Tonkatsu sauce is a sweet, tangy condiment for Japanese pork cutlets (tonkatsu). This easy recipe uses basic ingredients and lets you customize the flavor. It’s a delicious addition to your meal in no time.

Homemade tonkatsu sauce with freshly crushed sesame seeds.

Are you ready to take your fried food game to the next level? Say goodbye to boring store-bought sauces and hello to homemade tonkatsu sauce! With just a handful of ingredients, you can create a sauce that’s all your own. It will surely impress even the most discerning taste buds.

This recipe strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory, with just the right amount of tanginess from the Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. And don’t forget about the crushed sesame seeds. They’re the secret ingredient that takes this sauce from good to gourmet.

Tonkatsu sauce combined with crushed sesame seeds in a small bowl.

What is tonkatsu sauce?

Tonkatsu sauce (or katsu sauce) is a popular thick and savory-sweet condiment used for dipping tonkatsu, a Japanese dish made of breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets.

People typically make the sauce by combining ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, and other flavors to create a quick and easy version of the sauce.

In addition to these basic ingredients, some homemade recipes also include fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, celery, and apples, as well as prunes or pineapples and a variety of spices.

In the early 1900s, as Western cuisine gained popularity in Japanese households, people developed tonkatsu sauce to suit their palate. They commonly used this condiment for Western-inspired dishes, including cutlets and other fried foods.

Most Asian stores offer bottled tonkatsu sauce from various brands in different flavors. People widely favor the Bulldog brand for its distinct taste and availability.

Japanese Pork cutlet served with homemade tonkatsu sauce.

Tonkatsu sauce uses

Who says you can’t put sauce on everything? While it’s perfect with pork cutlets, this versatile sauce elevates chicken, beef, tofu, and more. Enjoy a balanced blend of salt, sweet, and savory without overpowering.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Tonkatsu, chicken katsu, or any deep-fried food
  • Grilled chicken or pork
  • Tempura dipping sauce
  • Okonomiyaki topping sauce
  • Korokke (Japanese croquettes)
  • Takoyaki
  • Omurice
  • Dressing for burger or sandwich
Tonkatsu sauce served with the crushed sesame seeds.

What makes this katsu sauce different?

The combination of worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce forms the base of the sauce. Onion powder and dry mustard (or dijon mustard) deepen the flavor and add more umami taste.

Additionally, toasted sesame seeds are crushed and added to the sauce, providing a delicious nutty aroma and taste that is similar to the sauce served in tonkatsu restaurants. (However, sesame seeds can be skipped if desired)

You can effortlessly adjust the ingredient amounts to suit your preferences and personalize the sauce to your liking.

Ingredients for making easy tonkatsu sauce.

Ingredient list

  • Worcestershire sauce: By adding it to the recipe, it becomes closer in flavor to the store-bought version. Those who prefer a more intense taste can double the amount of spices used.
  • Ketchup: adds a tangy sweetness
  • Soy sauce: provides a salty flavor to the sauce.
  • Brown sugar: Adding a touch of sugar helps to balance out the saltiness from the soy sauce.
  • Dry mustard (or dijon mustard): adds a sharp, strong flavor with a slightly spicy kick.
  • Onion powder: adds savory flavor to the sauce.
  • Toasted sesame seeds: crushing the toasted sesame seeds is a crucial step in making the restaurant-style version, as it adds an extra layer of roasted nuttiness to the flavor. However, this step can be skipped if desired.
    • You can purchase pre-toasted sesame seeds in most Asian markets.
    • Or toast raw sesame seeds in a heated skillet. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool before using or storing.

How to make easy tonkatsu sauce

Step 1. To prepare the toasted sesame seeds, place them in a suribachi or mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them (if you prefer a finer texture, you can crush them further). Set aside.

Step 2. Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dry mustard (or Dijon mustard) and onion powder in a small mixing bowl. Mix well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Step 3. Just before serving, add the crushed sesame seeds and mix well. Drizzle the sauce over your tonkatsu or other fried foods and enjoy!

Homemade tonkatsu sauce is combined with crushed toasted sesame seeds.

Shelf life

Homemade tonkatsu sauce can last in the refrigerator for up to one month if kept in an airtight container. (I recommend mixing in the crushed sesame seeds just before serving for maximum freshness and flavor.)

Favorite Japanese Recipes

Homemade tonkatsu sauce in a bowl is next to the freshly crushed sesame seeds.

Easy Tonkatsu Sauce Recipe

Tonkatsu sauce is a tasty condiment that goes well with Japanese pork cutlets. This easy recipe uses simple ingredients and can be customized to your liking.
5 from 8 ratings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard, or 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, to add later

Instructions 

  • To prepare the toasted sesame seeds, place them in a suribachi or mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them (if you prefer a finer texture, you can crush them further). Set aside.
  • To make tonkatsu sauce, combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dry mustard (or Dijon mustard) and onion powder in a small mixing bowl. Mix well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Just before serving, add the crushed sesame seeds to the sauce and mix well. Drizzle the sauce over your tonkatsu or other fried foods and enjoy!
    Note: Homemade tonkatsu sauce can last in the refrigerator for up to 1 month if kept in an airtight container. (I recommend mixing in the crushed sesame seeds just before serving for maximum freshness and flavor.)
Calories: 55kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 361mg, Potassium: 155mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 49IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 1mg
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