Easy Sauces Every Vegetarian Cook Should Know

updated Nov 28, 2023
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Credit: Lauren Volo

I’m not quite sure when the veggie bowl trend sparked, but I rejoiced because with it came a renaissance of sauces. Think about it — before you could get a really great grain bowl in almost any city, the only sauce vegetarians were offered was hummus or some flavored version of it. But today, tahini is no longer just an ingredient used in hummus — it’s the base for a rich variety of sauces, from golden turmeric blends to miso dressing. And that’s just the beginning.

We rounded up some of our favorite easy, flavor-boosting sauces that make vegetarian meals more imaginative and satisfying.

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Broccoli & Feta Pasta Sauce

I’m going with broccoli and feta pesto here as a testament to how varied and seasonal pesto can be. My affection for broccoli runs deep — I often eat it for breakfast— but I never even considered making it into pesto until I saw this recipe from Faith. The feta is what really makes this creamy concoction special, giving it a salty, tangy flavor. Use it like Faith does on pasta, or spread it over toast or as a dip for veggies. If you’re looking for a classic basil-based pesto, this recipe will walk you through making it step-by-step.

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Green Goddess Dressing
This herby creamy green goddess dressing can be used to dress lettuce or as a dip for veggie. We go classic, including anchovies and Greek yogurt.
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Cool, Creamy Greek Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki is a Greek yogurt-based sauce with cucumber, garlic, and fresh herbs. Here's how to make the best version of this versatile condiment at home.
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Easy Hollandaise Sauce in a Blender
The creamy, buttery sauce will upgrade everything from eggs benedict to asparagus.
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Brown Butter Vinaigrette Sauce

This sauce is pretty magical. First you brown butter — which effectively gives it the ability to work like an oil in recipe — and use it to make a creamy, emulsified sauce along with Dijon mustard, herbs, and the vinegar of your choice. It’s nutty, herby, tangy, and pretty rich. It’s a wonderful sauce to use when you’re preparing strongly flavored vegetables like radicchio or kale.

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Chimichurri Sauce

If you love pesto but sometimes want to push it in a tangier, sharper direction, then chimichurri is the sauce you’re looking for. Hailing from Argentina, this parsley- and cilantro-based sauce gets it brightness from a healthy glug of red wine vinegar. While it’s traditionally used with grilled meats, its brightness is the perfect foil for any grilled food (think: grilled portabella mushrooms, smoky slabs of sweet potatoes, and charred asparagus).

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Making vinaigrette is all about understanding the fundamentals. Master those principles and you can create any flavor combinations you dream up. Kelli shows us five incredible ideas using a bunch of different herbs and citrus fruits. Each is based on the same core mixture that includes shallots, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. I love to use vinaigrettes on warm roasted veggies, on grains before turning them into salads, and, of course, on bowls of gorgeous leafy greens.

Five Citrus Vinaigrettes

  • Lime + Cilantro
  • Blood Orange + Mint
  • Grapefruit + Basil
  • Lemon + Thyme
  • Orange + Oregano

We’ve been thinking about sauces in relation to grain bowls and veggies for a while now, with Kelli coming up with five really delicious (yet simple!) ones you can use on everything from your next veggie sub to a noodle bowl.

5 Grain-Bowl Sauces

  • Hoisin Ginger Sauce
  • Herbed Goat Cheese Sauce
  • Mediterranean Olive Sauce
  • Spicy Sriracha Peanut Sauce
  • Orange Tahini Sauce