Donburi Sauce

Come try my Donburi Sauce recipe, the authentic base sauce for Japanese donburi bowls, perfect for a flavorful braising sauce that elevates your favorite rice bowl dish! With a blend of dashi, Japanese sake, soy sauce, and a touch of sweetness, this sauce is easy to make and versatile, adding depth to your favorite donburi dishes. Dive into the world of Japanese cuisine with this essential sauce and elevate your home-cooked rice bowl meals with a touch of authentic taste!

Japanese donburi sauce in a bowl.

Why I Love This Recipe

If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, you’ll love my Donburi Sauce recipe! I crafted this in mind to be an authentic base sauce for a variety of delicious traditional donburi dishes like my Chicken Donburi, Katsu Don, and Chicken Katsu Don. This braising sauce serves as the cornerstone of Japanese comfort food, infusing each dish with layers of sweet, savory, and umami-packed flavors!

Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and can be premade and stored in the fridge, allowing you to whip up a satisfying rice bowl meal in no time. Don’t wait any longer—dive into the world of Japanese flavors and elevate your home-cooked meals with this essential sauce for your favorite rice bowl dish!



  • Dashi fish broth made from steeping kombu and bonito flakes with boiling water. Can also use Hondashi mixed in water for instant dashi. Base of the sauce to provide umami flavors.
  • Japanese Sake – typically will come in a large bottle labeled junmai sake. Can also substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine, found at local grocery stores or Asian markets. Adds additional umami flavor to the sauce and balance out the flavors.
  • Soy Sauce – low-sodium Soy Sauce preferred. Can also use tamari for gluten-free.
  • Sweetener –  use your preferred sweetener.
  • Onion – sliced yellow or brown onion. Helps add subtle sweetness to the donburi sauce.

🥢 Dashi Pro Tip

For easier preparation of the dashi, use Hondashi mixed with water. This quick tip simplifies the process and ensures a flavorful base for your dish.

🍶 Mirin Note

We acknowledge that mirin might not be readily available in all locations. To maintain the authentic flavors of this donburi sauce, my recipe modifies the ratio of Japanese sake and sweetener to substitute for mirin.

Ingredients to make Japanese donburi sauce on the counter top.

Essential Kitchen Equipment

  • Large Flat Frying Pan


Step 1 Prepare Dashi.

Dashi in a bowl.

Step 2 In a large frying pan with a flat bottom surface, combine dashi, soy sauce, sweetener, and Japanese sake. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add optional sliced onions and simmer for 60 seconds uncovered.

Dashi in sauce pan.

🧅 Optional Onion Note

If you prefer to have fresh onions simmered with your meat, you can Omit From the Sauce as they are commonly included in many donburi recipes during the braising process.

🍲 Simmering Pro Tip

For optimal results, ensure to Gently Simmer the sauce rather than allowing it to overboil. This technique helps preserve the flavors and textures of the ingredients.

Step 3 Strain the sauce if using sliced onions and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Japanese donburi sauce placed in a storage container.

💡 Batch Pro Tip

Consider making a Larger Batch of the sauce and Storing in the Fridge for future use. This way, you’ll have the sauce ready whenever you want to make a quick and delicious donburi dish.

Recipe Variations

You can effortlessly tweak the ingredient ratios in this sauce to craft a Sweet Japanese Steak Sauce, ideal for enhancing the flavors of my Steak Donburi Bowl. Additionally, this versatile sauce can serve as a base for my Pepper Lunch Sauce, adding flavor to your Japanese Beef Pepper Rice. These variation offers a sweeter profile that complements the savory richness of the steak, adding depth to your dish.

Pairing Recommendations

Enhance the flavor of various donburi bowls by using this versatile sauce as a key ingredient. Pair it with my Soboro Donburi Ground Chicken Bowl for a comforting meal. Additionally, it is an essential sauce for my authentic Japanese Beef Bowl Gyudon dish.

Japanese donburi sauce being scooped out with a spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use donburi sauce?

To use donburi sauce, simply add your choice of meat to the sauce, cover, and simmer for 4-6 minutes, adjusting the timing based on the type of meat being used. Once the meat is cooked, transfer it along with the juices onto a bed of rice in a bowl to create your donburi. This sauce serves as a flavorful braising liquid, infusing your meat with rich flavor and creating a delicious flavor for your rice bowl.

How many servings of donburi will this sauce make?

This sauce recipe will make approximately 3-4 servings of donburi, allowing for flexibility depending on your preferred serving size.

How long should I simmer the sauce with the meat?

The simmering time can vary depending on the type of meat you're using. Generally, simmering for 4-6 minutes should be sufficient, but adjust as needed for different cuts of meat.

What can I do if the sauce is too salty?

If the sauce turns out too salty, you can balance it out by adding a bit of dashi to dilute the saltiness.

Storage Tips

To store leftovers, place them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. When stored properly, the leftovers will remain fresh for 14-21 days, allowing you to enjoy them at your convenience. You also can freeze in portion size for longer term storage.

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Watch How To Make It

Japanese donburi sauce being scooped out with a spoon.

Donburi Sauce

Welcome to my recipe for Donburi Sauce, the quintessential Japanese braising sauce. Dive into the world of Japanese cuisine with this versatile sauce, perfect for enhancing the flavors of your favorite rice bowl dishes.
5 from 2 votes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Donburi Sauce, Japanese donburi sauce
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 4
Print Recipe
Calories: 25kcal


  • 2/3 Cup Dashi
  • 1/4 Cup Japanese Sake
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Sweetener your preferred sweetener
  • 1/4 Cup Onions sliced, optional


  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Ingredients to make Japanese donburi sauce.
  • Prepare dashi.
    Dashi in a bowl.
  • In a frying pan, mix together dashi, soy sauce, sweetener, and sake. Bring the mixture to a boil. If desired, add sliced onions and simmer uncovered for 60-90 seconds. If using onions, strain the mixture and transfer it to a bowl for storage.
    Japanese donburi sauce in a frying pan.


Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 758mg | Potassium: 75mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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