How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce? [Plus Easy Recipe]

How to thicken teriyaki sauce? Teriyaki is a favorite sauce in many countries around the world. But for it to be good, you have to ensure it has the right thickness. In this article, I’ll describe how to get the perfect thickness every time you make it.

How do you thicken teriyaki sauce? The most popular way to thicken teriyaki sauce is by adding cornstarch or flour. Other starches you can use include arrowroot, tapioca, or potato starch. Teriyaki sauce can also be thickened with chilled butter, a roux, or xantham gum.

Read on to learn more about how to thicken teriyaki sauce with different thickeners. I also give one of my favorite teriyaki sauce recipes that has the perfect thickness and is a breeze to make.

How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce

1. Teriyaki Sauce with Cornstarch or Flour

A very common thickener for teriyaki sauce is cornstarch. If you don’t have this gluten-free option, flour is an ideal substitute for it. But when you use either of these two, expect the sauce to have a light color.

Here is my favorite teriyaki sauce recipe. I use cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce to the perfect consistency. If you prefer, you can use flour instead of cornstarch.


  • ½ teaspoon of ginger paste or ground fresh ginger
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  • ¼ cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce

Additional Ingredients to Thicken the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour
  • ¼ cup of cold water


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine ginger, garlic, honey, brown sugar, water, and soy sauce. Then, set the stovetop temperature at medium heat.
  2. In a separate small bowl, prepare your cornstarch mixture by combining the cornstarch with your ¼ cup of water. Whisk the mixture until dissolved.
  3. Pour your cornstarch mixture into the saucepan.
  4. Continue heating the sauce until you achieve your desired thickness.
  5. Add water if you think the sauce is too thick. You can add cornstarch if it’s too thin and watery.

If you want a soy sauce alternative, you may use liquid aminos or tamari. Mix a small amount of cornstarch or flour at a time. You don’t want to add too much at first. Just stir in small amounts until you get your desired thickness.

2. Teriyaki Sauce Without Cornstarch or Flour

Cornstarch is the most popular thickener for teriyaki sauce, especially in Asian countries. But, of course, if it’s not available, there are other options aside from flour. Among these are the following:

  • Arrowroot and other types of starches
  • Chilled butter
  • Roux and beurre manié
  • Xanthan gum

Let’s give a brief description of each one of them.

how do you thicken up teriyaki sauce

Arrowroot and Other Types of Starches

Arrowroot is a type of starch-based thickener. It’s easy to use and is an ideal alternative for cornstarch. It comes from the rootstock of various tropical plants, such as Maranta arundinaceaManihot esculenta, and Zamia integrifolia. Other types of arrowroot that may be used in similar ways are Pueraria lobata and Tacca leontopetaloides.

Potato starch is sometimes used as an alternative too. There are also products available in the market that combine arrowroot and potato starch in a pack. The reason is that, in this day and age, arrowroot has started to be heavily adulterated with potato starch. But this doesn’t have to be a concern. Whether it is pure arrowroot or not, you can use both as an alternative to cornstarch.

If you are worried about the taste and quality, this doesn’t have to be a concern. Because if there is any disadvantage when it comes to using this type of alternative, it would be the price. This alternative is more expensive compared to cornstarch.

Chilled Butter

When it comes to French sauces, butter is typically added as a sauce thickener. A good example of this is the bordelaise sauce. It consists of shallots, bone marrow, and red wine, among others. But most of all, butter is added to be able to thicken the sauce.

The same thing may be done with the teriyaki sauce. You can use chilled butter in the absence of cornstarch, flour, or any other starch-based thickener. In which case, this thickening method is commonly called “mounting” by chefs and cooks. Thus, when you use this alternative, you are then mounting the sauce with butter.

However, mounting your sauce with butter is a little bit more complicated than when you use other types of thickeners. With starch-based ones, you simply mix them with the other ingredients. But with chilled butter, you have to mix it in small amounts until you achieve your desired thickness.

Applying the correct heat is important to achieve the desired outcome. For instance, while mixing small amounts of chilled butter into the mixture, the sauce must be warm enough to melt it. However, it should not be extremely warm as it would break and separate the butter. It will then lose its ability to thicken the teriyaki sauce. Worse, you will end up with a greasy sauce.

It is not as complicated as it seems. For sure, if you love to cook, you will get the job done the first time you try it. And once you master it, I bet you that you will definitely love the result. Personally, I recommend chilled butter as one of, if not the best, alternative there is.

Roux and Beurre Manié

Another well-known thickener when it comes to French cooking is the roux. In fact, it is a traditional thickener in France. Roux is a thickening agent that contains flour and fat, wherein it uses butter as fat.

You toast flour in butter to achieve this type of thickener. Also, you can make the color of your thickener light, brown, or dark brown. It all depends on how long you will toast the flour in butter and its temperature. More heat and longer toasting time will make you achieve a darker roux. Therefore, when you make a teriyaki sauce, the cooking time has to be longer to achieve its typical brown or dark brown color.

If you prefer to use beurre manié, you don’t need to toast or cook the thickener mixture. Instead, you will knead the flour and the uncooked butter together. While the teriyaki mixture is hot, pinch and add small pieces of the butter mixture. Continuously whisk until they dissolve and the sauce thickens.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum forms part of a type of thickener known as hydrocolloids, which control water structure. It increases the thickness and viscosity of liquids. Among all types of hydrocolloids available, the easiest one to use is the xanthan gum.

Xanthan gum is capable of thickening both hot and cold liquids. Moreover, only a small amount of it is needed to thicken your teriyaki sauce successfully. To use this, you need a blender or mixer, but you may hand whisk it too.

This gum is a very effective thickener. However, it is somewhat complex to use. With a tiny amount, it can productively make your sauce thick. So, you have to be highly accurate in mixing this gum lest your teriyaki sauce turns out gummy.

We’ve answered the question, “how to thicken teriyaki sauce”; next, let’s look at the difference between teriyaki sauce and teriyaki marinade, including their uses.

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The Difference Between Teriyaki Sauce and Teriyaki Marinade

Now, you already have an idea of the different thickeners that you can use for your teriyaki sauce. But, you might ask, do we really have to thicken the sauce? Would there be any difference in its taste if you choose not to thicken it? Well, here lies the difference between the teriyaki sauce and the teriyaki marinade.

While both have soy sauce and sugar as their base, the teriyaki sauce is thicker, whereas the teriyaki marinade is thinner and watery. The soy sauce and sugar are not the only similarities. Garlic, sesame seeds, and ginger can all be mixed in both too.

Both can also make your food — particularly fish, chicken, and beef — delectable, but in different ways. Again, here lies their differences.

Teriyaki Marinade

how do you make teriyaki sauce thicker

When you marinate your fish, chicken, or beef, it’s like they are having a teriyaki bath. They are soaked in the marinade as if they are sponges, absorbing the flavor.

For fish, marinating it for 30 minutes or less is advisable. Don’t over-marinate it to prevent your fish from breaking. Beef can be marinated for a maximum of 24 hours, whereas chicken can be marinated for a maximum of 48 hours. However, due to technology, ready-made brands are claiming that marinating may now be done in less time. And still, they provide satisfactory flavor results.

The teriyaki marinade has to be thin, similar to the consistency of water. This texture allows the meat to absorb the flavor successfully.

Since both the marinade and the sauce have similar ingredients, it’s quite obvious that they have similar tastes. But the difference is that you mix the marinade with the meat before cooking it – whereas the teriyaki sauce is mixed with the meat while cooking and before serving.

Teriyaki Sauce

The marinade and the sauce may have the same ingredients, but they are prepared differently. You simply combine all ingredients with the marinade and pour a generous amount of it onto and into the meat. Whereas with the sauce, you prepare it by heating all ingredients in a saucepan. If not, it will simply be a teriyaki marinade.

The teriyaki sauce is typically poured onto the meat during cooking time. Moreover, when you serve your teriyaki dish, you also serve teriyaki sauce as a condiment.

The texture is thick in the sense that when poured on the meat, it appears like glazed food. The thickness often depends on how thick you want it to be. But, typically, its texture and consistency may be water-thin, thick as paste, or somewhere in between. However, you need to be careful when it comes to making teriyaki sauce. The last thing you want to happen is to end up with a gummy sauce.

When it comes to flavor, the marinade is stronger than the sauce. The reason is that the marinade has to penetrate the meat to make it flavorful. Whereas with the sauce, it is a ready-to-serve product. It is something you can successfully mix with both uncooked and cooked meat.

Can You Combine the Teriyaki Marinade and Teriyaki Sauce When Cooking Meat?

If you are cooking a teriyaki dish, is it alright to marinate the meat first and pour sauce afterward? The answer is yes.

If you are preparing a teriyaki chicken dish, it is perfectly fine to marinate it for a maximum of 48 hours. Once it is well marinated, you may then cook it. Prepare your teriyaki sauce as you have to pour it in while the meat is in the pan. Make sure that when you serve the dish, there’s a teriyaki sauce that goes with it as a condiment.

Teriyaki Tofu

Since the start of this article, we have been mentioning fish, chicken, and beef soaked in teriyaki sauce. But I haven’t mentioned that there are other teriyaki dishes you can prepare. One of which is the teriyaki tofu.

The teriyaki tofu may be served as an appetizer, but you may serve it as a main dish too. You can also make the dish vegan or gluten-free.

Here are three easy steps to prepare teriyaki tofu:

  1. Remove the tofu from its packaging and then drain it for approximately 15 minutes. Then, cut it into half-inch slices.
  2. Prepare a tray with cornstarch. Coat each tofu slice with cornstarch and pan-fry it. Be careful not to ruin the coated tofu slices while pan-frying them.
  3. Once the tofu slices are brown and crisp, pour the teriyaki sauce onto the hot frying pan. Make sure to pour it evenly on the tofu slices. Before serving, garnish it with red pickled ginger and green onion.

Conclusion – How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce

Now, let’s have a recap of our discussion. By now, you already have an idea of how to make teriyaki sauce thicker. Cornstarch is a perfect thickener. But in the absence of cornstarch, you may use flour as an alternative.

There are also other types of starch-based thickeners in lieu of cornstarch. These are arrowroot, potato starch, and tapioca starch, among others. Chilled butter, roux and beurre manié, and xanthan gum are good alternatives too. In fact, chilled butter, roux, and beurre manié may even be better ingredients than cornstarch.

However, by alternatives, we don’t mean cheaper products. These ingredients are more expensive than the typical cornstarch. But then again, if you want to prepare the best teriyaki dish, then you may want to use the best ingredients too.

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