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Hibachi vs. Teriyaki: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
"Hibachi" is a Japanese cooking device, while "teriyaki" refers to a cooking method using a soy-based sauce.

Key Differences

1. "Hibachi" is a term originating from Japan and it traditionally refers to a small, portable charcoal grill. This is in stark contrast to "teriyaki," which is not a cooking device but a method of cooking, where foods (commonly meats) are marinated or glazed with a specific soy-based sauce.
2. Hibachi-style cooking is often associated with theatrical, tableside cooking presentations, especially in Western contexts. On the other hand, "teriyaki" denotes a sweet and savory flavor profile, achieved through a sauce made primarily from soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar or honey.
3. While "hibachi" focuses on the method of grilling over direct heat, usually with an entertaining flair, "teriyaki" emphasizes the flavor imparted by the sauce. Therefore, while you might find teriyaki dishes cooked on a hibachi, not all hibachi-cooked dishes are teriyaki-flavored.
4. In the U.S., hibachi-style restaurants have gained popularity, where chefs prepare meals on a teppan, a metal plate grill. This is slightly different from the traditional Japanese definition. Teriyaki, on its part, has also been widely embraced worldwide, with the sauce being used in a variety of dishes beyond just traditional Japanese cuisine.
5. Both "hibachi" and "teriyaki" hold a special place in Japanese culinary tradition. While hibachi represents a physical cooking approach, teriyaki represents a flavor and style of preparation, making them distinct yet occasionally intertwined.

Comparison Chart


Cooking device
Cooking method & sauce



Common Usage

Tableside grilling
Marinating/glazing foods

Associated Flavor

Varies (based on the ingredients used)
Sweet & savory (from the teriyaki sauce)

Western Interpretation

Often confused with teppan cooking
Soy-based glaze for meats & other foods

Hibachi and Teriyaki Definitions


A heating device used in Japan.
They used a hibachi to keep the room warm during winter.


A cooking method where food is glazed with a soy-based sauce.
I ordered the teriyaki chicken for dinner.


In Western contexts, a tableside metal plate grill.
The chef prepared our meal on the hibachi right in front of us.


Denoting a sweet and savory flavor profile.
The teriyaki marinade gave the beef a delicious taste.


A style of cooking emphasizing direct grilling.
I love hibachi-cooked vegetables because of their smoky flavor.


A sauce made from soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar or honey.
I added some teriyaki sauce to the stir fry.


A small portable charcoal grill.
We brought a hibachi to the beach for the barbecue.


Popular in various world cuisines, not just Japanese.
The restaurant serves a fusion of Hawaiian and teriyaki dishes.


Associated with entertaining culinary presentations.
The hibachi chef entertained us with his knife skills.


Often used for marinating meats before grilling or baking.
Teriyaki salmon is one of my favorite dishes.


A portable charcoal-burning brazier with a grill, used chiefly for cooking.


A Japanese dish of grilled or broiled slices of meat or seafood that have been marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar or honey, garlic, ginger, and mirin.


A portable brazier, powered by charcoal, used for cooking.


The sauce used to marinate such a dish.


(North America) A cooking method and performance art in which the chef grills pieces of food on a hot metal griddle in front of the guests; teppanyaki. This terminology is virtually unknown in Japan.


A cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are broiled or grilled in a sweet soy sauce marinade.


(North America) The griddle used in such cuisine; teppan.


A sweet soy sauce marinade.
Put some teriyaki on it.


A portable brazier that burns charcoal and has a grill for cooking


Beef or chicken or seafood marinated in spicy soy sauce and grilled or broiled


Cook over a hibachi grill


Can you cook teriyaki dishes on a hibachi?

Yes, you can grill teriyaki-marinated foods on a hibachi.

Can hibachi cooking be done without a charcoal grill?

In the West, hibachi-style cooking often uses metal plate grills instead of charcoal.

Does teriyaki always mean the food is sweet?

Teriyaki has a sweet and savory profile due to its sauce ingredients.

Can teriyaki sauce be used as a dip?

Yes, teriyaki sauce can be used for dipping, marinating, and glazing.

What fuels a traditional hibachi grill?

Traditional hibachi grills use charcoal as fuel.

Is hibachi exclusively a Japanese concept?

While "hibachi" originates from Japan, it's now known globally, often with varied interpretations.

What are the key ingredients in teriyaki sauce?

Soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar or honey.

Is teriyaki only for meat dishes?

No, teriyaki sauce can be used with vegetables, tofu, and seafood as well.

Do all hibachi restaurants serve teriyaki dishes?

While common, not all hibachi restaurants may offer teriyaki dishes.

Is hibachi food always seasoned heavily?

No, hibachi cooking emphasizes the natural flavors of ingredients, though seasonings can be added.

Is teriyaki always grilled?

No, teriyaki dishes can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried.

Is hibachi-style cooking always done tableside?

While popular in restaurants, hibachi grilling can also be done at home without tableside presentations.

Are there variations to the traditional teriyaki sauce?

Yes, chefs might add ingredients like ginger, garlic, or sesame to give variations to traditional teriyaki sauce.

Can you cook non-Japanese dishes on a hibachi?

Yes, a hibachi grill can be used for various cuisines.

Can I make teriyaki sauce at home?

Yes, with ingredients like soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar, you can make teriyaki sauce at home.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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