Hibachi Vs Teriyaki – What’s The Difference?

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We are massive fans of Japanese cuisine! They have some of the best flavor combinations, cooking techniques, and theatrically cooked dishes.

Teriyaki and hibachi are two common phrases we always hear, but do you actually know what the differences are between them?

What’s the difference between hibachi and teriyaki? Hibachi refers to a type of cooking surface as well as a dish. Teriyaki only refers to a specific dish. Hibachi also usually only uses soy sauce. Teriyaki uses the world-famous teriyaki sauce that consists of a bunch of flavorful ingredients.

If you want to know even more about the major differences between these two terms, then this article is for you!

We will be looking at exactly what hibachi and teriyaki is. This will allow us to compare the differences and similarities much more easily.

Traditional Hibachi – What Is It?

A hibachi is a type of traditional Japanese grill that has been around for centuries. It is believed that it dates back all the way to the Heian period, around 794 to 1185.

This structure is a type of box-shaped container without a lid. On the inside of the box is a brazier (the container that holds the burning charcoal).

The brazier is made from a heatproof material that can withstand extremely high direct temperatures. Sometimes, the vessel is only lined with such material.

The hibachi was initially used to help heat up rooms.

Today, especially in North America, the term is used to describe a type of cooking stove that is used to prepare and grill a wide variety of ingredients and dishes. Naturally, this type of hibachi looks considerably different.

The New Meaning Of Hibachi

The word hibachi directly translates to “hot pot” or “fire pot” and is essentially what this Japanese grill is. However, the word also refers to a specific style of cuisine used in Japanese culture.

We will be discussing both today so that you can get a much clearer understanding of how hibachi differs from teriyaki.

Hibachi Grills

So first, the grill. A hibachi grill is also a type of container which contains a “pot” where charcoal or wood can burn and directly heat the iron plate on top.

These plates are often removable and can be flat or griddle-like. This allows you versatility when cooking.

These vessels are often portable, but can sometimes be so extremely elaborate that they are built directly into furniture.

And, if you are especially invested in this type of cooking, you can find many decorative design features that you can match to your rooms’ aesthetic.

Today, hibachis can be electric, gas-heated, or work with charcoal (or wood). From what we have seen, there isn’t one type that is necessarily better than the other, and in the end, it will come down to personal preference.

Using A Hibachi Grill

You can cook virtually anything on a hibachi stovetop. This includes cooking or grilling a variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, and even items like sandwiches, pancakes, and kabobs. The possibilities are endless!

To use a hibachi grill, you can start by preheating the grill. This will help the food cook evenly and also help prevent them from sticking. Then, if you want to (but it isn’t always necessary), you can add some oil or butter.

Once you put your food on, you can leave it to cook until it has reached the halfway mark of the approximate cooking time.

Let’s say you are grilling bell pepper slices that need to cook for a total of 4 minutes. Turn the slices over to their other side after about 2 minutes.

If your hibachi has a lid, you can cover the food after you have turned it at the halfway mark. Once the item has finished cooking, you can check if it is done.

For meats, we highly recommend using an internal thermometer to check the internal temperature. If you need to continue cooking it, do so in 1-minute intervals.

Hibachi cooking is generally quick because of the high temperatures it has. Controlling the temperature with an electric model is obviously much easier as compared to a charcoal-heated one.

Hibachi-Style Dishes

Hibachi-style cuisine is always made on hibachi grills. But that isn’t what gives these dishes their name. A hibachi dish is made using four basic ingredients: meat, a vegetable, soy sauce, and cooked rice.

To make a hibachi dish, first, the grill is heated. Then, the vegetables are fried in some hot oil. While they are frying, the meat is dipped in the soy sauce and added to the same plate.

The vegetables and meat aren’t cooked together. Once the vegetables and meat have been cooked, they are served alongside some freshly cooked plain rice and additional soy sauce.

Hibachi-style dishes are often very mild in flavor seeing as soy sauce is the only non-natural ingredient used to flavor the meat. The dishes always focus on the natural and fresh flavors of the vegetables and meats used.

And, the lack of additional flavoring ingredients and sauces also means that these dishes are generally lower in calories.

Think of this cooking method as an extremely healthy way to prepare food while adding minimal flavor, yet it still remains incredibly delicious.

Ingredients Used

You can use virtually any type of vegetable and meat that you can think of. There are however a few classic options that are used and paired together a lot.

Some fantastic meat options include beef strips, steak pieces, chicken bites, squid heads, shrimp, and scallopsFor vegetables, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and eggplant works exceptionally well.

However, the possibilities are really endless. Whatever slices thinly and is packed with flavor will do great!

As we have already mentioned, traditional hibachi dishes are made using only soy sauce.

You will find some recipes that include other flavoring ingredients in the dipping sauce; however, we think they’re dangerously close to changing the entire concept of hibachi!

Safe options you can add include sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. But personally, we wouldn’t add anything more than that!

What Is Teriyaki?

Unlike hibachi, the term “teriyaki” only refers to a type of dish made. The word can be directly translated to mean “glossy roast”.

The dish is made in a very similar way to hibachi-style dishes, which is why so many people often get confused.

Japanese teriyaki is a dish that consists of a thin glossy sauce that coats bite-sized pieces of meat. Vegetables can be added, however, they are not necessary. With teriyaki, it’s all about the sauce.

This teriyaki sauce is very complex in flavor and is made from a few ingredients. This includes soy sauce, sake, mirin, brown sugar, and some optional spices.

Garlic is also commonly added. This creates a deliciously sweet-and-salty sauce that is glazed over the meat as it cooks.

In terms of which meats are used, the more common types are cubed or skewered pieces of marinated fish or poultry (like chicken or duck).

Ingredient Alternatives

We thought it is worth mentioning that often alternatives are used for hard-to-find ingredients like mirin and sake.

Sake is an alcoholic Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. It has an alcohol percentage of between 15-22% ABV (alcohol by volume).

For some easier-to-find sake alternatives, you can try Chinese rice wine, dry sherry, or rice wine vinegar. 

Mirin is very similar to sake, however, it has a lower alcohol percentage. You can use the same substitutes for mirin as you would for sake.

When substituting mirin, you may want to add some sugar to help balance the acidity of the substitutes.

How Teriyaki Is Made

Teriyaki-styled dishes are made in a very similar way to hibachi. They can even be made on a hibachi grill! 

Before cooking begins, the meat is marinated inside of the teriyaki sauce. This helps tenderize the meat while simultaneously giving it more flavor. Your sauce will end up determining the exact flavor of the dish.

Again, you first need to pre-heat the grill to ensure that it cooks the food evenly and quickly. Once you have placed the pieces of meat or skewered meat on the grill, you can start basting the meat with your freshly made teriyaki sauce.

The meat is cooked with the sauce to help give it more flavor, a thicker consistency, a tender texture, and a glossy browned coating.

Hibachi Vs Teriyaki – What’s The Difference?

Despite seeming like virtually the same thing, these two Japanese dishes are very different. We will break these differences (and similarities) down into main sections so that you can better compare them side by side.

The Sauce

So, this is arguably the biggest difference between these two dishes. Hibachi is made with a sauce often just consisting of soy sauce. Some other additions can include sesame oil, garlic, and ginger at most.

A teriyaki sauce on the other hand is much more complex. As we have mentioned, it consists of soy sauce, brown sugar, optional spices, and some type of Japanese rice wine, usually sake and mirin.

Teriyaki sauce is a deeply flavored sauce that boasts well-balanced salty and sweet flavors. It also adds an umami flavor to the meat you are marinating and basting it with.

Comparing that with a simple soy sauce glaze, you can see that hibachi naturally isn’t as flavor-packed (or at least complexly flavored).


A hibachi dish consists of bite-sized pieces of vegetables, a type of meat, soy sauce (or the soy sauce mixture), and cooked rice.

Teriyaki on the other hand refers to simply the cooked pieces or skewer of meat that has been glazed with the above-mentioned teriyaki sauce.

Hibachi also always uses fresh raw ingredients (vegetables and meat). These ingredients are cooked separately. For teriyaki, the meat is first marinated in the sauce before being cooked and further basted.

A hibachi dish has a lot more variety when it comes to traditional ingredients used. For meats, you can use poultry, red meat, white meat, or seafood. For vegetables, anything you can think of will do.

Teriyaki on the other hand often feels more limiting (if following traditional ingredients used) and mainly uses poultry like chicken or duck, or seafood. You can include some vegetables, but this isn’t necessary.

The Cooking Method

Both these types of dishes are made on a hotplate (grill). And, they can even be made on a hibachi grill. Hibachi naturally refers to the grill itself, but also the way the ingredients are cooked.

To make a hibachi dish, the vegetables and meat are cooked separately. Only the meat is dipped in the soy sauce (or soy sauce mixture) before being cooked.

The cooking is generally very quick and uses very high temperatures. This is also why it is important to use thinly sliced or bite-sized pieces.

Then, once the food has been cooked, the hibachi vegetables and meats are served with more soy sauce and cooked rice.

Teriyaki is made by first marinating the meat or meat skewers in the teriyaki sauce.

Once fully marinated, the meat is cooked on a grill (or hibachi grill) until it is ready and the correct internal temperature has been reached. While the meat is cooking, you can continually baste it with more teriyaki sauce.

Characteristics Of Cooked Dish

Once these dishes have been made, they naturally have very different characteristics. This includes having different flavors, textures, nutrient values, and of course, appearances.

Hibachi is much lower in calories because it doesn’t contain as many ingredients in the sauce. However, this only applies if you don’t take into account that it is served with rice.

The meat itself usually tends to come out dried because it hasn’t been tenderized by being marinated.

The meat is also less saucy, not as moist, and not as complexly flavored as compared to teriyaki.

That being said, it does have a much more natural flavor and elevates that of the ingredient (it doesn’t hide it at all). The moisture is added to the dish by the accompanying vegetables.

Teriyaki is much more glossy, moist, and tender. The tender texture of the meat comes from it being marinated.

Teriyaki meat is also more packed with flavor. But, you will oftentimes lose the flavor of the meat itself and some sauce recipes can be quite overwhelming.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over the differences between hibachi and teriyaki, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Can you use a hibachi grill indoors?

You can definitely use a hibachi grill indoors, but we recommend doing so only if it is electric. Gas and charcoal grills can produce a ton of carbon monoxide which is extremely poisonous.

While an electric grill can still smoke up a room, you won’t breathe in dangerous fumes. And, the smoke can always just be cleared by making sure the room is always well ventilated when using the grill.

What is teppanyaki?

Teppanyaki is a phrase that is often incorrectly used to describe hibachi-style cooking. Where it differs is that the type of grill used.

A teppanyaki grill uses an iron griddle with a flat solid surface, whereas hibachi grills are solid surfaces, rather than open grates. Teppanyaki is also commonly used to describe the art of making this food in front of the guests.

Can you eat (and serve) teriyaki sauce raw?

While you technically can eat it raw, it won’t be appealing at all. The texture of the sauce hasn’t developed and neither has the complex flavors.

You should marinate your meat for a couple of hours in the fridge before cooking it on a hot plate. This allows the meat to become tender, the sauce to develop flavors, and transfer those flavors to the meat.

If you want to serve some teriyaki sauce on the side, make sure to first cook it in a saucepan.

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