Hundreds of years ago, in Japan, people began bathing fish in a combo of soy sauce and rice wine, and grilling it over coals. In the 20th century—with sugar often standing in for the mirin (sweet rice wine)—teriyaki dishes became popular in the United States. This simple recipe shows you how to make healthy, flavorful teriyaki salmon your own.
Key Ingredients in Teriyaki Salmon
Let’s look at some of the key ingredients in teriyaki salmon, and a few of substitutions you can make.
Soy sauce: It isn’t teriyaki if it doesn’t include soy—although tamari, which is a wheat-free variant of soy sauce, could also be used (and can make the dish gluten-free). Not sure which brand of soy sauce to buy? We did a taste test to find out!
A sweetener: This recipe calls for brown sugar or honey, but you can also use pineapple juice, or get super classic and make your teriyaki sauce with mirin. On the other hand, you could try using maple syrup. It’s a bit avant-garde, but maple is a great flavor match for this dish.
Sesame oil: The nutty notes that come from sesame oil make this teriyaki salmon really special. I like to use toasted sesame oil for teriyaki dishes because it’s extra flavorful.
For more info, check out this helpful list of Japanese ingredients. I keep nearly all of these ingredients in my pantry at all times!
Teriyaki Salmon Recipe
Thanks to contributor Karen Kelly from Germantown, Wisconsin for coming up with this easy, satisfying salmon recipe. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner dish, and there are lots of ways to use up leftovers, if you have ’em.
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
Step 1: Make the marinade
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and oil, and mix until blended.
Step 2: Marinate the salmon
Pour 1/4 cup marinade into a large shallow dish. Add salmon; turn to coat. Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade (you’ll use it later).
Step 3: Bake the salmon
While the salmon is marinating, preheat the oven to 400°F. Drain salmon, discarding the marinade that was with it in the dish. Place salmon, skin side down, on a greased baking sheet. Bake until fish flakes easily with a fork, 10-12 minutes.
Step 4: Put on the finishing touches
Brush the finished salmon with the reserved marinade. If you’d like, you can garnish the salmon with sliced green onion and sesame seeds.
What to Serve with Teriyaki Salmon
Teriyaki salmon is amazing with all kinds of dishes, but since I’m totally obsessed with sushi rice, that’s my go-to side. However, this salmon would also be amazing with soba, store bought or homemade udon, or some good ramen noodles.
How to Store Teriyaki Salmon
Seafood is best when it’s fresh, so store leftovers in a snap-lid glass container and eat within a couple days.
If you want to get creative with your teriyaki salmon leftovers, try putting it in an omelette, or use all of your dinner fixings and make up a hearty “bowl” for lunch. One of the best things about this salmon is that it’s amazing when cold. A cold soba salad with leftover salmon makes a perfect summer lunch, and you can use it in lettuce wraps, too.
Tips for Making Teriyaki Salmon
What type of salmon fillet should you use?
Choosing sustainable seafood is tricky these days, so check out our comprehensive guide to salmon shopping. I love the fresh-tasting, ethically farmed salmon from the Faroe Islands, so that’s what I buy.
Salmon belly is the fattiest kind of fillet at the market and isn’t usually used for baking. It’s more common to use top loin or second-cut pieces if you’re planning to cook the fish all the way through. Try to avoid the thinner tail-end pieces, as they’re not as meaty.
Don’t wash salmon (or any other fish) prior to marinating—it’s a great way to potentially spread bacteria around your kitchen. Your fish will be safe to eat once it’s cooked.
What else can you add to the marinade?
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your marinade ingredients. I love using tamari instead of soy sauce, and often splash in a combo of mirin and sake in place of the brown sugar. Don’t have garlic? You could use scallion or green onion instead. Freshly grated ginger, orange zest and pineapple juice are all nice additions, too.
Can you use store bought teriyaki sauce?
Yes! If you have the sauce, but not the ingredients, go for it! We sampled some of the most popular teriyaki sauce brands, so we could point you towards the best ones.
Got more salmon than you need for this recipe? Try these other easy salmon recipes.