu sauce is the ultimate Japanese dipping sauce. Pair this tangy citrus-soy dressing with just about anything – noodles, hot pots, salads and more! Just 6 ingredients and no cooking required.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 1 dish
Calories: 34kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $3

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pour all ingredients (soy sauce, dashi stock, mirin, rice vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice) into a small bowl and mix well.
    2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp lime juice, ½ tsp dashi powder, 1 ¼ tsp mirin, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • Taste test and add a little more of any ingredient until you’re satisfied with the flavour.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Citrus – Add an extra dash of citrus juice just before serving to amp up that tangy flavour. This is especially good if you’ve made the sauce in advance, as the flavour can sometimes fade over time.
  • Garnish – Only garnish the sauce when serving. (Don’t add it to any sauce you plan to store in the fridge as it can cause the sauce to spoil early).
  • Storage – Ponzu sauce will last for around 1 week in the fridge if stored in an airtight container or glass jar. 
  • To Avoid Contamination – Throw out any ponzu sauce you’ve already used for dipping (don’t keep it in the fridge to use later).
  • Garnish Ideas – Sprinkle the top of your dipping bowls with spring onion / green onion, shichimi togarashi, toasted sesame seeds, gomashio sesame salt or grated daikon radish. 
  • Yuzu Ponzu – Swap out the lemon and lime juice for yuzu juice for a more traditional flavour.
  • Other Citrus – Try it with orange juice, mandarin and/or grapefruit juice to mix it up. 
  • Add Ginger – Take it to the next level with freshly grated or minced ginger.
  • Ponzu Vinaigrette – Add a splash of sesame oil, wasabi paste or Japanese karashi mustard.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Quick Japanese Ponzu Sauce
Amount per Serving
Calories
34
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
1
g
2
%
Sodium
 
2067
mg
90
%
Potassium
 
76
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
5
g
2
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin C
 
3
mg
4
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Quick Japanese Ponzu Sauce

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    CToth
    21/10/2019 at 2:05 am

    5 stars
    A+++ this is excellent. I didn’t have dashi or rice vinegar so I subbed half a tsp of regular vinegar, it was soo good. I will get the rice vinegar and look for dashi powder because I will be making this often. I made some smoked salmon rolls (like sushi rolls) with avocado, cream cheese and cucumber in them and they were devoured. I did add the 2 tbsp water to thin it and also a half tsp of sugar water… my lemons were very sour and it needed a tiny bit of sweet.
    Lesson learned: make a lot, everyone loved the ponzu sauce.
    Thank you for a great recipe. Walmart carries the mirin .

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:44 pm

      Hey hey – that’s so awesome! If you don’t have dashi, you can sub with a little veggie stock in a pinch. You can get Dashi on Amazon (that’s the brand we use from Japan).

      We haven’t tried smoked salmon in our sushi rolls, that sounds delish!

      Also – love the lesson to make more! It should last quite a while in the fridge if you do make a big batch. 🙂

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