Don't Throw Out That Leftover Coffee, Make A Fun Sauce Or Salad Dressing

From a simple, well-made espresso to a pumpkin spice latte, there's no doubt that coffee in all its iterations is a popular beverage. In 2023, more of us (63%) are consuming coffee every day in the US than any other drink, even water, according to the "Atlas of American Coffee" (via the National Coffee Association).

But if you've brewed more than you've got time to drink in the morning, don't just tip it away and waste it. Cold black coffee may not sound instantly appealing, but it's a much more versatile ingredient for cooking than you might imagine — and can be used to enhance a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. It makes a creative, caffeinated addition that can elevate many everyday dishes, from salads and sauces to cakes and marinades.

Transfer the leftover black coffee, once cooled to room temperature, to a sealed, airtight container, and it will happily last for two or three days in the refrigerator. If you've already added milk and sugar, that will affect the coffee's shelf life, so it's best to use a strong, black brew for the optimal results, in terms of both storing it and cooking with it.

Coffee transforms zesty salad vinaigrettes and sweet or savory sauces

While coffee may seem an unusual ingredient for salad dressing, it adds wonderful depth to a basic vinaigrette. And, depending on the coffee beans, it can also infuse it with additional flavors, from nutty notes to a light spiciness. Simply combine a couple of tablespoons of your favorite oil — olive, canola, or sesame — with an equal amount of vinegar (try balsamic, or red or white wine vinegar), and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of cold coffee, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Adding mustard or minced garlic will increase the tanginess of the coffee salad dressing — while something sweet, such as honey or maple syrup, will help balance any tartness. Coffee vinaigrette makes a great addition to strong green, leafy salads, and it also pairs well with goat's cheese or creamy feta, and toasted nuts such as pecans. Or try it drizzled over grilled vegetables.

When it comes to sauces, coffee goes beautifully with desserts, and especially well with chocolate, almond, toffee, or cherry flavors. Adding coffee to caramel sauce makes a great topping for pancakes, brownies, or ice cream. But it can be used in savory sauces, too, such as homemade coffee barbecue sauce where the strong coffee perfectly complements the sweet, smoky, spicy flavors. Or try it in a mole sauce, a pan sauce for steak, or mixed with whiskey and cream and poured over meat or roasted cauliflower.