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Yakitori Sauce

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Yakitori sauce is a Japanese condiment traditionally used for grilled chicken skewers. Sweet, savory, and smoky, it’s the perfect sauce to have on hand for all of your grilling needs this summer!

Making homemade sauces is the best! You get all the delicious flavor without any preservatives or additives. Plus, you can customize the taste to your liking! Homemade yum yum sauce, hoisin sauce, and teriyaki sauce are all great for adding a pop of Asian flavor to your cooking!

Top-down view of yakitori sauce in a white bowl, being stirred with a spoon.

What is Yakitori Sauce?

If you’ve never tried Yakitori before, it’s essentially various types of grilled chicken glazed in a sweet and smoky sauce. It’s a common street food in Japan. You can also find it at izakayas (the equivalent of a Japanese pub), paired with alcohol. There’s a reason it’s so popular- the meat is melt-in-your-mouth and so flavorful! You can bring these tasty Japanese flavors to your own kitchen with just a few simple ingredients.

Yakitori sauce has a soy sauce base and then is flavored with brown sugar, garlic, cooking rice wine, and sake! The flavor is amazing. It’s everything you could want from a glaze for grilled meats! Sweet, smoky, and savory with a hint of tang. Yakitori sauce has the perfect consistency, too! It’s thick and glossy and will get your mouth watering just looking at it. Here’s everything you need to know to whip it up at home!

What is Yakitori Sauce Made Of?

A lot of these ingredients will probably already be in your pantry, but you may need to make a trip to your local Asian market for the cooking rice wine and sake. They complete the flavor! Note: measurements for each of these ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is the perfect savory foundation for this sauce and helps to tenderize meats.
  • Brown Sugar: Adds a deep, smoky sweetness.
  • Mirin Rice Wine: Cooking rice wine adds just a hint of sweetness and gives Yakitori sauce the perfect glossy sheen.
  • Sake: Adds a tangy, complex flavor and helps to tenderize grilled meats. You can substitute this for cooking wine or rice wine vinegar.
  • Minced Garlic: No savory sauce is complete without a little garlic!
  • Water: Activates the cornstarch and helps all of the ingredients mix together smoothly.
  • Cornstarch: Makes your Yakitori sauce nice and thick!

How to Make Yakitori Sauce

Yakitori sauce is so easy to make! All you have to do is whisk everything together over the stove. Then it’s ready for all of your favorite grilled meats and veggies! It’s also a great sauce for chicken wings!

  1. Whisk Ingredients Together: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, sake, and garlic.
  2. Thicken: In a small bowl, whisk the water and cornstarch. Add to the saucepan and whisk. Continue to cook until it starts to thicken.
2-photo collage of sauce being prepared.

Easy Variations

Here are a few simple ways you can customize your yakitori sauce!

  • Gluten-Free Version: You can easily make your yakitori sauce gluten-free by swapping out regular soy sauce for a gluten-free variety.
  • Flavor Additions: Customize the flavor of your yakitori sauce by adding things like lemon juice, grated ginger, honey, sesame oil, or chili powder for a hint of spice!

Yakitori sauce in a white bowl, garnished with sesame seeds.

Storing Leftovers

The great thing about homemade yakitori sauce is that it has a really long shelf life! As long as you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge, it will last for a few months. Throw away if mold or a foul odor has developed.

Dipping a grilled chicken skewer into yakitori sauce.

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