If we’re looking for a quick and easy dinner that’s super satisfying, it’s got to be beef teriyaki.
It’s the ultimate Japanese comfort food! This recipe is a mix between the oh-so-delicious Japanese beef bowl known as gyudon and a glossy, slightly thick, American-style teriyaki sauce. Super tender, thinly sliced beef with onions in a sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce over rice that’s a match made in heaven. And it only takes 15 minutes to make!
What is teriyaki?
Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese food – food is brushed with a glaze of sake, marin, soy sauce, and sugar, then either grilled or broiled. Teriyaki means glazed and grilled – teri meaning shiny/glazed and yaki meaning grilled. In Japan, traditional teriyaki isn’t as saucy as we know it in North America – it’s lightly glazed protein or vegetables.
pictured: instant pot chicken teriyaki
What is beef teriyaki?
Beef teriyaki is thinly sliced beef (or sometimes whole steaks) with a teriyaki sauce made from soy sauce, sake, mirin, and a bit of sugar. Teriyaki beef is glossy and shiny, which is why it’s called teriyaki, with teri meaning glazed and yaki meaning grilled/cooked.
How to make beef teriyaki
- Mix together the sauce ingredients. Whisk together soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, a bit of water and cornstarch into a slurry in a bowl or liquid measuring cup.
- Cook the onions. Add a bit of oil to a pan and cook the onions, stirring, until soft but not brown.
- Cook the beef. Add the beef to the onions. You don’t need to sear it, it should be soft and tender.
- Simmer. Add the sauce to the pan and simmer until glossy and thick.
- Serve. Serve the beef teriyaki on rice and top it off with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Beef teriyaki ingredients
For teriyaki sauce you’ll need: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. Sake, mirin, and soy are three backbone ingredients of Japanese cooking.
- Soy Sauce – I’m pretty sure you have a bottle of soy sauce in your pantry. It adds umami, a glorious brown sheen, and is delicious. If you can, try to use Japanese soy sauce for this dish.
- Sake – Sake is Japanese rice wine. It adds umami and a natural sweetness. Just like wine in French cooking adds an extra layer of aroma and flavor, sake is common in Japanese cooking – it’s in almost every sauce. They sell cooking sake at Asian grocery stores, or if you’re feeling flush, you can use the nice sake you have for drinking. Buy a bottle and you won’t regret it, it’ll take your Japanese cooking to another level.
- Mirin – Mirin is Japanese sweet rice wine and the other ingredient that is key in Japanese cooking. Compared to sake, it has a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content that occurs naturally from fermentation. It’s used as a seasoning and glazing agent. They sell mirin in the Asian aisle and at Asian grocery stores.
Teriyaki sauce is a simple Japanese sauce made from just 4 ingredients: sake, mirin, soy, and sugar. Traditionally it’s on the thinner side, but still thick enough to glaze. Classic teriyaki sauce thickens naturally because the sugars caramelize. Teriyaki sauce is incredibly easy to make at home and once you make it once, you’ll never get store bough teriyaki sauce again. You can use it with stir fries, noodles, and for beef teriyaki, of course.
Teriyaki sauce substitutes
If you’re looking to substitute the ingredients for teriyaki sauce, I can’t really suggest anything that feasible tastes the same. Since there are only four ingredients in the sauce, even substituting one of them will make it not taste like teriyaki. If you absolutely had to leave one ingredient out, I would leave out the sake. Japanese soy sauce and mirin are easily available online.
What kind of beef for beef teriyaki?
I used a very thinly sliced short rib that we bought at our local Asian grocery store. They sell several cuts of beef, all thinly sliced for hot pot, shabu shabu, and things like teriyaki beef or beef bowls. I love thinly sliced meat over rice, the thin slices cook up quick and are so incredibly tender. If you have an Asian grocery store near you, please check out the frozen section, you’ll find curls of thinly sliced beef, perfect for this recipe.
If you don’t have an Asian grocery store nearby, you also cut a steak against the grain. Flank steak or sirloin works – any tender cut of beef is great.
What to serve with beef teriyaki
Super tender, thinly sliced beef with onions in a sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce that only takes 15 minutes to make!
- 2 tbsp soy sauce Japanese preferred
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 small onion sliced
- 1 lb beef thinly sliced, short rib preferred
- In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and 2 tbsp water. Whisk in the cornstarch and set aside.
- In a large, non stick frying pan, heat up the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, but not browned.
- Add the thinly sliced beef to the pan and cook, until just cooked through. Add the sauce to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer, letting it bubble, thicken, and reduce.
- When the teriyaki sauce is glossy and coats the beef, remove from the heat and serve over fluffy white rice. Top with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Enjoy!
Amount Per Serving
Calories 573 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 6.2g39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.