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Paleo Cultured Teriyaki Sauce is fast and easy to make! Perfect for Gluten-free, Ancestral, Keto, AIP, Whole30, GAPS, VAD and Vegan meals, this sauce works great for a quick stir-fry dinner or even as a salad dressing or condiment.Jump to Recipe
Culturing Teriyaki Sauce is optional. When you culture a sauce, it just means you let it sit out overnight with one special ingredient added to let the flavors and nutrition increase.
Make the whole recipe in just 10 minutes, let it sit out overnight, then use and enjoy! — I’ll show you more about how and why!
Whole food, cultured condiments are exciting! They’re actually alive with probiotics … which makes mealtime a provocative experience.
You are putting something healthful into your body that also happens to be intensely flavorful.
There is added satisfaction when you used to buy a factory-made version of a product, laden with ingredients that taxed your body. And now you make a real food version that’s fast and way healthier.
What ingredients are in store-bought teriyaki sauce?
Teriyaki Sauce is one of those foods that even seemingly nice Asian restaurants do not make homemade. I worked at a high-end sushi restaurant in Seattle where we made almost everything from scratch.
BUT … the exceptions were tempura batter, the pound cake that we wrapped around green tea ice cream and deep fried 😉 and … teriyaki sauce.
Even homemade recipes that you find online contain mostly unfermented soy sauce and white sugar, two of the most dangerous modern foods, not to mention corn starch. Others contain Worchestershire sauce, ketchup and oyster sauce, all factory-made foods with factory-made ingredients.
Here are the ingredients in 3 leading brands of teriyaki sauce, just to give you an idea and points of contrast. I have listed the more gourmet, “healthy” ones first. The third product reflects most teriyaki sauces on the market; but even the first two are laden with disease causing ingredients:
- Product#1- Soy sauce, water, sugar, cooking wine (water, rice, malt), sweet cooking wine (corn syrup, rice, water, malt) modified food starch, fresh dried onion, fresh ginger root, fresh garlic, lactic acid, spices.
- Product#2- Soy sauce, water, sugar, dried onion, sesame seeds, garlic, water, vegetable oil, and ginger.
- Product#3- Soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt, sodium benzoate as a preservative), sugar, high fructose corn syrup, Yoshida’s mirin (water, dextrose, mirin [rice, alcohol, enzymes, salt], lactic and succinic acids), water, dehydrated garlic, spice, modified corn starch, sunflower oil.
Alas, there is a better way!
Ingredients in Paleo Teriyaki Sauce
Simple whole foods come together in perfectly balanced proportions to make this savory-sweet treat:
- coconut aminos — OR, for Keto, Ancestral, Gluten-free, Vegan and fruit-free, you may also use real artisanal fermented barrel aged soy sauce (like this), if you prefer.
- toasted sesame oil
- sweetener — I use honey for our family and in the main recipe. For Keto, you may use low carb honey or monk fruit. For Vegan, you may use agave. It’s okay to omit this for Whole30, if you wish; or, only a small amount is used, and may be fine to leave in. Whole30 and Vegan may also sub in pineapple juice or 1 soaked date.)
- apple cider vinegar — or rice vinegar for fruit-free
- fresh ginger
- fresh turmeric — This is easy and inexpensive to buy from any natural food store or Asian grocery. It is located near where you find your fresh ginger root. It’s just as easy to use as fresh ginger. If you can’t access it, you may use dried, but I hope you’ll use the fresh root if you can.
- whey or probiotic sauerkraut juice — You only need this ingredient if you plan to culture your sauce overnight. In the recipe Notes below the recipe, I share how to easily gather whey from yogurt (including non-dairy). Or, if you have probiotic pickles in your fridge, the juice works great to inoculate this ferment.
- fresh garlic
- thickener — This is optional, and I didn’t actually use it in the recipe the day I took the photos. I think most of you will like the sauce best if it coats the meat and veggies, but the sauce is great without it, too, and not used in the GAPS version of the recipe. The main recipe uses tapioca starch to thicken, and the Keto version uses xanthan gum. Directions for using both are in the recipe below. The sauce may be thickened right before cooking with it, or, you may also make this sauce, thicken it, and store it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks before use.
If you don’t use the thickener, be sure to serve your stir fry with cauliflower rice or white rice, to sop up all the juices.
Tips for how to use the sauce and making stir fries
To cook with Paleo Teriyaki Sauce, it gets added at the end of the cooking process. Stir fry your veggies and meat, then add the sauce.
PRO TIP for stir fries: High heat is the key to success. Don’t overcrowd your pan, or the ingredients will steam.
Instead, use two pans, or cook in two batches: First cook your veggies. Then remove them to another dish. Then add your meat. It cooks quickly over high heat — yielding a rich, seared flavor. Finally, add your veggies back to the pan, and add the sauce.
Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until everything’s cooked perfectly, and the sauce is slightly thickened.
PRO TIP #2: When cooking the vegetables the first time, don’t overcook them. They should be bright and crisp. When you add them back to the pan with the meat and sauce, they’ll continue to cook a bit more, and you don’t want them mushy or dull in color. (If however, you need your veggies well-cooked so they’re easier to digest [for GAPS diet, for example], then obviously, that’s fine.)
What to cook with Paleo Cultured Teriyaki Sauce
Enjoy Paleo Cultured Teriyaki Sauce with baked, barbecued or stir-fried meats and veggies, like Skirt Steak Stir Fry (pictured above).
- Cook with Cabbage Noodles or zoodles + sliced chicken or other meat. Top with fresh cilantro.
- Drizzle over Spaghetti Squash Fried Rice.
- Try homemade teriyaki sauce on Asian salads with shredded chicken.
- Use as a dipping sauce or pour over Korean Pancakes.
Once you have this easy sauce made up, dinner comes together quickly, with very little leg work.
Why and how to make Traditional Cultured Teriyaki Sauce
Regarding the culturing, it is a simple overnight matter of adding whey (or sauerkraut juice) to the teriyaki sauce.
Super easy, but it boosts the flavor and nutrition in all the ingredients — and extends the shelf-life of the product.
Culturing also adds probiotics — which are preserved if you use this recipe as a raw salad dressing or condiment!
How to store Teriyaki Sauce
Pour completed sauce into a jar with lid.
Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Paleo Cultured Teriyaki Sauce (Keto, AIP, Whole30, Vegan)
- 1 cup coconut aminos , or real fermented soy sauce for Gluten-free, Keto, Vegan, Ancestral or if preferred
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil , toasted
- 2 Tablespoons honey OR use low carb honey or 1/32 teaspoon monk fruit for Keto version (see link below in Recipe notes); for Vegan, use agave
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1" nub fresh ginger chopped into 4 to 6 pieces
- 1" nub fresh turmeric chopped into 4 pieces (You may add ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the recipe if you'd like to get turmeric's health benefits [not for AIP].) Use ¼ teaspoon dried turmeric powder if you can't access the fresh root.
- 1 Tablespoon whey (optional, if you plan to culture the recipe) OR probiotic sauerkraut juice for VAD; see Recipe Notes for how to extract whey
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons optional tapioca starch (OR ½ teaspoon xanthan gum for Keto), if you want the sauce a little viscous, to thicken; omit this for GAPS
- Combine all ingredients, except whey and thickener (tapioca or xanthan), in blender. Purée on high speed for 30 seconds.
- To culture: Stir in whey. Pour sauce into a jar that fits its quantity, and screw on lid loosely. Leave sauce at room temperature overnight to culture. In the morning, screw lid on tightly and refrigerate. Keeps 3 weeks.
- To thicken sauce right before using/cooking a dish: Pour sauce into small bowl. Whisk in tapioca flour or xanthan for Keto. After your meat and veggies are almost done cooking, add sauce to the hot pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring as it simmers, until sauce is thickened and coats the veggies and meat.
- To thicken sauce before storing in the fridge (not the same day you plan to cook with it): Pour sauce into small saucepan. Whisk in tapioca flour or xanthan for Keto. Bring to a simmer, and cook up to 5 minutes, until it thickens. Cool slightly, then store in a jar in the fridge until you're ready to use it, up to 3 weeks.
Monk fruit can be found here.
What is Whey and how to use itWhey is simply the clear liquid that comes off of yogurt or kefir — even non-dairy yogurt. For non-dairy versions it can be extracted with the same method. Make sure to find a fully cultured, high quality non-dairy yogurt, that is full of probiotics.
Directions to obtain whey (including non-dairy)
- Nest a small-medium size bowl beneath a colander.
- Line the colander with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
- Pour 1 cup high quality plain yogurt or kefir into the colander.
- Allow the yogurt to sit for several hours or in the fridge overnight. What gathers in the bowl beneath the colander is whey.
Love Asian flavors? Find similar recipes here:
- Asian Beef Bowl
- Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup)
- Asian Meatballs Sheet Pan Dinner
- Thai Beef & Pineapple Kabobs Sheet Pan Dinner
- Keto Chinese Noodle Salad
- Easy Chinese Hot and Sour Stir Fry