Sauces can seem a little daunting, but many are very easy to make and they can upgrade any meal! Making your sauce gives you control over the final taste, reduces preservatives in your food, and is just plain fun. While pre-packaged sauces seem to simplify your evening dinner routine, they often result in monotonous and bland flavors (and more added sugar). Since you’re cooking that chicken up anyway, you can take a handful of extra minutes to make the sauce, and you’ll be so glad you did. Once you start making your own sauces, from salad dressing to pasta sauce, you’ll see what we’re talking about. We’re here to get you started and share a few tried and true sauces to keep you from buying that jar of alfredo or container of teriyaki!
Making your own alfredo sounds fancy, but it’s easy. You can find many recipes online, but the basic premise is melting some butter, adding in some heavy cream, and then a bit of Parmesan. Yes! That’s it! Such a simple set of ingredients, and it takes only ten minutes! The best thing about making your own is that you can flavor it with the herbs and spices of your choice. Fresh garlic is a great way to add depth, and lemon provides an excellent oomph!
Peanut Thai Sauce
Are you looking to try something different? Peanut Thai sauce not only tastes fantastic, but it’s also very versatile. You can use it on stir fry, salad, pasta, or as a dipping sauce. There are many different ingredients you can use to make it, but unsalted peanut butter and soy sauce are the main ingredients. Some people add lime and ginger, while others add garlic chili paste. Making it yourself means you have complete control over the consistency as well. You can thin it out with water or thicken it with a cornstarch slurry!
Homemade teriyaki is easy and delicious. You’ll need brown sugar, soy sauce, fresh or powdered ginger, and garlic. You can add honey, as well, to give it a decadent boost. As with peanut Thai, adding water will thin it, but the best teriyaki sauces are thick. Find a good recipe and make sure to cook the mixed ingredients to disperse the flavors, then add a little cornstarch slurry to get that ooey-gooey result! You can keep it in a jar in your fridge for months to use or throw the whole thing on some veggies and rice.
There are many different types of gravy. Brown gravy, onion gravy, white gravy, pepper gravy, the list is endless. Gravy isn’t quite as easy as the other sauces on this list, and it takes some practice to perfect. Depending on what kind of gravy you’ll want as a finished result, you’ll need to use the fat from cooked meats or a roux to get it going. Gravy is simply flour cooked in fat, then thinned with milk or water. It should thicken up nicely within a few minutes. One warning, if your flour isn’t wholly cooked, your gravy will have a noticeable flour taste and might not thicken up as much as you expected.
With just these four simple sauces, you can add variety to any meal! Try combining different meats and starches or different grains and greens with each of these, and you’ll discover a whole new way to keep your at-home menu fresh!