Every smart cook knows that savory sauces are the secret to transforming plain ingredients into a delicious meal. Steak might be great on its own, but when you serve it with a sauce like chimichurri? Fantastic! Likewise, an assortment of grilled vegetables become a feast when paired with some homemade tzatziki and pita, and a dollop of romesco makes lackluster chicken kebabs instantly restaurant-worthy. In short, sauce is magic. So do yourself a favor and whip up a double batch of one of these 11 recipes — it’s the easiest, make-ahead way to upgrade whatever you have in your fridge.
This popular Spanish sauce is made primarily with jarred red peppers that’s thickened with almonds and bread. It’s incredibly versatile, and can be used as a sauce or dip for things like chicken, pasta, burgers, sandwiches, vegetables, and soups and stews. Basically: you can’t go wrong with this one.
2. Peanut Sauce
Peanut sauce is salty, creamy, and completely irresistible. The main ingredients in the sauce are peanut butter and coconut milk, and it gets an added punch of flavor from green onion, lemongrass, garlic, lime, soy sauce, and plenty of spices. You might know it best as an accompaniment to satay, but it’s also a wonderful sauce for noodles, as a dressing for salad, and as a dip for spring rolls.
Chimichurri is ubiquitous in Argentina, and it’s easy to see why. The tangy, no-cook sauce is made with fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and a hit of red pepper flakes. It’s a revelation when it’s drizzled over grilled steak, and it will brighten up your vegetables, chicken, and fish, and so much more.
Cool and refreshing tzatziki is made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and mint. It’s a staple in Greek cuisine for mezze platters, and is wonderful in sandwiches and with grilled meat. Hot tip: to ensure your cucumbers don’t add unwanted water to your sauce, make sure to buy seedless cucumbers (like English cucumbers) and salt them beforehand to release moisture.
You only need four ingredients to make teriyaki sauce at home: soy sauce, mirin, sake, and light brown sugar. To make, add the ingredients in a saucepan and cook until thickened. That’s it! The sticky-sweet Japanese sauce is great as a glaze on salmon, pork, and sautéed vegetables (to name just a few things).
Making tomato sauce has never looked this easy. You essentially roast both plum tomatoes and then combine them in a blender with garlic, oregano, and vinegar. Ta-da! When you have this in your fridge ready to go, you’re only a few minutes away from delicious pasta dinner (just don’t forget the Parmesan).
Fire up the grill and make this 4-ingredient sauce in just 20 minutes! All you need is a red chili, a red bell pepper, some rice vinegar, and sugar. To make, you grill and peel the chili and pepper, boil the vinegar and sugar, and then add everything to the blender and process until smooth. Suggested serving is with pork and chicken (but you do you).
If you’re only enjoying hollandaise during brunch with egg Benedict, you’re seriously missing out. This classic sauce is wonderful when drizzled on roasted or grilled vegetables like asparagus or broccoli, and as a sauce for salmon and steak. This recipe is also particularly easy because it’s made in the blender, so there’s no worries about the sauce breaking.
Fish sauce is the star of this salty, umami-packed sauce. And it couldn’t be simpler to make: combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chili paste in a bowl, and serve. It’s an essential ingredient in this beef salad, and would be great with spring rolls or vermicelli.
11. Salsa Verde
You’ll never regret making a big batch of salsa verde at the beginning of the week. Made with plenty of fresh herbs, capers, anchovies, and shallot, this sauce will liven up any protein or vegetable you have lingering in the fridge. If you do plan on making this ahead, just make sure to omit the vinegar and add right before serving (it will “burn” the herbs otherwise).