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The Most Comprehensive Ponzu Sauce Substitute List: We Got 23

Ponzu is a Japanese seasoning used as a sauce in pan searing veggies and meat, marinade, sprinkled on top of an Asian main course, or as a dipping sauce for dumplings.

It smells like citrus, a bit sourer than soy sauce, with an almost bland or watery consistency. If you find yourself craving for ponzu sauce but couldn’t find it in stores, you can settle for the condiments closest to its taste or make your own.

Among the best ponzu sauce substitutes include the following:

  1. Lemon juice
  2. Soy sauce
  3. Soy sauce + orange juice
  4. Soy sauce + lemon
  5. Soy sauce + vinegar
  6. Orange juice
  7. Rice vinegar
  8. Seaweed
  9. Yuzu kosho

The potential alternatives for this sauce are huge. But first, let’s find out more about this popular Asian seasoning.

23 Best Substitute For Ponzu Sauce

Ponzu Sauce Substitute

The ingredients needed to make ponzu sauce depend on the manufacturers and where they come from. However, the basic ingredients used in a typical ponzu sauce include salt, sugar, citrus juice, and soy sauce.

Through the years, many other ingredients were added to the original ponzu, but all variations have one thing in common: citrus. The sauce can be used on its own or added to dishes to make them more acidic.

So some of the best substitutes for ponzu sauce contain citrus in it including lemon and orange juice. You can also mix it with other sauces to create something similar to ponzu sauce.

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is high in acid with a low pH, so make sure that you don’t add a lot when using it as a substitute for ponzu sauce, or else it will overpower the other ingredients in your dish. You can use a 1:1 ratio when making the substitution.

You can use lemon juice to enhance the flavors of fish and meat dishes, drinks, and sweets. It is also healthy and capable of boosting immunity while increasing the foods’ shelf life.

However, be careful in using or taking this juice if you have migraines or allergies. It has potent ingredients that your system may react to in an untoward manner when taken in higher amounts than what’s recommended.

Soy Sauce

soy sauce

Aside from the taste, this protein-rich condiment is good for people with certain health conditions like hypertension. While its texture is different from ponzu sauce, it has the closest umami taste.

In whisking marinara sauce, you can make the sauce thicker by adding a modest amount of cornflour. When making the substitution, you can use the 1:1 ratio, but feel free to add more or less depending on your preference.

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Soy Sauce + Orange juice

It may sound weird, but the combination makes an excellent substitute for ponzu sauce. Orange juice has a natural sweetness, so it won’t taste as sour as when you add citrus or vinegar to soy sauce.

Soy Sauce + Lemon

You can always use lemon juice when you don’t have vinegar at home, or you don’t like its smell or taste. Just add the juice to soy sauce, and adjust according to taste.

In Japan, they prefer using yuzu, but you can also use other citrus juices, including lime.

Soy sauce + Vinegar

When using this combo, it is recommended to follow the 3:1 ratio. However, you can add more vinegar to make the sour taste stronger.

If you want to hide the sourness but still use the mixture, you can opt to add a little mirin or sugar. It makes a great sauce for dumplings or gyoza, especially when you add a few drops of chili oil to the sauce.

Orange Juice

Orange Juice

The fragrance and fruity taste of orange makes it an ideal substitute for ponzu sauce. It adds a certain level of sharpness to biscuits, cakes, and other baked dishes.

You can replace two drops of ponzu sauce with a teaspoon of orange juice. It is enough to add the smell and citrus flavor to what you are preparing.

Rice Vinegar

This vinegar is made from matured rice. It is commonly used as a dressing for mixed greens and added to rice dishes, soups, and fried food.

You can use the 1:1 ratio when substituting ponzu sauce with rice vinegar. You can also use the combination of 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce and 3/4 teaspoon of rice vinegar as an alternative to ponzu sauce.



Seaweed makes a healthy substitute for ponzu sauce. It doesn’t contain fats and calories, and it offers a different kind of flavor.

You can add seaweed to any dish to enhance the taste, including soups, noodles, and salad greens. The flavor of seaweed is not that strong, so you don’t have to worry even if you use too much.

However, the recommended ratio for making the substitution if you are using ground seaweed is 1:1. If you have a whole seaweed, you can add 1 or 2 to substitute for a teaspoon of ponzu sauce.

Yuzu Kosho

Yuzu is among the most popular citrus fruits in Japan. Aside from the taste, many people love its extraordinary fragrance.

To make yuzu kosho, you need to mix green chili with the skin of yuzu. The result is intense citrus or fruity flavor you can use to substitute for ponzu sauce.

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You can use yuzu kosho as a topping for dishes, including noodles, sashimi, and steak. You can also use a tablespoon of yuzu to substitute for two teaspoons of ponzu sauce.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce

This fermented liquid contains more ingredients and emits a stronger flavor than ponzu sauce, but it is a good substitute since the taste is right. You will obtain the same levels of elegance and flavor when adding this condiment to recipes that call for ponzu sauce.

You can follow the 1:1 ratio when doing the substitution, but it is recommended to use less if you are making a big batch of a dish.


Sake is a popular Japanese fermented rice liquor also called rice wine. It can be served hot or cold,  making it a good substitute for ponzu sauce in meat dishes.

You can also use it in stews, like how you would use white wine. In most cases, the 1:1 ratio is enough to obtain the levels of the flavor of ponzu sauce, but you may need to adjust so the end-product does not taste too alcoholic.



Mentsuyu is a combination of salt, dashi, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce. It offers a complex and rich taste with the right mix of sweetness and spice.

You can replace a teaspoon of ponzu sauce with two teaspoons of mentsuyu. You can opt to add a little vinegar to make the flavor sharper or add water if you want to tone down the taste.

Mentsuyu + fruit vinegar

You can use homemade fruit vinegar for this purpose, such as apple cider or orange vinegar. Add a little amount of it to mentsuyu and use the mixture to replace ponzu sauce.

Mentsuyu + lemon

You can also try adding lemon juice to mentsuyu when using it to substitute for ponzu sauce. You can add a little vinegar to the mixture if you prefer the sauce to taste sourer.

Mentsuyu + vinegar

Vinegar will add more sophistication and richness to the flavors of mentsuyu. Always add a little amount of vinegar at a time until you have achieved the taste you prefer for this excellent substitute for ponzu sauce.

Hoisin Sauce


This popular Chinese condiment is made from spices, sugar, vinegar, and fermented soybeans. It has a smoky flavor, tastes slightly sweet, and has a reddish-brown texture.

You can use the sauce as a glaze for grilled veggies and meat, dipping sauce for spring rolls and dumplings, mixed with black bean sauce, chili sauce, or stir-fried dishes. It also adds delicious flavors to beef, chicken, or fish dishes.

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To substitute for ponzu sauce, use the same amounts of hoisin sauce and rice vinegar. Add chili paste, sesame oil, and soy sauce. You can also make the sauce sweeter by adding a little honey.

Teriyaki Sauce

This sauce that makes a great alternative to ponzu sauce is made with ginger, mirin, sugar, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. You can use it as a salad dressing or a dipping sauce for sushi.

The sauce also complements the taste of grilled meat and stir-fried dishes.

Korean BBQ sauce


This BBQ sauce tastes slightly sweet with a smoky flavor, making it an excellent choice when substituting for ponzu sauce. You can also add a bit of lemon juice to make it more flavorful.

This thick sauce that tastes spicy and sweet is made from sesame oil, garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce.

Tonkatsu Sauce

As the name suggests, the sauce is intended for tonkatsu, a dish famous in Japan, which is a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet. It’s made from Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup.

The sauce tastes sweet with a hint of lemon or vinegar. It makes a good dipping sauce for agedashi tofu, chicken karaage, and other dishes that require ponzu sauce.

Fish Sauce


It has the right levels of umami and saltiness. The sauce is made from fermented fish and will complement many Asian dishes and other food items where you would likely use ponzu sauce.


This is already typically added to ponzu sauce commercially sold as it boosts its shelf life and stability. It also has a similar texture to ponzu.

It makes a good dipping sauce and marinade. You can choose to add lemon juice or vinegar to obtain the right levels of sourness when using it as a substitute for ponzu sauce.

Nam prik pla

This is a popular Thai condiment made of hot chilies, fish sauce, and lime juice. When using as a substitute, add more of this sauce than the required amount of ponzu sauce.

Homemade Ponzu Sauce


The good thing about making your own ponzu sauce is that you can use the readily available ingredients or choose the ones you like. You can use the basic ingredients needed to make the sauce, such as soy sauce, sugar, salt, and citrus juice.

You can also tweak the taste by adding sake, mirin, bonito, or kombu drops. Mix all ingredients in a pan over medium-low flame. Once heated, allow the sauce to cool before serving.