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How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce (10 ways)

Having that authentic taste of teriyaki sauce is what any Asian-inspired cook strives for. It’s one of the tastiest Asian sauces around. But mistakes can happen, especially in the kitchen, and a runny sauce is an all too common one. If you’d like to thicken sauce without using cornstarch or flour, then I’ve got some of the best ways for you.

You can thicken teriyaki sauce using oil or butter, a roux, reducing, mustard powder, and corn syrup. But this isn’t all you can use to thicken teriyaki sauce, so let’s cover them all!

A glass sauce bowl of teriyaki sauce with various roasted ingredients.

🤷 What Is Teriyaki Sauce?

Teriyaki sauce is a traditional Japanese condiment known for its sweet and savory flavor profile. It’s typically made from soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), sugar, and sometimes ginger and garlic. The sauce is often used as a marinade or glaze for meats, seafood, and vegetables. You can even use light soy sauce alternatives and dark soy sauce substitutes to make different variations of the sauce.

📌 How to Use Teriyaki Sauce

As a Marinade: Teriyaki sauce works wonders as a marinade for meats and seafood, infusing them with its signature sweet and savory flavors.

As a Glaze: Brushing teriyaki sauce onto grilled or roasted dishes in the final minutes of cooking creates a glossy and flavorful glaze. Some recipes you can make are a teriyaki salmon glaze and teriyaki glazed chicken.

As a Stir-Fry Sauce – Teriyaki sauce can add a nice depth and richness to stir-fried vegetables, meat, or tofu, elevating the dish with its sweet and tangy notes.

As a Dipping Sauce –  It can double as a versatile dipping sauce for appetizers like spring rolls, potstickers, or chicken skewers, offering a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors.

A tasty bowl of chicken teriyaki garnished with sesame seeds.

💡 Ways to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce

Add Oil or Butter

If you want a quick and convenient way to thicken teriyaki sauce with an added bonus creamy texture, oil or butter is just what you need. The oil or butter blends with the other ingredients when heated, creating a smooth and glossy finish. You should add them gradually while stirring and monitoring the consistency. A neutral-flavored oil or unsalted butter is best if you want to avoid altering the taste of the teriyaki sauce.

Add Cornstarch

Cornstarch has always been a commonly used thickener to give a smooth texture to different sauces. It’s the perfect thickener as it’s flavorless and odorless, and since it’s derived from corn, it’s gluten-free. If you plan on using it to thicken teriyaki sauce, create a slurry by mixing a small amount of it with cold water. Then, add the slurry to the sauce while stirring constantly. Adding a small amount at the end of cooking is your best shot at avoiding clumping or over-thickening.

Use Wheat Flour

Wheat flour is another common thickening agent on equal par with cornstarch that’s highly available and easy to use but with one drawback. It does contain gluten. To use it, you’ll need to create a slurry by mixing it with cold water. In case the sauce thickens excessively, you can add a small amount of water or stock to adjust its consistency. You’ll also need to extend the cooking time to eliminate the taste of raw flour in your teriyaki sauce.

Beurre Manié

The French cooking method called beurre manie is another great method for thickening teriyaki sauce. It combines the same quantities of softened butter and flour to form a paste that’s then added to the sauce. As the butter melts and the flour cooks, the sauce will thicken and become smooth. However, this will alter the flavor and cause a richer, more buttery flavor for the sauce. 

A bowl of butter with flour being poured into it to create a Beurre Manié.

Roux

Thickening teriyaki sauce with a roux will give you a thicker and even smoother texture. The taste will slightly change, but the added richness and velvety texture can be a great bonus. A roux can be made by mixing equal parts flour and fat, usually butter. When heated, the flour in the roux absorbs the fat and creates a paste-like consistency that thickens the sauce. The sauce will also continue to thicken as it cools, so keep this in mind as you add the roux.

Simmer the Sauce

Simmering is the best and most straightforward method you can use to thicken teriyaki sauce. It requires nothing except monitoring and more heat. Just bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for a few minutes. As the sauce simmers, the liquid will evaporate, and the sauce will thicken. Make sure to stir the sauce intermittently to avoid it from adhering to the base of the pan.

A metal pot on a stove top.

Add Baking Powder

While it’s not a common practice in the thickening world, using baking powder to thicken teriyaki sauce is a viable option. Baking powder contains two ingredients (sodium bicarbonate and powdered acid) that react when mixed with liquid, causing it to bubble up and thicken. Make sure to pick one without varying ingredients like aluminum, as this will cause a metallic taste. 

Use Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a great natural thickener commonly used in gluten-free cooking. The smoother and more consistent texture it can provide without changing the flavor is exactly why it’s perfect for thickening teriyaki sauce. Unlike other thickeners, it doesn’t even need any heat to activate, so you can toss some in after making the sauce and stir to thicken. Too much will give it a slimy texture, so don’t add too much.

Add Mustard Powder

This is an unconventional way to thicken your teriyaki sauce, but it’s a perfectly viable one. Mustard powder has a great spicy kick and natural emulsifiers that help to bind liquids together. This will help pull your runny teriyaki sauce together and bind it. Just mix this powder with a small amount of water to create a paste, and then gradually add it to the teriyaki sauce. Don’t use too much, as the flavors of the mustard powder can overpower the sauce.

Add Corn Syrup

Corn syrup isn’t the first thing you’d look for when thickening a sauce, but it can actually be a great way to thicken teriyaki sauce. It has a thick, syrupy consistency that pulls the liquid texture together. The thickness of the syrup means the sauce binds to it. It will also give your teriyaki sauce a glossy finish and sweeter texture. However, you can use different maple syrup substitutes for a less sweet but equally thick texture.

🧐 FAQs

Why is my teriyaki sauce too thin?

Teriyaki sauce can be thin due to a higher ratio of liquid ingredients to thicker ingredients. Over-reducing or not using a thickening agent can also lead to a runnier consistency.

What are common mistakes when thickening teriyaki sauce?

One common mistake is adding too much thickening agent at once. Another error is not properly mixing the thickener with a bit of water before adding it to the sauce, which can result in lumps. Add the thickening agent gradually and ensure thorough stirring to achieve a smooth consistency.

How do I avoid over-thickening my teriyaki sauce?

To prevent your teriyaki sauce from becoming too thick or gummy, use a balanced approach. Start with a small amount of your chosen thickening agent and gradually add more as needed or avoid prolonged high heat.

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