One of the easiest condiments you will ever make is this Yum Yum Sauce Recipe. It is quickly gaining momentum as one of the most popular sauces that you can make from scratch.
Made famous by hibachi grills, it is actually quite verstile and not at all of Japanese nature- nearly any dinner idea can benefit from a little yum yum, which is basically just an aioli or remoulade sauce (mayo based). Don’t bother buying it in grocery stores, make your own in minutes.
What's In This Article
What is Yum Yum Sauce?
It is a Japanese Steakhouse Shrimp Sauce with a mayo base, melted butter, tomato and other spices.
If you have ever been to Japanese hibachi restaurants, you’ve had the pale pink sauce, or as some call it white sauce and others just plain Japanese sauce.
Some refer to it as Yum Yum Sauce, others the seafood sauce and sometimes just the Japanese vegetable sauce, steakhouse sauce, yummy sauce, pink sauce, Sakura sauce or hibachi shrimp sauce.
Whatever you call it, this hibachi sauce is served in many Japanese restaurants and hibachi grills can be quite addictive and end up on much more of your food than just seafood. I happen to like it on hibachi chicken, crab cakes and also as a salad dressing.
In fact, some folks swear by it, blending it with fried rice and dipping everything on their dish in it. Honestly, I think some people crave the sauce, more than the actual meal.
Homemade Yum Yum Sauce Ingredients
This tangy sauce is made from simple ingredients.
- Mayonnaise (a blend of egg yolks and oil)– One of the main ingredients, this is the creamy base of the sauce.
- Tomato paste or tomato sauce– gives it the pink hue, but do not use ketchup, which is sweetened.
- Butter– Adds a velvety texture.
- Garlic powder & Onion Powder- For flavor, adjust according to personal preference. I happen to go heavy on these…
- Smoked paprika– Also gives the rosy appearance, but a faint sweet and smoky element. Use plain sweet paprika, but stay away from the hot and spicy ones.
- Sugar – Balances the acidity.
- Hot sauce or Sriracha Sauce- Gives our sauce a little zing and an edge. If you don’t want any heat, just swap for white vinegar, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
The base of this popular sauce is almost always mayonnaise. For this, I highly suggest using a crappy mayo. Yep. I just said it.
DO NOT USE GOOD MAYONNAISE. Good mayo has too much tang and pizzazz by itself. For this homemade yum yum sauce recipe, you need a bland mayo. A blank slate, if you will.
How to Make Yum Yum Sauce
The truth is, it is so simple to make at home that now you can eat it on everything you want.
There are many imitation sauces out there and depending on which hibachi steakhouse you go to, ingredients will vary slightly, so keep that in mind and try playing with our base recipe until you reach YOUR perfect sauce.
- Mix the Ingredients. Combine all ingredients into a small food processor and blend until fully incorporated. You can do this by hand with a whisk, but a food processor is much more efficient.
- Let the Flavors Mix. Place into an airtight container and chill for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight. The flavors need time to marry and combine before it reaches fully flavor perfection.
We want you to make it yummy for YOU and we also appreciate that every restaurant tends to make it different. Here is a jumping off point to make yours the best!
Sweeter Sauce– While I don’t suggest it, you can use ketchup, tomato paste or even sweet chili sauce. Ketchup will give you the sweetest flavor. You can also add a small amount of sugar to tomato paste. Chili sauce will be zingy.
White Sauce– Tomato paste and smoked paprika are what take this from white sauce to pink sauce. If your dream yum yum sauce is on the whiter end, chances are that your restaurant doesn’t use as much of these ingredients. Omit the paprika and use a small amount of tomato based ingredients.
Spicy Sauce– Some recipes call for cayenne pepper, but I prefer mine to be smoky and sweet, not spicy. If you like the heat, go ahead and add it! Also taste it and season to your preference for salt and pepper.
Thick or Thin– I like my sauce creamy, so it really sticks to my shrimp, rice or steak. To watery and it just drips right off. Others might be a little more runny and that is usually because of the addition of rice vinegar, which also adds flavor. Like I said previously, every restaurant has their own version, so you might have a little trial and error before getting yours right.
But you prefer a looser version, by all means add more water or rice vinegar! Some folks want theirs to be a pourable. Just go slow until you get your desired consistency.
Add Fats- Some also use more oil, like olive oil, but I find there is enough in the mayo and it is overkill with the butter. If you don’t have butter, use olive oil as a substitute.
You can also use margarine, but remember that is just vegetable oil with butter flavoring. A good European butter will give you more bang for your buck than a low grade American butter.
Spice it Up- Other folks will even double the amount of spices so it really packs a punch. My advice is to make the basic dipping sauce recipe and then modify from there to match your ideal Homemade Yum Yum Sauce or to match your local hibachi style grill.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead: Please, please make this ahead of time! The flavors will be so much better if they have time to sit and mingle with each other. You can make it and eat it right away, but it won’t have the same impact. Store in an airtight container or a an airtight jar.
Leftovers: Store leftover sauce, covered, in the fridge for up to a week. Give it a good stir before using.
Freezing: I do not recommend freezing any mayonnaise based sauces. But I’ve also never heard of anyone having leftovers… even when they made a double batch!
Is Yum Yum Sauce Japanese?
Lastly, I want everyone to know that Japanese seafood sauce is not really all that Japanese.
You will not find it in Japan. It is a very Americanized “Japanese” recipe. I’ve been there. There is NO Yum Yum sauce in Japanese cuisine, it is not authentic.
How to Use Yum Yum Sauce
Don’t just serve it with Japanese food, this is a fantastic dipping sauce or slathering sauce for so many things. Here are a few of our favorites.
- French fries
- Onion rings
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Grilled veggies
- Salad dressing
- With sushi
- Pot stickers Dipping Sauce
- Japanese Fried Chicken
- Gourmet burgers
- Hot dogs
- Paninis or deli sandwiches
- Grilled Chicken
- Oven Baked Potatoes
- On a poke bowl
- Spring Roll Dipping Sauce
Yum Yum Sauce Tips
You probably did nothing wrong! Every single Japanese Hibachi joint has its own recipe for their white sauce, seafood sauce or yum yum sauce depending on what they call it.
Yours is probably just a little different than mine. Play with the amounts of ingredients to get the right flavor.
Cut back on the tomato paste, tomato sauce or paprika.
Add hot paprika or more hot sauce.
Double the sugar and omit the hot sauce. Also option to add crushed red pepper flakes.
Yum yum sauce is generally gluten free. I am not a gluten free expert, nor a trained professional, however to my knowledge, all of these ingredients are gluten free.
Yes. Butter is dairy unless you use clarified butter (ghee) with milk solids removed.
The majority of yum yum sauce, including my recipe, has mayonnaise, which is made with raw egg. If you are cool with mayonnaise, you’ll be cool with yum yum sauce.
I would garnish with a few sesame seeds, either regular or black and serve your dipping sauce as a duo with either a good quality soy sauce or tonkatsu sauce.
More Homemade Sauces
Listen, this yum yum sauce might not be exactly like the one you are dreaming of, but over 100,000 people love it and use it regularly. You should be one of them!
More Favorites from Savory Experiments
Yum Yum Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or ketchup)*
- 2 tablespoons butter , melted
- 1 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons sugar (less if you use ketchup)
- Hot sauce , cayenne, dried red pepper flakes, optional
- Combine mayonnaise, tomato paste, melted butter, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, water, sugar and hot sauce in a small food processor. Blend well.
- For best results, allow sauce to chill and flavors to marry for at least 1 hour.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.
YUM!!! I used a Louisiana hot sauce and I used some Tony’s. Just cause I can. I only made a small batch because it was for French fries. If you haven’t used a Yum Yum with our fries…you really should!
Yay!!! Sounds delicious!
What brand is a bland mayonnaise?
For me, a light or store bought regular mayo is lighter on flavor than say a Dukes or Olive Oil or Avocado Oil base. You can use these, but you don’t have to.
Awesome sauce! I used sriracha sauce for the hot sauce and I did rice vinegar mixed with the water. Very, very good! Wonderful on a shrimp tray along with a traditional cocktail sauce. Next day I used it and make some shrimp tacos and used the sauce to finish the tacos. Super good!
Isn’t it incredible how a good sauce can change everything and absolutely make a dish? And homemade sauces almost always blow store-bought versions out of the water! I can’t wait to try this ASAP!
Yes! Now I don’t have to ‘steal’ extras from the Hibachi takeout place!
Having the right sauce is super important and I love how easy this is to make! Looks amazing!
This is the perfect accompaniment to shrimp! I served it for an appetizer and it was gone before the shrimp! (I think I must have had some double dippers! 🙂 ) Thanks for a yummy recipe!
Fantastic recipe! So good with shrimp or chicken, even drizzled over a rice bowl. Is Best Foods “good mayo”? That’s the kind I always get. Seemed to work okay.
I haven’t had that brand, but if you like it- then it will do just fine 🙂
Yes, Best Foods Mayonnaise is Hellmann’s Mayonnaise West of the Rockies
Can’t go wrong with the ultimate Mayo!
One of my favorite sauces! It’s so easy to make too!
I love how easy this sauce is to make at home! So good!
This dip is appropriately named! Yummmy!! I love your idea of dipping fried rice and steak in it! So many options!
Absolutely fabulous…2nd time making this…we put it in EVERYTHING
Yay! We love hearing that, Thank you Erica!
I can see why this is called yum yum sauce I love the ingredients in it especially the smoked paprika!!
I was grilling shrimp for dinner and needed to jazz it up a bit. I found your yum yum sauce and it was awesome with our meal! Can’t wait to make it again.
I am so excited right now after reading this! Thank you!
The best I’ve ever tried!
Yay! Thanks for stopping by to let us know. We really appriciate it!
Tried it. Family loves it. Easy to make.
Love to hear that! Thanks for stopping by!
Just made this and it tastes awesome! I used ketchup, and no sugar.
Nice! Thanks for stopping by to let us know!
I love yum yum sauce, but have never made it at home, this is a great idea! And it sounds so easy too. We like it spicy, so I think I’m going to be generous with the paprika! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!
This sauce looks like a delightful addition to so many meals!