7 sauces, dressings and condiments that pack a major flavor punch

Salsa Macha With Mixed Nuts. (Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

A flavorful sauce, condiment or topping can turn a so-so dish into something spectacular, or even make a good meal great.

What else do I love about these MVPs? They last for days in the fridge. They often lean heavily on pantry staples. They can add new life to leftovers just as well as they brighten up bland dishes. They span the globe.

Here are some top picks from our archives to have on hand.

Salsa Macha With Mixed Nuts

“Salsa macha is an outlier among Mexican salsas,” Food editor Joe Yonan says. “It’s chock-full of chunky nuts and dried chile pieces that have all been gently simmered in a good amount of oil, making it more akin to Chinese chili crisp than to, say, a sharp tomato salsa.” And, yes, it is lovely on avocado toast, as recipe source Pati Jinich suggests. Get the recipe.

Avocado Salad Dressing

This dressing Ellie Krieger originally developed for a gem salad with grapefruit and pickled onions was so good we had to pull it out on its own. Use it on salads, bowls, sandwiches and more. I’ve also eaten it straight up with tortilla chips. Get the recipe.

Spicy Remoulade Sauce

While often served in shrimp remoulade, this Louisiana staple is something to consider any time you want to get the combined kick of raw garlic, Creole mustard, yellow mustard, lemon juice, horseradish and vinegar. Get the recipe.

Romesco Sauce

This Spanish staple is substantial thanks to bread and almonds in the mix, and its bright, zesty, smoky flavors go especially well with roasted vegetables and grilled meats. It, too, would work beautifully as a dip. Get the recipe.

Date Chutney

The sweetness of the dates is balanced by the punch of cider vinegar, shallot and mustard. Try it tucked into a simple sandwich or on the side with roast chicken or pork. Get the recipe.


Often eaten with bo ssam or other meaty Korean meals, this condiment is lit up with garlic and gochujang, a red chile paste. Get the recipe.

Toum (Garlic Paste)

Speaking of garlic, this fluffy paste that you’ll find at many a Lebanese eatery is no shrinking violet, meaning it can instantly transform a dish. Get the recipe.