8 Anti-Inflammatory Sauces You’ll Want To Slather on Everything You Eat

Photo: Getty Images / Eugene Mymrin
It's a truth universally acknowledged in wellness circles that chronic inflammation is responsible for much that ails us. It can be triggered by illness, certain foods, polluted air, and environmental toxins—making it seem all but impossible to avoid in modern life. The remedy (or at least one of them) is to consume as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible (drinks, too!). Basically, anywhere you can tuck a few anti-inflammatory foods for longevity into a meal, you should.

An easy way to punch up the inflammation-fighting powers of your meals? Cover them in anti-inflammatory sauces. They're an easy way to add benefits to any and everything you eat—including a concentrated serving of herbs and vegetables—all while enriching the flavor profile of whatever it is you're noshing on.

Experts In This Article
  • Richard Rea, Richard Rea is the executive chef at vegetarian restaurant The Butcher's Daughter.
  • Sam Kass, cookbook author and the former White House chef to the Obamas.

Fortunately for those with easily bored palates, there are hundreds to thousands of anti-inflammatory ingredients on this earth. Some of the most flavorful happen to be not only the most beneficial but also the easiest to source from your own pantry shelves, too. Below, find eight anti-inflammatory sauces that rely upon accessible (and tasty!) ingredients to work their healing magic.

What sauces are anti-inflammatory?

1. Anti-Inflammatory Salad Dressing

At the top of this anti-inflammatory sauces list we have an easy salad dressing recipe from former White House chef Sam Kass that's simple but powerful. It contains just five ingredients you're likely to have on hand: turmeric, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard. While turmeric and garlic are sort of the obvious anti-inflammatory superstars of this sauce, the other three ingredients are no slouch in that department, either. Olive oil is rich in phenolic compounds that regulate inflammation, as is lemon juice. It also doesn't hurt that this multitasking dressing is incredibly flavorful and easy to toss together at a moment's notice.

Get the recipe: Anti-Inflammatory Salad Dressing

2. Zhug

So, is hot sauce healthy? In most cases, yes, thanks to the health benefits of chili peppers. In fact, one of our favorite hot sauce recipes is Zhug, which is a Yemenite green hot sauce. The best part? Essentially, every single one of its ingredients is anti-inflammatory. It's got the usual suspects—e.g. garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley—along with a few ingredients not otherwise seen on this list, including capsaicin-rich Serrano chiles, anti-inflammatory cardamom pods, and more. It's great over grilled proteins, on a sandwich as a spread, or in dip form for veggies (aka one of the best anti-inflammatory snacks).

This zhug-inspired sauce recipe by Alexandra's Kitchen is packed with loads of flavor and comes together in seconds. But if you can't stand the heat, simply reduce the amount of chili peppers used, for a much more subtle sauce on the palate.

Get the recipe: Zhug-Inspired Sauce

3. Pesto

Classic pesto is made with fresh basil, pine nuts, and olive oil, which makes it healthy and healing AF. Basil has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects, while pine nuts are one of many antioxidant-rich, and therefore anti-inflammatory, tree nuts.

You don't have to stick to this mainstream pesto script, though. Instead, you can experiment with various leafy greens (e.g. spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mint, you name it) in place of, or in addition to, basil, and try out any number of nuts in the sauce's pine nut role, too. Neither experiment will cause you to lose the healthful benefits of this sauce, and you can also add anti-inflammatory herbs (e.g. rosemary) into the mix to enhance the therapeutic benefits even more.

And pesto is versatile in its use, too. You can toss it onto pasta, of course, but it also pairs well with salads, eggs, pizzas, raw veggies, and more.

Get the recipe: Spinach pesto

4. Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is the should-be-in-your-fridge-at-all-times Spanish condiment you may not have known your life was missing (but which will forever change it). It's made with antioxidant-rich bell peppers, garlic, olive oil, parsley, and more. It's perfect for drenching veggies, and can be used as a protein dressing, sandwich spread, or pasta sauce, too. The flavor is nutty, sweet, spicy, and sour—just like life.

Get the recipe: Romesco

5. Fermented Garlic Honey

This super simple sauce is a favorite of Richard Rea, executive chef at vegetarian restaurant The Butcher’s Daughter. It's comprised of just fermented garlic and honey, but those two basic ingredients pack a powerful anti-inflammatory punch. The former is basically garlic on another level, in that fermentation has been shown to enhance the antioxidant powers of the plant. The latter, meanwhile, is also an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory superstar. Rea likes to add this sauce to veggies for a sweetening effect. Although, in truth, it pairs well with just about anything in true garlic fashion, like a slice of warm, crusty bread. Okay, we're officially drooling. 

Get the recipe: Fermented garlic honey

6. Marinara Sauce

So, is marinara sauce anti-inflammatory? You bet it is! This staple sauce is the base of so many beloved recipes (think lasagna, baked ziti, pizza, the list goes on and on). Although marinara sauce recipes will likely vary from family to family, one ingredient is (for the most part) non-negotiable. Yep, we're talking about tomatoes. Fortunately, tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, which not only gives certain fruits and veggies their vibrant red to light pink color in foods, but also is a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to improving blood pressure and cardiovascular health, reducing cholesterol, and fighting a variety of cancers, registered dietitian Laura Iu, RDN, CDN, CNSC, RYT, previously shared with Well+Good. Looking for a tasty recipe to make a tasty homemade anti-inflammatory pasta dish? Say no more. Feel Good Foodie's marinara recipe has five out of five stars, fam.

Get the recipe: Marinara Sauce

7. Jalapeño Cashew Cream Sauce

This simple jalapeño cashew cream sauce by Ambitious Kitchen is the best of all worlds: vegan, easy, and, most importantly, packed with anti-inflammatory benefits. The star ingredient are cashews, which are considered one of the best types of nuts for promoting skin and bone health. This is due to its high copper content, as copper deficiency has often been associated with low bone density and osteoporosis. Aside from its health benefits, we love this recipe because lasts up to a week in the fridge, or can easily be frozen for months. Plus, it's the perfect garnish to turn a bland recipe into something extraordinary. Believe us, your dinner guests are going to want to lick the plate clean.

Get the recipe: Jalapeño Cashew Cream Sauce

8. Cranberry Orange Sauce

Can't we all agree that not all sauces need to be savory? In fact, this cranberry orange sauce by Feel Good Foodie is packed with anti-inflammatory perks thanks to its short, but powerful, list of ingredients: cranberries, orange (juice and zest), water, and sugar (although we'd recommend leaving this part out and relying on the natural sweetness of the berries in order to enhance its anti-inflammatory benefits). Of course you can eat it on its own. However, if you're looking to spruce things up you can use this tasty, vibrant, and tangy sauce to make delicious anti-inflammatory desserts, like frozen yogurt bars or dark chocolate truffles filled with the cranberry orange goodness. Swoon.

Get the recipe: Cranberry Orange Sauce

Here are two ways to use this liquid gold salad dressing:

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
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