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Is Teriyaki Sauce Vegan? Things You Need To Know About This Sauce In 2024

Donald Romeo

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

is teriyaki sauce vegan
Explore vegan teriyaki sauce — a plant-based twist on tradition. Photo: Ba Le Ho

Is teriyaki vegan? Is teriyaki sauce vegan? A simple question, but one that opens a world of culinary exploration! For those seeking a vegan diet, teriyaki sauce is a mystery. Is it on the vegan menu?

This takes me back to my own culinary adventures into the secrets of food ingredients. Teriyaki sauce, that tangy, sweet, and savory delight, is a favorite in kitchens around the globe. But is it vegan? Ah, the perplexity of it all!

Come on a journey into the very heart of teriyaki sauce. It’s a taste-bud-tingling ride through flavors and ingredients. We’ll uncover its vegan secrets, explore alternatives, and even cook up some homemade vegan teriyaki magic!

Is Teriyaki Sauce Vegan Friendly?

Teriyaki sauce can be both vegan and non-vegan. Traditional teriyaki sauce may contain ingredients like honey or refined sugar processed with bone char, making it non-vegan.

However, there are vegan-friendly versions available that use plant-based substitutes for these ingredients. 

For example, teriyaki made from a combination of soy sauce with several other ingredients such as organic sugar, rice vinegar, and spices is vegan. Always check the label or make homemade vegan teriyaki sauce to ensure it aligns with vegan dietary preferences.

Can Vegans Eat Teriyaki Sauce?

That is the question.! Teriyaki sauce, a blend of soy sauce, sugar, and other ingredients, comes up in the vegan debate. While the basic components may seem vegan-friendly, the devil is in the details. 

For instance, some sugar is processed with bone char,[1] a decolorizing filter made from the bones of cattle. This process gives sugar its white color, making sugar non-vegan.

Veganism[2] is more than a trend; it’s a revolution driven by health consciousness, environmental sustainability, and reverence for life forms. But what about teriyaki sauce? Can it join the ranks of vegan delights?

The world of vegan food is diverse and ever-evolving. Perceptions vary, with vegans and vegetarians often preferring vegan foods[3] based on benefits for animal welfare, health, or environmental friendliness. Teriyaki sauce, with its rich umami flavor, qualifies in this landscape.

Even better, the food industry is constantly innovating, creating vegan alternatives for everything from ice cream[4] to eggs.[5] Teriyaki sauce is no exception. With the right ingredients and a sprinkle of creativity, you can whip up a vegan teriyaki sauce that dances on your taste buds without compromising your values.

When Is Teriyaki Sauce Not Vegan?

Ah, the twist! As we venture, we must navigate the maze of ingredients and processing methods that risk making this non-vegan.

Fish-Derived Products

Imagine the surprise when you discover that some traditional teriyaki sauce recipes may include fish-derived products[6] like fish sauce or bonito flakes! These sneaky ingredients enhance the umami flavor but are a no-go for vegans.

Sugar Processed With Bone Char

Sugar can sometimes be processed with bone char, a decolorizing filter made from animal bones.  This makes certain teriyaki sauces non-vegan. Look for vegan sauces and those containing organic sugar or beet sugar as the sweetening agent instead of cane sugar.

Cross-Contamination

Picture a bustling manufacturing facility handling both vegan and non-vegan products. The risk of cross-contamination is likely, where vegan ingredients are exposed to non-vegan substances.

Lack Of Transparency In Ingredient Sourcing

Labeling ingredients can be as mysterious as a secret recipe. Companies may change suppliers without notice, making it problematic whether teriyaki sauce is truly vegan.

Hidden Animal-Derived Ingredients

Hidden ingredients are like culinary plot twists, turning a seemingly vegan-friendly sauce into something non-vegan. These hidden elements may include certain coloring or flavoring agents involving animal products.

You can savor teriyaki sauce without compromising your values with label scrutiny, direct communication with manufacturers, and perhaps a sprinkle of homemade creativity.

What Is Teriyaki Sauce?

Oh, teriyaki sauce! A culinary dance of ingredients tickling the taste buds on your adventure. What is this mysterious concoction?

Imagine the combination of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar playing a symphony of flavors on your taste buds. Add some ginger and garlic, and you have a sauce that is more than just a condiment. It is a culinary technique, a Japanese art form, and even a philosophy!

Additionally, teriyaki sauce is part of a traditional Japanese culinary tradition.[7] It’s about balance, aesthetics, culture, and connection to the Japanese soul. Washoku’s status as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO is like a culinary Oscar, a global recognition of its brilliance.

A fermented seasoning, such as the soy sauce at the base of teriyaki sauce, is not just an ingredient. It is also the heart of teriyaki sauce. 

This is the nutritional information[8] for 1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce:

16 calories.

12.2 grams of water.

1.07 grams of protein.

1.87 grams of carbohydrates.

2.81 grams of sugar.

3.5 milligrams of fat.

Vegan Substitutes For Teriyaki Sauce

Many people often wonder about vegan teriyaki sauce. The answer lies in creativity, where traditional teriyaki sauce can be transformed into a vegan alternative.

Imagine crafting your own homemade vegan teriyaki sauce using a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic powder, and fresh ginger. You can replace sugar with organic or coconut sugar to avoid any bone char processing. Add in toasted seeds, red pepper flakes or even pineapple juice for a twist. The outcome? A homemade teriyaki sauce creation that goes beyond substitution and becomes a culinary masterpiece. Freezing homemade teriyaki sauce can be done as well. 

What if you prefer to buy sauces? Store-bought teriyaki sauces contain vegan ingredients, but options include vegan teriyaki sauces, variations of low-sodium soy sauce, and even soy-free choices for teriyaki sauce. Just check the labels.

For those who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, there is no shortage of teriyaki sauce recipes to try. From stir-fries to tofu dishes, from simmering the sauce to achieving that perfect golden brown color when it cools down — there’s a wide array of vegan sauce recipes waiting to be discovered and savored.

When it comes to making vegan teriyaki, you have a variety of ingredients to play with. The options are endless, from soy sauce and coconut aminos to cornstarch slurry or even orange juice. Get creative. Explore flavors by experimenting with various combinations. 

Whether you prefer cooking in pots or storing leftovers in freezer containers, there’s plenty of room for innovation. Don’t forget to mince some ginger and garlic for a kick of flavor, or try out oil-free alternatives for a healthier twist. The world of vegan teriyaki is full of possibilities, just waiting to be explored!

Final Words

The vegan lifestyle goes beyond a diet; it encompasses choices that prioritize compassion, health, and sustainability.

Vegan cuisine showcases creativity and innovation, as seen when teriyaki sauces are vegan and used in various teriyaki sauces and other culinary treasures. Why limit ourselves to teriyaki? The vegan diet offers a range of options, including weight-loss meals and nutrient-rich fruits and veggies.

If you have concerns about gluten, fear not! A world of gluten-free soy sauces and condiments is awaiting you, e.g., rice vinegar to make gluten-free teriyaki.  For those seeking convenience, vegan meal delivery services bring plant-based dishes right to your doorstep. If you need an energy boost, don’t hesitate to grab a vegan meal replacement bar.

Don’t overlook the essentials! Enhance your diet with top-quality vitamins and minerals while adding a sprinkle of green powders for that nutritional kick.

The vegan lifestyle is far from monotonous; it’s a tapestry woven with flavors, essential nutrients, and ethical choices.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is teriyaki sauce not vegan?

Traditional teriyaki sauce might not be suitable for vegans due to ingredients like honey or refined sugar, which may have been processed with bone char. Certain brands of soy sauce could potentially contain fish or other animal-derived components.

Can vegetarians eat teriyaki?

Absolutely! Vegetarians can enjoy teriyaki sauce as it typically does not include meat. However, some vegetarians might choose to avoid it if it contains vegetarian elements such as fish extracts.

Does teriyaki sauce have animal products?

It’s worth noting that certain teriyaki sauces may include animal products, like fish extracts or honey. To ensure it aligns with your preferences, it’s important to review the ingredient list or opt for a teriyaki sauce specifically labeled as vegan-friendly.


+ 8 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Gilberto, Nehemias Curvelo Pereira and Márcia Teresinha Veit (2016). Production of bio-oil and activated carbon from sugarcane bagasse and molasses. Biomass & Bioenergy, [online] 85, pp.178–186. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biombioe.2015.12.013.
  2. Wojciech Król, Price, S., Śliż, D., Parol, D., Konopka, M., Artur Mamcarz, Marcin Wełnicki and Wojciech Braksator (2020). A Vegan Athlete’s Heart—Is It Different? Morphology and Function in Echocardiography. Diagnostics, [online] 10(7), pp.477–477. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics10070477.
  3. Kilian, D. and Hamm, U. (2021). Perceptions of Vegan Food among Organic Food Consumers Following Different Diets. Sustainability, [online] 13(17), pp.9794–9794. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179794.
  4. Kot, A., Kamińska-Dwórznicka, A., Galus, S. and Jakubczyk, E. (2021). Effects of Different Ingredients and Stabilisers on Properties of Mixes Based on Almond Drink for Vegan Ice Cream Production. Sustainability, [online] 13(21), pp.12113–12113. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112113.
  5. Fatma Boukid and Gagaoua, M. (2022). Vegan Egg: A Future-Proof Food Ingredient? Foods, [online] 11(2), pp.161–161. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11020161.
  6. International Journal of Food Properties. (2019). Physicochemical and sensory properties of sous vide meat and meat analog products marinated and cooked at different temperature-time combinations. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2019.1666869
  7. Martin, M.Y. and Francis, L.A. (2020). Youth involvement in food preparation practices at home: A multi-method exploration of Latinx youth experiences and perspectives. Appetite, [online] 144, pp.104439–104439. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104439.
  8. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171167/nutrients.
Donald Romeo

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Donald Romeo is a highly skilled health and wellness writer and a dedicated nutritional researcher. His expertise unravels the intricate connections between nutrition, holistic health, and well-being. With an astute understanding of nutritional science and a talent for translating complex concepts into accessible content, Donald brings valuable insights to his readers. He is committed to empowering individuals by providing practical and evidence-based advice to support their wellness journey. Through his engaging articles, Donald inspires readers to make informed choices, adopt healthier habits, and embrace a holistic approach to their overall vitality.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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