The Japanese word “teriyaki” actually refers to the cooking method of grilling or roasted meat coated in a sweet and salty glaze. The sauce that has become very popular for marinating such grilled meats became known as “teriyaki sauce.” The sauce was likely developed in Hawaii by early Japanese immigrants, who blended pineapple juice and soy sauce to create a flavorful marinade.
Today, teriyaki sauce is made of three main ingredients: soy sauce, mirin or sake (rice wine), and sugar. Ginger, garlic, and a thickener, such as cornstarch, are also common additions.
In this healthier, sugar-free version of teriyaki sauce, we use our favorite whole food sweetener: dates instead of the refined sugar. Most people won’t be able to notice the difference—this recipe tastes just like a store-bought Teriyaki.
And those who can taste a difference will probably appreciate how the Plantz St. teriyaki sauce has a bold sweetness, but it’s not overwhelming. There’s also the garlic and ginger that add more depth of flavor and bit of zing!
Another switch we made was to use tamari instead of soy sauce. It’s very similar, but it’s a little thicker, has slightly less sodium, and is usually made without wheat. (For a gluten-free tamari, you need to choose one that says gluten-free on the label.)
For many foodies, tamari, Bragg’s liquid aminos, or coconut aminos are preferred over soy sauce, but don’t this fool you!
These are all sodium-rich condiments. Although the sodium level of liquid aminos is about a third of the amount in tamari, the serving size is also a third of the size! This means the sodium levels are not significantly different.
You are bound to have too much salt in your diet when you’re using any one of these in your cooking regularly. Options labeled as low-sodium do have less, but people tend to use more per serving, so that’s something to watch for.
If you do cook with tamari or something similar, I recommend keeping it to no more than a couple times per week and in minimal amounts. I probably have it once a month when eating out, but in my kitchen, I use it more like every few months.
If you’re someone who is triggered by salty foods, and tamari leads to overeating and cravings, then I encourage you to avoid it all together. If you want to just use less of the tamari, you can do that too. Just add a bit more water or salt-free vegetable broth instead.
The flavor of this teriyaki sauce stays true to the original, if not better! Salty, sweet and tangy, it’s sure to please any teriyaki lover.
It goes great with Asian-inspired dishes, like this Teriyaki Tempeh with Cruciferous Veggies. It also makes a sassy condiment on veggie burgers, stir-fries, or simple steamed veggies!
Recipe by Katie Mae
Makes 4 servings | Ready in 5 minutes | Stores 10 days in fridge
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup tamari (I prefer low-sodium and gluten-free)
- 6 Medjool dates, pitted
- ½–inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Feel free to add more water if you want a thinner consistency.