18 Simple Sauces That Make Dinner Easy
When we went on a quest for simple sauces that would help us get dinner on the table fast, we turned to Chef John. The key to his sauces is their versatility. They bring out the best in roasts, grilled meats, seafood, poultry, pork, pastas, and more. We have classic sauces, pan sauces, blender sauces, even BBQ and pizza sauces. Be sure to watch Chef John's recipe videos to discover all the techniques and share in some of Chef John's secret knowledge.
Chef John's Bearnaise Sauce
"This tarragon-spiked, shallot-infused hollandaise is absolutely perfect with any and all steaks or roasts, especially lean ones," says Chef John. "I adore a good hollandaise and couldn't survive without mayonnaise, but if I had to pick an all-time favorite 'aise, it might just be béarnaise." You might also try Chef John's Butterless Bearnaise Sauce.
Chef John's Tomato Sauce
Here's Chef John's basic go-to tomato sauce. It's the base for his meat sauces, his lasagnas -- whenever a recipe calls for tomato sauce, this is the one! "This is one of my most requested food wishes, my all-purpose basic tomato sauce," says Chef John. "Whenever I make a meat sauce, this is my base. You can only stir this with a wooden spoon, otherwise it's bad luck."
Tarragon Walnut Brown Butter Sauce
Here's a super-simple brown butter sauce that goes with just about any white fish-tilapia, snapper, bass, black cod, sole, whatever you have. Chef John says, "There are people that will go through their entire life never having experienced the pure joy of fresh fish topped with a perfectly made brown butter sauce. That so many will not allow themselves to enjoy this tarragon walnut brown butter sauce makes me sad."
Chef John's Chimichurri Sauce
"This herby, garlicky, tangy, spicy, and very green condiment is great on all kinds of grilled meats," says Chef John. Incredibly versatile, Argentina's famous chimichurri sauce is typically paired with grilled meats. Try it over grilled steak, poultry, seafood, and veggies-or just sop it up with grilled bread.
Chef John's Romesco Sauce
Roasted red bell peppers, garlic, almonds, and sherry vinegar create a nutty, peppery, smoky, and acidic sauce. "One of the all-time greatest summer sauces, this Spanish classic is perfect with anything off the grill, especially vegetables and seafood," says Chef John. "It also makes for an unbelievable sandwich spread, as well as a perfect secret ingredient for your favorite potato or pasta salad dressings."
Alabama-Style White Barbecue Sauce
A classic Alabama condiment, this tangy and spicy combination of mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, horseradish, and vinegar is a terrific marinade for grilled chicken. "A devastatingly delicious marinade, basting sauce, and serving sauce," says Chef John. It was invented in 1925 by Robert 'Big Bob' Gibson at Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q restaurant, in Decatur. " Also makes a great dressing.
Caramelized Pan Sauce
This caramelized mushroom and tomato pan sauce is inspired by traditional Italian flavors. You'll deglaze the pan with Marsala wine and some stock, and finish the sauce off with a little butter. "This is one of those dishes that unless someone watched you make it, they'd never believe how fast and simple it is to prepare," says Chef John. "This wonderful sauce would work just as well with beef tenderloin, pork, veal, or chicken."
Lemon Caper Butter Sauce
This lemon and caper butter sauce is a classic French sauce that's perfect with seafood, particularly sauteed sole. The trick is in the technique, which creates a sauce with amazing body and viscosity. Spoon it over pan-seared sole-it's delicious with pretty much any fish. Try it with chicken, too.
Bourbon Pepper Pan Sauce
"Mastering pan sauces is one of the most important but easiest steps towards producing legit restaurant-quality dishes at home. Assemble all the sauce ingredients before cooking the steak so you can make the sauce during the 5-minute resting time for steak. The rich, sweet, peppery flavor profile also works wonderfully with pork chops and grilled chicken," says Chef John. "You can also switch up the bourbon for another liquor, since this really is just a technique recipe."
Peanut Dipping Sauce
A sensational all-purpose sauce, it's delicious with grilled chicken or beef skewers and spring rolls. "It has a gorgeous, luxurious texture," says Chef John. "It's fantastic on any grilled meat or vegetables or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls. This is one of those recipes you're going to have to taste and adjust to your palate. Consider this a template that you can tailor to your personal taste."
Dijon Pan Sauce
You make this super-easy sauce while your roast rests. Add a little mustard and stock to the roasting pan and scrape the meaty bits off the bottom. Reduce the stock and finish with a swirl of cold butter. "This technique is crucial because it produces a very fast and elegant sauce anytime you've roasted meat in a pan," says Chef John. "All it requires is the fond, some type of liquid, and a small chuck of cold butter."
Chinese Black Bean Sauce
Make a batch of this fermented black bean sauce and flavorful stir-fries are ready in mere minutes. "This pungent and earthy sauce is easy to make and will last in the refrigerator up to a month," says Buckwheat Queen. "It can also be frozen in small portions to easily be used for a quick stir-fry. Because of the saltiness of the beans, there is no need to add salt in the recipes where you use this sauce." Try your homemade black bean sauce in Chicken in Garlic and Black Bean Sauce and Chinese Green Bean Stir-Fry.
Spicy Mango Sauce
This spicy Thai-inspired mango sauce partners perfectly with grilled mahi-mahi, swordfish, salmon, tuna, or grilled meats. Chef John warns, "Do not use a blender or a food processor to mince your mango in this recipe. There is more damage done to the cellular structure in a blender, which can create a noticeably different taste and texture. I'll always believe my spicy mango sauce tastes better because I cut it by hand."
This classic French red wine reduction sauce is super easy to make. You'll reduce it until the sauce develops a gorgeous viscosity. "This is a simple version of the classic French red wine and shallot reduction sauce," says Chef John. "It's fantastic on a steak, roast beef, or whatever!"
Chef John's Remoulade Sauce
"To make this simple remoulade sauce, combine mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, fresh dill, pickles, minced garlic, capers, lemon juice, and a dash of cayenne. This version has some body to it. It's easy and so much better than store-bought versions. Try it with crab cakes or pretty much any grilled, broiled, or pan-seared fish."
The versatile sauce is a flavorful mix of oil-packed tuna, anchovies, capers, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice made creamy with a big dollop of mayo. "Tonnato sauce is tremendous as a spread and equally impressive as an all-purpose, all-world dip," says Chef John. It's also a great sauce for grilled meats and makes a simple, creamy pasta sauce, too.
Black Cumberland Sauce
This flavorful fruit sauce features black currant jelly, minced onions, red wine, citrus zest, and seasonings. It's an amazing sauce served with roasted meats-turkey, lamb, ham, goose, rib roasts, any meat that's salty, smoky, or gamey. "My 'Black Cumberland' version of the traditional red currant Cumberland sauce, uses black currants and some very browned onions," says Chef John. "Serve this sauce, hot or cold, alongside any meat roast."
Homemade Pizza Sauce
So good, you'll want every night to be pizza night. "Here is my top-secret formula for pizza sauce," says Chef John. "The next time you're making homemade pizza, you might as well make some sauce too."