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Can you use store bought teriyaki sauce as a marinade?

Teriyaki sauce is a popular Japanese cooking sauce that often contains soy sauce, rice wine, ginger and other aromatic ingredients. Many grocery stores carry prepared teriyaki sauces that can be used for dipping, drizzling over vegetables or meats, or incorporated into recipes. But can you also use these store-bought teriyaki sauces as a marinade?

What is a Marinade?

A marinade is a liquid mixture that is used to soak and infuse flavor into foods, usually meats, fish, vegetables or even tofu before cooking. A marinade is typically left to soak into the food anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight in the refrigerator.

The main purposes of a marinade are:

  • To tenderize and moisten the food being marinated
  • To infuse more flavor
  • To help prevent drying out during cooking

Common ingredients found in marinades include:

  • Acidic liquids like citrus juices, vinegars, wine
  • Oils, such as olive or vegetable oil
  • Fresh or dried herbs and spices
  • Seasonings like garlic, shallots, ginger
  • Soy sauce or tamari

The acidic ingredients help to break down muscle fibers and connective tissues, tenderizing tougher cuts of meat in particular. The oil helps the marinade spread evenly over the food and brings fat-soluble flavorings into the tissues. Herbs, spices and seasonings add boosted flavor.

Can Store Bought Teriyaki Sauce be Used?

Most prepared teriyaki sauces contain the core ingredients needed for an effective marinade. They have an acidic component like rice vinegar or citrus juice. They contain oil and seasonings. And they provide a salty umami base from soy sauce or tamari.

So, yes, store-bought teriyaki sauce can definitely be used to make an easy marinade for proteins like chicken, beef, pork or salmon. You can marinate for 30 minutes up to overnight for maximum flavor infusion. The marinated food can then be cooked as desired – grilled, pan fried, baked, etc.

Benefits of Using Store Bought Teriyaki Sauce as a Marinade

There are several benefits to using a ready-made teriyaki sauce as a simple protein marinade:

  • Incredible flavor – Teriyaki sauce packs a flavor punch, infusing foods with a sweet yet savory glaze.
  • Tenderization – The acidic ingredients help break down tough proteins for a more tender cooked result.
  • Moistness – A teriyaki marinade helps ensure foods like chicken or salmon don’t dry out during cooking.
  • Convenience – Using a store-bought sauce means you don’t have to make the marinade base from scratch.
  • Quick prep – Just pour teriyaki sauce over protein, marinate, and cook. Minimal work required.

Tips for Using Teriyaki Sauce as a Marinade

Here are some tips to get the most out of using prepared teriyaki sauce as a flavorful marinade:

  • Choose a thicker, glaze-style teriyaki sauce rather than a thin, soy sauce-based version for sticking power. Thicker sauces will cling and permeate the meat better.
  • Use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce per 1 lb of protein.
  • Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably 1-8 hours for maximum infusion. Marinate in the refrigerator.
  • Reserve a bit of the teriyaki sauce to brush over the food the last 5-10 minutes of cooking for an extra glazed finish.
  • Try mixing teriyaki sauce with a bit of oil, extra garlic, fresh grated ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar or other ingredients to make a more complex marinade.
  • Make sure to penetrate the sauce into cuts of meat using hands or a utensil. Don’t just pour sauce over top.
  • Turn foods a few times while marinating to distribute marinade evenly.

Teriyaki Marinade Recipes

You can use store-bought teriyaki sauce straight from the bottle as a simple, ready-to-go marinade. But you can also blend teriyaki sauce with extra ingredients for a homemade marinade bursting with flavor. Here are some teriyaki-based marinade ideas:

Basic Teriyaki Marinade

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Combine ingredients and pour over desired protein like salmon, chicken, pork tenderloin or steak. Marinate 30 minutes up to overnight.

Spicy Teriyaki Marinade

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Blend together and use to marinate flank steak, chicken wings, or shrimp. Marinate for 1-2 hours.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Marinade

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Mix ingredients to marinate chicken, pork chops or salmon fillets for 30-60 minutes.

Sesame Ginger Teriyaki Marinade

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Whisk together marinade and use to flavor flank steak, chicken thighs, tofu or tempeh. Marinate for 1-2 hours.

Table Comparing Different Teriyaki Marinades

Marinade Name Main Flavors Good for Marinating Marinade Time
Basic Teriyaki Sweet, salty, umami Chicken, salmon, pork 30 min – overnight
Spicy Teriyaki Sweet heat Flank steak, wings, shrimp 1-2 hours
Hawaiian Teriyaki Sweet, tropical Chicken, pork, salmon 30-60 minutes
Sesame Ginger Teriyaki Savory, nutty, pungent Steak, chicken, tofu 1-2 hours

Frequently Asked Questions

What proteins work best with a teriyaki marinade?

Teriyaki marinade works great with leaner proteins like chicken, pork, seafood and plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh. It helps add lots of flavor and moisture. For fattier cuts like beef brisket or lamb shoulder, the sugar in teriyaki sauce can sometimes burn. Leaner beef cuts like flank steak work well though.

Can you over-marinate in teriyaki sauce?

It is possible for food to become overly marinated if left for too long in an acidic sauce like teriyaki. For tender cuts like chicken breast or fish fillets, do not marinate longer than 2-4 hours max. Tougher meats like steak or pork shoulder can handle longer marinating of 6-12 hours.

What’s the best way to cook teriyaki marinated meat?

Grilling, broiling or pan searing over high heat are all excellent cooking methods for teriyaki marinated proteins. The high heat caramelizes the sugars in the teriyaki sauce creating a delicious sticky glazed coating on the meat. Lower, slower heat can cause more burning.

Can you marinate vegetables in teriyaki sauce?

Yes, teriyaki sauce makes a great marinade for vegetables as well. Try marinating mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini before roasting or grilling. 30-60 minutes is sufficient time for flavor absorption.

Does teriyaki marinating work for non-meat proteins?

Definitely! Tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, paneer and other plant-based proteins all absorb teriyaki marinade beautifully. You can press water out of tofu first for quicker marinating. 30-60 minutes marinade time is ideal.


Using a store-bought teriyaki sauce is an easy shortcut to make a flavorful marinade for chicken, meat, seafood or vegetables. The built-in salty-sweet umami flavors of teriyaki perfectly tenderize and infuse foods with lots of added taste. You can simply use teriyaki sauce straight from the bottle or blend with extra ingredients for a custom marinade. Let the food marinate for the recommended time before cooking over high heat for a delicious sticky glazed finish. So grab a bottle of your favorite teriyaki sauce and start marinating for maximum flavor.