8 Sauces to Spruce Up Your Dinner Routine

Spice up weeknight dinners with these fun and easy-to-make sauces, collected by a restaurant chef!

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bowls of various dip sauces, top view
Photo: Shutterstock / MaraZe

I don’t know about you, but I often get bored with my weeknight cooking routine. I try to keep things simple and easy—grilled steaks, cast-iron pork chops, roasted chicken, or a huge batch of sheet pan vegetables—but after making them a few times, I need to switch things up a bit. These meals need something simple to spice things up and make life exciting again. Luckily, we have a few sauce recipes that do just the trick! They’re a sure-fire way to spruce up dinner without adding much extra time to your night.

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Taste of Home


We love this super fresh recipe for the famous South American condiment. Fresh cilantro and parsley give this sauce a herbaceous backbone, while red pepper flakes and raw garlic give it some spice and pungency. Finish it off with acidic lime juice and vinegar and you have yourself a winner! Chimichurri is the perfect way to complete grilled steak or chicken.

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You really can’t go wrong with a classic pesto sauce. It’s amazing on everything from pasta to sandwiches. You can even use it as a pizza base instead of marinara! Traditional pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but feel free to have some fun with the ingredients. Check out our easy step-by-step guide to pesto.

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Barbecue Sauce

When it comes to barbecue sauce, we honestly can’t pick our favorite! So we collected our top 15 homemade barbecue sauce recipes instead. From tangy, mustard-forward Carolina style sauce to Texas-true Dr. Pepper sauce, you’ll find the perfect recipe to sauce up slow cooker pulled pork or slow-cooked ribs.

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Hollandaise Sauce

This sauce is best known for smothering eggs Benedict at breakfast, but we love using this hollandaise recipe to fancy up dinner entrees. Made from creamy egg yolks and rich butter, hollandaise is a perfect way to add flavor to an inexpensive steak, a lean chicken breast, or blanched vegetables.

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Tzatziki Sauce

You may know tzatziki sauce from your favorite Greek dishes, but you don’t have to save it for gyros or falafel. This tzatziki recipe is my favorite way to spice up grilled or roasted vegetables. It’s also the perfect way to cool down a spicy fried chicken.

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Spicy Plum Sauce

Who needs applesauce? This flavorful fruit sauce can do everything applesauce can do, plus a couple things it can’t. It’s super savory, thanks to the onion and garlic, but it still has a sweet and tangy flavor. Whip up this spicy plum sauce and serve it alongside your favorite pork dishes (like these ribs) or on top of a roasted chicken.

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Avocado Sauce

We paired this tasty avocado sauce with cornmeal-crusted catfish, but it’s so versatile you could really serve it with anything! Serve it as a dipping sauce for grilled skewers or drizzle it on top of roasted veggies. You could even roll it up inside your favorite burrito instead of guacamole!

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Garlic Caper Sauce

How could you resist a sauce that combines salty capers, pungent garlic and savory sun-dried tomatoes? Swirl in a little white wine and finish it off with some cream and you’ll have a sauce that will add a burst of flavor to your dinner.

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially if it provides an opportunity to highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.