Many Germans cooks prefer to improvise their fondue sauces rather than follow a recipe. Including added bits of ingredients until the chef is satisfied, many of these sauces will never be repeated, which is part of the fun of being spontaneous in the kitchen. If you want to try making your own sauces for meats without using a recipe, think of mustard, curry, dill, chives, horseradish, or curry powder in yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream.
But for those who need instructions, we compiled a list of sauces and dips to use for fondue, hot-stone grilling, or with any boiled meats or cube steak dinners. If you, for any reason, end up with dry meat, making a sauce can salvage the meal.
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German-Inspired Creamy Sauces
In Germany, sour cream and yogurt, sometimes with a bit of mayonnaise, are often used to make quick, cold sauces to complement meat or eggs. These sauces are great for meat fondue parties and cold meatballs or Frikadellen, too. Here are a few simple and easy-to-make creamy sauces:
- Dilly Sauce: Sour cream, dill weed, lemon, agave, and seasonings make this sauce a great option if you need a dip or sauce at the last minute. Use it on boiled potatoes, sausages, and cold cuts.
- Horseradish Sauce: Pungent in flavor, horseradish needs vinegar to tame down its powerful zest. Add sour cream, mayo, mustard, and seasonings for a powerful combination, great on roast beef, pastrami, and any red-meat cold cut.
- Frankfurt's Green Sauce: This famous sauce needs equal amounts of parsley, cress, chives, borage, salad burnet, sorrel, and chervil blended in a base of Greek yogurt. Classically served with boiled potatoes and hardboiled eggs, this sauce can be used as a salad dressing, dip for chips, or sauce for a cold pasta salad.
- German Yogurt Sauce: Herby and creamy, this classic German dressing for salads is very versatile and can be used as a dip for crudités or as a spread for cold cut sandwiches or in charcuterie plates.
- Yogurt Tahini Lemon Sauce: The sesame paste makes this sauce really thick and oily, great for coating slices of roast beef, sausages, or any meat that's low in fat and needs additional moisture.
- Garlic Mayo: Made with egg yolks, olive oil, and garlic, this sauce is a savior as it can help any meal in need of some extra flavor. Good on sandwiches, meats, pasta, or as a dip.
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Not just for pasta, pestos can be spread on a sandwich or mixed with mayonnaise to make them into a creamy spreadable sauce. Gremolatas, traditionally made by hand-chopping herbs and garlic, are very intense mixtures and are used in small amounts. With either of these preparations, you can complement your meat-based meal with fresh and herby flavors:
- Pesto: Made by hand using a mortar and pestle, our modern and quick version processes basil, Parmesan, and pine nuts with seasonings and garlic to make a thick paste usually used on pasta. Add full-fat Greek yogurt, heavy cream, or sour cream and make your own creamy sauce.
- Pumpkin Seed Pesto: For people with nut allergies, this pesto is a flavorful solution. Replace the pine nuts with pumpkin seeds and enjoy their intense and earthy flavor. Parsley, basil, and garlic bring this sauce to life. Use it as is as a side sauce for white meats, and add extra lemon juice for a beautiful grilled fish accompaniment.
- Lemon Dill Pesto: This Scandinavian take on the traditional Italian sauce uses dill instead of basil and walnuts instead of pine nuts. Cheese-free, this sauce is great for vegan guests who might find very few options as most sauces are diary-based.
- Dairy-Free Pesto: Another vegan-friendly option, this recipe uses the tang found in nutritional yeast to replace the acidity brought by Parmesan cheese in traditional pesto preparations. It has a similar flavor as traditional pesto but with a smoother consistency and is good on sandwiches or as the base of a pizza.
- Gremolata: This traditional Italian parsley-based sauce is usually served with Osso Bucco but is a beautiful side dish to pork chops, lamb, and most game meats. Hand-chopped to achieve its coarse texture, gremolata should be made one hour before dinner time to allow the flavors to meld.
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Chutneys come in all flavor profiles. What could define them, broadly and succinctly, is that they are in between relish, jelly, and jam as they use vinegar as a preserving agent, sugar to highlight the fruity flavors, and can have a chunky purée-like consistency on occasions. Some are meant to highlight the dish they're served with, others are the star of the meal, and others can be used in savory and sweet preparations. But what's true for all is that their complex combinations of spices, fruits, and vegetables makes them amazing side sauces for all meats:
- Plum Chutney: Cooked sweet plums are usually used as a sweet sauce, but a chunky savory chutney with dates, red onion, apples, vinegar, and spices gives the plums a beautiful sauce for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other special occasion roasts.
- Cranberry Chutney: Boring old cranberry sauce can be spiced-up with this creative recipe. Make in big batches during cranberry season and freeze in small bags to have at hand for other celebratory meals. Vinegar, orange, apples, pecans, cinnamon, and other spices make this chutney a great alternative for turkey, chicken, and pork.
- Spicy Peanut Chutney: This fun recipe uses tamarind, a fruit from the family of legumes, acidic and intense in flavor, but delicious in savory and sweet preparations. Peanuts, chiles, and tamarind are all that you need to make this thick sauce, great for dipping any meat, from chicken skewers to fried fish.
- Mint-Coriander Chutney: Usually served with kebabs, this easy chutney is great on pork chops or roasted lamb. Mint, coriander, sugar, vinegar, spices, and ginger make a refreshing side sauce.
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Fruit and Vegetable-Based Sauces
Fresh, low in calories, and easy to make, fruit and vegetable side sauces are a great alternative to oil and dairy-based sauces and count as part of your daily fruit and vegetable intake, minus the undesired calories:
- Spanish Sofrito: This classic sauce is one to have in your fridge at all times. Peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spices are cooked in olive oil until a thick and vibrant aromatic paste comes to life. Use it on top of carne asada, as a side for rotisserie chicken, or with potatoes or pasta. This sauce is as versatile as it is delicious.
- Salsa Verde: The tangy flavor of tomatillos makes this sauce ideal for fatty cuts of meat and oily dishes that need a kick of freshness. Tomatillos, garlic, onions, lime, jalapeños, and chiles make a mild sauce that's ideal for dipping fried food or to top fatty cuts of meats or fishes.
- Fresh Salsa: Ready in 10 minutes, this chunky salsa known as pico de gallo is great on any meat, chip, tamal, or wherever you feel like using it. Fresh sweet tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and spices are all that you need.
- Hot Salsa: The power of habanero peppers shines brightly in this raw salsa. Herby cilantro balances the spice of the peppers. Use on grilled meats and fried sides.