How do you top your burger? When you order fries, what do you dip them into? What do you spread onto your turkey sandwich? Do you always keep a bottle of hot sauce in your purse in case of emergency? Condiments are a thing of surprisingly fierce devotion, and we asked you to vote for your favorites.
This sweet and salty, dark and sticky sauce is popular in Chinese cuisine, and makes for a great meat glaze or dipping sauce. It’s traditionally served alongside Peking duck.
The perennial companion to sushi (along with soy sauce and pickled ginger), traditional wasabi is a pungent member of the horseradish family, and it’s customarily freshly grated and placed between the rice and fish. Because it’s quite expensive and found only in specialty groceries and high-end sushi bars in the United States, most of the wasabi we see today is in fact a mixture of horseradish, mustard, starch, and green food coloring.
This pungent paste, one of Korea’s most popular condiments, is traditionally made with red chiles, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It adds an umami and sweet and spicy kick to anything it comes in contact with. It’s most commonly used in rice dishes like bibimbap, but you can also find it in soups, stews, and marinades. Plus, it goes great with a grilled steak.
This sauce is dark brown and, obviously, primarily used on steaks; there are several brands, but A1 is the most well-known. It’s tart, sweet, and slightly peppery, and is made with tomatoes, vinegar, spices, and raisins. Heinz 57’s steak sauce has a more orange tint, and tastes more like a ketchup-mustard combo.
Many of the world’s most popular condiments are a variation on chile sauce; that is, a chile pepper-based condiment. “Chili sauce,” as it is most commonly known in America, is the one produced by Heinz. It’s tomato-based with vinegar, spices, sugar, and chile powder.
A wide variety of chutneys traditionally complement Indian cuisine, but mango chutney is the most popular in the U.S. It’s made by cooking down fresh green mangoes until they’re soft, then seasoning them with salt and spices including turmeric, mustard seed, cumin, and fennel. The end result is sweet, salty, and tangy, making it a good accompaniment for many Indian dishes, especially the spicy ones.
Horseradish sauce is made by combining grated horseradish with sour cream or mayo, salt and pepper, and additional seasonings including mustard, vinegar, or lemon juice. It’s incredibly versatile, but is most commonly paired with roast beef, especially prime rib.
Basil pesto is extremely popular in Italy, especially in Genoa and the surrounding region of Liguria. While there are many different varieties of pesto (including a popular walnut-based one), basil pesto (also called pesto alla genovese) is the most common. It’s made by blending basil with crushed garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the sheep’s milk cheese fiore sardo, and it’s incredibly versatile. It can be stirred into pasta or it can replace garlic in garlic bread. It can also be used as a sandwich spread and makes for a great vegetable dip.
In Latin America, there are thousands of varieties of salsa, but in the U.S. you’ll only find a handful of jarred salsas in the supermarket. Called prepared salsas, these are generally tomato based (although some green salsas are tomatillo-based), and are cooked with peppers, onions, vinegar, and spices. They’re available in varying degrees of spiciness, and are a tortilla chip’s best friend.
It’s strange to think that up until recently not many people outside of southeast Asia had even heard of sriracha, Today, it’s a go-to condiment. Thicker than hot sauce, it’s a blend of chile peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt, and is incredibly versatile, topping everything from Asian dishes to pizza to sandwiches and burgers. Chain restaurants are getting in on the action as well, including Subway, White Castle, Burger King, and Applebee’s, who’ve all added dishes involving the sauce to their menus.
Barbecue sauce has many regional variations, including spicy vinegar-based sauces in North Carolina, mustard-based sauce in South Carolina, and white mayo-based sauces in Alabama, but the most popular barbecue sauce is the sweet, thick, tomato-based sauce popularized in Kansas City and commonly found in supermarkets. While it’s the perfect complement for barbecue (naturally), it also kicks up everything from chicken sandwiches to burgers and hot dogs.
This thin, potent sauce is primarily made with chile peppers and vinegar, and as its name might imply, it’s spicy. They range from relatively mild (like Frank’s RedHot hot sauce) to face-meltingly spicy, and the most popular brands include Tabasco, Cholula, and Louisiana. Frank’s is the primary component of Buffalo wing sauce, and it’s good in a pinch to add a spicy kick to literally anything.
This popular East Asian sauce and condiment is made by fermenting soybeans with roasted grain and brine, and is one of the most versatile condiments in the world. On its own, it makes a great dip for sushi, dumplings, and vegetables, and it’s a great ingredient in marinades and other sauces.
Made with mustard seeds, vinegar, salt, and innumerable other possible components, mustard has thousands of applications, and is the perfect topping for sandwiches, hot dogs, meats, cheeses, and sausages. It also serves as a perfect component of many sauces and salad dressings. It received 77 votes.
Leading the pack with 83 votes is mayo, the creamy, tangy emulsion of oil, egg, and vinegar or lemon juice. Inexpensive and also incredibly easy to make at home, it’s the ideal sandwich topper as well as the base of countless other sauces, including remoulade (when mixed with mustard), aioli (when mixed with garlic), tartar sauce (with pickle relish) and Thousand Island dressing (with ketchup). It’s also a great dip for fries, and many swear by it on their burger.