Okonomiyaki sauce is a sweet, fruity and umami-packed all-purpose condiment that pairs perfectly with savoury Japanese pancakes (okonomiyaki).
It’s is an essential ingredient for okonomiyaki pancakes. Drizzle it generously over your savoury pancake with an extra squeeze of kewpie mayo and a sprinkle of bonito flakes or seaweed flakes for the ultimate okonomiyaki.
Best of all? This super easy Japanese sauce recipe takes less than a minute to make with just three ingredients.
You can also easily customise the okonomiyaki sauce recipe to suit your taste and pantry. The three-ingredient recipe is so super simple, you’ll never rely on store-bought okonomiyaki sauce again!
Why you’ll love okonomiyaki sauce
This homemade okonomiyaki sauce is a delicious and easy way to add a punch of umami flavour to your Japanese street food favourites.
There are more reasons to love this okonomiyaki sauce recipe:
- It’s super easy to make: There is no need to make a big batch, simply mix the three simple pantry ingredients as needed.
- It’s versatile: This sweet and tangy okonomiyaki sauce is perfect for all sorts of Japanese dishes from okonomiyaki to takoyaki and yakisoba. You can also use it as a marinade for pork belly, as a dipping sauce for tempura, or as an all-purpose BBQ sauce.
- It’s flavour-packed: The combination of Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup and sweet soy sauce gives this sauce a fruity umami flavour with a hint of sweetness.
- It’s an authentic taste: This simple sauce is similar to classic Otafuku Okonomi sauce, the popular Japanese okonomiyaki sauce found in Asian supermarkets.
What is okonomiyaki sauce?
Okonomiyaki sauce is a Japanese savoury sauce made from a blend of different seasonings. It’s a thick, rich and sweet brown sauce with a hint of fruity tang.
It’s the signature topping for okonomiyaki, a savoury Japanese pancake made with shredded cabbage, eggs and wheat flour. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for takoyaki, a fried octopus dumpling with a crispy outer layer and fluffy centre.
You can also use okonomiyaki sauce as a stir-fry sauce or marinade.
It’s a great way to add a unique Japanese flavour to any dish. If you’re looking to try something new, I highly recommend okonomiyaki sauce!
Ingredients and substitutes
I like my okonomiyaki sauce sweet and fruity to perfectly complement a generous drizzle of creamy, super savoury kewpie mayonnaise and the funky flavour of bonito flakes.
It requires just three simple ingredients:
- Worcestershire sauce: I use Lea & Perrins, but you can use any brand you have.
- Ketchup: Use your favourite tomato ketchup for a flavourful okonomiyaki sauce. If your tomato sauce is not very acidic, you can add a small splash of rice vinegar to balance the sauce.
- Sweet soy sauce: You can use the Indonesian kecap manis or Japanese amakuchi shōyu (sweet Japanese soy sauce). Or replace the sweet soy sauce with all-purpose soy sauce or oyster sauce and a teaspoon of sugar, honey or maple syrup. See more substitutes for sweet soy sauce.
This okonomiyaki sauce is the perfect condiment for Osaka-style okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake), Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (layered version of the pancake), takoyaki (octopus balls) and yakisoba (stir-fried noodles).
How to make okonomiyaki sauce?
Okonomiyaki sauce is a versatile Japanese condiment that pairs well with savoury pancakes, takoyaki (octopus balls) and yakisoba (stir-fried noodles).
Make your own authentic okonomiyaki sauce in two easy steps.
Step 1: Gather your ingredients. You will need:
- two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce,
- two tablespoons of tomato ketchup and
- one tablespoon of sweet soy sauce.
Step 2: Combine the ingredients. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until well combined.
You can serve the okonomiyaki sauce straight away or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to two weeks. However, I always prefer making the sauce fresh because it is so easy to put together.
Okonomiyaki sauce serving suggestions
Okonomiyaki sauce is an essential topping for savoury Japanese pancakes (okonomiyaki).
But the sweet and umami-packed sauce is a great way to dress up any dish with its sweet and fruity flavour.
Try okonomiyaki sauce with other dishes:
- Dipping takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls): Traditional takoyaki sauce is typically a bit more complex, but okonomiyaki sauce makes a great substitute for takoyaki sauce.
- Drizzling over french fries: Up your french fry game with the BBQ-y flavours of easy okonomiyaki sauce.
- Turn it into umami-packed spicy mayo: Use it as a base for a spicy mayo dipping sauce by mixing it with Japanese mayonnaise and gochujang paste to taste.
- Dipping boiled edamame: Turn simple boiled edamame into a delicious snack or appetiser by dipping it in okonomiyaki sauce.
- Turn it into tonkatsu sauce: Add a tablespoon of oyster sauce to recreate the classic Japanese Bull Dog sauce and serve it with tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets), chicken katsu, or korokke (potato and beef croquettes).
- Serve with noodles: Drizzle your next bowl of steaming hot ramen or yakisoba noodles with some okonomiyaki sauce to add a sweet and savoury kick.
Frequently asked questions
Okonomiyaki sauce is typically made from a combination of tomato paste, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and other seasonings. But you can make a simple homemade okonomiyaki sauce from tomato ketchup.
Okonomi sauce has a savoury yet fruity and sweet flavour with hints of salty umami from the soy sauce.
If you don’t have okonomiyaki sauce, you can make a simple okonomiyaki substitute using tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. You can also use shop-bought Japanese sauces like tonkatsu sauce (Bull-dog sauce) or thicken homemade yakisoba sauce with cornstarch.
Japanese Okonomi sauce is meant for Kansai-style okonomiyaki (savoury Japanese cabbage pancake). But it makes an excellent Japanese BBQ sauce to marinade meat or add to grilled burgers and any dish requiring a sweet umami boost.
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce , I use Lea & Perrins
- 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce , see notes for alternatives
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well combined.
- You can refrigerate leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. But I always make the sauce fresh because it is seriously so easy.
- Okonomiyaki sauce is a Japanese all-purpose condiment. It’s served with Osaka-style okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake) or Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (a layered version of the pancake). You can also use it as a topping for takoyaki (octopus balls) or yakisoba (stir-fried noodles).
- The okonomiyaki sauce in the masterful Japan: The Cookbook (Amazon affiliate link) by Nancy Singleton Hachisu is a simple 1:1 combination of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. But I love the sweet umami boost a tablespoon of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) adds.
- Replace the tablespoon of sweet soy sauce with a tablespoon of all-purpose soy sauce or oyster sauce and a teaspoon of sugar, honey or maple syrup. See the ingredients and substitutes section for more information.