In order to figure this out, our Japanese editors gathered the 25 best-selling yakiniku sauces from EC sites popular in Japan, like Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping, and tasted them all.
We tested each yakiniku sauce with the following meats:
In Japanese, the word yakiniku can directly be translated to grilled meat. In practice, though, yakiniku refers specifically to Japanese-style barbecue. Although its roots can be traced back to Korean cuisine, sharing traits with Korean dishes like bulgogi and samgyeopsal, since it was introduced to Japan by Koreans in the mid-20th century, it has since evolved and split off to become its own unique culinary style.
At a yakiniku restaurant, diners grill their own meat on a griddle or on a wire net, often over charcoal. Broadly speaking, diners can choose their meats to be served in two styles; either tare, which is Japanese for meats usually marinated in a sweet soy-sauce based marinade, and shio, or meats served with either just some salt and lemon or marinated in a salt-based sauce.
Once the meat is grilled, its dipped into yakiniku sauce, which is most commonly made from a soy sauce, salt, or miso base, with plenty of sake, salt, garlic, sesame, or even chili peppers, to provide extra flavors. Soy-based and miso-based sauces usually offer a sweet and savory taste with hints of spice and plenty of garlic, while salt-based sauces have a sharp, salty taste with hints of lemon and garlic to not overpower the simple flavors of the meat.
It's worth noting that tare meats, or meats marinated in the usually soy-based marinade, are intended to be enjoyed with similar soy or miso-based sauces, while shio flavored meats are meant to be enjoyed either with a salt-based sauce or simply just a dash of lemon and salt to fully enjoy the flavors of the meat itself.
Here, we'd like to introduce two big things to look out for when choosing the best yakiniku sauce.
In this ranking, we’ve rated yakiniku sauces with soy, salt, and miso bases. Each has its best uses, so take a look below to figure out which one would go well with your dish.
Most soy sauce-based yakiniku sauces often include strong and sweet ingredients like garlic, ginger, green onion, lemon, and sometimes even apples and pears, offering various flavors ranging from more savory to more fruity sauces. These are probably the most similar to American barbecue sauces in terms of having a sweet and savory taste with hints of spice.
If you’ve had yakiniku, then you know it’s not just the short ribs or tender belly meat that’s consumed; it’s the whole animal. That includes parts like hearts, livers, and intestines, known as horumon (ホルモン) in Japan. If you find yourself facing a plate of innards, then a miso-based sauce will take it from good to delicious.
Salt-based sauces are becoming more popular with home cooking due to their compatibility with chicken as well as vegetables, making them more versatile than other sauces.
This is because you can season it however you want; it’s easier to add spice than to take it away. You can also make it taste more refreshing with a dash of lemon or lime juice.
We gathered the best-selling yakiniku sauces online and asked three experts to test them all for the following:
We then narrowed down the 10 best yakiniku sauces based on their scores in our tests.
※Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.
KNK Kamikita Agricultural Processing
Azabu-Juban Sankouen Yakiniku Sauce
Stamina Source Sauce Salt-Grilled
Hiden Yakiniku Sauce
Tasty Salt Sauce
Yakiniku Sauce Miso Soy Sauce Flavor
Yakiniku Sauce, Miso
Bansankan Roasted Garlic Yakiniku Sauce
Special Yakiniku Sauce
Yakiniku Golden Sauce
Full of Flavor, Making It the Best Sauce for All Meats
The Perfect Salt-Based Yakiniku Sauce, Packed With Flavor
Delicious Miso Flavor Yakiniku Sauce to Get Your Appetite Going
A Yakiniku Sauce With Fragrant Sesame and a Mouth-Watering Taste
A Salt-Based Sauce With Powerful Garlic Flavors
A Deliciously Sweet Miso-based Yakiniku Sauce With Hints of Sesame Flavors
The Perfect Blend of Miso and Ginger
Pairs Well With All Three Meats
A Yakiniku Sauce With Mild Garlic Flavors
An Excellent Blend of Spicy and Sweet With a Prominent Garlic Flavor
|Japanese||盛田 麻布十番三幸園 焼肉のたれ||上北農産加工 スタミナ源塩焼のたれ||冨貴食研 焼肉のたれ||ダイショー 秘伝 焼肉のたれ||フードレーベル 牛角 旨塩だれ||エバラ食品工業 焼肉のたれ 味噌醤油味||フードショップ戸村 戸村焼肉のたれ みそ||日本食研 晩餐館の焼肉のたれ 焙煎にんにく||叙々苑 焼肉のたれ 特製||エバラ食品工業 黄金の味|
|Base||Soy sauce||Salt||Miso||Soy sauce||Salt||Miso||Miso||Soy sauce||Soy sauce||Soy sauce|
|Japanese||盛田 麻布十番三幸園 焼肉のたれ|
|Japanese||ダイショー 秘伝 焼肉のたれ|
|Japanese||フードレーベル 牛角 旨塩だれ|
|Japanese||エバラ食品工業 焼肉のたれ 味噌醤油味|
|Japanese||フードショップ戸村 戸村焼肉のたれ みそ|
|Japanese||日本食研 晩餐館の焼肉のたれ 焙煎にんにく|
|Japanese||叙々苑 焼肉のたれ 特製|
We put the yakiniku sauces to three tests, each designed to gauge a different flavor pairing.
We then had our experts try each sauce with chicken, pork, and beef to see how well each sauce suited the most common yakiniku meats.
It was interesting to see which sauces were too overpowering for the light flavor of chicken and which were more akin to a yakitori chicken experience.
We found that yakiniku sauces that had too strong of a garlic, soy sauce, or sesame flavor didn't really work well with chicken. Some of our experts commented that yakiniku sauces that have strong flavors suit beef more than chicken, since chicken has a lighters taste.
Additionally, sauces that were too sweet ended up making the chicken taste more like yakitori and less like yakiniku, since yakitori chicken is usually served in a sweet and savory teriyaki-like sauce. If you want to enjoy more of a yakiniku-style flavor, then we recommend choosing a yakiniku sauce with more ginger flavors.
For yakiniku, Chicken pairs well with ginger-based sauces rather than sweeter sauces. Ginger-based sauces can bring out more flavor from the chicken, which can sometimes taste a bit bland.
We tested pork in a similar way, trying the grilled pieces of meat with each of the sauces and had our experts grade each product on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0.
We found that sauces with a strong sesame flavor paired excellently with pork. Our testers commented that the fragrance and creamy flavors of the yakiniku sauce pair well with the pork for an appetizing taste.
Consider a yakiniku sauce that has a large amount of sesame in it to have a flavorful yakiniku experience.
Pork matched perfectly with yakiniku sauces that used plenty of sesame. These sauces have a great fragrance, and can really draw out the flavors of the meat. I also think they'd work great with stir-fried vegetables!
We tested beef last because of its rich flavor. Again, we graded the flavor pairings on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0.
Our experts noted that it takes a strong flavor like garlic to mellow out the equally strong flavor of beef.
Yakinku sauces that had a strong garlic or soy sauce flavor really drew out the flavors of the beef, making it hard to stop eating.
The hot flavors in spicy sauces tend to overpower the garlic flavors, so if you want to fully enjoy beef, we recommend choosing a medium-spicy sauce.
Yakiniku sauces that had a strong garlic flavor matched beef the best. Additionally, yakiniku sauces that not only used garlic, but also plenty of sesame, were also able to make full use of the beef flavors.
Not only are these sauces great for grilling beef, but also for stir-fried beef and vegetables.
When most people think of yakiniku sauce, they think of a dipping sauce for meat or vegetables. However, yakiniku sauces can also be used as a marinade to add more flavor to your meat. Since manufacturers don't sell yakiniku sauces exclusively for dipping or to be used as a marinade, it's up to you to decide how to use your yakiniku sauce.
Any seasoned pitmaster knows that the key to a great barbecue lies in the prep work. Marinating your meat before grilling it is a great way to use your yakiniku sauce. Acids in the sauces, like mirin, sake, wine, or even fruit juices can make your meat softer and juicier, while the spices and salt in the sauce add tons of flavor.
The time you let your meat marinate can play a big role in how tender and flavorful it is, so if you want to make sure your meat is nicely marinated, make sure to marinate it for at least an hour before grilling.
Marinated meats are both tender and flavorful, making them perfect for kids, too!
Similar to how you might dip some french fries into ketchup, yakiniku sauces are great dipping sauces for grilled meat and veggies. Many think that there's no better combination than grilled meat dipped in yakiniku sauce and enjoyed with a bowl of white rice.
If a yakiniku sauce is too overpowering for your taste buds to be used as a dipping sauce, try squeezing some lemon or thinning it down a bit with a touch of water.
Yakiniku sauces can be used for a variety of dishes. Not only are they great for seasoning vegetable stir-fries, you can use a yakiniku sauce with a strong garlic flavor to marinate chicken and make Japanese-style fried chicken.
You can also make a bowl of unique fried rice using yakiniku sauce to season your rice. Additionally, you can use a soy sauce-based yakiniku sauce to marinate regular steak, chicken, or pork chops and cook it in a smoker or grill for an American-style barbecue with some Japanese flavors.
Looking for other Japanese delicacies? How about products for your Japanese barbecue? Our culinary experts have reviewed some other Japanese foods so you know you’re getting the best.
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