8 Best Unagi Sauce Substitutes |Vegan, Homemade Alternative

Unagi sauce is made from soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. It has a unique flavor and sweetness, used in many Japanese dishes.

 It can be utilized as a dip or a sauce. 

Unagi sauce is excellent with sushi, rice, and noodles. But Unagi can’t find it outside in Japan. So I come up with the best 8 unagi sauce substitutes for your favorite recipe.

All Eel sauce alternatives are easy to use and readily available in your kitchen.

What is Unagi Sauce? What is Unagi sauce made of?

Unagi sauce, also known as eel sauce, is a type of Japanese sauce made from unagi (eels). 

It has a sweet and smoky taste and is often used as a condiment for sushi. Unagi sauce can also be used as a marinade for meat or vegetables or as a dip for snacks.

What does Unagi sauce taste like?

Unagi sauce has a sweet and smoky taste that can enhance the flavor of many different dishes. It’s a great way to add a bit of excitement to your meal, and it’s easy to prepare. Simply mix the sauce with some hot water, and you’re ready to go!

Is unagi made of EEl?

Unagi is made of eel. It’s a trendy dish here in Japan, and I’m sure you’ll love it too! Unagi sauce (unagi sōsu) is a Japanese sauce made from unagi (freshwater eel), soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. 

The sauce is used as a seasoning for dishes like unadon and ikayaki. The sauce is also eaten with soba, udon, or rice.

The sauces are usually sold in tall, slender glass bottles. The brand ‘Eel sauce Kikkoman’ is the most common in Japan.

8 Best Unagi or Eel Sauce Substitutes

1. TERIYAKI SAUCE – Best Substitute for Unagi Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a Japanese cooking sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and sake. It has a sweet and savory taste and is often used as a marinade for meat or fish. 

Teriyaki sauce can be made in a variety of ways. It can differ depending on where you are in Japan.

Teriyaki sauce can be made with varying quantities of soy sauce, mirin, and sake. 

In the United States, it is common to make teriyaki sauce, mainly using soy sauce with a little bit of mirin and sake. The ratio is usually reversed in Japan, using more mirin and sake than soy sauce. 

Read More- Best Teriyaki Sauce Substitutes

2. MIRIN – An Amazing Alternative to Eel Sauce

Mirin is another good choice for unagi sauce; also, it is a kinda rice wine made from glutinous rice, koji (Aspergillus oryzae), and water. The alcohol content is about 14% by volume. It is a type of “sake” but is lower in alcohol and higher in sugar. 

mirin is an amazing alternative to eel sauce

It is used in Japanese cuisine as a condiment, cooking agent, and for making sake. Mirin adds a sweet flavor and a golden color to food.

Read More- Substitute for Mirin and Non- Alcoholic Mirin Alternatives


Korean BBQ sauce is a delicious and versatile condiment that can be used in various dishes. Its sweet and spicy flavor complements chicken, beef, pork, and shellfish. It can also be used as a marinade or dipping sauce.

The sauce is generally made by combining soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and onions in a bowl. The flavor and texture of the sauce can be changed by adding honey, water, or rice wine vinegar. The sauce is commonly made in large batches and stored in the refrigerator.

4.HOISIN SAUCE- Similar to Unagi Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a dark, thick, and pungent sauce made from soybeans, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and various spices. 

Hoisin is a popular condiment in Chinese cuisine and is often used as a glaze for meat or as a dipping sauce. It can also be found in some other East Asian cuisines like Thai but has the distinct taste that the Chinese often incorporate into their dishes.

A few years ago, I had an argument about a new type of BBQ sauce that I would call “BBQ Hoisin.” It would be a mix of hoisin sauce, white vinegar, water, brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce… all of the typical ingredients in BBQ sauce with the addition of hoisin sauce. 

5. TARE SAUCE- Decent Replacement for Unagi Sauce

Tare sauce is a Japanese seasoning made from soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and dashi. It is used to add flavor to different dishes. 

Tare sauce is usually used as a condiment for sushi, tempura, and yakitori. It can also be used to make a variety of sauces.

tare sauce is a decent replacement for unagi sauce.

It is easy to make tare sauce at home. It can be made by cooking equal parts of soy sauce, mirin, and sake. Sugar can be added after the mixture has been cooked to taste. 

Dashi should not be added until the sauce has been cooked because it is a delicate seasoning, and cooking it too long will destroy its flavor.

Tare sauce is also wholly interchangeable with sweet soy sauce since they contain the same ingredients.

Tare sauce can also be bought from stores, but it is usually expensive and contains dashi and preservatives.

6. SOY SAUCE- Easy Eel Sauce Alternatives

Soy sauce is a wonderful way to add flavor to grilled dishes. It can be used as a marinade or a condiment. Mix soy sauce with oil, honey, garlic, or ginger for marinades. 

For a simple condiment, brush soy sauce on grilled food just before serving and get a similar flavor to unagi sauce.

Soy sauce can be used in various Asian dishes, including stir-fries. It’s made from fermented soybeans and wheat, so if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance, inspect the label to ensure the soy sauce brand is suitable for your needs.

7. Try PONZU SAUCE Instead of Unagi Sauce

Ponzu sauce substitutes give a unique and delicious addition to any meal. It has a tart, citrusy flavor that goes well with chicken, fish, rice, and many other dishes. The citrus juice can be either yuzu or sudachi.

Ponzu sauce is also great as a dipping sauce for sushi or marinade for meat or seafood.

How to make unagi sauce for sushi at Home

In Japan, many shops sell unagi sauce. Suppose you cannot buy any in your area. In that case, I suggest mixing a few of these ingredients together and making your homemade eel or unagi sauce.

Ingredients you need:

– soy sauce

– mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)

– sugar or other natural sugar substitutes

– cooking sake (neutral alcohol)


Using this method, you can make your own unagi sauce easily. For example, if the above ingredients are used in the ratio of 1:1:0.5:0.5, it will be almost exactly like unagi sauce!

Be careful not to mess up the proportion of ingredients. The balance between saltiness, sweetness, and flavor is essential.

Personally, I have experimented with making my own unagi sauce by mixing together ketchup, Worcester sauce, honey, and soy sauce. 

Best unagi sauce brand

A few different brands of unagi sauce are available on the market. Some of the more popular brands include Kikkoman, Yamasa, and House Foods. 

Each brand has its own distinctive savor and texture, so it can be tough to decide which one is the best.

Choosing which unagi sauce brand is the greatest can be challenging, but don’t worry! We’ve got your back!

Here’s a full review of each brand and its unique flavors and textures. We’ll start with Kikkoman, move on to Yamasa, and finish with House Foods.

Kikkoman Unagi/ Eel Sauce

The Kikkoman unagi sauce is packaged in a typical soy sauce bottle with a cute little eel splashed on the front (how cute!). 

My personal favorite is the Kikkoman unagi sauce. It has a slightly smoky flavor and almost molasses-like texture and is very thick. . It’s perfect for topping off grilled eel or sushi rolls. 

It’s lovely, but not overly so. It has a relatively strong smoky flavor that is reminiscent of teriyaki sauce. The Kikkoman unagi sauce pairs really well with grilled eel or sushi rolls. You can even use it as a marinade for the eel before grilling.

Yamasa Eel Sauce

Yamasa unagi sauce is also a good option, especially if you’re looking for something spicier. The Yamasa unagi sauce is packaged in a squeeze bottle with an image of an eel on the front. 

The texture of this unagi sauce is very thick and has small chunks of spices in it. It’s not quite as sweet as the Kikkoman but is spicier than most other brands on the market. 

Yamasa unagi sauce is perfect for those who like a bit of spice with their unagi. It pairs especially well with sushi rolls.

The Yamasa unagi sauce is an excellent option if you’re looking for something to go on your unagi don or other unagi dishes.

House Foods

The House Foods unagi sauce is a bit more subtle in flavor but still tastes great when paired with grilled eel.

The House Foods unagi sauce is packaged in a bottle that looks like a typical soy sauce bottle. It has a thin, smooth texture and is pretty sweet. 

The flavor isn’t particularly strong, but it’s nice if you’re looking for something that doesn’t have an overpowering taste or sweetness to it. 

The House Foods unagi sauce pairs well with rice dishes, especially ones with eel. The sauce is pretty thin and isn’t very thick like the other brands included in this review.

Wrap Up On Substitutes for Eel Sauce

These unagi sauces taste great on eel, sushi, or rice dishes! 

However, I personally prefer the Kikkoman unagi sauce because it’s lovely and has a strong smoky flavor. 

The Yamasa unagi sauce is also a fantastic option if you’re looking for something spicier. 

The House Foods unagi sauce has a lighter flavor, so it’s great for people who don’t want their food to be too overwhelming in taste or sweetness.

FAQs Related to Unagi Sauce & Its Alternatives

Q1. What is the equivalent of eel sauce?

The equivalent of eel sauce is a type of fish sauce made from fermented elvers or young eels. It is a popular condiment in East Asia and can be used as a dip, a seasoning, or a marinade.

Q2. Is unagi sauce the same as teriyaki?

Unagi sauce is a sauce that is used for eels. Usually, it has a sweet taste and can be used to marinate food.

On the other hand, teriyaki sauce is made of soy sauce and sake with mirin. It is often used for cooking meat.

No, Both unagi and teriyaki sauce are different but can substitute for each other.

Q3. Can I use oyster sauce instead of unagi sauce?

Oyster sauce is rich, thick, and sweet. It is NOT recommended to substitute unagi sauce with oyster sauce for this reason.

Suppose you want a sauce similar to the unagi sauce. In that case, we recommend using a mixture of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

Q4. Is hoisin sauce similar to eel sauce?

Hoisin sauce and eel sauce are very similar, but they do not taste the same. Eel sauce is a Japanese condiment made of soy sauce, mirin, or sugar and boiled eel. It has a very fishy taste with a slight hint of sweetness. It is usually eaten with grilled eel dishes. 

On the other hand, hoisin sauce is a Chinese condiment with bean paste as its main ingredient. This sauce is a little syrupy, sweet, and delicious savory flavor.

Q5. Other names for eel sauce

The other name for Eel sauce is Unagi sauce, kabayaki sauce, anago sauce, unadon sauce, etc.

Q6. Is unagi and eel sauce the same?

Yes. Unagi and Eel are the same sauce, just the terms differ from region to region.

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