31 Mouthwatering Sauce Recipes

The perfect finishing touch to any dish is the sauce, but many home cooks underestimate the power of this simple flourish. A sauce is the grace note that brings every other note together in perfect harmony on the plate; it makes everything from a humble basket of fish and chips to an elegant plated meal even better. Sauces are not a dip or condiment; they have a liquid, thickener, and seasonings – even though some of the components can be similar. Sauces are cooked and can be served hot or cold.

It's easy to dismiss sauces (and sauce-making) as an optional kitchen skill, but take it from professionals; a fully-trained saucier needs a culinary degree and at least two years of experience in a professional kitchen to be considered skilled enough to take control of their specialty.

Fortunately, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars and years of your time creating delicious sauces in your kitchen. When you're looking to improve your culinary skills and level up even the simplest dishes, here are 31 mouthwatering sauce recipes to try.

Mustard sauce

Starting off with a sauce that breaks the rules of sauces seems like something suspect, but it's important to have a solid mustard option on hand. Why? Mustard sauce is infinitely customizable (swap out the mustard and the hot sauce), easy to whip together, and great on everything from pretzels to bratwurst to raw vegetables. You can even warm it and drizzle it over roasted veggies and your favorite grilled meat (or mix it with some mayo and use it as as dip).

Recipe: The Only Mustard Sauce Recipe You'll Ever Need

Red wine reduction

Everyone needs a basic red wine reduction in their arsenal if only to use that last little bit of red wine that may have gone a tad sour. You don't need much to make this recipe — a ½ cup will do the trick — and the resulting sauce is luxurious and tastes like a professional made it. A word of caution here: Don't turn the heat too high as you reduce your sauce. Yes, you want it more than a simmer, but a rolling boil might cause it to burn or reduce too much.

Recipe: Basic Red Wine Reduction Sauce 

Basic steak sauce

It makes sense if you reach for that bottle of A.1. sauce every time steak is on the menu. It's the easier way to sauce a steak, but truthfully, once that liquid hits the meat, you'll not be tasting much of the steak. This basic recipe changes all that. It takes its inspiration from Julia Child's brown sauce and uses an entire bottle of wine, reduced to 2 tablespoons. The result? A steak sauce that highlights the steak's rich flavor without overwhelming it.

Recipe: Best Basic Steak Sauce 

Tartar sauce

Let's be honest: It's not really fish and chips without a side of tartar sauce, but there are multiple opinions on what makes a good one. Some people like sweet relish; others prefer a sour pickle. The best news is that you can use this base recipe to customize your sauce in any way your heart desires. Mix mayo, fresh lemon, chopped pickle (sweet or sour), chopped onion, and salt and pepper. Chopped fresh dill is a nice finishing touch, but you don't really need it.

Recipe: Homemade Tartar Sauce 

Tarragon remoulade

Remoulade is a classic French sauce that is light, flavorful, and decadent. Traditional versions use capers, whole-grain mustard, and vinegar, but this sauce stands out with the addition of curry powder. It's a Danish-style remoulade that pairs well with everything from fried fish to grilled chicken, steak, or pork. Pair it with roast veggies or use it to prepare tinned fish and serve on toast with wedges of lemon and extra capers. Chill it well before serving, and use it within five days.

Recipe: Tarragon Remoulade Sauce 

Chive butter sauce

Chive butter sauce is another quick preparation that works its way around the idea of a sauce. Technically a compound butter, this mixes fresh chives, lemon zest, and plenty of black pepper into butter until fully incorporated. The beauty is in its versatility. Sure, spread it on crackers or crusty bread, but go one further and use it as the base for a variety of other sauces. Think browned chive butter sauce over butternut squash ravioli. Roll the prepared butter into a log, wrap tightly in waxed paper, and slice as needed.

Recipe: Simple Chive Butter Sauce


There's a trend of making cheater aioli with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has all the ingredients in the base of aioli (egg, oil, acid), and since it's already emulsified, it makes for a smooth, creamy sauce. But nothing beats the flavor of making your own aioli, and it's not that much harder. It takes simple pantry ingredients (plus eggs, lemon, and fresh garlic). Use an immersion blender for an easy emulsion, and serve with any dish that would love a burst of garlic and lemon flavor.

Recipe: Classic Homemade Aioli

5-Ingredient Alabama white barbecue sauce

Alamaba white barbecue sauce is a relatively new combatant in the barbecue wars, but those who are its champion will die on that hill. It's the perfect sauce for pulled pork but also makes a tangy dressing for coleslaw and drizzle for any type of fried vegetable. While traditional recipes can take hours to pull together and have an arm's length of ingredients, this quick sauce uses just five pantry staples and mixes together in the same number of minutes.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Alabama White Barbecue Sauce


The Greeks know what they are doing when it comes to effortless meals, especially those best enjoyed on a partially shaded terrace with a dazzling view of the Mediterranean. On the hottest summer days, tzatziki is the condiment you want. The rich, cooling Greek yogurt and crispy cucumbers mixed with dill and fresh garlic elevate simple grilled meats and vegetables to something really special. And do yourself a favor: Use full-fat Greek yogurt for the best flavor and texture.

Recipe: Easy Tzatziki Sauce


Hollandaise, the bane of brunch chefs and the intimidating, often-curdled nightmare of home cooks, has a bad reputation as fussy and impossible. While it is true that the specific technique requires some practice, it is possible to master it with careful attention and a little patience. It's work worth doing: Once you have a hollandaise perfected, you'll never need to leave the house for Eggs Benedict again.

Recipe: Best Basic Hollandaise Sauce 

Cocktail sauce

If you've ever been served a watery blend of jarred horseradish and ketchup, it's no wonder you turn your nose up at this ubiquitous shrimp accompaniment. Proper cocktail sauce isn't hard to create, but it requires more than two ingredients and a careful balance of salt, spice, sweet, and heat. In this recipe, Worcestershire sauce adds a rich umami depth, spiked by Tabasco to wake up the palate and play off the sweetness of the seafood.

Recipe: Not Just Ketchup And Horseradish: There's An Art To This Cocktail Sauce 

Tennessee whiskey barbecue sauce

The next entry in the barbecue battles is a Tennessee-style sauce. Tennesseans like their barbecue sweet and spicy, and this sauce provides an extra kick with a little splash of Jack Daniels (or any other favorite Tennessee whiskey). Liquid smoke, a no-no in most barbecue circles, adds the flavor without the hours standing by the smokehouse. This shortcut makes delicious barbecue possible even on a weeknight.

Recipe: Tennessee Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

South Carolina barbecue sauce

South Carolina barbecue is known for its savory vinegar- and mustard-based sauces. The Germans who settled in the region brought their flavors from home, and the tradition of pork-based barbecue reigns supreme. Plain yellow mustard is traditional here, but you can personalize your sauce by adding whatever mustard you like best. Keep in mind that the flavor profile changes slightly when you alter the mustard.

Recipe: South Carolina Barbecue Sauce 

Enchiladas verdes sauce

Yes, you can buy green enchilada sauce in a can, and no, it's absolutely not worth it, especially when you can make your own infinitely better version in about 20 minutes, much of it hands-off. Sharply acidic tomatillos form the base of this sauce; they are spiced with fresh jalapeños and garlic and brightened with a handful of fresh cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime before an immersion blender brings it all together.

Recipe: Enchiladas Verdes Sauce 


Harissa is the Moroccan sauce you didn't know you needed. Recipes can vary, but this one is made from a mix of both fresh and dried chiles, plus plenty of toasted spices. Use harissa on chicken and vegetables, on salmon and burgers, slathered over sandwich bread, or mixed into mayo and served as a dip for fried seafood or raw veggies. When covered by a layer of olive oil, this versatile, spicy sauce lasts four months in the fridge.

Recipe: Basic Homemade Harissa


Proper adobo wears many hats across the Spanish diaspora. It can be a marinade, sauce, stew, or spice blend. This recipe forms the perfect sauce base for you to customize and experiment. It uses dried guajillo chilis, plus vinegar, sugar, and cumin. Salt is important here to bring together the simple flavors, and garlic is key. Once you have the basic sauce down, add your own touches; some cooks like to add cinnamon and mix up the chili blends.

Recipe: Basic Adobo Sauce


Of the five French mother sauces — velouté, Espagnole, hollandaise, béchamel, and tomato sauce — béchamel is the simplest. It's also the most versatile. The simple base of roux (butter and flour) cooked with milk creates a luscious, silky sauce that's just waiting for endless variations. Mustard, nutmeg, and cheese are often added, depending on the final product. The key here is to use a 1:1 ratio of fat to flour and cook it gently before adding the milk while stirring constantly. Season thoughtfully — it's meant to be as delicate and subtle as it is rich.

Recipe: The Ingredient You Need For Next-Level Béchamel Sauce

Sage and brown butter

If you want a simple but impressive and elegant sauce that pairs beautifully with pasta and fish, sage and brown butter is the sauce for you. Slow browning of the butter brings out its nutty flavor, and fresh chopped sage deepens the sauce, elevating it to something more than its separate parts. The whole process takes about 10 minutes and is perfect for making a weeknight meal special.

Recipe: Basic Sage and Brown Butter Sauce

Hoisin habanero

Grilled meat loves sweet and heat, and hoisin habañero is up for the job. Hoisin is a sticky Chinese condiment flavored with cinnamon and clove, plus peppercorn and fennel. Hot habañero peppers play against the deeply spiced hoisin, and ginger and rice wine vinegar is the perfect bridge between the peppers and the hoisin. It's perfect brushed on grilled meat but also makes an outstanding sauce for stir-fries and grain-based bowls.

Recipe: Perfect Sauces: Hoisin Habañero Sauce For Grilled Meat

Sweet chili dipping sauce

When is a sauce a dip? When it's this sweet chile dipping sauce. Sriracha, ginger, and chilis are simmered with vinegar, sugar, and garlic and then blended with a little cornstarch to create a thicker consistency. Dip fried prawns or grilled chicken in this sweet and spicy sauce, or drizzle over roasted veggies. You can even use it as the sauce for a heaping bowl of fries, with or without thinly shaved beef piled high on top.

Recipe: Sweet Chile Dipping Sauce Recipe


This list could consist of dozens of pasta sauces alone, but here's the most basic and (arguably) beloved of them all: Pomodoro. Pomodoro has a shorter list of ingredients than most tomato sauces — just tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. The idea is to highlight the true flavor of the tomato, so do yourself (and your sauce) a favor and wait until tomatoes are at their best before throwing this quick-cooking sauce together.

Recipe: Pomodoro Is The Ideal Tomato Sauce For Lazy Home Cooks

Basil cranberry sauce

It wouldn't be a sauce list if at least one cranberry sauce weren't present. If your idea of cranberry sauce comes in a solid column with lines etched in the sides, prepare to be amazed by the bold flavor of this delicious simple sauce. Just simmer cranberries, basil, sugar, orange juice (and a little peel), and water until the berries begin to pop, then chill and serve. The natural pectin in the cranberries thickens the sauce, and the handful of fresh basil gives it a herbaceous, peppery boost.

Recipe: Thanksgiving Table: Basil Cranberry Sauce

Red wine and fig pan sauce

Pan sauces are perhaps the simplest way to finish a dish. They use the fond — the flavorful bits of food stuck to the bottom of the roasting or sautéing pan — plus a deglazing liquid and flavorings to bring together the dish's flavor. In this case, red wine and fig jam provide acid and sweetness that go well with roasted meats (pork is especially delicious here). You'll know your sauce is done when it clings to the back of a spoon and a channel created by a swipe of a finger stays open. Remove it from the heat and stir in butter to finish.

Recipe: Drizzle It On: Red Wine And Fig Pan Sauce In A Snap


Béarnaise is sometimes mistaken as one of the French mother sauces, and it makes sense. Some of the techniques — the melted butter and the whisking egg yolks — are similar to hollandaise. But this is a sauce all its own, finished with plenty of chopped tarragon and a healthy glug of your favorite hot sauce. Making this in a blender improves your chances of success; serve the finished sauce with steak frites for an authentic French experience.

Recipe: Best Basic Béarnaise Sauce

Tandoori barbecue sauce

One last barbecue sauce recipe for the road, a tandoori-inspired spicy, sweet, richly spiced version straight out of an Indian kitchen. Along with typical barbecue sauce ingredients like ketchup and malt vinegar, this sauce adds Coke and espresso powder for more depth and leans heavily on garam masala for its unique taste. Enjoy it the same way you would any other style of typical barbecue sauce, or use it to add a kick to vegetarian baked beans served with plenty of naan.

Recipe: Tandoori Barbecue Sauce

Hot sauce

Hot sauce is a deeply personal experience. There is an art to balancing heat with flavor. Too much heat and flavor doesn't really come into play; not enough, and it's not really a hot sauce. This basic recipe is ripe with opportunities to play with the level of heat and the flavor profile. All you need is a blender, some fresh chilis, and gloves. Keep your hands away from your face as you craft your sauce — chili in the eye is no joke.

Recipe: Homemade Hot Sauce

Mole poblano

There are so many moles in Mexico, you'd be hard-pressed to count them all. The recipe for this richly flavored spicy sauce can be passed on through generations, carefully protected as a secret recipe. When it's time to start your own generational cuisine, this recipe has the same array of ingredients as a traditional mole, but it comes together in a pressure cooker in just 30 minutes. Let it cool overnight so the flavors really come together, and freeze in 1-cup portions for later use.

Recipe:: How To Make 30-Minute Mole Sauce At Home

Green mole pipian

Green mole pipian is made with puréed greens and plenty of spice and heat. It's a bright, fresh take on mole that's best served the day it's made. Use it in the same way you'd use mole poblano: over grilled meat and fish, served with rice and vegetables, or in tacos. Don't skimp on the fresh herbs and greens — frozen greens won't do here. Top with queso fresco for a little added creaminess.

Recipe: How To Make Green Mole Pipian

Apple cider chile butter sauce

Apple cider chile butter sauce works as a good bridge between sweet and savory. The sweet tang of apple cider is balanced by the heat of the chilis. The spices are dried, so make sure to use spices within their expiration dates for the most flavor and warmth. This sauce does double duty as a sweet dessert sauce, too: Just skip the shallots and hold back on the chile a bit. It's as happy on ham and roasted vegetables as it is drizzled on ice cream, custard, or pie.

Recipe: Apple Cider–Chile Butter Sauce 

Blueberry balsamic sauce

Dessert sauces are more challenging than they might seem. Even without the pressure of the entire French culinary tradition weighing down on them, it's difficult to create a sauce that has layers of flavors and isn't too cloying. Big Gay's Ice Cream's blueberry balsamic sauce walks that line with finesse. The burst of sweet blueberries layered with good-quality balsamic vinegar and a hint of lemon zest lend this sauce a complexity that jarred sauces just can't match.

Recipe: Big Gay Ice Cream's Blueberry Balsamic Sauce

Whiskey-infused magic shell

Last but absolutely not least is the miracle of homemade Magic Shell, that pourable chocolate sauce that turns shatteringly crisp upon contact with ice cream. The magic here is in the combination of coconut oil and plain old chopped chocolate (chips work here, too), with an extra twist: a couple tablespoons of your favorite bourbon or rye whiskey. The whiskey prevents the sauce/ice cream combo from veering into overly sweet territory — using dark or bittersweet chocolate keeps things interesting.

Recipe: How To Make A Whiskey-Infused Chocolate Magic Shell For Ice Cream