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This sweet and savory eel sauce recipe will give you a versatile condiment that pairs perfectly with seafood dishes and only requires four ingredients to make! Despite its name, this Japanese sauce doesn’t contain any eel but has the delicious sweet, salty, and caramelized flavors you’d expect from a top-notch sauce.

A picture of a salad with homemade unagi sauce on it.

If you’re looking for a delicious flavor boost for your favorite dishes, this homemade eel sauce is the answer. It’s a surefire way to elevate your sushi game or add a tasty twist to your favorite seafood dish.

Love homemade sauces? Try my gluten-free sweet and sour sauce if you’re looking for another versatile option, and for a seafood option, I highly recommend trying my salmon and fresh vegetables with creamy white wine sauce recipe.

An eel sauce being poured onto a plate of food.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Versatile: This eel sauce, also known as unagi sauce, is a versatile, sweet, and tangy 4 ingredient recipe that’s ready in just 10 minutes. It’s perfect for drizzling over your favorite sushi rolls, sashimi, or shrimp ceviche.
Easy: This eel sauce recipe is so easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making it your whole life.
Customizable: You can adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding water and even the level of sweetness can be adjusted.

A tantalizing taco with succulent shrimp and creamy avocado on a plate, drizzled with homemade unagi sauce.

Eel Sauce Recipe Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Mirin: This sweet Japanese rice wine lends a depth of sweetness and flavor to the unagi sauce. Look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store.
Granulated sugar: This sweet ingredient adds the perfect level of sweetness to the sauce, helping to balance out the salty soy sauce.
Soy sauce: For a gluten-free eel sauce recipe, be sure to use a gluten-free tamari or soy sauce. This umami-rich sauce adds a depth of flavor and a salty kick.
Rice wine vinegar: The mild acidity of rice wine vinegar helps to cut through the sweetness of the mirin and sugar, balancing the flavors of the eel sauce.

Four bowls of homemade unagi sauce on a concrete surface.

How to Make Homemade Eel Sauce

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Combine the ingredients: In a saucepan, combine the mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.
Cook the sauce: Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring often, until it has reduced to a thick syrup. This will take about 10 minutes.
Tweak the consistency if needed: If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out by adding a spoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Serve: This homemade eel sauce recipe is perfect to serve over shrimp ceviche, sushi, sashimi, or any seafood dish.

A glass jug with a homemade eel sauce in it.
A close up of a glass of homemade eel sauce.

Substitutions and Variations

Regional variations: You can add eggs, dash, or sake to this eel sauce to give it a different twist.
Gluten-free: Make sure your mirin and soy sauce are both gluten-free to ensure this recipe fits into your gluten-free diet.
Sweeter or saltier: You can adjust the sweetness or saltiness of this eel sauce by adding more sugar or soy sauce, according to your preference.
Mirin substitute: In case you can’t find mirin, you can substitute sweet marsala wine or dry sherry at a pinch. Even dry white wine would do, but you’d need to increase the sugar to offset the lack of sweetness.

A plate of shrimp tacos on a white plate drizzled with homemade unagi sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Seafood: This eel sauce is perfect for drizzling over sushi, sashimi, or any other seafood dishes. Whether it’s plain seafood or ceviche, this sauce adds a burst of flavor that complements the delicate fish. I particularly love it with this fresh Mexican-style shrimp ceviche with avocado.
Grilled dishes: Consider using this eel sauce on BBQ dishes or any grilled meat. The sweet and salty flavors of the sauce pair well with the charred and smoky notes of grilled food.

A spoon drizzling homemade eel sauce over a plate of food.
A glass pitcher containing a refreshing cup of coffee.

How to Store Unagi Sauce

Store: After making the eel sauce and allowing it to cool, if you have any leftovers, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for up to two weeks.
Freeze: Fortunately, you can also freeze this homemade sauce. Allow it to cool down, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It can be frozen for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to have it, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge.

Homemade eel sauce being poured onto a plate of shrimp tacos.

Top Tips 

Choose the Right Soy Sauce: When making eel sauce, opt for low-sodium and gluten-free soy sauce if possible. This allows you to control the saltiness of the sauce and makes it suitable for those with dietary restrictions.
Don’t Overcook: When reducing the sauce in the saucepan, be careful not to overcook it. The sauce will thicken as it cools, so if it becomes too thick, you can add a bit of water to achieve the desired consistency.
Stir Often: While cooking the ingredients in the saucepan, make sure to stir often. This helps to evenly combine the flavors and prevents the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

A bowl of homemade unagi sauce on a green cloth.

Homemade Unagi Sauce FAQs

Is eel sauce gluten free?

You can make gluten free eel sauce by ensuring the mirin and soy sauce are both gluten free.

How does eel sauce look and taste?

This sauce for seafood looks like a dark brown syrup and tastes salty, smoky, sweet, and neutral all at once. It’s not named because there is any eel in it – a bit like duck sauce (which doesn’t have duck in it!)

How to adjust the consistency of the sauce?

If the eel sauce is too thick, you can add a spoon of water at a time till it is the consistency of a thick syrup. If it’s too thin, you can simmer it for a few more minutes to thicken it up.

A plate of food on a table, drizzled with homemade unagi sauce.
A glass pitcher filled with homemade eel sauce, a delectable brown liquid.

Eel Sauce Recipe

5 from 7 votes

Homemade Eel Sauce – Unagi Sauce

By: Bella Bucchiotti
This homemade eel sauce, also known as unagi sauce, is a versatile, sweet, and tangy 4 ingredient recipe that's ready in just 10 minutes. It's perfect for drizzling over your favorite seafood dishes!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 20


  • 1/2 Cup mirin
  • 1/2 Cup soy sauce , low sodium and gluten free if desired
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon Rice wine vinegar


  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, till it has reduced and is a thick syrup.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Stir often. 
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools so don’t over cook.  If the sauce is too thick, add a spoon of water at a time till it is the consistency of thick syrup. 
  • Serve over shrimp ceviche, sushi, sashimi or any seafood. 


Calories: 22kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 369mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This homemade eel sauce, also known as unagi sauce, is a versatile, sweet, and tangy four ingredient recipe that’s ready in just 10 minutes. It’s perfect for drizzling over your favorite sushi rolls, sashimi, or shrimp ceviche, and the best part is that it’s completely easy to make!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.


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Recipe Rating


  1. Fascinating. I totally had no idea that eel sauce does not contain any eel. I do love it but have never thought of making it at home. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I am so pinning this recipe I have looked for a good eel sauce recipe before, so this is a great find!

  3. 5 stars
    You had me at UNAGI!!! Yum yum yummmmm i love that sauce so much, gonna try this, thank you!!!