Quick Sauces, Dips, and Dressings to Boost the Flavor of All Your Favorite Summer Dishes

Complementing summer produce and grilled meats is simple when you make these easy, flavor-packed condiments.

sriracha honey mayo
Photo: Chris Simpson

A smart condiment in your refrigerator is a potential powerhouse. With the right applications, one little container of aioli or dressing can enliven everything you eat over several days—sometimes, even longer. And there's a strong argument for skipping the store and making fresh condiments from scratch: the taste of summer is much more vivid when you've whipped up a quick flavor-enhancer at home.

You can use these 12 recipes sparingly, as just a bit of zing in the salad or a brushed-on, zippy tang on grilled vegetables, or you can slather them on as a marinade or heavy dressing. In the case of most summer dishes, you'll want to let the base ingredients shine through with their sunny flavors, but sometimes, a thick, creamy aioli—and lots of it—is just what a sandwich or side dish calls for.

That's the versatility of these easy condiments—that you decide how you're going to use them. Either way, the combination of sweet produce, grilled meat, and herby sauces is completely irresistible on the summer table.

01 of 12

Five-Ingredient Barbecue Sauce

five-ingredient barbecue sauce
Con Poulos

Save the 15 minutes you would need to pop to the grocery store, and make this superior tangy five-ingredient barbecue sauce instead. It draws its smokiness from smoked paprika, which means it complements chicken thighs, burgers, and ribs alike.

02 of 12

Vegan Green Goddess Dip

vegan green goddess dressing
Justin Walker

This dip helps us use up leftover crisper herbs. Using up your super-ripe counter avocado for maximum creaminess, it's made for crudités, dipping, or salad dressing, but also handy as a marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp.

03 of 12

Mustard and Herb Vinaigrette

mustard herb dressing
Bryan Gardner

Simplicity rules when it comes to vinaigrette, and that's true for this salad dresser, sandwich drizzle, or spritz for grilled vegetables or new potatoes. Harvest or buy the freshest fines herbes you can find for making this recipe.

04 of 12

Flavored Butters for Grilling

three variations of flavored butters for corn
Kate Sears

The way a lemon-y butter soaks into a softshell crab is undeniable, but adding it to accompanying radishes, zucchini, artichokes, asparagus, or butter beans makes it a meal. For a sweeter, more piquant flavored taste, try our chipotle-honey butter with grilled corn or our buffalo-blue cheese butter with grilled chicken.

05 of 12

Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint

yogurt with cucumber and mint
Martyna Szczesna

An herby, vivacious yogurt dressing is ideal for marinating poultry and lamb, with the bonus of being a very snackable dip for slices of garden cucumber and carrots.

06 of 12

Hot Red-Pepper Relish

hot red-pepper relish
Lennart Weibull

Don't underestimate this chunky, spicy delight, which comes together quickly and plays nicely with almost any summer dish, from burgers to deviled eggs.

07 of 12

Tonnato Mayonnaise

tonnato mayonnaise
Justin Walker

Capers, mayo, and lemon make magic with tuna and anchovies, for a rich, umami-packed slather on hearty roasted veggie sandwiches and excellent binder to summer pasta salads.

08 of 12

Caesar Salad Dressing

caesar salad dressing
Romulo Yanes

We're here to hail this underrated dressing that can be used for a lot more than salads. If you're only putting it on romaine, you're missing out. Chicken, cauliflower, potato salad, tuna salad, coleslaw, and quick pickles are all good ways to use this rich, salty, lemony brine.

09 of 12

Miso Aioli

miso aioli
Ryan Liebe

We like to blend the creamy sweetness of miso with mayo, shallot, and lemon for a fried fish complement that hits the spot. This also aioli also works with grilled fish, and to dip or marinate almost any kind of spicy kebab or skewer.

10 of 12

Sriracha-Honey Mayonnaise

sriracha honey mayo
Chris Simpson

Summer is for hot dogs and fried chicken, grilled peaches and grilled pineapple … all of which, in our opinion, can be dipped or topped with this zesty, honeyed mayo.

11 of 12

Leftover-Herb Pesto

leftover herb pesto

Who's not about a good zero-waste recipe these days? Swap in any nuts and any greens to make this substitute for a traditional basil pesto—then, apply this enchantingly herbal sauce to almost anything, from meat to veggies to grain salads.

12 of 12

Sweet Corn Relish

sweet corn relish
Dana Gallagher

Don't think of it as a condiment? That's where relish surprises you, its sweet and spicy kick is a Southern tradition. Don't be shy in heaping this topping on burgers, nachos, and in cold pasta salads.

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