What is similar to tonkatsu sauce?

Last Updated on May 24th, 2023

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Did you know that the Japanese have a food class adapted from Western culture to suit Japanese tastes? This class of food is called yoshoku, and tonkatsu sauce is one of those foods.

Tonkatsu sauce was created to be served with tonkatsu, which is a cut of pork that is fried with Panko bread crumbs. It is similar to barbecue sauce or Worcestershire sauce, which brings us to our fun fact about tonkatsu sauce.

The sauce was adapted from Worcestershire sauce and includes a mixture of fruit and vegetable purees that are combined to create a thick, sweet, and tangy sauce that is similar to barbecue sauce.

Sauce in a bowl - What is similar to tonkatsu sauce?

Is Worcestershire Sauce the Same as Tonkatsu Sauce?

While the two sauces contain similar elements, they are two different sauces. Worcestershire sauce originated in England and involved a vinegar base flavored with:


  • garlic
  • anchovies
  • molasses
  • tamarind


The flavors in this sauce combine to make a sweet and savory sauce with a sharp edge from the vinegar. Tonkatsu sauce is inspired by Worcestershire sauce and presents a similar sweet and tangy flavor.

However, the tonkatsu adaptation uses a wider range of fruits and vegetables in its creation, including:


  • lemons
  • apples
  • carrots
  • celery


It also forfeits the anchovies, although you can find some tonkatsu sauce recipes that do involve oyster sauce.


What Can You Use as an Alternative Sauce?

Because tonkatsu sauce involves similar flavors and ingredients as other sauces, it is easy to find an alternative.

Of course, an easy choice as a tonkatsu sauce substitute is its inspiration, Worcestershire sauce. You will get a lot of the same sweet and tart flavors and some savoriness. It is probably the closest thing to a perfect substitute for tonkatsu sauce.

Here’s a fun fact: tonkatsu sauce is often called “Japanese barbecue sauce,” so you can guess our next suggestion for an alternative. Good ole BBQ sauce!

Tomatoes are the main ingredient in both barbecue and tonkatsu sauce, and you can definitely find a nice, sweet and tangy barbecue sauce to stand in for tonkatsu sauce.

As a general rule, we recommend going for a sweet and tangy sauce to substitute your tonkatsu sauce, whether it’s BBQ, Worcestershire, or another type of sauce.


Can You Make Something Similar to Tonkatsu Sauce at Home?

The short answer to this question is: yes, you can.

Numerous recipes for tonkatsu sauce are similar to the authentic version of the sauce. Some involve:


  • ketchup
  • sugar
  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce


Some recipes even add Worcestershire sauce to the homemade tonkatsu sauce, which makes it an easy recipe to make at home.

Of course, it is different from the authentic version of tonkatsu sauce, which involves a lot of fruits and vegetables, as we mentioned before.

However, adding premade sauce like ketchup or Worcestershire sauce is great if you’re in a pinch and need to make the tonkatsu sauce quickly.


What is the Difference Between Tonkatsu and Teriyaki Sauce?

Teriyaki sauce is thinner than tonkatsu sauce and is described as sweet and salty, whereas tonkatsu sauce, a thicker sauce, is described as sweet and tangy with a hint of spice.

Teriyaki sauce is often used to marinate meats and seafood, and it can also be used as a dipping sauce. Tonkatsu sauce is normally used as a glaze for meats or drizzled on top of meat dishes. It is also a good dipping sauce.

If you want to tell the difference by looking and not tasting, a good thing to remember is that “Teri” in Japanese means shiny, so teriyaki sauce will always have a shinier look than tonkatsu sauce.

Another thing you can remember is that tonkatsu sauce is the “Japanese barbecue sauce,” and it looks similar to regular barbecue sauce.


Is Yakisoba Sauce the Same as Tonkatsu Sauce?

Yakisoba sauce and tonkatsu sauce are similar in that they both share the title of “vegetable and fruit sauce,” and they share a lot of the same ingredients (including Worcestershire sauce).

However, they are different because yakisoba sauce was made to be eaten with yakisoba noodles.  As we have mentioned, Tonkatsu sauce is made for tonkatsu, a fried pork cutlet, which is what the word tonkatsu means.

Another difference is that tonkatsu sauce has a sweeter flavor, while yakisoba sauce is more umami and spicy. Because yakisoba sauce is used as a seasoning sauce for noodles, it is not really used as a dipping sauce like tonkatsu sauce is.

Overall, these two sauces use similar ingredients but present different flavor profiles and are used for different dishes.


Final Thoughts on Sauces Similar to Tonkatsu 

The main question today was what sauce is similar to tonkatsu sauce, and we have covered more than enough in this article to show you what is similar to tonkatsu sauce, its origin, and even how to make it at home.

This tangy-sweet sauce is perfect for adding a little zing to your meat dishes or even using it as a dipping sauce for your favorite finger foods, and the best part is you can make it at home!

Tonkatsu sauce is a Japanese adaptation of a Western favorite that will certainly add a new twist to your favorite dishes.


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