Tired of playing ‘ketchup’ in the kitchen? Here’s a roundup of all the essential condiments you need to do dinner right. Every. Single. Time.
Have you ever found yourself tackling a new recipe, only to botch it at the last minute? Whether you left your steak on the skillet too long, overboiled your pasta or burned the Thanksgiving turkey, rest assured there’s ALWAYS a way to save the plate.
Beyond dousing your food in ketchup, there are plenty of other essential sauces, gravies, and spices that infuse bold flavor into otherwise bland dishes. Condiments are also great for covering up recipes gone terribly wrong.
Sure, salt and pepper are a decent start (Check out our recent salt article for some awesome ideas!). But now, it’s time to expand your culinary horizons with an exciting roundup of essential condiments. So clear your refrigerator shelves, and let’s get started!
Top 5 Must-Have Condiments for Home Cooking
5. Dijon Mustard
We’re not talking about that bright yellow stuff you find at the ballpark. That’s great for your classic burgers and dogs. But Dijon mustard is for the sophisticated home cook looking to elevate the flavor of food without turning it a certain shade of neon.
This somewhat spicy, somewhat tangy paste is incredibly versatile, lending itself to everything from meat marinades and chicken rubs to salad dressings and pasta dishes. Maybe your chicken is too dry to serve, or your garden salad is screaming for a vinegary punch. Mustard adds instant moisture while locking in that savory flavor we all crave.
Want some Dijon inspiration? Try out this honey garlic roast pork recipe featuring whole grain mustard as a marinade.
Photo: Elevate Beer
4. Classic Mayonnaise
Remember when your mom used to scoop a big ‘ol gob of mayo from the jar when making her famous deviled eggs? We tend to think of mayonnaise as a condiment for cold dishes, such as lunch meat sandwiches, chicken salad, and other deli favorites. But what about our hot recipes? For a much-needed touch of creamy, tangy goodness, mayo saves the day.
Next time you make scrambled eggs, grilled cheese or mashed potatoes, consider swapping your typical butter or dairy ingredient for a thick, yummy fold of mayo. Not only does it help emulsify liquid ingredients, but it can also get a crunchier char on the exterior of food when frying over the stove or baking in the oven.
In fact, there are tons of recipes featuring mayonnaise as the ultimate ‘secret’ ingredient. Don’t be scared—just go for the jar!
3. Hot Sauce
There are so many kinds of cuisine that use hot sauce or similar pepper-based ingredients as a key source of flavor. I mean, who doesn’t love a steaming hot plate of wings dripping in wonderful, sweat-inducing heat?
But sometimes, you need a condiment to go to bat for you in times of trouble. Have you ever cooked an entire pound of ground meat, but forgot to pick up the taco seasoning? Or, maybe your crockpot full of chili is just a tad too sweet. It’s hot sauce to the rescue!
Whether it’s Sriracha, Tabasco or some other classic pepper sauce, keep a bottle on hand to add instant ‘pep’ to the plate. Here’s a fun spicy sweet green beans recipe sure to have the entire family reaching for the blue cheese.
2. Worcestershire Sauce
Some condiments are a mystery to the common cook. We see a familiar bottle in the grocery store, but brazenly pass it by, assuming it’s of no good use. When it comes to Worcestershire sauce, we couldn’t be more wrong.
Named for the English town where two chemists concocted this sweet, savory condiment, Worcestershire sauce is comprised of malt vinegar, anchovies, molasses, onion, garlic and some other off-the-wall seasonings. It’s typically used to add a tangy kick to Caesar dressing, bloody marys, meatloaf and more.
Don’t have an outdoor grill? Next time you make a kitchen-cooked batch of bbq ribs, give them that smoky, Southern flavor with a couple of drops of Worcestershire. You won’t be disappointed!
1. Nut Butter
Do you mean peanut butter? A jar of Nutella? Well, not exactly. Those are great for spreading on bread at breakfast, but for your weeknight cooking endeavors, so-called ‘nut butter’ is where it’s at! This category actually includes spreadable butters made from almonds, cashews, pistachios, as well as seeds (such as tahini).
Earlier, we talked about adding a spicy kick to your recipes. But what’s a home chef to do when a meal comes out too spicy? This happens a lot when making stir frys, chilis, sauces, gravies and other dishes that call for pepper. Add a spoonful of your preferred nut butter, and you’ve got a healthy fix in a flash.
Try whipping up a batch of almond butter, keep a jar in your pantry arsenal, and there’s no snack you can’t salvage!
Photo: Christine Siracusa
Are you as obsessed with condiments as we are? Come back soon for Dinner Party Tips.