Gallery: 33 Great Sauce Recipes for Burgers

  • Ketchup

    ketchup and french fries

    While nothing will replace a flavor so ingrained in our psyches as Heinz, this ketchup had its own appeal. It's brighter and fresher than bottled ketchup, with a natural tomato flavor that has just enough spice to clearly define itself as ketchup over any other tomato sauce.

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    Yellow Mustard

    hot dog with yellow mustard

    Ground mustard forms the base of this French's copycat yellow mustard, with vinegar pumping up the kick, and turmeric providing that bright yellow color that sets American mustard apart. While the flavor was well in line with store brands, the texture has a slightly gritty, homemade feel as opposed to the familiar, super processed version.

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    Spicy Beer Mustard

    pastrami sandwich and spicy beer mustard

    This spicy, slightly sweet beer mustard was made to complement pastrami, but there's no reason you can't put it on burgers, too.

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    Sweet Cucumber Relish

    sweet cucumber relish

    This cucumber relish is sweet and tangy with a nice note of celery and a little bitterness from the mustard seed to really round it out. It's perfect for canning, but there's no reason it can't be used right away.

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    Basic Barbecue Sauce

    whisking barbecue sauce on the stove

    Skip bottled barbecue sauces; this basic sauce base takes about 15 minutes to make from start to finish and is merely a launching point for infinite varieties.

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    Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce

    Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce

    When most people think of barbecue sauce, they're probably picturing a thick, sweet, and tangy tomato mixture—that's Kansas City style.

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    Chili Sauce

    cheeseburger with chili sauce
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    This chili ends up with a homogeneous, saucy texture perfect for topping burgers, hot dogs, or fries.

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    Cheese Sauce

    fries dipped in cheese sauce
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    This cheese sauce has the melty, gooey, spreadable dippability of sauce found in chain restaurants and movie theaters, but with the complex flavor of real cheese.

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    mayonnaise and sandwich

    Homemade mayonnaise has a much fresher and brighter flavor than bottled. Your arm may ache from all the whisking, but the end result is worth it.

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    garlic aoili

    While "aioli" is thrown around incredibly loosely for any mayo-like sauce, it's really only one thing: garlic mayonnaise, which is great for adding a creamy garlic bite to burgers, fries, or really any such thing your heart desires.

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    Chipotle Mayonnaise

    chipotle mayonnaise and fries

    Chipotle mayo is a pretty hot condiment whose popularity is well-deserved. With just a few ingredients, you can create a complex mixture of spicy, cool, earthy, and smoky that becomes an excellent spread for sandwiches and burgers, or a dip for fries, chips, and veggies.

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    Louisiana Remoulade

    Louisiana remoulade

    Louisiana remoulade starts with a mayo base, but then adds ingredient after ingredient to form a reddish complex sauce that's creamy, tart, and spicy.

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    Sun-Dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Mayo

    sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic mayonnaise with fries

    This mayo is bursting with deep tomato and garlic flavor. Great for putting on burgers or dunking fries into!

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    J. Kenji López-Alt

    Save your bacon fat to make this rich, smoky spread. Goes great on a Bacon Attack Burger!

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    Big Mac Spread

    big mac
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    The sauce on a Big Mac may seem to be a Thousand Island-type spread, but it's actually a mayonnaise-based sauce with no ketchup or tomato to speak of.

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    Shake Shack Sauce

    shake shack sauce
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    You can't make a Shake Shack burger (or Double Shack Stack) without the right sauce: a mix of mayo, ketchup, mustard, a few spices, and pickles.

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    In-N-Out Spread

    In-N-Out burger spread
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    This spread may be a basic Thousand Island-style dressing—a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish— but you've got to get the ingredient ratios right if you're going to make an In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal-Style.

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    Peruvian Green Sauce

    Peruvian green sauce and chicken
    J. Kenji López-Alt

    This spicy, tangy, and cooling sauce is easy to make. A tangy mayonnaise base is pepped up with a squeeze of lime juice and lemon, along with the heat of fresh jalapeños and a big handful of cilantro.

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    ranch with dill and vegetables

    This homemade Ranch strikes a mellower tone than the store-bought version, with creamy, rich buttermilk and fresh parsley, chives, and dill.

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    Creamy French Dressing

    French dressing poured on salad

    Sugar and ketchup formed the base of this dressing, while onion and vinegar play heavily as well, and small amounts of Worcestershire, paprika, and garlic powder add some depth. Mayonnaise makes it creamy; leave it out and you get regular old French.

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    Franch Dressing

    Dipping tater tots into Franch dressing

    Half French dressing, half ranch equals Franch. The French lends a sugary ketchup and onion flavor, while the ranch influence is distinctly herbal, and both respective tangs make that "zing" the dominant trait.

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    Pimento Cheese

    Pimento cheese

    Do we really need a spread that's primarily cheese and mayonnaise? In the case of pimento cheese, the answer is yes. This Southern classic is simply a mixture of grated sharp cheddar, mayo, pimentos, cayenne, and hot sauce.

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    Arugula Pesto

    Arugula pesto with chicken and asparagus

    The peppery bite of arugula is tempered by oil and Parmesan, creating a smooth, yet incredibly flavorful pesto.

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    Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

    Thai sweet chili sauce

    This thickened mixture of chilies, vinegar, sugar, and garlic rightfully puts its flavor in the Asian corner, but it's so accessible you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't profess love for its balance between sweet and spicy that makes it perfect for everything from eggrolls, to fries, to burgers, and so much more.

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    Hot Chili Chutney

    chili chutney on a baguette

    Roasted hot and sweet red peppers are combined with caramelized onions, rosemary, cinnamon, sugar, and balsamic vinegar to create a complex and robust condiment that starts of sweet, but leaves you with a wallop of heat.

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    Homemade Sriracha


    Setting out to recreate Huy Fong's ubiquitous sauce, this sauce hits the right notes, but with a brighter, fresher flavor that makes homemade Sriracha something special.

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    Cherry Barbecue Sauce

    barbecue sauce in mason jar

    You can call cherry a "secret" ingredient to this barbecue sauce. It adds a deep fruitiness that gets well embedded in the sauce. It's noticeable, yet a little hard to discern at the same time. The cherries are paired with ancho chili powder, which gives an earthy spice, along with the very distinctive white pepper.

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    Blueberry Ketchup

    blueberry ketchup and french fries

    Escaping the thought of ketchup as a singular tomato-based sauce led to this blueberry ketchup. It has the familiar sweet and tangy flavor but with a bright fruitiness that opens the door to a wide variety of uses.

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    Cilantro Pesto

    cilantro pesto

    If you like cilantro, you may prefer cilantro pesto (blended with pumpkin seeds, cotija cheese, serrano pepper, and lime juice) to the classic basil.

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    Basil Pesto

    basil pesto on farfalle with a cherry tomato

    Pesto is ripe for experimentation but if we're talking traditional, it's going to be basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan combined into a smooth paste. It's quick work to get all the ingredients chopped and combined into a nutty, herbal paste by using a food processor.

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    Basic Teriyaki Sauce

    teryaki sauce

    This is a simple mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, Sake, and mirin, cooked down until it becomes a semi-thick, spoon-coating sauce with a constant pull between sweet and salty.

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    Bacon Jam

    bacon jam

    This complex mixture of sweet candied smoky–salty bacon—with earthy undertones from a hit of coffee, and pockets of heat—is great on burgers, pizza, biscuits, and more.

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    Tomato Jam

    tomato jam in mason jars
    Lucy Baker

    In this recipe, juicy heirlooms are paired with fresh ginger, cinnamon, and a dash of red pepper flakes for kick. Besides being a great condiment for burgers, it's also great on BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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