After a while, I get pretty bored of my normal, everyday routine. Don't get me wrong - I like to keep things fun and fresh on the dinner table. But, no matter how hard I try, I find myself falling into the same old ruts from time to time. Luckily, I have a secret ingredient in my back pocket: these dipping sauce recipes. They keep everything feeling light and fresh, no matter what!
It's a great relief to know that you don't always have to be innovative and creative all the time. Sometimes a simple steak served with new dipping sauce each week is all you need to keep your family happy. Dipping sauces are a great way to jazz up any old appetizer, too.
Here are 13 of our favorite dipping sauce recipes, all adult-approved and most are kid-friendly, too.
1. Chimichurri Dipping Sauce
Chimichurri is one of my favorite dipping sauces. It's a fresh combination of herbs like parsley and cilantro (although I've used everything from oregano to arugula when I have it around). A little dash of red pepper flakes and some raw garlic give it some heat and pungency, while a bunch of vinegar gives it a nice tangy aftertaste. This is a classic topping for steak, but feel free to use it on chicken or pulled pork, too. If you have chimichurri leftovers, you can mix them together with mayo to make a quick salad dressing. Bonus!
2. Comeback Sauce
Comeback sauce is the perfect dipping sauce for everything from chicken tenders to roasted vegetables. This spicy mayonnaise and ketchup sauce gets its kick from the addition of your favorite hot sauce. It will be reminiscent of a fast-food chicken tender dipping sauces but it'll be so much healthier because you make it at home. This is a great way to get your kids into eating healthy vegetables - they won't be able to stop dipping!
3. Romesco Sauce
This combination of red peppers and almonds is a classic Spanish sauce that pairs well with anything. I've served it to spice up toasts as well as to accompany slow cooker chicken. My favorite way to enjoy this sauce? Serve it up with grilled vegetables and shrimp skewers. It really accentuates those grilled flavors so well. If you have nut allergies, play around with sunflower seeds. While almonds are classic, any nut will do.
4. Cilantro Jalapeño Dipping Sauce
Do you ever get tired of the same old dipping sauces for your french fries or chips? Sometimes ranch just isn't enough! That's why I love this sour cream based sauce. It's so fresh from the spicy jalapeno and herbaceous cilantro and the olive oil makes it taste super Mediterranean. I think this might become your new favorite go-to sauce! I usually use this as a dipping sauce, but it makes an excellent substitution for sour cream on tacos or baked potatoes, too.
You can never go wrong with a classic pesto sauce. Although it's originally made with basil and pine nuts, you can just as easily use blanched spinach or kale. I've even made seasonal pesto using hazelnuts and stinging nettles (just make sure to blanch the sting out of them first!). Switch up pizza or pasta night by using pesto instead of marinara. While you may think of pesto as being for pastas, it's great as a dip for finger foods, too. Pesto also makes a great sandwich spread, too. My favorite way to use it with a healthy turkey sandwich or on a splurge day meatball sub.
6. Creamy Avocado Dip
This creamy avocado dip is the perfect relief for boring Mexican nights. Why use plain old sour cream when you can amp up the nutrition with this Greek yogurt-based sauce? Blended with tangy lime juice and smoky cumin, this avocado dip will totally change Taco Tuesday for the better. I'm also a big fan of avocado toast, and this dip doesn't disappoint. Fry up an egg and post a picture of that toast on Instagram!
7. Sweet Chili Soy Sauce
I love having a side of soy sauce for dipping my sushi or for seasoning my fried rice. It's a great condiment, but sometimes I like to spice things up a little bit! Adding sugar and spicy chilis really changes the savory sauce into something really complex and totally delicious. You'll find that you no longer want to reserve soy sauce for Asian food - it's amazing served up with cheesy vegetable fritters or grilled meats.
8. Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce
Who needs honey mustard when you have tangy Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce? It makes a great mustard dipping sauce for your fries or to coat your favorite pulled pork sandwich or to top a nice grilled chicken breast. You'll find yourself making this sauce again before the classic ketchup-based kind. And if you didn't know that bbq sauce could be yellow, then make this sauce right away!
9. Bourbon Bacon Jam
Adding bacon to a dish is the perfect way to add a layer of flavor, so why not take the same approach to a bacon sauce? This bourbon bacon jam is so nuanced you'll want to eat it straight out of the jar! Use it to spice up anything from salads to sandwiches. Or, serve it on a charcuterie plate with a side of crackers or really nice bread. Either way, it'll be the star of the show. If you think jam can't be a sauce, just try combining a quarter cup of this recipe with your favorite pasta. It will taste absolutely perfect and make you think again!
10. Tzatziki Dipping Sauce
This Greek sauce doesn't have to be reserved for Middle Eastern food. It's a cooling combination of cucumbers and Greek yogurt, with some lemon juice and garlic in there for good effect. This may be the best way to spice up kabob night, making the grilled meats and vegetables taste even better than you could think. If you want to test the theory that it doesn't have to be served with Greek food, try this with spicy fried chicken. It'll cool down your palate and allow you to eat more cayenne pepper heavy foods.
11. Italian Salsa Verde
Most people think Mexican salsa when they think salsa verde. You know, those pureed tomatillos with spicy peppers. This Italian-style salsa verde couldn't be more different. It's a combination of savory anchovies with salty capers and tangy pickles. Pulse it up in the food processor with fresh herbs and olive oil and you'll find that you've made this quick and easy sauce. It's absolutely transformational when enjoyed on a roasted chicken, but it also makes an amazing topping for eggs and breakfast hash.
12. Cashew-Ginger Dipping Sauce
I've just discovered that pureeing cashews transforms them into a cream cheese like consistency. Now that I know that, I'm buying up cashews like crazy! Add some spicy ginger to the mix and you've got a perfect sauce for chicken! This is also a great way to serve up raw vegetables. The creamy sauce is the perfect coating for garden fresh produce.
13. Creamy Chipotle Dipping Sauce
Smoky and creamy, this dipping sauce is perfect for burrito bowls, but you should also use it as a fry sauce, on fish tacos or over crispy roasted cauliflower. And there's a vegan version, too!
Now that we've whetted your appetite with these amazing dipping sauce recipes, it's time to get cooking! Check out our favorite ways to use up a rotisserie chicken, and get ready to pair some of them with one of these dipping sauces!
This article was originally published on January 23, 2018.