This yum yum sauce recipe is just like the one you'll find in Japanese Hibachi restaurants, made with mayo, tomato paste, cayenne and paprika. My version has a bit more kick to it.
Easy Yum Yum Sauce Recipe
I had a bit of a chuckle at a local Japanese hibachi steakhouse years ago when I discovered the name for their thick pink dipping sauce was called "Yum Yum Sauce".
It sounded like a joke, like a made up name because someone didn't know what to call it.
Nope. That's the name! It's great stuff, a tangy, slightly addictive dipper, great for coating shrimp or scallops, veggies, even bites of steak fresh off the grill.
Patty likes it on some of her favorite sushi rolls.
It's creamy and tangy with just a hint of spiciness, so I'm bringing the recipe to you, my chilihead friends. We're talking Homemade Yum Yum Sauce, and it's so much better than store bought hibachi sauce.
What is Yum Yum Sauce?
Yum Yum Sauce is a mayonnaise-based sauce popular in Japanese steakhouse or Hibachi restaurants. It is made primarily with mayonnaise, tomato paste and paprika, along with a few other flavor building ingredients.
It is usually served on the side and popular with steak, seafood, rice or vegetables.
It's a super versatile sauce, used to add flavor to just about anything, especially fresh off the hibachi grill. It is sometimes called sakura sauce.
Yum Yum sauce is incredibly easy to make at home by whisking a few ingredients together, then tasting and adjusting to your preference.
Below is the base recipe, but in the recipe notes & tips section, I'll discuss how you can adjust to make it your own, and how you can make a nice and spicy version.
That's how I like it!
Let's talk about how to make yum yum sauce, shall we?
Yum Yum Sauce Ingredients
- Mayonnaise. Mayo is the base for a good yum yum sauce, so choose your favorite brand. It will affect the final flavor. I personally prefer to use a good Japanese mayo, which is more yolk based. It's quite rich, but worth it. Use 1-1/4 cup mayonnaise for this recipe.
- Melted Butter. This adds a bit more richness and flavor. I use 1 tablespoon.
- Tomato Paste. Many recipes call for tomato paste, and it works great. Use 1 teaspoon. However, if you're looking for a spicier version, try the recipe with sriracha or even gochujang. I make mine with 1 tablespoon spicy sriracha and I love it.
- Honey. This adds a touch of sweetness. As an alternative, try agave nectar or white sugar. I use 1 teaspoon honey.
- The Seasonings. I like mine spicy, so I use 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon paprika, along with 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Adjust to your personal tastes. Smoked paprika adds a nice quality to the sauce. Skip the cayenne for a milder version, or go with a hotter chili powder for a spicier version.
- Water. For thinning. I used about 2 tablespoons.
- Hot Sauce. Optional, for a spicier version. I'll add in a dash or two, especially if I'm using tomato paste. I like the vinegary touch. You can also use rice vinegar for that particular pop of flavor for a milder version.
How to Make Yum Yum Sauce
Whisk together mayo, melted butter, tomato paste or sriracha, honey, cayenne powder, paprika, garlic powder and a bit of hot sauce, if desired, in a bowl. You can also use a food processor or blender.
Test for thickness and give it a taste.
Adjust with more tomato paste (or sriracha or gochujang), hot sauce and seasonings to your preference.
For a thinner sauce, add water a tablespoon as a time then whisk to your desired consistency.
Boom! Done! It's so easy, isn't it? Did you even realize how simple yum yum sauce is? Yep. Such an easy recipe.
Easy, but big on flavor. This will make you about 1.5 cups or so.
Recipe Notes & Tips
- Use Good Quality Mayonnaise. Use a good Japanese mayo for a superior yum yum sauce, though any mayonnaise will work for this recipe.
- Taste, Adjust, Repeat. Not all yum yum sauces are equal. Everyone makes theirs a bit differently. I've seen complaints on other recipes because people didn't adjust to their own preference. If you feel it tastes too much like mayo, add more tomato paste, cayenne and paprika. Try more hot sauce. Need more garlic? Go for it! Onion powder? Sure thing! I like to use extra sriracha in mine. Taste, adjust, repeat! Make it how you like it.
- Tomato Paste Alternatives. As mentioned, most base yum yum sauce recipes call for tomato paste, but some good alternatives include sriracha, gochujang, chili-garlic paste, and even ketchup. Try them all.
How to Use Yum Yum Sauce
Yum Yum sauce is a great dipper for anything fried or stir fried, particularly as a fried shrimp sauce.
In the Japanese steak house restaurants, it's served with everything. Dip your steak into it, or smear it onto your steak or other grilled meats.
Mix some into your fried rice for a tangy flavor pop. You can even use it as a salad dressing or as a dip for French fries.
Store yum yum sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will last a week or longer.
I do not recommend freezing because of the mayo content.
That's it, my friends. Yum Yum sauce! Just how you like it. I hope you enjoy it!
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this yummy sauce, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Yum Yum Sauce Recipe
- 1-1/4 cup mayonnaise use Japanese mayo, if possible, but your favorite brand will do
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste or use sriracha or gochujang for spicier versions - I make mine with 1 tablespoon spicy sriracha
- 1 teaspoon honey or use agave, or sugar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons water or as needed for thinning
- Dash of hot sauce for a spicy version, if using tomato paste
- Whisk together all of the ingredients except for the water in a small bowl. Test for thickness and give it a taste.
- Adjust with more tomato paste (or sriracha or gochujang) and seasonings to your preference.
- For a thinner sauce, add water a tablespoon as a time then whisk to your preferred consistency.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 7/7/23 to include new information. It was originally published on 1/3/20.