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12 Saucy Condiments You Need to Know to Eat Better

Can you imagine french fries without ketchup? Your favorite deli sandwich without mayo? Pancakes without syrup? Hard to picture and definitely not a world we want to live in! If you're like us, you love dipping, spreading and saucing all kinds of foods with a variety of things, also known as condiments.
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Can you imagine french fries without ketchup? Your favorite deli sandwich without mayo? Pancakes without syrup? Hard to picture and definitely not a world we want to live in! If you're like us, you love dipping, spreading and saucing all kinds of foods with a variety of things, also known as condiments.

Read on to learn why these supporting players are the real stars of the show with this spread of some of the world's favorite condiments.

1. Mayonnaise
Whether slathered on sandwiches, incorporated into luscious dips or folded into a soul-warming casserole, mayonnaise is an indispensable condiment chefs and at-home cooks use to add creamy richness to any dish. Made of oil, egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, herbs and spices, mayonnaise contributes a creamy texture and depth of flavor to everything from classic BLTs to inventive cakes. If you live in the UK, you've likely dipped many fried "chips" (aka French fries) in mayo.


If you're an American, you're probably more accustomed to pairing them with the next condiment on this list...

2. Ketchup!
Tangy, sweet and delicious all at once, ketchup is the ultimate all-American condiment. In fact, 97 percent of U.S. households report keeping a bottle in their pantry! This tomato-based sauce combines tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and spices to create the perfect sweet-savory sauce to accompany French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs and just about anything else.


Photo provided by Dudley Market in LA.

With varieties such as spicy, curried and wasabi popping up in stores and restaurants today, this trusty condiment continues to spice things up (and we aren't complaining)!

3. Mustard
Where would we be without ketchup's partner in crime, mustard? We love this classic combo for warm days grilling outside with burgers and brats. But mustard goes far beyond just the yellow variety. This tangy spread combines the seeds of the mustard plant with vinegar, lemon juice or even beer, as well as other flavorings and spices. Mustard comes in many varieties that offer different strengths of spiciness and flavor, with the most common types being yellow, Dijon, honey and spicy brown. In addition to hot dogs and hamburgers, mustard is a great accompaniment to sandwiches, meats and cheeses, and as an ingredient to salad dressings and other sauces.

4. Relish
In addition to ketchup and mustard, no hot dog is complete without relish. This vinegar-based sauce is made with chopped vegetables -- primarily chopped dill pickles in the U.S. Relish tends to be on the sweeter side and tastes great with grilled sausages. Other varieties are made with red pepper, squash and fresh cucumber. Aside from being eaten on its own, pickle relish is a key ingredient in another one of our favorite condiments....

5. Tartar sauce!
Fish and chips would not be the same without its zippy sidekick, tartar sauce. This mayonnaise-based spread includes flavors from relish and pickle juice, as well as dill or capers. Tartar sauce is most commonly paired with seafood dishes and adds a savory punch of flavor for dipping.


Photo provided by Flex Mussels in NYC.

6. Hot sauce
The best way to spice up anything from tacos to ramen is with a few drops of your favorite hot sauce. Whether you're a loyal Tabasco fan, Sriracha enthusiast or die-hard Frank's fanatic, there's thousands of kinds from all over the world to find the perfect heat level and flavor for you. Hot sauce is primarily made from some type of chili peppers and vinegar and can be enhanced with other vegetables and spices. Delicious on just about everything, hot sauce can turn up the heat on any meal.

7. Barbecue sauce
Sweet, spicy, hickory and honey; barbecue sauce boasts many varieties, each one being a tasty accompaniment to grilled meats. Most barbecue sauces today are ketchup-based and are sweetened with molasses or brown sugar to offset the sharp taste with just the right amount of sweetness. Ribs, burgers and wings are all great foods for this sweet and smoky sauce.

8. Soy sauce
It's hard to imagine sushi or fried rice without a bottle of soy sauce on the side. This salty sauce originated in China and is made from fermented soybeans and wheat. Soy sauce is ultra-savory, adding notes of depth and richness to everything it's added to. Most commonly used in Asian dishes, it can stand alone for dipping or be used in marinades and other sauces.


Photo provided by Empire in Boston.

9. Salad dressing
We all know that salads are an easy way to load up on veggies, but they wouldn't be half as delicious without an amazing salad dressing. There are tons of salad dressings out there to try, and they're a simple way to add flavor and taste to your favorite salad. The two main types of salad dressing are vinaigrettes and creamy dressings:

Vinaigrette: Popular dressings like Italian, French and balsamic are all considered vinaigrettes. They are primarily made of oil and vinegar and flavored with herbs, spices and seasonings.

Creamy dressings: When it comes to this type of dressing, Ranch is a classic flavor and many people's go-to choice. Creamy dressings often have mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk as a base and are enhanced with herbs and spices to create different flavors.


Photo provided by bellyQ in Chicago.

Popular recipes include blue cheese, Russian and Thousand Island. These dressings are also great as dips or spreads for sandwiches.

10. Jam/Jelly
Everyone's favorite childhood sandwich, the PB&J wouldn't be complete without jam or jelly. These spreads are made from sweetened fruit such as grapes, berries, peaches and much more. Ever wondered what the difference really is between jam and jelly? Jams contain pulp from the fruit, whereas jelly filters it out at the end of the cooking process to create a smoother texture.


11. Nut butters
We can't forget the other half of this power pair, peanut butter! This pantry favorite is one of a large family of nut butters including almond, cashew and hazelnut. Nut butters are made from grinding nuts into a paste and can be flavored with honey, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and more. Nut butters are high in fat and protein and are awesome with bread, fruit, pretzels and in desserts.

12. Maple syrup
There's nothing better than a weekend morning filled with pancakes and a drizzle (or a hefty pour) of maple syrup. This breakfast staple works well with pancakes, waffles, French toast and oatmeal to add sweetness to any morning.


Photo provided by Whetstone Tavern. Photo by Vanessa Beahn.

Maple syrup is made by boiling the sap from maple trees. In addition to breakfast, maple syrup adds unique sweetness and flavor in baking.

13. Whipped cream
Last but certainly not least is a condiment that makes any dessert even better, whipped cream. Delicious on everything from pies to ice cream sundaes, whipped cream is made simply from cream and sugar that is whipped or mixed until light and fluffy. With a light sweetness and texture, whipped cream is great with fruit, hot chocolate, waffles, crepes and just about any other sweet treat.


Contributed by Priya Barua

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