What is Eel Sauce on Sushi and How To Make It?

Published Categorized as Sushi Recipes
eel sauce

If you love Asian food, then you know eel sauce is an important ingredient for a lot of different dishes and not just for Japanese food. Although usually used for grilled dishes, eel sauce also works well for dipping sauces and even stir fries.

What Is Eel Sauce Plus My EASY Recipe!

Eel sauce is a sweetened soy sauce known as Unagi no Tare in Japan (Unagi no Tare (うなぎのたれ in Japanese) that will make your sushi more delicious and even punch up your stir fries. And the best part it is super easy to make! Just look at our four ingredient recipe below.

This sweet, salty and savory flavored sauce is a perfect match for sushi and other Asian style grilled product. If you love sushi, then read on and discover why Eel sauce is always a favorite condiment at any Asian restaurant.

What is Eel Sauce on Sushi?

Eel sauce is a sweetened soy sauce that is known as Unagi no Tare in Japan. It is also known as Kabayaki, Nitsume, and Unagi sauce that is normally used to prepare broiled freshwater eel (also known as unagi), and is also used for the preparation of anago (saltwater eel).

It does NOT, however, have any actual “eel” in the sauce. Usually, eel sauce is a sweetened thick soy sauce with a slight hickory flavor and normally drizzled over sushi. You can also just get it as a side much like regular soy sauce.

Sushi is a Japanese traditional dish that is prepared with vinegar rice, salt, and sugar. You can add various additional ingredients to make your sushi more delicious such as any type of seafood, vegetables (raw and cooked) and certain wraps like nori or soy paper. The ingredients for sushi can be varied according to your taste but “sushi rice” is more delicious and referred to worldwide as shari.

And if you’d rather just buy some sauce and not make it yourself, check out my article on where to buy eel sauce both online and at your local supermarkets.

Eel Sauce Recipe

eel sauce recipe

Eel Sauce Recipe

It's super easy to make eel sauce with this recipe and it only takes a few minutes. Much better than store bought brands!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Cuisine Japanese


  • Measuring Spoons
  • Measuring Cup
  • Pot for boiling water


  • ½ cup Soy Sauce
  • ½ cup White Sugar
  • ½ cup Mirin also known as Japanese sweet wine
  • 1 ½ tbsp Sake optional


  • 1. Once you have all ingredients measured, place the Mirin, Sake and Sugar into a small to medium sauce pan. Use a medium heat and bring to a boil while whisking continuously to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn.
  • 2. As soon as the sauce begins to boil add your Soy Sauce.
  • 3. Once the sauce comes to a boil again, immediately turn down the heat and let it simmer for 10 more minutes whisking when needed. Remember, there is a lot of sugar which means the sauce can easily burn.
  • 4. When 10 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and take the pot off the burner. Let it cool off before pouring the sauce into your container. That’s it!
Keyword Eel Sauce, Eel Sauce Recipe

How to Make Eel Sauce for Sushi?

You can easily prepare eel sauce at home with only 3 ingredients.

  • Mirin, Soy Sauce, and Sugar are the 3 ingredients you must have, a fourth is Sake.
  • Sake is optional, but makes a more traditional sauce.
  • Usually, I prepare the sauce by adding a half cup of each ingredient to the saucepan and cooking on a medium flame until it reduces to half of its volume.
  • After this, allow to cool until it becomes a thick sauce.

Note: You can add sugar according to your taste and for thickness, or you can add cornstarch.

Uses for Eel Sauce

Mostly eel sauce is used as a sushi condiment. Some of the best pairings for this sauce are Japanese grilled eel, and most sushi rolls containing raw fish rather than the fried versions, or teriyaki.

We can also use eel sauce for coating freshly cooked noodles and is often sold in Asian stores as a combination package, much like an instant soup. You just add boiling water, wait for the noodles to cook, then add the eel sauce. And presto, a hot easy snack.

Because of its salty taste, the sauce also goes well with and type of grilled chicken dishes, tofu or seafood, although primarily fish. Similarly, you can use it for any kind of dish for salty and sweet taste. Usually, sushi, chicken, grilled fish, grilled tofu, grilled mushroom, and noodles when mixed with eel sauce it gives a delicious taste that I love.

Eel Sauce Brands

Is Eel Sauce Made From Eels?

No, there are no eels in eel sauce. Eel sauce was traditionally used in Japan for grilling many types of fish, especially eel. And even though you can find eel sauce used in all sorts of ways in Asian food today, the name “eel sauce” stuck even though eels sauce has absolutely no eel in it.

Does Eel Sauce Taste Fishy?

No, eel sauce does not taste fishy at all. In fact, the name is a bit deceiving as there is no eel in eel sauce. Rather, it was traditionally used on barbecued eels, hence it’s name.

As eel sauce actually a sweet and savory sauce, and is great on practically anything barbecued, especially fish. And of course it’s great on sushi as well. You can even mix it with a touch of say sauce. I also use it in a lot of my stir fries. Even those with beef.

Closest Eel Sauce Substitute?

The closest substitute for eel sauce would be teriyaki sauce as a good teriyaki sauce is also a sweetened version of soy sauce and is pretty close to eel sauce, just not as thick.
As we know teriyaki sauce also contains soy sauce and sugar that are common indigents of many Japanese sauces. In teriyaki sauce, Mirin is replaced with honey, garlic, and ginger powder for sushi.

Unagi Sauce vs Eel Sauce

Unagi sauce and eel sauce are the same thing, so there really is no “vs”. In Japan people would ask for Unagi no Tare, but in the west we would normally ask for “eel sauce”.

Unagi Sauce Ingredients

Unagi sauce ingredients are the same as what’s in my eel sauce recipe above, Soy Sauce, White Sugar, Mirin (also known as Japanese sweet wine), and Sake which is optional.


Hopefully when you hear someone ask the question, “what is eel sauce in sushi?”, you’ll be able to answer them with a world of knowledge about the subject.

And just to go over the fine points…

  • Eel sauce is a sweetened, thick soy based sauce that is most commonly used as a condiment for sushi, much like regular soy sauce.
  • Eel sauce is comprised of mirin (Japanese sweet wine), sugar, soy sauce and Sake.
  • Eel sauce is known as Unagi no Tare in Japan.
  • Commonly it is used for sushi and grilled dishes.

Eel sauce can be prepared at home by using only three-ingredients: sugar, mirin, and soy sauce, or in the original recipe, sake is also included.

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