5 sauces of summer on a table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

20 Essential Sauces for Summer

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When the temperature outside heats up, we’re all about lazy cooking — simple salads, easy sandwiches, and everything and anything on the grill. To make all of that even more delicious, you need a good sauce. But not just any sauce will do; it needs to be simple, easy, and a hard-working multitasker (think: sandwich spread, salad dressing, and marinade).

Keeping all of that in mind, we give you this summer’s essential sauces. From a fresh new take on ranch to a marinated fresh tomato number that’s great on pasta and so much more, you’ll be making these on repeat from now until sweater weather.

Sauces of Summer

1 / 20
The Easiest, Simplest Pesto
Make it a few times, and there's a good chance you'll have this basil pesto committed to memory.
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2 / 20
Quick Romesco Sauce
Romesco is delicious as a dip for crackers and raw vegetables, and it pairs particularly well with grilled foods and seafood.
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3 / 20
Magic Summer Sauce
With an ingredient list of three pantry staples, this punchy sauce couldn't be simpler. It's equal parts creamy, tangy, and spicy and begs to be spooned over anything and everything.
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4 / 20
Brown Butter Vinaigrette Sauce
Brown butter, vinegar, and tangy Dijon are the base for this fast-and-fancy sauce. It's also my favorite way to use up any last bits of herbs in the fridge; the recipe suggests parsley, but feel free to swap in any fresh herbs you have handy.
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5 / 20
3-Ingredient Roasted Lemon Sauce
This simple sauce will introduce you to a whole new side of lemons — the mellow, sweet side that's coaxed out from roasting. Partnered with roasted garlic and a few glugs of olive oil, it's transformed into a rich, sweet sauce, with a faint bitter edge.
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6 / 20
3-Ingredient Avocado Blue Cheese Sauce
This is a sauce for summer and beyond. It's velvety smooth with a tangy, pungent flavor that's ideal for kebabs, grilled veggies, and grain bowls.
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7 / 20
3-Ingredient Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
This everyday sauce hits your tongue with just the right balance of sweet and smoky, with a hint of heat at the back of your mouth. It's a natural partner for everything you pull off the grill and has a well-deserved place on Taco Tuesday.
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8 / 20
Maple-Mustard Onion Sauce
Turn onions into the star of the show with this flavor-packed sauce. It's smoky, sweet, and tangy, and pairs well with picnic sandwiches, and beyond.
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9 / 20
3-Ingredient Green Tahini Sauce
If you have a thing for herby sauces, here's one for your recipe box. Blend together any herbs you have handy with a scoop of nutty tahini and a squeeze of lemon juice for a little pop of acidity.
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10 / 20
3-Ingredient Lemon Tahini Sauce
This versatile sauce is creamy without any oil, has just a hint of sweetness, and tastes great on sandwiches, salads, and more.
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11 / 20
3-Ingredient Honey-Lime Sauce
As grilling season heats up, you're going to want to include this simple and oh-so-versatile sauce in your meal plan. It works as a sauce for everything that comes off the grill.
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12 / 20
Vegan Pesto
It's so darn tasty, you'll never miss the cheese. Seriously!
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13 / 20
Watermelon Caramel Sauce
This two-ingredient sweet summer dessert sauce will blow your mind. Slow cooking transforms watermelon from a bright snack into a thick sauce with deep, sweet undertones. It might even remind you of an ultra-ripe summer tomato! Spoon it over everything from ice cream and pound cake, to pavlovas and cheesecake.
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14 / 20
Buttermilk Caramel Sauce
This is it — the hands-down best way to use up leftover buttermilk. Like the caramel sauce you already know and love, this one starts with the sweet, nutty notes of butterscotch and then surprises your tastebuds with a tangy twist that leaves you wanting more.
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15 / 20
Slow Cooker Summer Fruit Sauce
This super-easy slow cooker sauce is your answer to an overabundance of summer fruit. Use just about any type of fruit you have on hand, then spoon this deeply flavored sauce over everything from overnight oats and pancakes, to yogurt and cake.
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16 / 20
Blueberry BBQ Sauce
This sauce's hickory taste paired with its healthy dose of nutrients makes it a summer stand-out.
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17 / 20
Marinated Fresh Tomato Sauce
Made with fresh tomato pulp marinated in oil, garlic, and basil, this simple sauce is a quintessence of the Italian summer.
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18 / 20
Herby Tahini Buttermilk Ranch
This nutty twist on ranch swaps in tahini in place of sour cream, and is packed with fresh herbs.
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19 / 20
Lemongrass Cilantro Sauce
This sauce is vibrant and punchy — similar to a chimichurri — but has a Southeast Asian twist thanks to lemongrass, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, and a kiss of sambal oelek
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20 / 20
Green Goddess Pesto Sauce
This all-purpose summer sauce is great for dipping, spreading, and marinating.
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