Is teriyaki sauce keto? Teriyaki sauce is not normally keto friendly because of all of the sugar it contains. In addition, ingredients normally used to thicken teriyaki sauce (such as cornstarch) tend to be high carb. Try my sugar free teriyaki sauce recipe for a keto spin on traditional teriyaki. It only takes a few minutes to make a teriyaki marinade and sauce with no sugar!
Teriyaki sauce is a sauce used in Japanese cuisine. It is typically made of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin (a type of rice wine).
Westernized versions of teriyaki sauce may contain brown sugar, honey, and even pineapple juice. Other ingredients, such as garlic and ginger, are often added as well.
The idea that you could make your own teriyaki sauce came my way from the book Mostly Plants. Their version uses added sugar for sweetness and corn starch as a thickener.
Luckily, it is extremely easy to make teriyaki sauce that is sugar free, and also low carb and vegan. Best of all, it is delicious!
Make the Best Teriyaki Sauce
Why is this the best teriyaki sauce? If you’ve been reading here a while, you know I believe that nothing beats homemade! More specifically though, here are some reasons that this sugar free keto sauce is truly awesome sauce:
- Easy to customize to your special diet: This is already a low carb, keto, and vegan teriyaki sauce. You can also make it gluten free and soy free (don’t miss my tips in the FAQs below).
- Low carb and low calorie: If you have a weight loss goal, no sugar teriyaki sauce is a great way to add flavor to meals for very few calories. This teriyaki sauce has 45 calories and 2.5 grams of net carbs per (2-3 tablespoon) serving.
- Healthy teriyaki sauce: When it comes to food, the word “healthy” tends to mean something a little different to each of us. One of the benefits of making your own sauces is that you can tailor the recipe to be healthy for you.
Keto Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients
Here is the round-up of ingredients for sugar free teriyaki sauce:
- Low sodium or reduced sodium soy sauce
- Unsweetened rice vinegar
- Granular Swerve (white or brown “sugar” variety)
- Garlic clove, minced or crushed
- Toasted sesame oil
- Fresh ginger, grated
- Xanthan gum
I used xanthan gum as a thickener to make this teriyaki sauce without cornstarch. Guar gum and glucomannan are some other low carb sauce thickeners.
I’m giving a range of Swerve to use depending on how sweet you want your teriyaki sauce. I used ½ tablespoon of Swerve to make it less sweet. Use 1 tablespoon of Swerve for a more classic teriyaki flavor.
You can also swap out the Swerve I used for your favorite sugar substitute. Splenda, stevia, and monk fruit are some popular zero calorie sweeteners that can be used here.
For the soy sauce, make sure to use a low sodium or reduced sodium variety. Otherwise, your teriyaki sauce is going to be way too salty.
Low sodium soy sauce has 140 mg or less of sodium per serving (if you can find it). Reduced sodium soy sauce has at least 25% less sodium than typical soy sauce. Since soy sauce is so high in sodium, low sodium soy sauce will usually be lower in sodium than reduced sodium soy sauce.
How to Make Sugar Free Teriyaki Sauce
It’s time to make low carb teriyaki sauce! Keep in mind throughout this recipe that we want a smooth and shiny sauce, not a gel. Teriyaki sauce is delicious, teriyaki Jell-O, maybe not so much. Haha
The first thing you should do is whisk the xanthan gum and water together. It will form a gel very quickly. Make sure there are no lumps.
Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Swerve, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and xanthan gum mixture to a small saucepan. Whisk it well to thoroughly combine.
Put the pan over medium heat and whisk frequently until it thickens. This took approximately 10-12 minutes. It’s ready to use immediately!
I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, so I grilled them and flavored them with this sauce. This super quick teriyaki chicken made for an easy low carb lunch after stirring in some broccoli slaw.
How to Store Sugar Free Teriyaki Sauce
Keep your leftover teriyaki sauce in the fridge and aim to use it within 3-4 days. You may need to whisk in additional water and reheat if it gels. This homemade teriyaki sauce does not have preservatives like many store-bought sauces do, so it won’t keep as long.
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). This sugar free teriyaki sauce is a low calorie and low carb condiment that can add rich umami flavor to a meal. Are you eating a lot of protein and non-starchy veggies as part of your weight loss strategy? A little teriyaki sauce can help keep your meals from getting boring.
A little is key here. This sauce is really too strong to be used as a dipping sauce. This recipe makes enough teriyaki sauce to flavor at least 2-3 meals, so enjoy some teriyaki chicken with the whole family!
Benefits aside, this is still a high sodium condiment, even though I used reduced sodium soy sauce. Teriyaki sauce is not the best choice for flavoring if you’re on a low sodium diet. Instead of teriyaki sauce, try flavoring foods with herbs, citrus juice, or citrus zest instead.
Also keep in mind that “low sodium soy sauce” will usually be much lower in sodium than “reduced sodium soy sauce.” If you need a lower sodium option, make sure your soy sauce says “low sodium” on the label. Servivita Zero Calories Soy Sauce is one of the lowest sodium soy sauce options I’ve found.
On the other hand, if you’re on a low carb or keto diet, your levels of electrolytes (including sodium) can drop. In this case, being more liberal with your intake of sodium may help. This keto teriyaki sauce may help you to replenish some of the sodium losses that can result from a very low carb diet pattern.
How to Use Keto Teriyaki Sauce
You can use keto teriyaki sauce as a marinade, a glaze, or in stir fries. It is especially delicious with salmon, chicken, beef, or tofu. It’s also great in Asian dishes with noodles (or try it on shirataki for a keto diet option).
Here are some easy ways to use teriyaki sauce in recipes:
- Use it in this Easy Stir Fry Vegetables Recipe with Chicken (instead of the pineapple juice-based sauce provided in the recipe)
- Marinate the tofu in these Air Fryer Tofu Bowls in a little teriyaki sauce (rather than the marinade given in that recipe)
- Try some sugar free teriyaki sauce with Air Fryer Tilapia (as an alternative to the garlic chive miso butter)
I served this batch of teriyaki sauce over grilled chicken and raw shredded vegetables. If you serve it this way, I recommend shredding the chicken and stirring the sauce in. I only photographed the sauce drizzled on the chicken so you could get a better look at it.
Like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce is fairly salty. I like to use it in the same sort of ways I’d use soy sauce. A little really goes a long way!
Frequently Asked Questions
In a pinch, I’ve substituted sweetened soy sauce with a touch of rice vinegar for teriyaki sauce. It's basically a simplified version of this recipe.
Teriyaki marinade is simply a thinner version of the sauce. Skip the xanthan gum and heating step in this recipe to use this sauce as a marinade.
To make a gluten free teriyaki sauce, use coconut aminos or gluten free tamari in place of the soy sauce. Using coconut aminos also makes the teriyaki sauce soy free.
The sugar provides sweetness and makes a glossy sauce, two things that are expected in a good teriyaki. The Japanese word “teri” means “shine,” a reference to the luster of the sauce due to the sugar. (FYI, the “yaki” part of teriyaki means “grilled” in Japanese, a cooking method often used in teriyaki dishes.)
Other Sugar Free Recipes
If you’re looking for recipes with no sugar, you’re in luck! I have lots of recipes with no added sugar for you to enjoy. After you make this low carb teriyaki sauce, here are some other no sugar recipes to check out:
- Sugar Free Apple Crisp
- Keto Lemonade
- Low Carb Trail Mix
- Fat Flush Soup
- Vegan Oyster Mushroom Jerky
- Low Calorie Baked Oatmeal
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Sugar Free Teriyaki Sauce (Vegan, Low Carb, Keto)
- Whisk the water and xanthan gum together. It will form a gel quickly.
- Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Swerve, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and xanthan gum mixture to a small saucepan. Whisk well to combine.
- Put the pan over medium heat and whisk until it is thick and glossy. This takes about 10-12 minutes. Do not let it turn into a gelatin-like consistency, you want a pourable sauce.
- Use your sauce immediately in your favorite teriyaki recipes. Enjoy!