These Simple 3-Ingredient Sauces Pair with Just About Everything

updated Aug 23, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you meal prep just one thing this week, my best (and favorite) advice is to always make a sauce. I’m a strong believer that a simple, flavorful sauce is the single thing that will take any meal from good to great. And the more simple, the better.

You truly don’t need a lot of ingredients or effort to pull together a really good sauce, and these 10 recipes prove it. Start with three ingredients (and a little salt and pepper, if you like) and you’ve got all you need.

Equal parts creamy and punchy, this bold-flavored sauce is for summer and beyond. It’s perfect for drizzling over everything from meat pulled from the grill and roasted vegetables, to grain bowls and just about anything else.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Rich and sweet, with a faint bitter edge, this is the sauce you’ll want to drizzle over grilled chicken breast, pork, and salmon.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Start with some good-quality tomatoes, add a splash of vinegar and some garlic, and you’ll instantly see why making your own pizza sauce totally beats the store-bought stuff. Best of all, it makes a big batch and freezes really well.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This is my absolute favorite sauce of all time! Use any herbs you have handy and the result is a bright, fresh sauce with nutty undertones that also doubles as a dip.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I’m convinced this sauce has the power to make anyone fall in love with tomatillos. This sauce has a sweet smokiness that makes it a good match for just about everything you pull off the grill, from chicken and pork, to fish and vegetables.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This super-simple pesto starts with whatever green things you have in the fridge, be it wilted herbs or leftovers leafy greens, like spinach, arugula, or kale.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

You just need three ingredients to pull off a bold, punchy sauce you’ll want to eat with everything. If you have some fresh parsley hanging out in the fridge, it’s a fun extra to toss in.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When you want a sauce that doubles as a marinade, this one really delivers. It’s just the right balance of sweet, salty, and sour, and also works well with stir-fries.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Take three basic ingredients (you get pasta water and salt as freebies), plus some comfort-food inspiration, and you’ve got a grown-up version of buttered noodles that’s light with just a hint of indulgence.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The next time you’re ready to call cheese and bread (or a sleeve of crackers) dinner, this sweet and tangy sauce is the one thing you’ll want to have on hand. Of course, it also makes a natural partner to any kind of meat or tofu you’re cooking up.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How about a 1-ingredient sauce as a bonus? Simmer balsamic vinegar until it becomes thick and honey-like to make a sweet and nutty sauce that’s great drizzled on caprese salad, roasted vegetables, and even vanilla ice cream.

3-Ingredient Roasted Lemon Sauce

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