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Homemade Natto Sauce Recipe

how to make natto sauce, homemade natto sauce, Japanese cooking, Japanese home cooking, recipe Food & Recipes

The sauce for the Natto beans, we call it “Natto no Tare”.

Natto sauce is something more than soy sauce, indeed, it makes Natto beans easy to eat while adding savory flavor.

When we make Natto beans at home like my recipe in this post, we need to make Natto no Tare somehow.

Actually, Natto sauce is super easy to make if you have all the ingredients in your kitchen.

You can make the authentic Natto sauce in just 10 minutes.

6 Ingredients You’ll Need For Natto Sauce

  1. 1½ tbsp of Sugar
  2. 2 tbsp of Japanese Sake/white wine
  3. 1 tsp of HONDASHI powder/dashi powder
  4. 1 tsp Vinegar
  5. 3 tbsp Japanese Dark Soy sauce
  6. 2 tbsp Water

*Optionally, you can use mirin instead of water and sake.

If you are going to use mirin,

Reduce 2 tbsp of sake to 1 tbsp.
Reduce 1.5 tbsp of sugar to 2 tsp of sugar

Mirin Is Essential In Your Cooking?

Mirin is essential to make Japanese food at home, do you believe this myth?

I stopped using mirin when I lived in Nagoya, (20 years ago!) and still have no problem in my cooking life.

Indeed, Mirin is one of the top traditional condiments in Japan, has a long history, and is often used in Japanese cooking.

The purpose of using mirin is mainly to add Umami flavor, and mild sweetness, definitely making the deep savory flavor in the dish and often used for giving the glaze to the dish.

Mirin is the condiment to upgrade the dish while adding a mild sweet rich savory flavor and shiny glaze.

So why I don’t use Mirin is because “pricy”, “the dish likely comes out the same flavor”, and “need to the just right amount for cooking”.

Recently, the mirin price has dropped down due to the Japanese food trends and it is easy to get in US grocery stores.

It is up to you to add mirin to your pantry condiments, but, I’ll tell you popular mirin substitutes if you don’t collect international condiments just for it like me.

The recipe I made below already tells you the ingredient amount in case you don’t use Mirin.

Mirin Substitutes

Mirin contains alcohol and sweetness, so make “mirin” with ideally Japanese sake (but you can use white wine/sherry) and sugar.

Raw cane sugar is better to use for natural mild sweetness.

The ratio of Japanese sake (or white wine/sherry) to the sugar is 3:1. If you want 1 tablespoon of mirin, mix 1 tablespoon of sake with 1 teaspoon of sugar.

You can also use honey instead of sugar.

Honey is 1.3 times sweeter than white sugar, therefore, reduce the amount of honey in the ratio.

As a guide, the ratio of Japanese sake to honey is 3:0.8.

The nice thing about using honey is adding a glaze like using mirin to your dishes. Also, the natural sweetness of honey will add a touch of class to any dish.

What’s Hondashi Powder

When you make a big batch of Natto sauce, you can use authentic Japanese dashi broth made from dried fish, bonito flakes, or dashi kombu (dried kelp).

Yet, I don’t think you want to make “that much” to enjoy homemade natto beans at home.

Hondashi powder/ dashi powder is a handy item to make Japanese cuisine easily and quickly without making Dashi broth with the sensitive picky process.

Ajinomoto “Hondashi” is a staple granule soup stock powder in Japanese home cooking which is a versatile seasoning that easily and quickly adds savory flavor to the dish.

There are many products of granule-type Japanese “dashi” powder, and “Hondashi” is a product of Ajinomoto.

If you are looking for authentic Japanese flavor, hondashi is a must-item in your pantry.

Ajinomoto Hondashi contains monosodium glutamate (MSG) extracted but all from natural raw materials such as kelp, and bonito flakes.

If you still prefer non-MSG, addictive-free Japanese dashi products,

go for this post and I’ll introduce non-MSG dashi broth that you can get.

Substitutes For Natto Sauce

Well, Natto sauce is made of Soy sauce, so you can use my other Japanese savory sauce instead of the Natto sauce.


Japanese mustard (called KARASHI) is made with mainly variety called “Oriental mustard'” and is spicier than common mustard.

Japanese “KARASHI” mustard can add a kick of spice and refreshing flavor with a small batch.

It is often used in Japanese cuisine, such as oden, Kakuni pork belly, Tonkatsu cutlets, udon noodles, pork buns, and Natto beans.

how to make natto sauce, homemade natto sauce, Japanese cooking, Japanese home cooking, recipe

Homemade Natto Sauce

Rico McConnellRico McConnell
Natto sauce is the special sauce for Natto. Better than dressing natto using soy sauce only. The Natto sauce tastes exactly the same as the small packet in the natto package. Moreover, you can make authentic natto sauce in just 10 minutes.
Course Sauce
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 16 servings


  • 3 tbsp Japanese Dark Soy sauce Kikkoman
  • 2 tbsp Japanese Sake
  • tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Hondashi powder *Reduce the amount to ¼-¾ as your taste
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 1 tsp Vinegar mild vinegar recommended


  • In a small saucepan, add Japanese sake, water, and sugar. Bring them to a boil and simmer for 1 minute to boil off the alcohol content, over medium heat.
    *Or you can microwave the mixture until it gets boiled.
  • Add soy sauce, hondashi powder, and vinegar, then, continue cooking until the sauce start boiling again.
  • Turn off the heat just before the sauce starts bubbling.
  • The sauce will be well-combined and rich taste after resting overnight in the fridge.



©Japanmcconnell/Rico McConnell- Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
Keyword condiment, Easy, Hondashi, Sake, Sauce, Soy sauce, Vegan, Vegetarian

How To Make Homemade Natto Without Starter

Natto beans are the Japanese traditional super healthy food to eat daily! Generally, you can get natto at any Asian grocery store, but you can save money and eat homemade fresh Natto every day using my easy homemade natto recipe; without a starter, use the instant pot for the whole process.

*Jump to the recipe!

How To Use Natto Sauce For Other Dishes

Natto sauce often likely leaves behind if you don’t eat Natto beans (unless you make homemade natto beans) every day.

Fortunately, this Natto sauce is versatile, you can use this sauce for any Asian dish such as a stir-fry sauce, a marinade sauce, a salad dressing, or a dipping sauce for Sashimi/ Chinese dumplings.

For Dipping Sauce

Asian Grilled Romaine

Fresh Romaine lettuce tastes great by itself, when you want to search for different flavors, grill it! Try this grilled romaine with an Asian twist. It’s simple, healthy, and absolutely delicious. Cut the top few inches and slice it in half, to grill it easier and prevent burning it.

Substitute the Natto sauce for dark soy sauce in this recipe.

Classic Japanese GYOZA Dumpling

Iconic golden crispy on the bottom, pretty pleats on the top, moreover, savory juicy inside. Dip this savory bomb into the Natto sauce! This classic Japanese pan-fried dumpling called Gyoza recipe serves up a popular weekend meal as well as a great appetizer for the party! No way you can compare homemade gyoza dumplings with take-out Gyoza from Japanese-like oriental restaurants or frozen chicken potstickers! Recipe? Click here!

Besides, you can season the GYOZA stuffing with this Natto sauce.

Japanese Shrimp Tempura

Light Crispy, Shrimp Tempura with a delicate, flaky batter made of the tempura batter mix. This is the easiest way to make AUTHENTIC JAPANESE TEMPURA, which is away from fritter-like fluffy, greasy, heavy, thick, crunchy tempura-like shrimp. Shrimp tempura has been a staple of traditional Japanese cuisine as well as Sushi. The aesthetically delicate, light, and crispy batter is the perfect match for seafood and vegetables. Use Japanese tempura mix, it’s no shame! *Jump to the recipe

For Marinade Sauce

Japanese-style Pork Shoulder Steak

Tender, moist, delicious pork shoulder steak is made by marinating the pork in my Japanese BBQ sauce, but, use Natto sauce easily when storing my homemade natto sauce! Cook the steak with a non-stick skillet on the stovetop for an easy quick, less-messy dinner. Cook the steak covered with a lid so that the steak never dries out and is cooked effectively. (*Jump to the recipe)

Juicy Crispy Boneless Chicken Breast Karaage

Goodbye dry fried chicken breast, with my tender juicy crispy Japanese fried chicken breast recipe! Deliciously seasoned in the traditional marinating sauce then double-frying until golden with mouthwatering crisp edges! Make tender and moist chicken breasts in two time-saver methods, and make them full-flavored, without dipping sauce. My simple and easy Karaage chicken breast recipe uses skinless and boneless chicken breasts in the Japanese traditional way. Enjoy this authentic gingery Karaage chicken breast.

Substitute the Natto sauce for dark soy sauce and sake. (*RECIPE)

Season The Dish

Japanese Style TANTANMEN

Spicy rich creamy nutty ramen noodles! Easy to make, grab a peanut butter in your panty! Tantanmen is definitely the Japanese ramen you want to try when you are looking for a new flavor and you will be obsessed with the sesame-seasoned soup (peanut butter in this recipe) and the spicy ground pork topping. When you have prepared NIKUMISO (the miso-flavored ground meat) already, you can serve the bowl of TANTANMEN really quickly to your table.

Just use the Natto sauce instead of soy sauce in the recipe.

Japanese Pork Stir-fry With Ginger Soy Sauce

We always love “easy, juicy, tender, delicious” dishes for weeknight dinners. Shogayaki, one of the popular Japanese home cooking, the recipe is literally “easy, juicy, tender, and delicious”!!! Use thinly sliced pork shoulder. Pork is good for energizing you and Asian gingery sauce definitely makes you hungry.

Substitute the Natto sauce for dark soy sauce, sake, and sugar. (*Recipe)


Japanese mixed rice is called TAKIKOMI GOHAN, which is made of dashi broth, soy sauce, protein, and vegetables. This is one of the traditionally popular comfort foods in Japan, oyster sauce gives it a little twist.

Substitute the Natto sauce for dark soy sauce, sake, sugar, and hondashi powder. (*RECIPE)

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