Is Teriyaki Sauce Vegan? The Definitive Answer

Teriyaki sauce is a famous seasoning better described as a thicker, sweeter variant of soy sauce used for cooking as well as other applications.

Ingredients may vary a bit, and chefs appear to get their own variations.

Is this vegan? Yes, Teriyaki sauce is known to be vegan. Commercial teriyaki sauce appears to include soy sauce (water and soya beans, etc.), a source of sugar (HFCS, table sugar, etc.), vinegar, salt, spices, and a few preservatives (e.g., sodium benzoate)—all of which are vegan.

Although sugar itself can be considered non-vegan (i.e., when bone char is used for its production), sugar-containing items are not considered unfit for vegans, at least by most standards.

As far as teriyaki sauce in restaurants is concerned, chefs prefer to have their own recipes, but such variants generally contain the ingredients listed above.

Why Teriyaki Sauce Is Considered Vegan

Teriyaki Sauce Doesn’t Contain Fish

It’s a big one. Fish sauce, for example, includes fish. Worcestershire sauce appears to include anchovies. Teriyaki sauce, though close in appearance, lacks any kind of animal juice.

Alternatively, it uses soya sauce as a base.

Sugar Doesn’t Render a Food Product Non-Vegan By Most Standards

Teriyaki is a way of cooking, and teriyaki sauce is a seasoning used to cook meats using the cooking method, etc.

The term “teri” in “teriyaki” relates to the luster and shine created by the sugar content of the tare. Tare is only a word for Japanese dip sauces, one of which is teriyaki sauce.

The “yaki” refers to the cooking techniques (grilling or broiling) used to make dishes frequently made with teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki sauce and other tare sauces are renowned for their sweet flavor. Sweetness is typically extracted from sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Some vegans appear to see sugar as a red flag because a great deal of sugar appears to be processed with bone char.

Nevertheless, not all sugar is extracted with bone char, and most vegans do not stop the consumption of sugar as it is almost impossible to determine how sugar was produced in any food product.

PETA claims the best. Is Sugar Vegan in their article? They say, “Don’t worry sugar too much if you’re uncertain about how it was produced.”

They go on to describe how you save 100 + animals a year by adopting a vegan lifestyle and diet, and how the snowball effect you have on the people around you will help motivate others to adopt a vegan diet.

I actually don’t know any vegans who generally avoid sugar-containing food items. Not to suggest that the use of bone char in sugar production is not controversial.

So, if you’re buying sugar from a grocery store, it’d be better to go with the organic type as it is less refined overall, so prefers not to use bone char.

Non-Vegan Applications of Teriyaki Sauce

Only because the food product itself is deemed vegan; it does not mean that every specification of the product is appropriate for vegan consumption.

Teriyaki sauce is a perfect example of vegan food used for non-vegan activities. Since, again, the word “teriyaki” is, in reality, a technique used in cooking Japanese dishes in which food is fried or cooked with teriyaki sauce (i.e., soya sauce, sugar, and mirin).

Teriyaki Fish

Fish such as marlin, yellowtail, tuna, trout, salmon, and mackerel prefer to be eaten with teriyaki sauce in Japan.

Squid, meatballs and hamburger steaks are also usually cooked with teriyaki sauce in this region

Meat (Steaks, Teriyaki Burgers, Etc.)

White and red meats such as beef, lamb, chicken, and pork are more often prepared with teriyaki sauce in the West.

Again, the “yaki” in teriyaki refers to the cooking techniques used to prepare meat. Traditionally, the meat is tried to brush or dipped in the sauce a few times during the cooking process.

The sauce is boiled/dissipated to the desired thickness, at which point it is used to marinate the meat, which is then broiled or grilled.

In North America, any sort of dish made with tare sauce (typically teriyaki sauce) is defined as teriyaki.

The particular formulations used for cooking meats are sometimes sweet, even if they can also be spicy. Pineapple juice is quite common as it has enzymes that help break down the meat.

Anti-traditional methods of cooking meat with teriyaki sauce include first grilling the meat and then pouring the sauce on or just using the sauce as a marinade.

Teriyaki sauce often appears to be used on chicken wings, whether by spreading it while frying the meat or by using it as a dipping sauce.

Teriyaki burgers are also quite popular.

The burgers either applied the sauce on the ground beef or distributed it to the top. Then there is a teriyaki stir-fry, which is a stir-fry with meat and vegetables with the sauce applied to the mixture.

Honey: The Non-Vegan Ingredient Potentially Present in Teriyaki Sauce

Tare sauces, like teriyaki, always have some sweet stuff in the mixture. The material is very often sugar but can be honey.

Kikkoman Original Teriyaki Takumi Sauce, for example, contains:

  • Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt)
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Ginger Puree (Ginger, Water)
  • Honey
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Dehydrated Onion
  • Salt
  • Lemon Juice Concentrate
  • Yeast Extract
  • Xanthan Gum

Besides sugar, honey is certainly considered a no-go for vegans. Neither the American Vegan Society nor the Vegan Society believes that honey is appropriate for vegans.

Commercial Vegan Teriyaki Sauces

Basically, they’re all vegan. But, I’m going to list a few prevalent sauces that are known to be suitable for vegans, just so you’re going to have an idea of what’s out there.

Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Less Sodium Marinade & Sauce

Ingredients include:

  • Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt)
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Expeller Pressed Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Canola)
  • Dried Onion
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Dried Garlic
  • Vinegar
  • Ginger puree (Ginger, Water)
  • Expeller Pressed Sesame Oil
  • Dried Ginger

Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce

Ingredients include:

  • Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt)
  • Wine
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Spices
  • Onion Powder
  • Succinic Acid
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sodium Benzoate (Less than 1/10 of 1% as a Preservative)

Mr. Yoshida’s Sweet Teriyaki Marinade & Cooking Sauce

Ingredients include:

  • Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt)
  • Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Yoshida’s Mirin—Water, Dextrose, Mirin (Rice, Alcohol, Enzymes, Salt)
  • Lactic Acid*
  • Succinic Acid
  • Water
  • Dehydrated Garlic
  • Spice
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Sunflower Oil

A Note on Lactic Acid

While lactose is always animal-derived, lactic acid (LA) is usually considered vegan. It may be a growing area, and the ingredient is included in the PETA list of animal-derived ingredients.

LA is an organic acid that is contained extensively in milk and animal tissues so that it can be extracted from non-vegan sources, primarily milk products.

Though LA is usually made commercially by bacterial fermentation. It may be problematic for LA-producing bacteria to be fed galactose. Even after that, it is only non-vegan if galactose is derived from animal products. Though, galactose (simple sugar) can also be extracted from vegetables such as beets.

If you are a particularly careful vegan, you may want to avoid LA-containing products. However, foods containing lactic acid are not regarded by most standards to be unsuitable for vegans.

This is for teriyaki sauce. Thank you so much for reading.

You may also want to read the following related articles:


  1. Sachs, Adam. “Tare (Soy Basting Sauce).” Epicurious. Bon Appetit.
  2. McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Kindle ed.). ISBN 978-0684800011
  3. Abe, Kenji; Suzuki, Kenji; Hashimoto, Kanehisa (1979). “Utilization of Krill as a Fish Sauce Material.” Nippon Suisan Gakkaishi. 45 (8): 1013–1017.
  4. Worcestershire Sauce.
  5. A City’s Specialty, Japanese in Name Only.
  6. Is Sugar Vegan?
  7. Teriyaki. The Britannica –
  8. Richard Hosking.
  9. Teriyaki.
  10. “Teriyaki.” Glossary. Kikkoman.
  11. Kikkoman Teriyaki Takumi, Original, 20.5 Oz. Leecolt –
  12. The Honey Industry.
  13. 13. Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Less Sodium Marinade & Sauce, 21 Ounce Bottle. Bonnie- Suzanne –
  14. Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce, 10 Fl Oz. Michael –
  15. Mr. Yoshida’s Sweet Teriyaki Marinade & Cooking Sauce, 17 Fl Oz Bottle. Susa –
  16. Animal-derived Ingredients Resource | Living.
  17. H. Benninga (1990): “A History of Lactic Acid Making: A Chapter in the History of Biotechnology.” Volume 11 of Chemists and Chemistry. Springer, ISBN 0792306252, 9780792306252
  18. Galactose.


Recent Content