A good sauce is an essential part of culinary culture. Knowing how to make a handful can elevate your cooking game to unforeseen heights.
Now, we don’t expect you to pull a bearnaise sauce out of your hat anytime soon. But you should be able to make a solid tomato-based sauce for pasta, or a good teriyaki sauce for rice and veggies or protein skewers. We know there are great pre-made options, from complex fish sauce to Japanese BBQ sauce to throw on anything. Yet you know as well as we do that when you make it from scratch, it’s more rewarding and may even taste better.
If you’re ready to make sauces, you better have the right gadgets. A good casserole will get you to your delicious destination. You will also need good blenders and a well-stocked spice cabinet. Other than that, it’s mostly about settling into a quality recipe and assembling the liquid gold.
Here are some of the best sauce recipes to have on hand as you cook through 2022.
Simple BBQ Sauce Recipe
Sometimes simple, it’s just what the doctor – or the chef – ordered. This reliable The New York Times Recipe can be brushed onto just about anything. It has a little kick, with a nice sweetness and a bit of subtle spiciness.
- ⅔ ketchup cup
- .5 cup of apple cider vinegar
- .25 cup of brown sugar
- 2 pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.
Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe
Jamie Oliver has his sauces and this basic tomato sauce is among the best and most utilitarian. As the chef says, you can mix it up and store it in the fridge for a week or even freeze it for several months.
- 3 15-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
- 1 handful of fresh basil or marjoram
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 small dried red chilli
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Peel and finely chop the garlic, then sauté gently in a heavy-bottomed pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Crumble the chilli, add the oregano and the tomatoes.
- Mix gently, but don’t break up the tomatoes as this will release the seeds, which will make the sauce slightly bitter — leaving the tomatoes whole and letting the mixture cook slowly will give you a nice sweet sauce. (You can remove the seeds from the tomatoes if you wish, but I don’t care.) Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 1 hour.
- Add the vinegar to the skillet, then stir and chop the tomatoes into the sauce.
- Pick the basil or marjoram and coarsely chop them, then add them to the pan.
- Season well to taste with sea salt and black pepper, and finish with 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
For many cooks and especially for Francophiles, bechamel is the queen of sauces. We like it Recipe from the Seattle Times, alone with pasta or transformed into lasagna with mushrooms or meat.
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3.5 cups milk, heated just until steaming
- .5 tsp coarse salt
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- Ground pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly. Cook 2 to 3 minutes; do not let the roux brown.
- Whisking constantly, add 2 tablespoons of hot milk to the saucepan. The milk should be steaming, not boiling. I like to make a double boiler with a large saucepan and a heatproof (aluminum or glass) bowl to heat my milk. It will stay hot while you add it to the bechamel, but without scalding or burning the milk.
- Pour half of the remaining hot milk into the saucepan in small increments, whisking the mixture constantly, until a smooth batter forms.
- Whisk remaining milk into saucepan; add nutmeg and salt. Cook, whisking occasionally. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides, until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes.
- If lumps form, whisk quickly. Season with pepper and remove from heat. Let stand until lukewarm, about 30 minutes.
South Americans are particularly fond of chimichurri, the coarse green sauce that is pure magic on top of good protein or starch. We love this take Steakhouse El Che in Chicago. The best versions of the sauce are so tasty you can just spread it on a slice of rustic bread.
- 3 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 3 bunches), very finely chopped (no stems)
- 6 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 1.5 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 0.25 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 0.75 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 0.75 cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a medium sized airtight food container, combine the parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, salt, black pepper, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Stir in the olive oil, cover and refrigerate the chimichurri sauce overnight.
- If you’re pressed for time, put everything in a food processor and blend it a few times instead of chopping it by hand.
A good teriyaki sauce can accompany everything from tofu and baked fish to any number of rice dishes. This recipe for food.com is particularly strong. Note that it makes about 1.5 cups of sauce.
- 1 cup of water
- .25 cup soy sauce
- .25 cup cold water
- 5 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1-2 tablespoons of honey
- .5 teaspoon ground ginger
- .25 tsp garlic powder
- Combine all but the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan and begin to heat.
- Combine cornstarch and cold water in a cup and dissolve.
- After the sauce simmers, add the cornstarch and water mixture, whisking well until the sauce thickens.
- Heat until sauce thickens to desired thickness.