Beef Teriyaki

Beef Teriyaki Recipe

Unlike its sibling chicken teriyaki, you won’t see beef teriyaki much in Japan. Like the California Roll, it was likely cooked up by a clever chef in the US trying to lure in more American patrons. In Japan, teriyaki sauce has a longstanding monogamous relationship with chicken (except perhaps the occasional fling with yellowtail). If you mention “beef teriyaki” there, your query will likely be met with curiosity about the “Japanese food” served in the US, rather than indignation as you might find in some countries.

That’s probably because some of the best “Japanese” food started off as a knock off of another country’s dish. Tempura(Portugal), ramen(China), and tonkatsu(US) are all perfect examples of food that made a journey from another country before becoming something uniquely Japanese. That being said, I’ve seen one too many generic strip mall Tom’s Teriyaki joints try and conceal tough flavorless beef by overcooking it and smothering it with a cloying sweet sauce that’s been thickened with cornstarch.

It really gives teriyaki a bad name and I decided something needed to be done to set the record straight. So I put on my “what would a Japanese person do” hat and went to work. The first thing I decided was that a Japanese person would definitely start off by buying a ridiculously overpriced cut of meat that was fed on a diet of white truffles from Alba and bottles of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild while being massaged by 40 year old virgin sumo wrestlers. Well… okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I went and bought myself a nicely marbled ribeye.

Beef Steak for Teriyaki

Contrary to traditional wisdom (that thicker steaks are better), when you’re making beef teriyaki thinner steaks actually work best because you have more surface area relative to the amount of meat for the sauce to cling to. If the meat is too thin though, it will be well done by the time you sear it and get the sauce nice and thick, so I find 1/2″ thick steaks to be just about right.

Beef Teriyaki Rice Bowl

As for the sauce, the teri in teriyaki literally means “shiny”, so adding garlic/sesame/ginger/scallions/etc. that would cloud the sauce is off limits. I make my teriyaki sauce with the golden 1-1-1-1 ratio of sugar, mirin, sake, and soy sauce. Yep, there’s no cornstarch! The sauce is thickened by the sugars caramelizing, which broadens the palette and allows it to coat the meat nicely without being heavy or cloying.

While I use honey as the sugar in my chicken teriyaki sauce, I prefer using brown sugar for my beef teriyaki. It creates a darker sauce with deep earthy flavors. Personally I love the way the dark caramel flavors of the sauce interact with the rich savory meat, so I don’t add any ginger or garlic, but if you want to add another dimension to this dish, you can rub some grated ginger or garlic onto the beef before frying.

The beauty of beef teriyaki is in its simplicity. Provided you can find sake and mirin in your area (many grocery stores carry them in their Asian food section these days), the list of ingredients is simple, and the preparation is even simpler. A quick sear on both sides gives it color, and the steak finishes cooking while the teriyaki sauce reduces in the same pan.

Equipment you'll need:

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    Beef Teriyaki
  • Tender steak seared and glazed with a glistening teriyaki sauce.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
2 people 1 minutes 6 minutes


  • 2 beef steaks (~340 grams) 1.25-centimeter thick
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Servings: people


  1. To make the teriyaki sauce, combine the brown sugar, mirin, sake and soy sauce in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  2. If your steak is very lean, rub a teaspoon of oil onto each steak. If the steaks have a lot of fat marbled in with the meat they shouldn't need any oil. Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add the the steaks and sear one side until browned.
  3. Flip the steaks over and sear the other side. If you want your steaks medium rare, reduce the searing time, if want your steaks well done, increase the searing time.
  4. If you have oil pooling in your pan, drain the excess oil. Pour the teriyaki sauce into the pan with the beef, and let it boil.
  5. Flip the steaks over repeatedly until the teriyaki sauce is very viscous and coats each steak in a thick shiny glaze. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let them rest for a few minutes.
  6. Slice your beef teriyaki with a sharp knife. Drizzle the remaining teriyaki sauce onto the sliced steaks and serve.
  • Baby Sumo

    Wow nice marbling on the beef! Wouldn’t mind trying this recipe one of these days, once I get my hands on that truffle fed cow ;)

  • Myfudo

    My dad adores beef dishes. He’ll definitely love this Asian flavor in beef. Thanks for the post! Looks really delicious!

  • Angie

    wow this looks scrumptious! I love anything teriyaki!

  • Bee

    Oh my, what a gorgeous piece of steak you have. Delicious!

  • The Cook’s Sister

    Yum! Your beef teriyaki looks fantastic! I didn’t know that “teri” means “shiny” – I’ve always added green onions and sesame oil to this sort of recipe. I’ll definitely bookmark your recipe to try out the next time I’m making teriyaki! Thanks for sharing!

  • CJ at Food Stories

    Love when you put on the
    “what would a Japanese person do” hat :-)

  • H.J.

    Marc, the Beef Teriyaki was de-li-cious ! so easy to make. Came across your blog by chance … you have a new fan .

  • Andy Fung

    The recipe is delicious. I love how easy it was to make the sauce.

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  • Lani

    Ok Marc, I tried this recipe and my hubby said “tastes like beef teriyaki”! Yes! I did it! Been trying to make this using other’s recipe but I think I did it this time with yours! Thanks and more power to you!

  • kaizoku

    Great recipe! Nicely explained. I didnt have any sake so I used some semisweet white cooking wine and vodka. It worked out nicely ;)

    Just one but, the ribeye steak is not nicely marbeled there is way too much fat comparing to muscle. Surely you will have much more juicy and tender meat but you will loose a lot of beef flavor. It is not what its called perfet marbled meat.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      That was grade A5 Matsuzaka beef, so by Japanese standards, it had nice marbling. That said, I guess “nice marbling” is a pretty subjective statement depending on how much marbling you like in your meat:-)

      • kaizoku

        You are right, its pretty subjective. Seems that Japanese top grade beef is too much fat for me ;)

        • Marc Matsumoto

          If you get a chance you should come out to Japan sometime and try it (you can’t buy 100% wagyu in the US because of a Japanese beef ban), it might change your mind:-)

          • kaizoku

            Going to Japan it would be something :)

            I think that here in Europe (where I live) it is also impossible to buy japanese beef.

            Nevertheless I do have access to very special Spanish beef. You should try it also one day, although it hasn’t got the marbling level of Japanese beef, it has an extraordinary taste (and experts say it is very well marbled, too).

          • Marc Matsumoto

            I haven’t tried much Spanish beef, but I live Iberico pork!

          • kaizoku

            No wonder, most of true Spanish beef is not exported. In fact there is not much Spanish beef left in Spain. Most of cattle breeds now are french industrial breeds and it is totally different meat.

            As for the Spanish pork I love it. Especially in form of Jamon Serrano de Trevelez :D

          • Marc Matsumoto

            I’ll have to look for both the beef and the ham the next time I’m in Spain, I love jamón ibérico de bellota.

  • Nay Jade

    youre right, here in indonesia same method to cook teriyaki beef, tough part of beef which is cheapest beef, overcooked it, taste only the sauce i cant taste the beef at all..

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  • Toben Coffey

    gods, how much did you pay for that awesome piece of beef? i’ve never SEEN marbling like that in any meat shop in my city. i’m not kidding, i started to drool when i saw that

    • Marc Matsumoto

      It’s Japanese beef, unfortunately if you live in the US you can’t buy it due to an import ban.

      • Toben Coffey

        i thought they lifted the ban on true kobe beef last year…..still, THAT explains it. i’m making this tomorrow night :-) thank you

        • Marc Matsumoto

          Wow you’re right, I didn’t realize it had been lifted. This steak was A5 grade Matsuzaka beef, I think it was about $15 but I bought it when it was 50% off (i.e. about to expire).

  • Huynh Long

    very nice

  • John O’Byrne

    Seems a bit too sweet to me. Perhaps a tablespoon more soy sauce or something to balance it out.


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