21 Homemade Sauces to Make the Best Stir-Fry Ever
Stir-fries are a speedy, comforting, and reliably delicious weeknight staple. But if you feel like you're in a soy sauce-and-sriracha rut, these recipes, pulling inspiration from a variety of pan-Asian cuisine, are sure to add some excitement back into those quick dinners. Bright, vibrant flavors like Thai basil, mango, ginger, and chili can wake up even the most humdrum of ingredients. You're just one protein of your choosing, a frozen veggie, and any selection of these sauces away from a tastier and budget-friendlier alternative to takeout.
Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce
Stir into ground turkey for a savory burger, or toss with rice noodles and thinly sliced veggies for an Indonesian-style salad.
Thai Sweet Chili Vinaigrette
Cross classic Italian dressing with Vietnamese Nuoc Cham and you have something like this sweet and fiery vinaigrette made with bird’s eye chilies, also called Thai chilies. Drizzle over your favorite greens, use as a dipping sauce for eggrolls, or spice up your crudité platter—it’s that versatile.
This sweet-and-sour sauce is seriously addictive. We replace traditional white sugar with brown to add a caramel note. Two sources of tart flavor—bracing fresh lime and mild rice vinegar—balance each other here. Spoon over grilled meats, sautéed shrimp, or ground pork. If you'd like a little more heat, use a small red Thai chile in place of the Fresno.
Five-Spice Mango Sauce
Just four ingredients deliver big umami flavor with a hint of heat thanks to the chili garlic sauce. It pairs well with most proteins--we like it with shrimp, chicken, or tofu. Thin leftover sauce with a little sesame oil for a quick salad dressing.
Hot Mustard Sauce
If you love the spicy mustard that’s often paired with Chinese egg rolls, whip up this tangy, cayenne-spiked mustard sauce. Whisk together this small batch, or scale it up to make enough to have on hand for a couple weeks—it keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve as a dip for chicken tenders or grilled tofu “fingers” or drizzle it over roasted broccoli.
Spicy Soy Vinaigrette
Quick Peanut Sauce
The warmth and zing of fresh ginger and garlic put bottled versions of this sauce out of the running. For heat, stir in a generous pinch of crushed red pepper. Drizzle the sauce over grilled chicken or shrimp skewers. You can also use as a dip for spring rolls or toss with a soba noodle salad.
Ginger Fish Sauce
Kim Dao and her husband, Hong Pham, publish the ravenouscouple.com blog, inspired mainly by the Vietnamese cooking of their families. They like to serve this tangy sauce, based on the classic Vietnamese table sauce nuoc mam cham, with a rich, crisply fried appetizer called Firecracker Shrimp--but they thicken it slightly for dipping. For serving with noodle bowls, they recommend skipping the cornstarch step so it's easier to drizzle.
Spicy Soy Mayo
A few simple seasonings give the classic dunk for artichokes Japanese flair.
Traditional versions of this sauce contain sugar, but we left it out for a more straightforward flavor. Serve with noodle bowls or rice dishes.
Garlicky Sweet-Hot Mustard
Similar to the mustard you get in Chinese restaurants, this sinus-clearing condiment has a little honey and vinegar to balance the heat. Serve on sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs or as a dip for pretzels or pot stickers.
This cilantro and ginger-flavored mojo is delicious served with grilled meats.
All-Purpose Tahini Dressing
Tahini is made from ground hulled sesame seeds, which are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. We look to this rich and nutty pantry staple to add savory depth and sumptuous creaminess to salads and grains. If the dressing thickens up too much after being refrigerated, whisk in an extra teaspoon of water.
Although it’s not a typical Thai ingredient, sesame oil adds a savory nuttiness to this aioli. To really get the sauce’s consistency creamy, slowly drizzle the oil into the food processor. Use this aioli as a spread on a sandwich, as a dip for sweet potato fries, or pair it with your vegetables for a fresh take on crudités.
In this recipe, traditional Italian pesto takes a detour through the continent of Asia, swapping in peanuts for pine nuts, toasted sesame oil for olive oil, and miso and fish sauce for Parmesan.
Carrot-Ginger Turmeric Sauce
Turmeric has some fantastic health benefits and is well worth keeping in rotation in your kitchen. Fresh turmeric looks similar to its rhizome relative—fresh ginger—but with an orange hue. Look for it in well-stocked produce departments and natural-foods stores. Its orange flesh adds vibrant color and turmeric-forward flavor to this sauce. Cooking the vegetables in a touch of coconut oil before pureeing them adds a hint of coconut flavor and also makes them soft enough to create a silky-smooth sauce (but go easy—it's high in saturated fat). Try drizzled over roasted leg of lamb or grilled chicken thighs, or thin with a little more vinegar and olive oil and use it as a salad dressing.
If you're like us, you'll want to eat this on just about everything--burgers, sandwiches, eggs, hummus, stir-fries, and more.
A little tangy and a little sweet, this bright and citrusy dressing will instantly upgrade even the dullest salad. Use the Magical Butter Machine to create an intense orange-infused olive oil that serves as the base for this recipe. Other ingredients like fresh ginger and rice wine vinegar give this vibrant vinaigrette an Asian flair. This recipe makes a large batch of dressing, which you can use for salads all week long.