When I was starting to compile this list of condiments, I asked my husband for his opinion and it turned out that we each had different ideas about what foods were considered condiments. So I turned to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, to find out the truth. It turns out that the definition of condiments varies. While the term initially described pickled or preserved foods, it now refers to spices, sauces or other food preparations that are “added to foods to impart a particular flavor, enhance its flavor or in some cultures, to complement the dish.” Some people use the term to describe food preparations that are added after cooking, like ketchup or relish on a burger. Other people include it to mean foods added during cooking such as soy sauce or BBQ sauce.
Still, other people use the term to include spices and seasonings such as salt and pepper. However you choose to define the term, there are certain condiments that you should always have on hand for use during and after cooking. Whether you use store-bought products or make your own, here are 10 condiments you should always have and how to use them in vegan dishes.
You can buy a bottle of organic ketchup or you can make your own. You can jazz it up with spices to take plain ketchup and turn it into something exotic like jerk-, cumin-, or curry-flavored ketchup. Serve it alongside your burgers and fries like these Raw Yam Burgers and Daikon Fries and Ketchup Baked Home Fries. But ketchup is also a handy condiment to add inside of your recipes. Besides a tomato-y taste, it also adds umami, a salty, savory flavor that is associated with satisfaction. If you are making veggie burgers and want them to have a “beefy” flavor, adding ketchup is a step towards making that happen as in these Vegan Sloppy Joes. You can also use ketchup to make your own BBQ sauce, Russian dressing and Mississippi Comeback Sauce. One of the ways I like to use ketchup is to make a glaze for vegan meat loaf but not just ordinary ketchup. I kick up the spice and flavor factors by making Spicy Balsamic Glaze which is simple to make – just combine ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup ketchup and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes. Brush this glaze on top of the vegan loaf or burgers before baking for a rich and zesty topping. Or mix ketchup with paprika as in this Lentil Meat Loaf with Spiced Paprika Glaze.
Mustard is one of my favorite condiments. I love the spicy taste and Dijon mustard, in particular, is delicious. It’s my choice of condiment for vegan hot dogs, sausages and many sandwiches. It’s a key ingredient in many salad dressings like Agave-Mustard Dressing and this Potato Noodle and Green Bean Salad with Chive-Dijon Vinaigrette. Another way to use mustard is to mix it with lemon juice and maple syrup to make a sauce or glaze for vegetable recipes like this one for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mustard-Maple Glaze.
3. Vegan Mayonnaise
Mayo is my favorite condiment. I love dipping fries in it instead of ketchup. There are several brands of vegan mayo available or you can make your own like this Creamy Low-Fat Vegan Mayonnaise with No Extracted Oil. Since mayo itself is bland, it’s a perfect blank canvas for so many flavors like Sriracha and chimmichurri. Adding spices makes mayo the perfect dipping sauce as in these Vegan Crab Cakes with Sweet Balsamic Mayo and these Tempeh Crab Cakes with Horseradish Dill Mayo which also has mayo in the “crab” cake recipe. Use vegan mayo to make this Eggless Egg Salad Sandwich that will satisfy those cravings for an old familiar favorite.
4. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce and its thicker, richer cousin tamari, are probably the most versatile condiment you can have in your pantry. Besides adding it to already cooked food, soy sauce is integral to so many recipes, sauces, and marinades. Use it to make Garlic Sauce, Sweet and Sour Sauce, saute sauces, and hoisin sauce. Make these delicious Dim Sum Soy Sauce Chow Mein Noodles or other Chinese dishes like General Tso’s Tofu or Pomegranate Sweet and Sour Tempeh. Soy sauce is good for more than just Chinese food; letting tofu sit in a mixture of soy sauce and water is enough to impart great flavor as in these Tofu Scallops or this Soy Maple Tempeh Bowl.
Tahini is roasted sesame seeds ground into a smooth butter and it’s super-easy to make Homemade Tahini. Some people like to eat it straight but it’s also delicious mixed into recipes for hummus, salad dressings, dips and sauces. Try it in these Protein-Packed Vegan Tofu Burgers with Tahini Dressing, Super-Healthy Kale Salad with Creamy Ginger Tahini Dressing, Baked Falafel and Cucumber Noodle Salad with Mint Tahini Dressing, Eggplant Slices with Tahini-Cumin Sauce, and even in dessert as in these Tahini Orange Date Crumble Cookies. For more ideas and recipes, see How to Make Tasty Tahini Sauces to Titillate the Tongue.
6. Hot Sauce
Hot sauce is one condiment I wouldn’t want to live without. Luckily, it’s easy to make your own like this Greatest Homemade Hot Sauce, Raw Hot Sauce, and even your own Sriracha. Not only does it give great flavor and spice to dishes but you can use hot sauce to create other delicious sauces like Chinese BBQ Sauce, Vegan “Fish” Sauce, and Spicy Vegan Cheese Sauce. Of course, the most important thing you can make with hot sauce is Buffalo sauce. Once you have that, you can make these Buffalo Tofu Fries, Buffalo Tempeh Meatballs, Buffalo Roasted Chickpeas, Grilled Buffalo Tofu Po’ Boys, and Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. Hot sauce is essential any time you want to add a little kick to your food.
7. BBQ Sauce
Making your own BBQ sauce is so easy, there’s no reason to ever buy it. The basic recipe involves combining a tomato base, an acid, a sweetener, and spices. Knowing the basic formula lets you mix and match ingredients to create new and exciting BBQ sauces. You can adjust the amounts of the ingredients if you prefer your BBQ sauce more tomato-y, more vinegar-y, sweeter, or spicier. My Basic BBQ Sauce recipe is a bit more sweet than spicy, and I add some orange juice for a bright fruity note. In a saucepan, combine 2 cups ketchup, 1 ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, ¾ cup maple syrup, the zest and juice of ½ orange, 3 minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp. black pepper. Stir and heat over medium heat until it comes to a bubble. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes until it thickens. Once you have BBQ sauce, you can use it as a base to make Hoisin sauce, Spicy Balsamic BBQ Sauce, or something exotic like Hawaiian or Cajun BBQ sauce. Then use it in recipes like these Pineapple Jack BBQ Sandwiches, Hoisin Black Bean Burgers, Balsamic BBQ Seitan or Tempeh Ribs, Vegan BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich, or Vegan BBQ Tofu Wings.
8. Sour Cream
Vegan sour cream is another blank canvas just begging to be painted on. I make my own Coconut Sour Cream but I love adding other flavors to it like green chiles or chipotle. Sour cream can be the base for making your own Tzatziki Sauce: to one cup of sour cream, I add ½ of a large chopped cucumber, one clove of minced or grated garlic, the juice of half a lemon, a bit of olive oil and 1-2 tsp. of chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Tzatziki sauce is the condiment of choice for falafel and chickpea burgers. Make this Chutney Sour Cream to have with Sweet Potato Latkes or these Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips.
9. Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
Before I was vegan, I used Worcestershire sauce a lot. It has so many flavors and spices, it adds depth to so many recipes. Luckily, there is vegan Worcestershire sauce and though harder to find, vegan and gluten-free Worcestershire sauce. Made with ingredients such as tamari, mushrooms and tamarind, it adds that salty, savory umami flavor that makes food irresistible. Vegan Worcestershire sauce is in so many of my recipes like my Kidney Bean Walnut Burgers with Mississippi Comeback Sauce, Pasta with Vegan Bolognese Sauce, Vegan Mushroom Philly Cheesesteak, Homemade Chile Sauce and Seitan Pot Roast. In fact, vegan Worcestershire sauce is my not-so-secret-ingredient when I want to make meatless food taste “meaty.”
Last but not least, I try to always have a bottle of prepared horseradish in the fridge. Of course, I serve it on the side of my Vegan Gefilte “Fish” but I also use it in other recipes. Mix horseradish and dill into vegan mayo for a great dipping sauce for vegan crab cakes. Mix horseradish with Dijon mustard and vegan mayo to make the amazing topping for my Eggplant Crunchburgers. Use 5 of the condiments in this list to make your own Quick Vegan Russian Dressing: combine 1/3 cup vegan mayo, 2 Tbs. ketchup, 1 Tbs. prepared horseradish, 1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce, 1/8 tsp. hot sauce and kosher salt and pepper to taste. This is the perfect dressing for a salad or a vegan Reuben sandwich.
Everyone has their favorite condiments. This list represents just ten of the ones I use most and think are essential pantry items. Which condiments are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
Lead Image Source: Buffalo Tempeh Meatballs