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7 homemade condiments to add that perfect finishing touch to your dishes

(Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Sometimes you’ll make a dish, take a bite and realize: It’s missing something. Most of the time, a sauce or a condiment can take the already beautiful recipe you’ve made and turn it into something even better.

What do you need? A flash of heat? A creamy, briny addition? Something fruity? Acidic? Whatever flavor boost you’re seeking, we have recipes that can deliver it. Below you’ll find an array of sauces, condiments and dressings with suggestions for how to use them. Not seeing the flavor you need? Search for more in our Recipe Finder.

Harissa, pictured above. Spicy red harissa can be made in many ways (see: Rose Petal Harissa), and packs an aromatic punch. Use in Charred Cauliflower and Halloumi Pitas With Harissa or Tunisian Fricassees. It’s great on grilled meats as well.

Black Pepper and Caper Aioli. You could make the mayonnaise base yourself, but you also could just grab your favorite jar and flavor it to make this briny, peppery aioli. Serve with Seared, Slow-Roasted Steak or add onto Perfect Smash Cheeseburgers. It’s great on fish cakes, too.

Liquid Kashk With Yogurt. Kashk is a creamy, sour dairy product from Iran that is a byproduct of yogurt making. Think sour cream, but thinner and more intensely tart. Serve in this Kashk-o Bademjan (Eggplant Dip With Kashk) or dollop on Ash Reshteh (Persian Vegetable Noodle Soup). Use it just as you would use yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream.

Cooked Green Salsa (Salsa Verde Cocida). I made this salsa all the time last summer, and I’m eagerly awaiting tomatillos so that I can make it again. Tart, spicy and herbaceous, I’d put it on too many dishes to count, but start with Green Chilaquiles or Tacos de Huevos for a zippy breakfast. Or just eat it with corn chips.

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Sunflower Ranch Dressing. Classic ranch uses buttermilk, which some folks don’t keep on hand. This version, using sunflower seeds in buttermilk’s place, has all the flavor you remember, sans dairy. Serve on a simple salad, with crudite, or even with pizza.

Mango Chutney. This fruity, aromatic chutney is a delicious accompaniment to meats and even cheeses. Serve with Jerk Chicken, or use to zhuzh up a simple sandwich.

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Preserved Lemon. Ever made your own briny, bright, citrusy preserved lemon? It’s easy! Once nice and tart, use to make Roasted Chicken Thighs With Preserved Lemon and Olives and Green Beans With Lemon Relish. It’s great with bean salad, chicken salad, pastas or dips, too.

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