Delicious and Healthy Ponzu Sauce Recipe

Attention all food enthusiasts! Do you wish to indulge in the delicious flavors of Japanese cuisine without restraining your dietary preferences? We present to you a delectable recipe for a vegetarian variation of the classic Japanese Ponzu sauce complemented with citrus-based flavors.

Originating from Japan, Ponzu sauce is a staple dipping sauce in Japanese cuisine. This sauce is traditionally prepared by blending rice vinegar, soy sauce, and citrus juices such as yuzu or meyer lemons. However, many variations of ponzu sauce have emerged over time that incorporate different ingredients such as sake, mirin, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and sugar.

The vegetarian version of this Japanese Ponzu Sauce provides a perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors. By eliminating fish-based products, it suitable for vegetarians while retaining the key ingredients like rice vinegar, soy sauce, and citrus juices.

In this article, I’ll take you through step-by-step instructions to create your vegetarian version of Japanese Ponzu sauce in under an hour. The recipe’s versatility will amaze you with its ability to complement salads or act as a marinade or stir-fry sauce for vegetables, tofu or meats—making it an exceptional addition to your pantry!

So let’s dive into this sumptuous recipe that has the potential to transform any ordinary meal into an extraordinary one!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Japanese Ponzu Sauce - Vegetarian Variation
Japanese Ponzu Sauce – Vegetarian Variation

If you’re looking for a bold and citrusy sauce to accompany your meals, then look no further than this delicious Japanese Ponzu Sauce vegetarian variation recipe. This sauce is the perfect combination of sweet, sour, and salty flavors, making it versatile enough to enhance any dish.

One of the reasons you’ll love this recipe is that it’s incredibly easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients, including soy sauce, rice vinegar, and citrus juice, you can whip up a batch of ponzu sauce in no time. You don’t need any fancy kitchen tools or expertise – this recipe is beginner-friendly.

This recipe is also suitable for vegetarians and those following a gluten-free diet. You can enjoy the tangy flavor of ponzu sauce without any worries about unwanted ingredients. If you’re looking for a vegan dipping sauce or salad dressing, this vegetarian variation of ponzu sauce will tick all the boxes.

Another reason you’ll love this recipe is its versatility. The bright citrusy flavor of ponzu sauce is perfect for dipping sushi, tofu or tempura vegetables or as a marinade for your favourite protein before cooking. You can also use it as a salad dressing or add it to soups and stews to enhance the overall flavour.

Lastly, even if you’ve never had Japanese Ponzu Sauce before trying this recipe at home will allow you to experience a new delicious cultural spin on everyday meals. By making your own ponzu sauce at home with fresh ingredients compared to using store-bought alternatives that are high in preservatives and added sugars. Not only will you get a true authentic taste but also discover how amazing homemade sauces can be.

So, why not give this vegetarian variation of Japanese Ponzu Sauce recipe a try? Trust me when I say once you make it yourself and try it once its going to become one of your favourite sauces!

Ingredient List

 A splash of citrus goodness in every bite!
A splash of citrus goodness in every bite!

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this Japanese Ponzu Sauce – Vegetarian Variation Recipe:

Citrus Juice

  • Yuzu juice or Meyer lemons’ juice (3 tablespoons)
  • Zest of 2 citrus fruits

Vinegar and Soy Sauce Mixture

  • Rice vinegar (¾ cup)
  • Soy sauce (¼ cup)
  • Sugar (1 tbsp)
  • Sake (2 tbsp)

Simple Ponzu Sauce

  • Citrus juice (2 tbsp)
  • Soy sauce (3 tbsp)
  • Rice vinegar (3 tbsp)

Homemade Ponzu Sauce

  • Citrus juice (1/4 cup)
  • Soy sauce (1/4 cup)
  • Rice vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • Mirin (2 tbsp)
  • Sugar (1 tbsp)
  • Katsuobushi bonito flakes

Note: If you are looking for a gluten-free option, make sure to use gluten-free soy sauce.

The Recipe How-To

 This Ponzu Sauce recipe is not your typical soy sauce dip.
This Ponzu Sauce recipe is not your typical soy sauce dip.

Let’s start cooking! Here is a simple, vegetarian variation of Japanese Ponzu Sauce that will take your dishes to the next level.


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons citrus juice (yuzu, meyer lemons or any citrus of your preference)
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  1. Mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool completely.
  3. Once cooled, add the zest and juice of two citrus fruits to the sauce.
  4. Taste the ponzu sauce and adjust sweetness with either more juice or sugar if needed
  5. The ponzu should be a balance of sweet, sour and salty.

That’s it! A few simple ingredients are all it takes to make a perfectly balanced, citrus-based sauce that is perfect for dipping or as a salad dressing.

It’s that easy to make this simple ponzu sauce at home, once you have made it yourself you will never go back to store-bought again!

Substitutions and Variations

 Add a fantastic tangy flavor to your favorite dishes.
Add a fantastic tangy flavor to your favorite dishes.

When it comes to this Japanese Ponzu Sauce recipe, there are many ways to get creative and make it your own. Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try:

– Gluten-free: To make the ponzu sauce gluten-free, simply use tamari instead of soy sauce.

– Citrus-based: For a tangier flavor, you can swap out the rice vinegar with freshly squeezed citrus juice, such as yuzu or Meyer lemons.

– Vegetarian variation: This recipe is already vegetarian-friendly, but if you want to make it vegan, simply omit the bonito flakes or substitute them with dried shiitake mushrooms.

– Sweet and sour: If you prefer a sweeter ponzu sauce, add some sugar to taste. You can also adjust the ratio of vinegar-to-soy sauce depending on your preference.

– Black sesame: For an extra nutty flavor and texture, add some black sesame seeds to the ponzu sauce before serving.

– Salad dressing: This citrusy sauce is not only great for dipping, but it also makes for a delicious salad dressing. Just drizzle some over mixed greens and veggies for a light and refreshing meal.

No matter what variation you choose, this ponzu sauce is sure to elevate any dish with its sweet and sour flavors. Experiment with different combinations until you find the perfect pairing for your favorite vegetable or protein.

Serving and Pairing

 Elevate your meal with a homemade dip that takes only a few minutes to make.
Elevate your meal with a homemade dip that takes only a few minutes to make.

Japanese Ponzu sauce is a versatile condiment that can be served with various dishes, and it has a unique citrus-based flavor that perfectly complements different kinds of food. Whether you’re serving sushi, grilled vegetables, or meat, this sauce can elevate the taste profile of your dish.

For vegetable lovers, try using it as a dipping sauce for steamed or raw veggies for a refreshing, healthy snack option. You can also use it as a salad dressing to add extra flavor to your greens.

If you’re serving seafood, drizzle Japanese ponzu sauce over grilled or poached fish for an explosion of sweet and sour taste that highlights the freshness of the seafood. You can also mix the ponzu sauce with soy sauce and rice vinegar to create an excellent marinade for shrimp or scallops.

For meat dishes, this citrusy sauce is an ideal dipping and glazing option. Try cooking pork or beef in teriyaki or soy sauce and serve with Japanese ponzu on the side. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for chicken skewers or shabu-shabu (a Japanese hot pot dish).

Japanese ponzu is an excellent pairing for rice bowls and noodles such as soba or udon. Drizzle some ponzu over your noodle dish to add more depth of flavor to your meal.

Finally, if you want something simple yet tasty, serve your ponzu over steaming hot white rice and sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top; this makes every bite deliciously savory.

Overall, Japanese Ponzu Sauce is a must-have in any kitchen because it’s suitable for vegetarians, gluten-free, and adds a fresh flavor to various dishes from appetizers to entrees.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A plant-based Japanese Ponzu Sauce is the perfect complement to any vegan dish.
A plant-based Japanese Ponzu Sauce is the perfect complement to any vegan dish.

Once you’ve made the Japanese Ponzu Sauce – Vegetarian Variation Recipe, you may have leftovers that are great for making-ahead to enjoy later. This sauce stores well in the refrigerator and can also be frozen for longer-term storage. However, before storing, it is important to make sure your sauce is adequately cooled down first.

To store, transfer your ponzu sauce to an airtight container, and make sure it has completely cooled down. Store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or alternatively store it in the freezer for up to six months.

If you plan on reheating your ponzu sauce, remember that this particular sauce tastes best served cold. Therefore, there’s no need to reheat it. If you do choose to reheat your sauce, do so carefully! It is important to only heat your sauce over low heat and monitor it closely to ensure that it doesn’t burn or separate.

In terms of make-ahead tips, we recommend preparing this delicious Japanese Ponzu Sauce recipe the day before serving over your favorite vegetable dishes. Doing so will allow the flavors of the ingredients to meld together even further, resulting in an enhanced flavor that’ll leave your taste buds satisfied.

With its zesty citrus profile and elements of sweet and sour flavors tied together with rice vinegar and soy sauce, the Japanese Ponzu Sauce – Vegetarian Variation Recipe is a versatile and delightful addition as a salad dressing or dipping sauce for various Japanese cuisines that’ll amp up any dish’s flavor profile.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Bring a taste of Japan to your kitchen with this mouthwatering Ponzu Sauce recipe.
Bring a taste of Japan to your kitchen with this mouthwatering Ponzu Sauce recipe.

When making the Japanese Ponzu Sauce, it’s important to keep in mind the proper ratios of citrus juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. However, there are a few additional tips that can help you achieve the perfect flavor and texture for your vegetarian variation.

Firstly, consider using a mixture of citrus juices to give your ponzu sauce a complex flavor profile. Yuzu juice is traditional, but Meyer lemons or even a combination of lime and grapefruit juice can work well. The zest from these fruits also adds extra depth to the sauce.

Another tip is to use gluten-free soy sauce if needed. Tamari or coconut aminos are great options for those avoiding gluten. Additionally, homemade ponzu sauce can be made by simmering katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) in mirin and soy sauce vinegar before adding citrus juice.

When serving the ponzu sauce as a dipping sauce, consider adding some black sesame seeds for a nutty flavor and contrasting color. As a salad dressing, thin out the ponzu with some vegetable oil for a lighter texture.

Lastly, store any extra ponzu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. When reheating, make sure not to overheat as this can cause the citrus flavors to become bitter.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy a perfectly balanced vegetarian variation of the classic Japanese condiment – Ponzu Sauce!


As you embark on your culinary journey to master the Japanese Ponzu Sauce – Vegetarian Variation Recipe, it’s natural to have some questions and concerns along the way. Fear not, dear readers! In this section, I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding this recipe that will guide you through any uncertainties you may have. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner, my tips and recommendations will help you achieve perfect results every time. So let’s dive in!

What can I use instead of vegetarian ponzu sauce?

Here’s a little trick for creating a Ponzu substitute using soy sauce and vinegar. Combine equal parts soy sauce and vinegar, adding a dash of sweetness with a bit of sugar or honey to suit your preference. You can also make it more interesting by incorporating a citrus zest or juice to give it that extra oomph. This perfect mixture can be applied as a versatile marinade, dressing, or dipping sauce.

Is yuzu ponzu vegetarian?

In this recipe, we’ll be using a citrus sauce that is free from preservatives, MSG, and gluten. This sauce is perfect for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those who are mindful of their health. The sauce features the tangy and flavorful combination of yuzu, yukou, and sudachi citrus.

Is citrus ponzu vegetarian?

Ponzu sauce is a delicious combination of soy sauce, lemon, vinegar and sugar that creates a perfect balance of sweetness, sourness and saltiness. It’s a vegetarian and vegan-friendly sauce that’s also fat-free.

What is ponzu dressing made of?

Ponzu Sauce is a tangy and citrusy Japanese condiment that is reminiscent of vinaigrette. A delicious blend of various citrus juices, vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin or sugar makes up this versatile sauce.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Japanese Ponzu Sauce- Vegetarian Variation Recipe is a must-try for all vegetarians and anyone looking for a refreshing and delicious dipping sauce. With its sweet-sour flavor and citrus-based dressing, it will leave your taste buds wanting more. The combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and citrus juice makes it suitable for both Japanese cuisine and other dishes like salads or roasted vegetables.

This recipe has proven that vegan cuisine can be just as exciting and flavorsome as traditional meat dishes. Whether you are a seasoned cook or an amateur in the kitchen, this sauce is simple to make yet packed with delightful taste. No dinner table is complete without a bowl of Ponzu Sauce for your favorite vegetable dish.

So why not give it a try today? Impress your family and guests with a homemade bowl of this versatile sauce that can elevate any meal to another level. This Japanese Ponzu Sauce – Vegetarian Variation Recipe is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and easily adaptable to suit any dietary restrictions or preferences. Don’t wait; head to your kitchen now and indulge in the purity of this authentic Japanese condiment!

Japanese Ponzu Sauce - Vegetarian Variation

Japanese Ponzu Sauce - Vegetarian Variation Recipe

This is my second version of ponzu sauce that is vegetarian and closer to the bottled ponzu sauce. Whereas the first version of my ponzu sauce is based on katsuobushi - dried bonito flakes, this one is based on kombu - seaweed/kelp. You can find kombu bagged in dry form in Japanese or Korean markets (or some Asian markets). The first Ponzu Sauce is mellow with a nice aroma and taste of bonito and very little vinegar. This version is sharper in taste and more defined without any bonito taste or aroma. Although ponzu sauce is one of the sauces for shabu shabu, it is used as a dipping sauce for many Japanese hot pots known as nabemono. I use Meyer lemons for this version since I have no access for yuzu citrus yet. You can use any combination lemons, limes or some orange. Use 10 x 15 cm kombu cut in 3 pieces. The leftover kombu after soaking in the sauce can be used to line miso paste. It provides wonderful taste to miso. Note to those who never tried ponzu: This sauce is very versatile and you can use it top any steamed veggies, fish, meat, or tofu. You can also add a bit of oil to make into a traditional Japanese style salad dressing but go easy on oil!
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Calories 23.1 kcal


  • 200 ml sake
  • 1 piece kombu, cut in 3 pieces (seaweed or kelp)
  • 250 ml soy sauce
  • 100 ml rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 lemons, juice of


  • Heat sake with kombu in a small saucepan and boil until alcohol is cooked off. Do not overcook.
  • Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and juice to the sake kombu mixture. Refrigerate in a glass container for at least 2 days. Remove kombu after 2 days.
  • Keep the sauce in the refrigerator.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 29gCalories: 23.1kcalCarbohydrates: 2.4gProtein: 1.4gSodium: 708.3mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 1.1g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Asian, Easy, For Large Groups, Japanese, Sauces
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