Condiments are to summer cooking as hot dogs are to baseball—you can have one without the other, but it just won’t be as good. Whether you’re grilling up meats and seafood this summer or simply fixing yourself a really good sandwich, condiments are an easy way to add flavor and depth to your dishes. You can turn up the heat with a spicy sauce, cool things down with a creamy yogurt dip, or change it up with some roasted tomato raisins. Condiments come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them require minimal ingredients and little to no effort, often making use of a blender, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle.
From Korean- and Memphis-style barbecue sauces to a velvety whipped feta dip and a punchy Lebanese garlic sauce, these are 19 of our favorite summer condiments to throw on burgers, grilled vegetables, sandwiches, and more.
If you can’t get enough of raw garlic’s bold taste, then you’ll want this condiment in your summer rotation. Make sure to use freshly peeled cloves and remove the garlic germ before puréeing for the best flavor . Whether you make it in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle, it’s a sauce that works with grilled meats and kebabs, or as a punchy alternative to mayonnaise.
No Korean barbecue is complete without this essential no-cook ingredient. It combines spicy-sweet gochujang with the savory funk of doenjang (fermented Korean soybean paste). Toasted sesame oil and seeds add a layer of nutty depth, while fresh garlic and scallions bring an allium bite. We like to spread ssamjang on lettuce leaves and then wrap it around grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables.
Arguably the best way to top flank steak is with fresh and tangy chimichurri sauce. The food processor is your friend here, making quick work of mincing fresh parsley, garlic, and oregano. Then, simply whisk in olive oil, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Spoon it over your steak for a burst of bright, herby flavor.
Creamy, tart, and spicy, this sauce uses an array of ingredients to create complex levels of flavor. It starts with a mayo base and incorporates fresh ingredients like lemon juice, garlic, and parsley, along with capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and two types of mustard. Paprika and cayenne pepper also offer some capsaicin kick. The sauce is traditionally served with seafood like shrimp, crab cakes, and fish fillets, but we highly recommend trying it with crunchy fried dill pickles.
Give roasted meats and grilled fish a taste of Spain with this rich, hearty, and colorful condiment. Packed with nutty and earthy flavors, the sauce gets much of its color from fruity tomatoes and chocolatey dried peppers. If you like it thin and smooth, you can use a food processor or a blender, but we prefer the chunky texture that’s achieved with a mortar and pestle.
This cool and creamy whipped dip lends itself well to interpretation. The ratios of cheese to yogurt can be adjusted to your liking: using more feta will yield a thicker consistency and using more yogurt creates a thinner consistency. You can also add fresh herbs like dill, mint, or oregano. The dip’s tangy flavor and versatility means it works just as well in sandwiches as it does dolloped onto hot or cold soups.
Fresh herbs bring out the brightness in this Middle Eastern hot sauce, while chilies bring the heat. Pounding the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle creates an intensely flavored paste, and drizzling olive oil in while pounding emulsifies the sauce without creating a greasy mess. Try this condiment with falafel and sabich sandwiches, or any other meal that needs a kick.
This Memphis-style sauce has a thinner texture than traditional barbecue sauce and cuts back on the sweetness, opting to go in a tangy direction instead. As a result, its spices and seasonings, like cayenne pepper and Louisiana hot sauce, are more defined. It’s a flavor-packed condiment that can be used as a glaze on ribs or as a sauce on your favorite burger.
It’s easy to give ketchup a new flavor by incorporating sweet and spicy ingredients. Here, gochujang adds a spicy-sweet kick, while brown sugar offers even more sweetness. Soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil add depth, making this a condiment with layers of flavor that’s perfect for changing up your burgers and fries routine.
This thick and flavorful sauce is perfect for dunking spring rolls in or slathering on satay. In addition to toasted peanuts, the sauce gets a hint of sweetness thanks to palm sugar and tamarind paste, while soy sauce and Thai curry paste contribute their deep, savory components. We recommend preparing the sauce with a mortar and pestle for optimal flavor.
Red onions get the pickled treatment in this Yucatán-style add-on. We start by par-cooking the onions in water to soften them, along with peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves. After transferring them to a jar, we add enough grapefruit, orange, and lime juice to submerge the onions. Just a little bit of salt and a couple of hours in the refrigerator, and you’re left with a colorful pickled treat that’s perfect for tacos, burritos, fajitas, and sandwiches.
Unlike your average barbecue sauce, North Carolina’s version is thin, vinegary, and hot. On its own, it offers a harsh bite thanks to a substantial amount of vinegar. But the sauce does its best work when mixed with smoky pork, balancing out the flavors of the meat instead of masking them. Due to its thin consistency, this condiment works best as a dip or topping, rather than a glaze used on the grill.
When tomatoes are in season, we look for any way to make use of them. Here, they come together with briny capers and quality extra-virgin olive oil to make for an irresistibly savory spread. After blanching and peeling the tomatoes, we slowly roast them with aromatic garlic and thyme. The tomatoes then get a quick pulse in the food processor along with the capers and some dried basil. Stir in the remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy with a crusty slice of bread or on a juicy piece of grilled meat.
If you often look to condiments to turn up the spice levels, then you’ll love the way harissa transforms buttermilk ranch into a dressing with a kick. Fatty and rich crème fraîche holds up to the heat of harissa, while garlic powder gives the dressing it’s notable ranch flavor. Though it works great on salads and sandwiches, it’s also pairs perfectly with crispy fried chicken.
The coolness of yogurt adds some contrast to summer dishes like grilled meats and vegetables. Here, we add caraway to give the sauce a pungent flavor. Before mixing it in with the yogurt, we bloom the ground caraway seeds in olive oil, along with some thyme, to bring out their flavors. Finish the sauce with lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
This Thai-style dipping sauce is packed with heat and a vinegary punch. While it has similarities to Thai jaew, it gets its acidity from distilled white vinegar instead of lime juice. Fish sauce offers an umami flavor, ground dried chilies bring the spice, and toasted-rice powder adds nuttiness while also thickening the sauce. Because vinegar lengthens its shelf-life, you can make this sauce in a big batch and keep it handy for all your summer meats and seafood.
Dehydrating cherry tomatoes turns them into a sweet and savory raisin that goes well with everything. After peeling the tomatoes using both boiling and ice water, we mix them with a glaze made up of salt, sugar, and olive oil, before slowly roasting them in the oven. They work well on anything from pasta and fish to ice cream and cake, but their plump, jammy texture makes them perfect all on their own.
Sure, you can serve raw vegetables with plain old ranch dressing, but that wouldn’t impress anyone—even yourself. Instead, pair them with the complex flavors of this miso, pork, and walnut dip. Though miso is known for its salty-savory intensity, we tame its bite with the help of ingredients like nuts, onions, and ground pork. The finished product is perfect to go along with the crunch of raw vegetables, but can even be spooned over cooked ones, too.
In addition to bringing the heat, chipotle mayonnaise offers a complex mix of cool, earthy, and smoky flavors. Though many recipes call for just mayonnaise and chipotle chiles, we like to incorporate lime juice and sour cream for added tang. Once the ingredients come together in a blender, the spicy condiment can be used as a spread for burgers and sandwiches, or as a dip for fries, chips, and veggies.
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