Tangy, savory, sweet, and spicy… creamy Yum Yum Sauce has it all! This creamy Japanese steakhouse sauce is super easy to make, and adds the perfect touch to everything from tempura to tacos!
A Hibachi Steakhouse Favorite
Ever since I first tried yum yum sauce at a hibachi restaurant, I’ve wanted to make it at home. If you’ve never tried it, yum yum sauce is a creamy orange-pink sauce that goes perfectly with everything: shrimp, steamed or fried rice, your favorite stir-fry or steamed veggies, grilled chicken, steak… you name it!
Once I tried making it at home, I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it is! All you need are a few simple ingredients to get that perfect Japanese steakhouse taste. We especially like serving this flavorful sauce over fried rice or for dipping shrimp, but it even makes a yummy (see what I did there?) hamburger topping or dipping sauce for French fries.
Is Yum Yum Sauce Japanese?
While most Americans have considered yum yum sauce a traditional Japanese sauce, it seems to have gotten its start here in the United States! As hibachi grills became more and more popular in the U.S., patrons were wowed by the sweet and tangy mayonnaise-based condiment. But restaurants in Japan were not serving the same sauce (and many still don’t), so it seems to have been invented by Japanese restaurants stateside.
Depending on the area and restaurant, yum yum sauce has been called “white sauce” (even though it’s not white!), “shrimp sauce” (even though there’s no shrimp in it!), and “sakura sauce” (sakura means cherry blossom tree). But I think “yum yum sauce” is the perfect name. It totally captures what this sauce is really all about: simply amazing flavor!
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make this savory dipping sauce at home. (Note: For the exact measurements and full recipe instructions, scroll to the bottom of the post and check out the printable recipe card!)
- Mayonnaise: Any prepared mayo will do! You could also use homemade mayonnaise if you prefer.
- Ketchup: Adding some ketchup to the sauce gives it a delicate pink-orange color, and a hint of sweet and tangy flavor.
- Granulated Sugar: Keep in mind that as the sauce chills, the sugar will melt into the sauce, making it look a bit separated. This is normal, and easy to fix with a quick stir!
- Paprika and Garlic Powder
- Rice Vinegar: You could also use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Water: Add water to thin the sauce to the right consistency.
How to Make Yum Yum Sauce
This is the easiest recipe ever! Seriously, all you have to do is mix everything together. From there, give it a brief rest in the fridge, and then it’s all about dipping and enjoying!
- Mix. In a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to blend the mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, paprika, vinegar, and garlic powder into a smooth and creamy sauce.
- Chill. Cover the sauce, and refrigerate it for at least one hour.
- Enjoy! Give your homemade yum yum sauce a good stir before serving.
Tips for Success
What else should you know about making this creamy, tangy sauce at home? It’s super easy, but I do have a couple of tips to share! Read on for my best hints for making a crave-able sauce.
- Use Japanese Mayonnaise: Any mayonnaise is fine, but Japanese mayonnaise often includes apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar) and egg yolks for a slightly richer, sweeter taste.
- Add Mirin or Sherry: A tiny splash of mirin or sherry is a great way to add a little extra flavor to the sauce.
Use a Squeeze Bottle: If you’d like to drizzle the sauce decoratively (for example, over sushi or grilled meat), go ahead and chill it in a squeeze bottle. Give it a shake before using.
As I mentioned earlier, yum yum sauce is very versatile! It goes with almost anything, thanks to its creamy, tangy, slightly sweet flavor profile. This list of serving ideas is just a start!
- Fried Rice or Cauliflower Fried Rice
- Steamed White (or Brown) Rice
- Hibachi/Stir-Fried Chicken, Beef, or Pork
- Stir-Fried Veggies
- Egg Rolls or Spring Rolls
- Fries, Onion Rings, or Potato Wedges
- Chicken Nuggets
- Baked or Fried Fish
How to Store Leftover Yum Yum Sauce
To store leftover sauce, place it in an airtight container (such as a glass jar with a lid). Keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. Stir well before serving.
Yum Yum Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-3 tablespoons water
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, paprika, vinegar, and garlic powder until smooth. Stir in the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
- Cover the sauce and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir well before serving.
- Store the sauce in the refrigerator in a food storage container with a lid or in jar for up to 5 days.