ponzu sauce substitute

7 Ponzu Sauce Substitutes That Give Your Dishes A Similar Flavor

Ponzu sauce is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It has a tart-tangy flavor, a watery consistency, and a citrus aroma. It is typically made with bonito flakes, citrus juice, mirin, salt, soy sauce or tamari, and sugar, but its ingredient list can differ between manufacturers.

Ponzu sauce is typically used as a dipping sauce for dumplings, shabu-shabu, sashimi, and grilled fish dishes, as a marinade, or to create a salad dressing. This versatile ingredient, however, can be hard to find. Luckily, these ponzu sauce substitutes can help you bring the taste of ponzu sauce into your dishes.

1. Mentsuyu


Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base typically made from dashi stock, kombu, mirin, salt, soy sauce, and sugar. Because it contains most of the ingredients found in ponzu sauce, it can be used as its stand-in to give dishes a richer, more complex umami taste.

When using it as a substitute, keep in mind that it does not have the same acidity levels as the original ingredient. So, you may have to mix in a bit of vinegar to balance out its salty flavor or lemon juice to give it a citrus aroma and taste. If its flavor is too strong for your palate, you can dilute it with a little water to make it more palatable.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = ⅘ teaspoon Mentsuyu + ⅕ teaspoon acid base.

2. Nam Prik Pla

Nam Prik Pla

Nam Prik Pla is an incredible Thai sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, and fiery hot chilies. It offers the perfect balance of sweetness, sourness, and saltiness to enhance the flavors of your dish and make them more enticing. While it is from a different cuisine entirely, it can serve as a replacement for ponzu sauce in most recipes.

Nam Prik Pla is versatile, so you can use it in dipping sauces and marinades or to flavor stir-fries. However, it has a different level of spiciness, which is not a flavor you come across often in Japanese cuisine. Luckily, despite its spicy flavor, it still provides a similar taste to the dish. Adjust the amount you use depending on your preferences.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = 1 teaspoon Nam Prik Pla.

3. Sake


Sake is a Japanese drink made from fermented rice. It has a clean, somewhat sweet taste and a nutty, fruit aroma that is more pronounced than wine. It is usually served hot or cold as an alcoholic beverage but is also a wonderful addition to cooking.

You can use sake to replace ponzu sauce in several dishes, but you might want to combine it with some soy sauce to achieve the same flavor. Its alcohol content makes it an excellent tenderizing ingredient in meat-based dishes, but it can also be used to elevate the appeal of desserts and drinks.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = 1 teaspoon sake

Or 1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = ½ teaspoon sake + ½ teaspoon soy sauce.

4. Seaweed


Seaweed is an umbrella term used to describe plants and algae. It is rich, nutritious, and flavorsome. It also provides a salty and briny umami flavor to dishes similar to ponzu sauce, which makes it a wonderful vegan substitute.

Seaweed works well in dipping sauces and salad dressings, adding a wonderful texture and flavor without overpowering the unique flavors of the dish. However, remember that there are different types and flavors of seaweed, so make sure to choose the right one for your dish.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = 1-2 seaweed

Or 1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = 1 teaspoon grounded seaweed.

5. Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is one of the ingredients in ponzu sauce, so it will add similar flavors to your dishes, especially in Japanese cuisine. Soy sauce lends your dishes the spicy, umami taste of the original ingredient but gives them a different texture. You can use it, along with other ingredients, in dipping sauces or marinade.

You can also mix soy sauce with corn flour to make marinara sauce. Combine it with vinegar to add color and acidity to the dish, or, if you don’t like the smell or taste of vinegar, use lemon juice instead. Adjust the amount of vinegar or lemon juice to achieve your desired level of sourness, or add a little sugar or mirin to give it a hint of sweetness.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = ¾ teaspoon soy sauce + ¼ teaspoon vinegar/lemon juice.

6. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce contains tamarind and anchovies, which can replace citrus juice and bonito flakes found in ponzu sauce. This kitchen staple ingredient offers a lovely umami taste that can help you closely replicate the flavors of ponzu sauce in your dish. It’s also readily available, which makes it a great substitute for the original ingredient.

Worcestershire sauce will work exceptionally well in any dish that calls for ponzu sauce and is especially good for marinating meat. However, remember that it contains spices that can detract from the taste of ponzu sauce, so you may need to monitor the amount of spices used to avoid overpowering the recipe’s unique flavor. You can also add a dash of rice vinegar to make the sauce more acidic and tangy.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.

7. Yuzu Kosho

Yuzu Kosho

Yuzu Kosho is a condiment made with the skin of yuzu, a famous Japanese citrus fruit, or chili fermented with seasonings. It has an intense tart, tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness, and is used in the same way as ponzu sauce, making it the perfect substitute for spice lovers.

You can use yuzu kosho in place of ponzu sauce in cooking and marinating meats and fish. It works well with steak, hot-pot dishes, sashimi, miso soup, and noodle dishes. While you can use it in equal amounts, it would be best to start with a small amount to avoid overpowering the recipe’s flavor profile.

1 teaspoon ponzu sauce = ½ teaspoon yuzu sauce.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.