26 Sauces You'll Want to Slather on Everything

From salty condiments to sweet sundae toppings, you’ll savor every spoonful of these delicious sauces.

April 15, 2022

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Instant Flavor Upgrade

The not-so-secret lead to tasty food is a good sauce. Savory or sweet, smooth or chunky, warm or chilled: a good topping is the secret to family-friendly chicken dinners, homemade ice cream sundaes — and everything in between. These sauce recipes here are the ones to keep in your back pocket. You’ll find that they’re just as handy for weeknight cooking as they are for special occasions and entertaining. First up: Our Good-on-Everything Green Sauce. This blender sauce is a lovely way to take advantage of those soft herbs tucked inside your crisper drawer and as the name suggests, you can use it on everything from meat to scrambled eggs to salads.

Get the Recipe: Good-on-Everything Green Sauce

Cola Barbecue Sauce

A miraculous sauce that flavors and gently tenderizes meat…at the same time? How? The addition of effervescent Cola, a technique beloved in the Southern barbecue playbook to give the sauce sweet tang while it breaks down tough protein strands to attain a barbecue you’ll want to polish off in full.

Get the Recipe: Cola Barbecue Sauce

Aioli

Classic aioli has roots in Mediterranean cultures, where it’s often a barebones mixture of garlic and olive oil made with a mortar and pestle. But this recipe turns that format on its head to streamline the process in the electric way while the addition of neutral oil to make up half of the liquid fat mixture lends nuance in flavor. It’s the ideal sauce for thick-cut potato fries.

Get the Recipe: Aioli

Yum Yum Sauce

Also referred to as Japanese Steakhouse sauce, this creamy concoction is made of mayo, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, onion, and paprika. The addition of butter is called upon in other recipes, but not here and yet, not a single bit of the yum factor is compromised. A high quantity of mayo upholds creaminess — just look at that photo!

Get the Recipe: Yum Yum Sauce

Basil Pesto

It’s tough to beat the classic combination of fragrant basil, salty Parmesan and buttery pine nuts — so we kept this recipe simple and stuck to the basics. It’s delicious tossed with pasta but feel free to spread it onto pizza dough, stir it into ricotta for an easy dip or drizzle it over fresh tomatoes for a summertime salad.

Get the Recipe: Basil Pesto

Tartar Sauce

The cold sauce to rule New England seaside towns when summer rolls around is without a doubt, tartar sauce. That’s because the creamy condiment pairs nicely with seafood, especially crispy battered fish and deep-fried morsels of shrimp. The key to Ina’s version? One teaspoon of coarse whole-grain mustard.

Get the Recipe: Tartar Sauce

Tahini Dressing

Though tahini is an excellent condiment in its own right, it transforms into a decidedly looser sauce when combined with lemon juice, honey and smashed garlic. Well-stirred tahini will start you off on the right foot but, if at any point the paste feels unworkable, water is the magic ingredient to smooth out the lumps.

Get the Recipe: Tahini Dressing

Quick Cocktail Sauce

It only takes five minutes to make this cocktail sauce. Meanwhile, it takes you five minutes (or more!) to run out the door for what may be an even longer journey to the nearest grocery store that carries pre-made cocktail sauce. You do the math.

Get the Recipe: Quick Cocktail Sauce

Cheese Sauce

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Cheese Sauce is ambiguously branded on purpose. “This is a simplified base for a great macaroni and cheese that also doubles as a homemade cheese sauce for dunking,” she writes. To give it funk, Alex recommends you add a little blue cheese and Worchester sauce. We’d vouch for pepper jack and pickle brine as a spicy variation on the theme.

Get the Recipe: Cheese Sauce

Tzatziki

The secret to great tzatziki? Make sure to use Greek yogurt for optimal creaminess. It may seem arbitrary but straining the grated cucumber is a crucial step you’d be remiss to skip. Salt helps the watery vegetable draw out excess moisture and bring it to the surface. At that point, a simple squeeze through a clean towel rids of it completely and in the long run, prevents a waterlogged, flavorless tzatziki.

Get the Recipe: Tzatziki

Berry Coulis

Berry coulis is a great open-ended prompt for all this fruity sauce can represent. Pick your favorite berry, boil, blitz and run it through a fine-mesh sieve — or don’t, if something rustic is more your speed.

Get the Recipe: Berry Coulis

Fry Sauce

This worldwide staple comes together with equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise. Add a little hot sauce if you crave some heat.

Get the Recipe: Fry Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce

Each tender herb in the classic Argentinian meat accompaniment makes everything vibrant. It’s best served right away but sits well in the fridge throughout the week. Although authentic chimichurri doesn’t include cilantro, we’ve opted to add some here for extra brightness.

Get the Recipe: Chimichurri Sauce

Sriracha-Caramel Sauce

In our humble opinion, hot sauce is a condiment with unlimited potential that can (and should) be incorporated in sweet cooking. You’ll understand what we mean once you’ve made this sriracha caramel sauce. To our spicy-sensitive friends: add less Sriracha!

Get the Recipe: Sriracha-Caramel Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce

Eggs Benedict and Hollandaise live happily ever after on any brunch table — that goes without saying. But that’s not where the story ends! This ultra rich sauce, built on four egg yolks and a whole stick of butter, is more than compatible to be mopped up by any number of warm cozy bites. Imagine paddling through the sauce with a forkful of poached salmon, roasted potatoes or spongy parmesan-crusted French toast.

Get the Recipe: Hollandaise Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Olive-oil fried nuts and breadcrumbs, whole tomatoes and jarred peppers get blitzed in a food processor to become this roasty, toasty sauce that’s interlaced with a fascinating texture. Traditional Romesco sauce is said to have originated in the Spanish region of Catalonia, where fishermen found it paired well with their fresh catch.

Get the Recipe: Romesco Sauce

Hot Fudge Sauce

Melty chocolate mixed with butter and sugar. The hot fudge in the sundae. Liquid happiness. Comes together in the microwave. Need we say more?

Get the Recipe: Hot Fudge Sauce

Easy Stir-Fry Sauce

This simple sauce will flavor your meals once you pour it in a wok with a jumble of fridge stragglers — twice, if you employ it as marinade beforehand. Either way, it works hard for you.

Get the Recipe: Easy Stir-Fry Sauce

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sauce

Peanut butter becomes an equally indulgent peanut sauce as soon as it’s mixed with actual butter and sweetened condensed milk. This sauce is still heavy on the peanut butter, which contains saturated fat molecules that turn solid at room temperature, so the trick to keeping it pourable is simply to reheat before using.

Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sauce

Chinese Plum Sauce

Equally as important and fundamental as French mother sauces are the sauces that illuminate every other culture in our global food system. In the Chinese diaspora, plum sauce is a staple condiment for good reason. Boiling down plums swimming in a vinegary-brown-sugary-soy-sauce-driven bath cooks out excess moisture, resulting in a concentrated jam-like sauce which can be put to use in the traditional sense — as dipping sauce for deep-fried wontons or with other dishes that use some light and bright flavor.

Get the Recipe: Chinese Plum Sauce

Ohio-Style Beer Cheese

This vat of bold, sharp beer cheese sauce was inspired by Katie Lee’s college days in Ohio and no, the beer is not meant to make things boozy. Rather, it keeps things deep and extra-savory. Katie uses a German lager as a nod to the prominent German community in the Buckeye State, but don’t hesitate to pour any beer you have in the fridge.

Get the Recipe: Ohio-Style Beer Cheese

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

This four-ingredient fresh raspberry sauce is a fruity dessert lover’s dream.

Get the Recipe: Fresh Raspberry Sauce

Marsala Sauce

Here’s another sauce that’s made all the better with a little bit of alcohol. The boozy component will be gone after the cooking process but the flavor of the marsala wine will remain — and there’s truly no substitute for it.

Get the Recipe: Marsala Sauce

Saffron-Pepper Sauce

This full-bodied sauce couldn’t be more speedy to make. We start with a sizzle of spices to release their aromatics. Then we add in jarred piquillo peppers, until it becomes jammy and immersed in the fragrant spices. Once cooked, the mixture is puréed with lemon juice. Did we mention it takes 5 minutes to make? Quick and easy, the way good sauce should be.

Get the Recipe: Saffron-Pepper Sauce

Sauce Espagnole

For the unfamiliar: sauce espagnole is a basic brown sauce that was deemed by culinary expert, Auguste Escoffier, as one of the five essential mother sauces of French cooking. Making it is somewhat of an intricate, educational cooking project but if you identify as a novice cook or maybe feel intimidated by classic culinary technique, Amy Stevenson offers some helpful notes. “If you’re nervous, you can begin with clarified butter, which has a high smoke point,” she writes. What’s more, Amy says store bought stock can be employed if you don’t want to make veal stock from scratch.

Get the Recipe: Sauce Espagnole

Apple Cider Sauce

When you add heavy cream to a pan of reduced apple cider, it turns into a silky sauce that’s an ideal foil for drizzling on autumnal baked goods or roasted produce, like parsnips, sweet potatoes or to come full-circle, apples!

Get the Recipe: Apple Cider Sauce