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We are guilty people. We send artisanal sauces tied up in twine for holiday gifts, we swipe them furtively off the Food52 giveaway table, and we splurge on them at Whole Foods because they promise to rescue an average dinner from blandness. But how often does dinner daydreaming actually start with the contents of a jar (often a jar you've never tasted, for that matter)? They all too often end up getting pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten, then given away in the annual clean-out.
No more. We've tasted and vetted and generally fallen head over heels for certain sauces that we stock in the Food52 Shop—and we want you to know why we love them so much! Here are 38 marinades and dipping sauces we love—we loeurve, we loave, we luff with two f's—and how you can use them to transform an ordinary dinner.
Swirl just a spoonful of these complex sauces into your marinade, your aromatics, or right into a finished dish at the end of cooking for an impactful flavor that your guests will be asking about.
- BLiS Fish Sauce: Funky and sweet, this sauce is just anchovies and salt, barrel-aged for 7 months. We love it in salad dressings (and every Italian dish, ever).
- Squid Ink: Not just for pasta, a dot of squid ink will lend jet black, salty oomph to your favorite dishes, from stews to braises and beyond.
- Curry Paste & Tandoori Marinade: This thick, tomato-based curry paste and the subtler saffron and ginger-spiked marinade both work wonders on chicken—or laced through the batter of homemade felafel.
- Korean Barbecue Marinades: Choose from a trio of original, spicy, or gochujang marinades for flavor that tastes homemade but doesn't require you to track down fermented chiles.
- Vegan Mole Poblano & Mole Pipian: Mole Poblano is a complex mole that gets it chocolatey flavor from cocoa nuts, whereas Mole Pipian (above, left) is earthy from pepitas, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Brown your favorite meat or vegetables, then add either of these and stew for rich Mexican flavor.
- Mole Trifecta: Fire-Roasted Green, Smoked Oaxacan, Dried Chilaca Red: All- natural and gluten-free, these 3 moles are each unique: the Red is rich, the Smoked is dark, and the Green (above, right) is fresh and intense.
- Organic Tunisian Tomato Sauces with Hand-Rolled Cous Cous: Top the fluffy, light cous cous with either Teboursouk Sauce, which is flecked with capers, preserved lemon, and green olives, or Tebourba Sauce, featuring artichokes, black olives, and harissa.
- Marinara & Vodka Sauce: Comfort food at its finest.
- Cape Town Peri Peri: A vinegar and tomato-based South African style sauce, featuring chili, garlic, herbs, and citrus.
- Sweet & Savory Finishing Sauces: Earthy Spicy Tingly sauce is a complex mix of Sichuan peppercorns and chilies, the Spicy Tangy Funky sauce has Southeast Asian-inspired notes including sambal and tamarind, and the Sweet Savory Spicy sauce is laced with Chinese fermented black beans. All are ideal for basting on skewers or roasts, swirling into sauce for noodles, or adding to a stir-fry for a saucy finish.
- Original Hot Jam: Sweet, smoky, and Australian-inspired.
- Tomato Kasundi: Simmered with Indian spices, this tomato-based sauce is just as good on a French fry as it is bubbling away on the stove for a braise.
Better than traditional condiments, we prefer these sauces slathered over simply-cooked proteins and starches, or served in a generous allotment alongside any meal for dipping.
- Haute Sauce Collection: All made with vegetables local to Portland, Oregon, these 4 sauces include: Habanero Carrot Curry, Serrano Ginger Lemongrass, Red Chili Lime, and Smoked Habanero Barbecue.
- Tomato & Garlic Achaar: Traditional Indian relishes made from vegetables; choose from Tomato, which has notes of tamarind, red chili, and sesame oil, or Roasted Garlic, a rich spicy-sweet blend.
- BLiS Blast Bourbon Barrel-Aged Hot Pepper Sauce: A blend of chipotle, arbor, and cayenne chilies—blended and aged in seasoned oak barrels that once held bourbon and beer.
- Thai Chile Tamarind Sauce: The tropical fruit tamarind, which is sweet and slightly sour, is paired with dates, sesame, and lemongrass in this more exciting version of barbecue sauce.
- Tanzeya and L'ekama Middle Eastern Condiments: Tanzeya is a slow-cooked medley of dried apricots, raisins, figs, and prunes; L'ekama is a blend of green chile, coriander, paprika, cumin, and garlic.
Start with plain anything—like a bowl of yogurt, a dollop of mayo, or any steamed starch from mashed potatoes to quinoa—and mix in one of these for an impactful flavor boost.
- Za'atar & Sumac + Everything Bagel in Olive Oil: Swirl either of these spiced oil blends into yogurt or hummus or babaghanouj for appetizers everyone will be asking after.
- Balsamic Honey Vinegar: Slightly less acidic than traditional balsamic, this sweet and tart interpretation is made from 100% honey.
- Vegan Kimchi Paste: The start of your next kimchi project (just add cabbage), but just as good swirled into rice and topped with an egg.
- Passion Fruit Curd: Rich, tropical, and velvety smooth.
- Meyer Lemon Relish: A tangy, spicy South Indian relish that's like a spicier version of marmalade.