This homemade sesame teriyaki sauce substitute is a gluten free alternative to regular teriyaki sauce. It’s a wonderfully sweet, salty, tangy sauce. Made with only a few simple ingredients, it coats rice, meat and vegetables beautifully.
Serve this sauce with your favorite protein and veggies like my ginger sesame broccoli, gluten-free vegetable sprin. For more easy gluten-free sauce recipes check out my 4 ingredient chicken marinade, spicy cashew dressing.
Is Teriyaki Sauce Gluten-Free?
The main ingredient in teriyaki sauce is soy sauce. Most soy sauces are made with wheat (it helps the fermentation process) so they are not gluten-free. But there are many options for gluten-free soy sauce including gluten-free tamari and soy sauces made without wheat. San-J Tamari, Braggs Liquid Aminos are both gluten-free and a good soy sauce alternatives.
Another alternative that is gluten-free and also soy-free is coconut aminos. It is slightly sweeter, milder in flavor and less salty than soy sauce. It is my go-to for any recipe that calls for soy sauce. It is usally found in the Asian foods sections in grocery stores,
This recipe is super simple. There are just a few ingredients to make this a wonderfully sweet, salty, tangy sauce.
Toasted sesame oil is key to this recipe. Be sure that you use toasted. There is a big difference between the toasted and the non-toasted version. The toasted version has amazing flavor and aroma that gives this sauce its sesame flavor. You’ll know as soon as you open the bottle!
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce or Tamari – I highly recommend using a low-sodium soy sauce or tamari. The regular ones are very strong and I find them to be overpowering in flavor.
Sweetener – Use agave, honey, brown sugar or even maple syrup. The type of sweetener is not crucial, it is simply meant to balance the salty flavor of the soy sauce.
Rice Vinegar or Lime Juice – This is another flavor balance to the salt in the soy sauce and adds a nice tangy element.
Red Chili Flakes – This adds a little kick. Add more or less depending on your preference spicy heat
Tapioca or Corn Starch – The starch will thicken the sauce to keep the oil from separating and gives gives it a nice silky texture.
This recipe can also be used as a marinade for tofu, fish, chicken or beef. Simply mix all the ingredients except the starch and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Pour over fish or tofu and let sit 15 minutes before cooking. Soak chicken or beef for a couple of hours.
How to Balance Flavors
Everyone’s taste buds are different and you may prefer your sauce more sweet. or salty or tangy. I am not the kind of chef that is insulted or annoyed when someone salts their dish. Please feel free to adjust the flavors to your preference! Here’s how to do it:
Mix up the sauce as is, then taste. Do you find it too salty? Stir in another teaspoon or two of sweetener and taste. Too sweet? Add more rice vinegar or lime juice. Just taste and add balancing ingredients a little at a time. See more about balancing flavors in my cooking 101 series posts How to Make Food Taste Better, How to Balance Bitterness and How to Salt Your Food.
DIY Gluten-Free Sesame Teriyaki Sauce
- 5 Tbsp low-sodium gluten-free soy sauce, tamari, or Braggs Liquid Aminos
- 1/4 c sweetener agave, honey, brown sugar
- 1/4 c toasted sesame oil
- 4 tsp water
- 1 Tb rice vinegar lime juice or other vinegar
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes optional
- 2 tsp corn starch or tapioca starch mixed with 2 tsp cold water omit if using as a marinade
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- Place the soy sauce, sweetener, sesame oil, vinegar, water and chili flakes in a small pot. Heat for one minute over a medium-high flame.
- Stir the starch/water combination thoroughly.
- While stirring the soy sauce mixture, pour in the starch mixture with a whisk.
- Turn up the heat and stir until it boils and the sauce thickens.
- Pour over your dish and top with sesame seeds.