Several sauces and ingredients resting on a marble countertop

17 Different Types of Sauces Explained

Whether you’re combining it with noodles in your favorite pasta dish, or adding a refreshing kick to grilled meat, sauces are an essential part of cooking. From soy sauce to pesto sauce to salsa, there are a variety of ways to use sauces to enhance your dishes. Read more to learn about the 17 different types of sauces.

What Are the Main Types of Sauces?

There are many ways to categorize sauces from techniques to ingredients and uses. This list of 17 different types of sauces highlights four main categories: dips or spreads, cooking sauces, meat sauces and pasta sauces. You'll find these types of sauces in cuisines around the world with countless variations. Learn more about what they are and how to add them to your recipes.

Chicken sitting in barbeque sauce marinade surrounded by lime wedges Chicken sitting in barbeque sauce marinade surrounded by lime wedges

Dips, sides and spreads

These sauces are tried-and-true fixtures of the recipes we know and love. There are any number of inventive ways you can use these sauces to elevate your meals, and it starts by using them either to coat ingredients or serve as the foundation for your dishes.

Baby back pork ribs falling apart

1. Barbecue Sauce

Barbeque sauce is a thick, tangy tomato and vinegar based sauce that is sweetened with brown sugar and enlivened with spices ranging from smoked paprika to fresh chillies. Enjoyed around the world, different versions of barbeque sauce are sourced from local ingredients and techniques—such as Korean BBQ, which is made from soy sauce and gochujang. Whenever you’re in need of a classic barbeque dish, it’s good to start with some fall-off-the-bone baby back pork ribs or Indonesian shredded barbeque chicken.

French fries with a cup of ketchup

2. Aioli/Mayo

Aioli and mayo are both creamy sauces made by emulsifying oil with a few additional ingredients. True aioli is simply olive oil and garlic while mayo adds egg yolks and other seasonings. However, aioli is sometimes made by modifying a mayonnaise recipe by adding garlic, lemon or other flavorful additions. These two sauces boast different flavor palates. Aioli can be used when dipping vegetables or as a sauce for shellfish, whereas mayo is often used as a spread or a base for pasta/potato salads. If you’re looking for aioli or mayo to add to your meal, try making some homemade aioli or vegan herb mayo as a side.

Horseradish mayo spread over wheat bread

3. Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish sauce is a spicy, white creamy sauce that can be made from horseradish root, sour cream and apple cider vinegar. A favorite condiment for sandwiches, it can also be used to replace other toppings (like wasabi on sushi). Whenever you have a meal that calls for a horseradish spread, such as prime rib or deviled eggs, make sure you have some of your own with vegan horseradish mayo.

A plate of potato chip buffalo chicken nachos

4. Hot Sauce

Chili and pepper-based sauces, commonly known as hot sauces, are present in nearly every culture across the world. Prized for its versatility and variety, hot sauce is a popular end-of-meal choice to add heat to your dish, whether in the form of sriracha, sambal oelek, Szechuan chili oil, caribbean jerk, harissa, Ethiopian awaze or classic buffalo sauce. If you’re looking to bring that heat to your plate, a dish like grilled beef sriracha skewers is a great place to start.

A plate of sriracha chicken sausage

5. Chutney

Chutney is a spice-based sauce that is spread across dishes as a flavorful topping. Originating in India, chutney has been used in a variety of cuisines and can be added to either sweet or savory dishes. Sweet chutney is a great compliment to meals with its combination of fresh fruit, whereas savory and spicy chutneys draw out complex flavors with their assortment of vegetables, spices and herbs. When your dish needs a punch of flavor, one chutney version you should try making is mint cilantro chutney.

Shop KitchenAid® Fresh Prep Attachments

Add an instant flavor boost to your dishes with a dip, dash or drizzle of your favorite sauce featuring fresh fruits and vegetables. Select KitchenAid® attachments designed to help with fresh prep can peel, slice or spiralize produce to prepare a range of sauces. The Fruit and Vegetable Strainer works with the Food Grinder attachment* to remove seeds and create smooth sauces, purees and more.

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A chrome pot sitting on a stove heater A chrome pot sitting on a stove heater

Cooking Sauces

Cooking sauces could be used to top off cooked food but shine brightest when they are used to infuse flavor through the cooking process itself. They are often used as components of more complex sauces and marinades. Whether simmering on a KitchenAid® cooktop or sautéing on a KitchenAid® range, these sauces give dishes their distinct taste and will have your guests craving more.

A bowl of asparagus and shrimp coconut curry

6. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a thin brown sauce used to add umami flavor to dishes. Frequently compared to soy or oyster sauce, fish sauce is often used as a light seasoning for meals rather than their base. It can also be found in beef braises and marinades (and is a secret key ingredient to fried rice). If you’re looking to deepen the flavor of your dishes, try a dash of fish sauce in a recipe like asparagus and shrimp coconut curry.

A jar of Asian lime dressing

7. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a salty, thin black sauce that dates back centuries. Providing a salty flavor to dishes, it is often used when sauteing vegetables with meats and noodles. The base of many East and Southeast Asian recipes, it is also a popular table condiment. Alternatives to soy sauce can be found in shoyu (Japanese soy sauce), tamari or soy-free coconut aminos. The next time you’re looking to flavor a dish with soy sauce, try making Asian lime dressing.

A plate of baked chai teriyaki chicken thighs over rice

8. Teriyaki

Teriyaki is a thick brown sauce made primarily from soy sauce, mirin, sugar and sake. Westernized versions see additional sweeteners and thickeners like corn starch, making it closer to barbeque sauce than the original. Teriyaki is an excellent glaze or marinade that brings a burst of flavor to any dish, particularly chicken or fish. When you’re in need of a teriyaki fix, look no further than baked chai teriyaki chicken thighs.

A king crab BLT sandwich with potato chips

9. Worcestershire

Worcestershire is a thin brown sauce that is fermented for up to 18 months and used in recipes as varied as soups, stews and even Bloody Mary’s. Often mistaken for soy sauce, worcestershire is less salty and provides a more complex flavor (tamarind is the star here) to traditional recipes. If you want to use worcestershire to put a spin on a classic dish, a great choice would be a king crab BLT sandwich.

Shop KitchenAid® Ranges

When inventing new recipes, it is critical to be able to sear, simmer or sauté at a moment’s notice. That’s why KitchenAid® ranges are designed to enhance your cooking with flexible settings. Select gas models feature 5 burners that provide the perfect range of cooking power from 18,000 to 5,000 BTU, so you can go from a rolling boil to a delicate simmer. Select electric ranges feature Triple-Ring Elements with three element sizes at one location for the versatility to match cooking surface to cookware size.

Salmon, potatoes and asparagus resting in a heating dish Salmon, potatoes and asparagus resting in a heating dish

Meat Sauces

Meat sauces are perfect for topping off cooked meat or as a glaze just prior to cooking. No matter whether you’re working on a stovetop or grilling outside, these sauces are a perfect accent to whatever meat dish you’re cooking.

A bowl of honey mustard balsamic roasted salmon over quinoa

10. Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic glaze is a thick black sauce produced from the reduction of balsamic vinegar that can easily be made on your stovetop at home. It can be drizzled as a finishing touch over everything from caprese salad to roasted vegetables to grilled fruit and even vanilla ice cream to add a tangy flavor to your meal. Customize the flavor profile of this sauce to enhance its natural sweetness or embrace its savory side by adding garlic and herbs. If you’re looking for the fresh taste of a balsamic glaze, you’ll want to try creating honey mustard balsamic roasted salmon or roasted beet strings with balsamic goat cheese dip.

A board of grilled ribeyes

11. Chimichurri

Chimmichurri is an uncooked, zesty red or green sauce that can be made fresh at a moment's notice by pulsing a variety of spices and garlic in a food processor while drizzling oil into the mixture. Often used to top grilled meats such as grilled steak, fish or chicken, it can also be used as a table condiment for other dishes. When you want to give your steak some extra flavor, fire up your intuitive KitchenAid® Smart Oven + Grill Attachment to cook a grilled ribeye with chimichurri.

A plate of roasted chicken legs with spicy maple glaze

12. Demi Glace

Demi glace is a brown sauce of medium thickness that serves as the base for other sauces or used on its own. Its rich flavor comes from an equal parts reduction of wine and stock. If you’re looking to spice up your usual chicken meal, roasted chicken with spicy maple glaze should be your next meal.

KitchenAid® food processors filled with salsa

13. Salsa

Salsa is a thick red or green sauce used in many Spanish, Mexican and South American meals. Found throughout many countries, some popular variations of this tomato, onion and chili sauce are salsa huancaina, a Peruvian salsa, or chancho en piedra, which is found in Chile. Salsa has a number of uses, including as a condiment, filling or base of recipes. A classic topping for many meat recipes, try making your own fresh salsa using a KitchenAid® food processor to chop then mix your ingredients together.

Explore KitchenAid® Food Processors and Choppers

Flexibility is essential to creating fresh, customized recipes at home. That’s why KitchenAid® Food Processors and Choppers are formulated to take everyday meals to the next level. Our food processors and choppers support your culinary vision and help bring new inventions to life.

A pot of pasta sauce A pot of pasta sauce

Pasta Sauces

Pasta sauces are the bedrock for many Italian dishes. Each possessing a unique taste that defines any dish they are added to, you can add complex flavors to these sauces with a KitchenAid® Food Grinder Attachment. For plain noodles or elaborate recipes, pasta sauce is a great choice.

A bowl of alfredo pasta

14. Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce is a rich, thick white cheese sauce. Though most commonly used with its namesake dish – alfredo pasta – this sauce can be added to cooked noodles of any kind. When you’re hungry for the taste of alfredo sauce, look no further than sweet potato noodle alfredo with pancetta and peas.

A jar of classic pesto sauce

15. Pesto Sauce

Pesto is a green sauce that is made primarily from crushed basil and olive oil. Other common ingredients include garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese, though you can add your own twist with additions like roasted red peppers or walnuts. Classic pesto can be added to dishes ranging from pasta and bread to roasted chicken.

A plate of spaghetti and pasta sauce

16. Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is a large category that can cover a wide range of recipes. Some common ingredients include – you guessed it – tomatoes along with garlic, basil and onion to name a few. Best made on a KitchenAid® cooktop that provides optimal heat levels when cooking, try enhancing your next spaghetti meal with a classic tomato sauce.

A plate of chicken covered in fresh tomato vodka sauce

17. Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce shares many characteristics with tomato sauce with a few important distinctions, mainly the addition of heavy cream and vodka. It is traditionally used in its namesake dishes, such as a rich penne alla vodka. So when you’re dreaming about the creamy texture of a vodka sauce, look no further than fresh tomato vodka sauce.

Explore KitchenAid® Cooktops

Versatility is the key to discovering new favorites in the kitchen. That’s why KitchenAid® cooktops are designed to expand your possibilities with unique elements, flexible installation and up to 12 heat level settings for optimal control while you cook. Our Cooktops from KitchenAid brand are made for the maker in mind to help you expand your cooking capabilities.

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