If you love traditional teriyaki but not the calories this homemade Maple Teriyaki Sauce is for you! Bold traditional flavors perfect to use in teriyaki sauce recipes.
Simple ingredients and 10 minutes is all you need to whip up this homemade teriyaki sauce. It has the salty, sweet, tangy flavors that are so delicious in a homemade teriyaki marinade or sauce in other recipes like a stir fry. It has the best flavor and once you taste it you'll have loads of ideas where to use it!
What is teriyaki sauce?
Teriyaki sauce is a popular Japanese sauce known for its sweet and savory flavor profile. The name "teriyaki" comes from the Japanese words "teri," which means glossy or shiny, and "yaki," which means grilled or broiled. This sauce is commonly used in Japanese cuisine and has also become popular in international cooking.
The main ingredients include soy sauce, sugar, mirin (sweet rice wine), sake (optional), fresh garlic and ginger and cornstarch (optional to thicken the sauce).
Teriyaki sauce is versatile and is used in a variety of dishes, including marinating and grilling or broiling meats (such as chicken, beef, and fish), as a glaze for vegetables, and as a sauce for stir-fries and noodles.
It's loved for its balance of sweet and savory flavors and its ability to add depth and richness to a wide range of dishes. Homemade teriyaki sauce allows for customization to suit individual taste preferences by adjusting the sweetness, saltiness, and other flavor elements...and calories!!
What makes this skinny?
The calorie amount for store-bought teriyaki sauce can range from something similar to ours (16 calories per tablespoon) up to 50-60 calories per tablespoon. This is usually due to high amounts of sugar.
- Less sweetener. For this recipe we use less sweetener than most other recipes.
- Using maple syrup. Maple syrup is not lower in calories than regular sugar per se however it has nutritional benefits over sugar (you get value for the sweetener versus just calories).
- Maple syrup contains minerals and antioxidants which are nutritionally beneficial. Refined sugar contains no nutritional value.
- Maple syrup is also lower on the glycemic index. This means it can lead to a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for people concerned about blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
- Low sodium soy sauce. Regular low sodium soy sauce or low sodium gluten-free tamari (for a gluten-free teriyaki sauce) can be used. This homemade teriyaki sauce recipe has just the right amount of saltiness. Using regular soy sauce (not low sodium) would be overpowering in salt content (both flavor and high sodium).
- Maple syrup. This is the sweetener instead of regular sugar. Use pure maple syrup for this maple teriyaki sauce, not maple pancake syrup.
- Rice vinegar. Also called rice wine vinegar, it's made from fermented rice. It is a staple in Asian cuisines, particularly Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Rice vinegar has a mild, slightly sweet, and tangy flavor profile, with a gentle acidity unlike most other vinegars. Be sure to use regular rice vinegar (link for clarification; smaller bottles are available) not seasoned rice vinegar. You can find rice vinegar with other vinegars or international foods at the grocery store.
- Fresh garlic. You'll use two large garlic cloves, minced.
- Fresh ginger. You'll peel and grate the ginger. This allows it to better mix into the teriyaki sauce. Two teaspoons give the sauce a delicious flavor.
- Cornstarch. This is a thickening agent that also gives the sauce a glossy finish. You can use the sauce without it but we find a thick version of this classic sauce is both appealing but also adheres to ingredients when making things like teriyaki chicken or stir-fry veggies. If left out the sauce has the consistency of water.
How to Make it
STEP 1. Simmer
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the low-sodium soy sauce, water (½ cup), pure maple syrup, rice vinegar, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Stir well to combine (photos 1-2).
Bring the mixture to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally (photo 3).
STEP 2. Thicken the teriyaki sauce
In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and cold water to create a cornstarch slurry (photo 4). Slowly pour this into the simmering sauce while stirring continuously.
Continue to simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency (photo 5).
Once you're satisfied with the flavor and thickness, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the teriyaki sauce cool down (it will continue to thicken when off the heat). Pour into a glass jar or container (photo 6).
- For a spicy twist add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes at the end of cooking.
- For a slightly different flavor add a bit of Dijon mustard to taste. This isn't traditional but it's good!
How to Use it
- Grilled Chicken or Tofu: Marinate boneless, skinless chicken breast or tofu cubes in the maple teriyaki sauce for added flavor. Grill them to perfection and serve with steamed or roasted vegetables for a low-calorie, high-protein meal.
- Stir-Fried Vegetables: Stir-fry a mix of colorful vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, snap peas or snow peas and carrots in a small amount of oil. Add the maple teriyaki sauce toward the end of cooking to coat the veggies and create a flavorful side dish.
- Salad Dressing: Use maple teriyaki sauce as a dressing for a light and refreshing salad. Combine it with fresh greens, sliced cucumber, and cherry tomatoes for a low-calorie salad with an Asian twist.
- Baked Salmon: Brush the maple teriyaki sauce over salmon fillets and bake them in the oven. Serve with a side of steamed asparagus or green beans for a nutritious and flavorful meal.
- Vegetable Noodle Stir-Fry: Spiralize zucchini or sweet potato into noodles and stir-fry them with the sauce. Add some thinly sliced chicken breast or shrimp for extra protein.
- Grilled Veggies: Brush the sauce on a mix of grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms. It adds a sweet and savory glaze that enhances the natural flavors of the veggies.
- Bowl Meals: Create a balanced bowl meal by combining cooked quinoa or brown rice with marinated and grilled chicken or tofu, steamed broccoli, and a drizzle of maple teriyaki sauce. Top with sesame seeds and sliced green onions for added flavor.
- Sheet Pan Dinners: Make a low-calorie sheet pan dinner by tossing vegetables like cauliflower, bell peppers, and green beans with the sauce. Add boneless, skinless chicken thighs or cubed tofu for a complete meal.
- It's used in our Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken Thighs recipe.
How to Store
Store the low-calorie maple teriyaki sauce in a sealed airtight container or jar in the refrigerator. It can be kept for a few weeks and used as a healthier alternative for marinating, glazing, or as a sauce for various dishes.