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How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce with Ease

Maria Foster
Last Updated on
by Maria Foster

Have you ever noticed that teriyaki sauce has a runny consistency, especially the bottled varieties sold in stores? Or perhaps you’ve tried making it yourself, and it came out a little watery.

Thin sauces are excellent for marinades, but thicker glazes are better for dipping meats and veggies in. So, how can you make yours a little thicker?

With our 10 tips and tricks, of course. Some of them are ingredients we all have in our kitchens, like flour and baking powder. Some ingredients, such as mustard powder, make the sauce spicier, while others, such as honey and corn syrup, make it sweeter.

The most common ways to make teriyaki sauce thicker:

  • Simmer the sauce
  • Add Cornstarch
  • Add Baking powder
  • Use Xanthan gum
  • Use Wheat flour
  • Use Cold butter
  • Add Mustard powder
  • Add Brown sugar
  • Add Honey
  • Add Corn syrup
Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce

1. Simmer the Sauce

Simmering the sauce is a classic way to thicken teriyaki sauce — it works with both homemade and store-bought sauces. The consistency gets thicker as you cook the sauce. How so? Well, the heat helps to evaporate the excess liquid.

Simmer

We recommend cooking teriyaki sauce on a stovetop over low heat. This will give you control over how thick the glaze gets. Keep a close eye on the pan to prevent it from scorching and sticking to the pan.

This method should take no more than 15 minutes.

2. Add Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a good thickening agent for several reasons — it doesn’t alter the color or flavor of the sauce and provides a wonderful, smooth consistency.

Cornstarch
Cornstarch

When making homemade teriyaki sauce from scratch, the recommended ratio is 4 tablespoons of flour to 1 cup of liquid. If you are still dissatisfied with the thickness of your homemade teriyaki (or the store-bought sauce), you might be able to save the day by creating a cornstarch slurry.

Mix equal amounts of cornstarch and water in a bowl. Start cooking the teriyaki sauce in a saucepan over medium heat, and gently whisk that mixture into the pan. Keep stirring until the glaze is thick enough.

Don’t have cornstarch? You can easily buy cornstarch at a nearby grocery store.

3. Add Baking powder

Baking powder can also be used to thicken teriyaki sauce. It has a strong bitter and salty flavor, so use with caution to avoid an unpleasant aftertaste. Otherwise, your teriyaki sauce can turn into a bitter dipping sauce.

Baking Powder
Baking powder

Similar to the cornstarch approach, you must first combine equal parts of baking powder and water to make a slurry. Simmer the sauce on medium heat and slowly add the slurry. Taste your sauce to check the consistency and add extra if necessary.

4. Xanthan gum

You can quickly thicken your sauce by adding a little xanthan gum. Mix half a teaspoon of xanthan gum and one tablespoon of water. Stir continuously until the mixture resembles a paste.

For cold teriyaki sauce — combine with a hand whisk, blender, or mixer.

Xanthan Gum In The Grocery Store
Xanthan gum

For hot teriyaki sauce — take a skillet, simmer the teriyaki on medium heat and add a few drops of the xanthan gum paste you made. Stir it for at least 3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Feel free to add some more paste if you are unhappy with the thickness.

Don’t have xanthan gum? Check the baking aisle of a nearby grocery store.

5. Use Wheat Flour

We all have flour in our kitchens, but it’s the least utilized method for thickening teriyaki sauce. Why?

Wheat flour can make the texture slightly lumpy. Additionally, you have to combine it with butter, which somewhat alters the sauce’s flavor. If you don’t mind the lumps and slightly buttery aftertaste, go for it.

Wheat Flour
Wheat Flour

Use 4 tablespoons of flour and butter for each cup of teriyaki sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour, and whisk for 1-2 minutes. When the flour and butter are fully incorporated, turn off the heat and gently whisk in the sauce. If there are lumps, stir the mixture with a fork to break them up.

6. Use Cold butter

Are you short on cornstarch or flour? Use cold butter instead. The key to this method is getting the temperature just right.

Cold butter
Cold butter

Simmer the sauce on low heat — the sauce should be hot enough to melt the butter but not so hot that it separates. If the butter separates, it loses its potential to thicken the sauce, leaving oil and milk solids floating around in the sauce.

Gradually add the butter, constantly stirring the mixture. Once done, remove it from the stove and serve it.

7. Add Mustard powder

Do you enjoy a little spice in your teriyaki sauce? Add some mustard powder! It will thicken your runny sauce and give it a spicy kick.

Mustard powder
Mustard powder

All you need to do is mix equal parts of water and mustard powder in a small bowl. Stir well and add it to the sauce. Thoroughly whisk to ensure there are no clumps in the mixture, then cook over medium-low heat while stirring continuously for at least two minutes.

We suggest putting it on top of burgers or other meat dishes once it’s ready.

8. Add Brown sugar

Do you want your teriyaki sauce to be a bit sweeter? Brown sugar thickens teriyaki sauce and makes it sweet — so if you want a sweet sauce, this option works well.

Brown Sugar
Brown sugar

But why brown sugar over white sugar? Brown sugar contains molasses, which is naturally thick, as opposed to white sugar, which dissolves easily in liquids.

If you want the sauce to be even more sweet and thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and boil it on medium heat until you’re pleased with the consistency. Make sure to taste the sauce as you go to avoid making it too sugary.

9. Add Honey

Do you want your teriyaki to be rich, sweet, yet free of processed sugar? You can always use honey for sweetening and thickening your sauce.

Honey
Honey

Honey blends nicely with teriyaki sauce, thanks to its syrup-like texture. Since honey is naturally thick, you don’t need to heat it to mix it with the sauce.

Don’t know which honey to choose? Manuka honey, Clover honey, and Fireweed honey are all good varieties. As for the ratio, ⅓ cup honey for ¾ cup teriyaki sauce should be enough, but you can always add some more.

Honey sweetens the sauce and makes it ideal for marinating meat, particularly chicken wings.

10. Corn syrup

Corn syrup is another thickening ingredient for sweet sauce fans. It comes in light and dark forms. Dark corn syrup contains molasses, giving your sauce a darker color and a richer sweetness. Light corn syrup is clear and typically scented with vanilla.

Corn syrup
Corn syrup

The ideal ratio is ⅓ cup corn syrup to ¾ cup teriyaki sauce. You may mix the two without heating — however if you want to lessen the corn taste, cook the sauce for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat. Whisk continuously as you gradually add the syrup. Taste for sweetness and thickness, then add more as needed.

FAQs

How to Thicken Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Without Cornstarch?

Don’t have cornstarch? You can still thicken your teriyaki sauce with all-purpose flour. All it takes is to make a slurry with equal parts flour and water, whisk them together, then gradually incorporate the paste into the simmering sauce.

Is There a Difference Between Teriyaki Marinade and Teriyaki Sauce?

The taste is the same, but the sauce is a bit thicker than the marinade. You can still use the sauce as a marinade by watering it down, but the marinade can’t replace sauce. Why? Teriyaki marinades are thinner in consistency, and nobody likes watery sauces.

Conclusion

The next time the consistency of your sauce drives you a little crazy, don’t be afraid to try a quick adjustment. A little flour, cornstarch, baking powder, xanthan gum, or a short simmer goes a long way to thicken the sauce.

Use sweet thickening agents like honey, brown sugar, or corn syrup if you want a hint of sweetness. Mustard powder is the way to go if you want something spicier.

If the technique asks for simmering, keep the heat low to medium. Use moderate amounts, whisk carefully, and don’t rush the process. You got this.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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