Don’t settle for blah: Delicious vegan food deserves great condiments, and making your own is probably easier than you think. The season for burgers, grilling and awesome salads is here, making it an ideal time to focus on the staple sauces that can elevate vegan food.
There are a lot of bonuses to homemade condiments even if you’re not a strict vegan. You can control the amount of sugar and sodium you want in your toppings, plus customize them with more or less spice, sweetness and bite to please your palate. And as an added bonus, vegan versions often replace high-fat dairy and refined oils with healthier ingredients.
Intrigued? Check out these condiment tips, then peruse some great recipes and videos to get you started.
Glass jars are ideal for storing homemade condiments. Get in the habit of saving the jars when you use up store-bought condiments and repurpose them for your own versions, or invest in some half-pint mason jars.
Label and date your condiments. This way you and your household will always know what’s in your little jars, and you’ll be nudged to use them up before they get old and funky. I like to use painter’s tape and an indelible marker to make quick labels, but you can buy or improvise your own versions.
Make a double batch of some of your favorite condiments and give them away to friends and family.
Not up for a kitchen project? You can transform store-bought vegan staples like mustard and ketchup with a touch of spice (sriracha is a favorite), some finely chopped fresh herbs, or a drizzle of lemon juice and zest, or even some chopped capers.
Rich, velvety, versatile mayonnaise is a summer staple, and it doesn’t have to include eggs to be delectably smooth and flavorful. This Creamy Vegan Mayo is rich and spreadable with a combination of tofu and white beans and gets classic flavor from cider vinegar and agave nectar. Try it on veggie burgers, sandwiches and as a base for mayonnaise-based salads. Another must-try mayo substitute is Cashew Sour Cream: Just four ingredients, and you can even watch the video. It works wonderfully as a non-dairy alternative to sour cream or crema on potatoes or in Mexican recipes too.
Dressings and Sauces
Creamy vegan dressing are a incredibly popular, with the added bonus that much of the oil and full-fat dairy ingredients can be replaced with protein-packed staples like tofu, beans, nuts and seeds. Vegan Tofu Green Goddess Dressing is put over the top by avocado; try it on green salads or grain salads and definitely slather it on a veggie burger. The words “healthy" and “Hollandaise” don’t often appear together, but with this delicious, lemony Vegan ‘Hollandaise’ Sauce they go hand-and-hand. This brilliant recipe replaces the butter and egg yolks with cashew butter for wonderful mouthfeel and just about no saturated fat. It’s a must over steamed asparagus, boiled potatoes or vegan brunch dishes. Watch the video to see how it comes together in just minutes. Grilled Tomato and Tahini Dressing is a fabulous spread for sandwiches that also works wonderfully as a dip or sauce for salads and vegetables. This video shows you just how simple this one is too.
Improve on mustard? Absolutely! Making your own is easy and lets you customize it to your own preference for saltiness and spiciness. Try Homemade Fennel Mustard, or you can also replace the honey with agave syrup Hot Honey Mustard. Both are fabulous with vegan sausages and hot dogs and ideal on sandwiches. And speaking of hot dogs, give this incredibly savory Sweet Pickle Relish a try too!
Sweet sauces are dear to my heart. Nothing elevates a dessert as successfully and easily as a sauce drizzled on top or on the plate for contrast and flavor. And you don’t need butter or cream to make a brilliant one. Whirl some raspberries in the food processor with a little sugar and splash of orange juice and then strain out the seeds for one of my all-time favorite sauces. Or try Vegan Caramel Sauce or Vegan Chocolate Ganache for rich, satisfying flavor you can turn to again and again. And finally, use a chocolate that doesn’t contain dairy (check the label), and you can even enjoy Homemade Chocolate Shell, a terrific topping for frozen vegan desserts.
Got your own favorite for vegan dining? Tell us about them!