5 easy sauce recipes that will make literally everything you eat taste way better


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Photo: Sophia Roe

Sophia Roe is a beauty guru, healthy food chef, and frequent Well+Good contributor. This January, she’s here to arm you with tricks and tips to make healthy eating year-round a cinch—no dieting, juicing, or restrictions of any kind required. 

Every January, there’s a big collective goal of eating healthy all year. And that’s great. But here’s the thing: If your food doesn’t have flavor, it just isn’t going to happen. That’s where mastering an arsenal of go-to sauces comes in.

Peek in my fridge on any given day and you’re bound to see a whole bunch of half-empty mason jars of homemade sauces. Dressings, marinades, vinaigrettes…you name it. Sauces are my favorite way to jazz up healthy staples that can otherwise get a bit boring, like a big ‘ol bowl of greens or 10-minute stir fry. They make basically everything taste way better.

Included here are my hands-down five favorite sauces that I turn to again and again. Consider it my New Years gift to you. All of them are easy enough for even the most cooking-phobic person to master—I promise!

1. The tastes-good-on-everything vinaigrette

This sauce tastes delish on greens, grains, or a bowl of veggies. You can store it in a glass mason jar, pretty glass container, or any of the empty vegan-aise, almond butter, or kombucha bottles you’re holding on to. Make use of whatever you already have!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup high-quality olive oil
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp minced shallot

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and shallots until the vinaigrette is emulsified. This dressing will last up to one week in the refrigerator.

2. The only cilantro lime dressing you’ll ever need

This dressing is great on any green you can imagine, and especially good massaged onto some red cabbage—a perfect taco topping. I also love using this on grain salads with quinoa, farro, buckwheat, or wild rice. If cilantro isn’t your thing, you can replace with parsley or basil. For a vegan variation, omit the Greek yogurt, and use avocado instead—it will be just as creamy and delicious.

Ingredients
1 avocado
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh lime
4 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
1/2 jalapeno, de-seeded (omit if don’t like spice)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
water (for thinning of sauce if necessary)

Directions:

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.

2. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times.

3. Thin the salad dressing out with water until it reaches a desired consistency. Store for up to five days in the refrigerator.

3. “Did someone say stir-fry?” sauce

This is the perfect sauce to satisfy that teriyaki craving—minus the MSG headache. I love adding a little ginger for some anti-inflammatory action. This is also a great sauce for those days where you have a bunch of odds and ends left in the refrigerator (half an onion, a few pieces of cauliflower, a red pepper that’s on its last leg…).

Ingredients:
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup tamari or coconut aminos
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger (more if you like a spicier kick)
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1/4 cup water

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients together in sauce pan on medium high heat, except tapioca starch and water.

2. Mix tapioca starch and cold water in a cup and dissolve.

3. After sauce simmers, add tapioca starch and water mixture, whisk until sauce thickens. Feel free to add water for a thinner sauce. Store for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

4. “Wait, you can put something else on pancakes?” sauce

Listen, there is nothing wrong with maple syrup all over your pancakes. But this turmeric-coconut butter maple syrup will straight up blow your mind. It’s got anti-inflammatory written all over it, and the best part is, it’s not just for pancakes. It’s perfect for stirring into overnight oats or chia seed pudding, dipping fruit into, spreading on toast, and even using as a cinnamon roll glaze.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup alternative milk of your choice (or water)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper (this activates the turmeric)
1/4 tsp of salt

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to sauce pan over low heat. Mix until thoroughly combined.

2. Add more water or alternative milk for the desired texture. Once mixed, use immediately. You can store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If sauce gets solid, just place the jar of sauce in a saucepan of boiling water for a minute or so. The sauce will melt back into its original texture.

5. The tahini-based honey mustard of your dreams

Sometimes you just need a sauce that’s the perfect sandwich spread, salad dressing, and roasted vegetable accompaniment. Feel free to add more or less of any ingredient—what’s so great about this sauce is how malleable it is. Sometimes I want it on the spicy side, and other times I want a little more zesty lemon flavor. When I am making this for a kale salad, I love keeping it on the thicker side, while for a roasted vegetable drizzle I may add a little more water to thin it out a bit. This one is so simple and keeps for a week in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup tahini
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 heaping Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey (or maple syrup)
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne (omit if adverse to spice)

Directions: 

1. Whisk all ingredients together in bowl until thoroughly mixed. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator.

If you’re looking for some dishes to try these delish sauces on, look no further than this Indian-inspired squash salad and these gluten-free pancakes

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