Tonkatsu Sauce

published Jun 7, 2023
Tonkatsu Sauce Recipe

A dark-brown sauce that’s served alongside tonkatsu (crispy deep-fried pork cutlet). It’s a beloved condiment in Japanese home cooking for a reason.

Makes2 cups

Prep1 minute

Cook8 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
close up over head shot of tonkatsu sauce in a small bowl place on a white marble surface
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

There have been many times when I was ready to dig into a plate of just-fried, extra-crispy tonkatsu only to realize that I didn’t have any tonkatsu sauce in my fridge. My go-to is Bull Dog tonkatsu sauce, a famous Japanese brand that has the perfect balance of salty, umami, and slightly punchy flavors. But to make sure I never run into this problem again, I’ve come up with my own recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to make. 

Because the flavor of tonkatsu sauce can vary depending on which brand you use (some are more tangy, sharp, or salty than others), I tasted many different brands to create one that’s a delightful balance of umami, salty, sweet, and tangy. So now, instead of using cold, straight-from-the-fridge tonkatsu sauce over hot katsu, I pour luscious, silky homemade tonkatsu sauce, which takes my tonkatsu to the next level. Even though it’s mainly paired with tonkatsu, or anything fried, this flavorful sauce is so versatile and can amp up the flavors in so many more dishes beyond crispy katsu.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

What Is Tonkatsu Sauce?

Tonkatsu sauce (とんかつソース) is a dark-brown sauce that’s served alongside tonkatsu (crispy deep-fried pork cutlet). It’s a beloved condiment in Japanese home cooking. Many people keep a store-bought one on hand, but it’s easy to make the flavorful sauce from scratch with a few pantry staples. 

Ingredients You Need to Make Tonkatsu Sauce

Other recipes use fewer ingredients, but each ingredient here brings something different to the table. 

  • Unsalted butter: Some recipes use milk to make it creamy, but I use more butter than flour to make it taste decadent. 
  • All-purpose flour
  • Water
  • Ketchup: Adds a tangy sweetness.
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon juice: A final squeeze at the end balances everything so it’s well-rounded.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

How to Serve Tonkatsu Sauce 

You can serve tonkatsu sauce with tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) or chicken katsu (deep-fried chicken cutlet). But you can also serve this over omurice (Japanese omelet rice) to add a savory kick. And because the sauce is so versatile, it can be a good pairing with any protein like roast chicken or baked vegetables.

Tonkatsu Sauce Recipe

A dark-brown sauce that’s served alongside tonkatsu (crispy deep-fried pork cutlet). It’s a beloved condiment in Japanese home cooking for a reason.

Prep time 1 minute

Cook time 8 minutes

Makes 2 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 1/3 cup

    ketchup

  • 1/3 cup

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    oyster sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until a light caramel color, about 1 minute.

  2. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1 cup water and stir until combined. Add 1/3 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened into a gravy-like consistency, 6 to 7 minutes.

  3. Turn off the heat. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice and stir until combined.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.