Salad Dressing

The 30-Second, 3-Ingredient 'Secret Sauce' I Drizzle Over Absolutely Everything

Literally. Every single thing.

February 28, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

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I have a secret sauce. It's not the one you're thinking of—though I do love a good Thousand Island riff.

It's a little big spicier, a little bit sharper, and a good deal more garlicky. And I physically can't stop drizzling it over everything:

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Warm grain bowls, packed with a combination of roasted and raw, sliced vegetables. Seared salmon. Crispy chicken thighs. Sautéed greens that need a little extra somethin'. Great, hulking sandwiches. Broiler nachos. Salads of all shapes and sizes. And since takes less than a minute and only three ingredients to pull together, it makes the perfect companion most weeknights.

If my secret sauce were giving an Oscar acceptance speech, it'd have to start by thanking Huy Fong, a California-based company that makes and sells chile-based products. Huy Fong is perhaps best known for its Sriracha—the one sold in a tall bottle with a bright green squeeze-tip—but I go through its jars of chili garlic sauce like they're water. The main ingredients listed on the condiment's label offer some clues to its deliciousness (chiles, salt, garlic, vinegar), though the specifics (Are the chiles roasted? Raw? Anything special happening to the garlic?) remain the stuff of my wildest wonderings. "It was quoted by someone that it was easier to get into the Pentagon than into Huy Fong," says the company's website.

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Top Comment:
“For my secret sauce, I put it on a mix of my favorite raw cut up veggies or over a bowl of roasted veggies and farro, is 1/2 large lemon-juiced, a teaspoon of Apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of EVOO, and salt & pepper to taste. Its so refreshing and zingy I just can't get enough. My favorite part about mixing it up with the raw veggies is how the Avacado mixes into the sauce too. 😆”
— Paula W.

Next up, it'd give a shout-out to mayonnaise (haters, look away!), whose composition of emulsified oil, egg yolks, and some sort of acid make it a dreamy base for most any quick dressing. Hat tip to a dash of apple cider vinegar, for the perfect amount of tang.

"It was quoted by someone that it was easier to get into the Pentagon than into Huy Fong."

And that—plus a little salt—is it. Really. My secret sauce is so simple, the Oscars wouldn't even have to play it off the stage:

Do you have your own "secret sauce"? Let me know in the comments!
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


suziqcu April 8, 2019
OMg what a great idea. I had homemade garlic chili sauce leftover from Whole30dieting. This magic ingredient is indeed magic!
Michael L. March 11, 2019
I like to do this with Green Chile sauce. And it works also with any favorite Salsa.
Great with fish.
HalfPint March 9, 2019
My mother use to make this sauce with fermented tofu w/ chilies, lime/lemon juice and a little sugar. It’s wonderful as a dip with raw vegetables like cabbage. Now that I look at the list of ingredients, it’s also vegan.
dharma C. March 8, 2019
My favorite sauce is 1/4 cup tahini, 1 tablespoon soy sauce or miso, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and then whisking in warm water until it is either a dip or a sauce. Water will make it bind up at first but keep adding water a TB at a time and it will loosen up. Very versatile.
Nan G. March 8, 2019
Teriyaki wisked into mayo over steamed veggies.
Got the idea from a Japanese place decades ago and can't really improve on it.
asbrink March 8, 2019
Not quite as quick, but Sauce Gribiche, and eggy herby mayonnaise sauce.

My favorite shortcut versions is 1 cup of mayo, 6 medium-boiled eggs (9 minutes), a dash of vinegar, a couple of tablespoons each of minced cornichons/pickles, capers, parsley. Tablepsoon of dijon, and salt and pepper to taste. Chop the eggs finely and mix everything. It's an amazing salad dressing, or cold sauce over veg like asparagus or roasted sweet potatoes. I like it on mashed potatoes instead of gravy!
Annie March 10, 2019
Delicioso! I'm making this.
[email protected] March 7, 2019
Trader Joe's Yuzu sauce! On everything !
Ameenay K. March 8, 2019
I 3000% agree with this! I go through a bottle every two weeks.
Breadgirl March 9, 2019
Love that Yuzu sauce on savory oatmeal with green onions and soy sauce!
Lin March 7, 2019
YUM to all the sauces!!! I love this community!!
Samantha March 7, 2019
Unfortunately I cannot handle hot spicy anything like any kind of chili. Can you recommend a replacement?? Thanks
Kelle Z. March 7, 2019
You might like a "ranch" mixture. It has garlic but you could omit that. Basically, through trial and error of your favorite herbs or spices with any base you can tolerate turns into a fav'...:) I recommend just experimenting...
Kelle Z. March 7, 2019
It might not be exactly called a 'sauce', however, I am vegan and use 3 simple ingredients to put into a lot: chickpea hummus (homemade), Dijon mustard, different choices of hot sauce and balsamic vinegar. The only different in the hot sauces is just whatever I'm in the mood for. I own THAT hot sauce and use it regularly as well....don't care how it's made, I love it!
Cincysue March 7, 2019
I usually do some combination of maple syrup/soy sauce or maple syrup and mustard. Basically a sweet and salty combo
Donna D. March 7, 2019
Russian Dressing! I've loved Russian dressing forever and this recipe from Epicurious is da bomb.
Kyle A. March 7, 2019
Sounds interesting. not knowing the secret ingredient, I would have to ask if it is really spicy or really hot? I would love a homemade dressing for just about everything...Quick, tasty and the best ever....right up my alley !!
Donna D. March 7, 2019
It's very spicy. So good. I add it to my homemade hummus.
Ella Q. March 7, 2019
Hi Kyle! You could start with a halved amount and scale up, to your tastes.
Paul M. March 7, 2019
Sauce Pauli:
1/3 c mayo
1 tbsp mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
Mix, drizzle over ???
Good on most anything edible, except dessert...
(Just doesn't go with chocolate, for some reason)
Dawn R. March 7, 2019
1/2 c mayo (I use Hellman's), 4 T Frank's Red Hot sauce, 2 cloves grated garlic, dash of cumin (sometimes I use chili powder). Dip or drizzle on anything or eat with a spoon. This is particularly inspired on egg sandwiches and sweet potato fries.
Dawn R. March 7, 2019
Servings: 1 :)
Ella Q. March 7, 2019
Eat with a spoon! Eat with a spoon!
Megan B. March 6, 2019
Ooh I make a sauce almost exactly like this but with sour cream instead of mayo. It’s the best veggie dipping sauce ever!
Ella Q. March 6, 2019
Ooh, sounds so tangy and good.
cookbookchick March 4, 2019
Sounds wonderful! Great to see others chiming in with their own secret sauces.
Ella Q. March 6, 2019
So many excellent ideas!
Catherine March 4, 2019
Oh yes! Try my favorite shrimp dipping sauce:
1 tsp HuyFong Chili Garlic Sauce -adding more if you want!
3 TBSP Orange marmalade
Mix together, good on bagels and cream cheese too!
Ella Q. March 4, 2019
DocSharc March 4, 2019
I made this last night and it was a HUGE hit. We had brown rice bowls with roasted brussels sprouts, red cabbage, carrots, and chickpeas (Chinese 5 spice, mirin, and garlic as the only seasoning). The sauce took it from simple and tasty to WOW. My husband ate two bowls of food!
Ella Q. March 4, 2019
I'm so glad you (and your husband!) enjoyed the dressing! That sounds like an excellent combo to serve it with.
sweetlime March 1, 2019
I basically make the same sauce, except its tahini, rice vinegar and sambol oelek, with maybe a splash of soy sauce for salt.
soooo good on anything from grains to salad to burgers
Ella Q. March 4, 2019
Mmm, the use of tahini sounds so nutty and good.
Annie March 10, 2019
What is sambol oelek?
stephanie P. April 5, 2019
An Asian/Indian red chili paste. You could sub Chinese chili-garlic sauce, Calabrian chili paste or just Siracha. I make something like this and it is delicious!