An interesting sauce can take any meal from boring to beautiful.
If you’re always looking for an easy way to make dinner more impressive, try one of these 12 sauce recipes. Spicy, herbal, and fruity, these sauces are a match for meat, pasta, vegetables, or seafood.
What separates the food you eat a restaurant from your workaday home cooked meals? Mostly, it’s the sauce. Chefs know how to pack bold flavor into the finishing touches they extravagantly spoon over your steak or serve in a ramekin alongside your chicken. It’s true that some classic sauces are a little tricky–but most are quick and easy. Many can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for use throughout the week. The very best sauces are multipurpose, the kind of thing that can dress a grain salad you’ll take to work or garnish a simple grilled fish. Here are 12 special sauces that are fit for chefs but also totally doable for home cooks.
The ultimate put-it-on-everything sauce is romesco, a traditional Spanish recipe made from red peppers, vinegar, and almonds. It can be a tossed with hot pasta, added to salad dressing, spooned over eggs, swirled into hummus, or served as a dip for crisp vegetables.
This simple sauce can also cover a lot of ground in your cooking. Use up the herbs you’ve got hanging around your kitchen or growing like crazy in your garden. Serve the gremolata with rich dishes like grilled meat, fatty fish, and cheese.
Pesto is more of a method than a recipe, and this guide to flexible pesto will give you the confidence to DIY a batch. When it’s all whipped up, spread it on sandwiches, toss it with pasta or swirl it into soup. Make it in bulk during the summer when herbs are everywhere and freeze it in ice cubes for little bursts of sunshine during the dark winter days.
Barbecue sauce is all well and good, but what about one made with blueberries and chipotle? Sweet blueberries take the place of some of the sugar found in barbecue sauces and the smoky fire of chipotles (smoked and dried jalapeños) set this version apart. Slather it on ribs or pair it with grilled tofu.
The Datil pepper is a type of super spicy pepper found mostly in the St. Augustine, Florida area. (Avid gardeners can order the seeds and try their luck with growing it elsewhere.) It makes for a famously good hot sauce. If you have them, try this Datil Pepper Hot Sauce. The more widely available habanero pepper makes a decent substitute.
Elderberry is well known for its medicinal properties. Thankfully, the fruit is also delicious, lending itself to many culinary applications, especially jam. If you find some, try this elderberry sauce. It’s a particularly good pairing with roast duck breast.
Upgrade your enchiladas by making the sauce yourself instead of buying it in a can. This version will help you see the light. If you have any leftover you can use it instead of ketchup for your burgers, use it to dress up your pulled pork or add it to chili.
Too hot to cook? Try this simple sauce made with grated fresh tomatoes. Ladle it over pasta or veggies you’ve cooked on the grill. Use it to dress up your zoodles (zucchini noodles). Or use it as a quick sauce for grilled pizza.
This dubiously named sauce pulls together a number of unexpected pantry ingredients. There’s pineapple preserves, apple jelly, horseradish and bourbon involved. The resulting mixture is very sweet, a bit hot, and nice spread onto sandwiches or served as a condiment for spreadable cheeses like brie.
The can’t-fail combination of butter, wine, and cream adds up to a rich and comforting sauce for pasta, but this scorched version would also complement roasted mushrooms or seared steak. Whichever sauce recipe you try tonight, invite friends over for dinner. They’ll be impressed by the Top Chef-looking food you turn out and the saucier skills you never knew you had.