Must-Have Condiments for Home Chefs
Whether they take center stage or not, condiments are often the heroes of a meal, adding flavor to home cooking and elevating a basic recipe into something truly memorable. Whether you are just beginning your journey as a home chef or you are looking to up your game, having a solid rotation of condiments is an absolute must. Here are 13 Must-Have Condiments for Home Chefs that should absolutely keep in the pantry or fridge:
If you are not using olive oil as a condiment, you are really missing out. Extra virgin olive oil comes in many different flavors depending on what types of olives are used, and you can also buy infused olive oils for even more flavor. It is the perfect ingredient for pasta sauces, homemade dressings and more.
Right next to the olive oils should be your collection of flavored vinegars. Vinegars come in all sorts of colors and flavors, from the light and refreshing champagne vinegar to the robust and fruity balsamic vinegar. Just make sure not to use distilled white vinegar, which is more suited to cleaning than cooking.
Mayonnaise and Aioli
Mayonnaise is good on so much more than just burgers. It makes a great spread for sandwiches and is essential for making chicken salad and other meals. You can use mayonnaise as a base to make your own aioli at home, or buy pre-made, store-bought aioli to make things easier on yourself.
Ketchup and Mustard
Two more classic condiments, you should absolutely keep ketchup and mustard in your kitchen. Instead of choosing cheap yet familiar brands, we recommend going for Dijon mustard and artisanal ketchup that are made of higher quality ingredients and thus offer a more elevated flavor.
Tomato Sauces and Pastes
Besides ketchup, various products form the basis of many homemade recipes, including pasta sauces and soup broths. Most home chefs should keep a variety of canned and jarred tomatoes on hand in various forms, including diced, crushed and paste. You might also want to get some pre-made pasta sauces and other items so you will always be ready even on busy weeknights.
Honey, Maple Syrup and Agave
Even savory recipes need a hint of sweetness sometimes, and both raw honey and maple syrup offer an easy way to do that. Agave is more of a newcomer, but it is gaining in popularity as well. Maple syrup needs to be stored in the fridge after opening, but honey and agave can be left out on the counter.
Jams and Jellies
Speaking of sweets, it is a good idea to keep some fruit preserves on hand in flavors that you enjoy. You can spread these on toast or other pastries, of course, but they can also be used as pastry fillings and in other baking recipes. If you want to get creative, try adding a spoonful to a homemade salad dressing to add a touch of sweetness.
Peanut butter is obviously a pantry staple, but if that is all you usually keep on hand, then it is time to expand your nut butter repertoire. Almond butter, cashew butter and more make for great sandwich spreads or sauce ingredients. You should also try tahini sauce, which has a thinner consistency and is common in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.
Just like you need to be able to add sweetness to a dish, so you need to be able to add a kick of spice as well. Hot sauce is the perfect vehicle for this and is available in many different levels of spiciness and consistency, from sriracha to Tabasco to chili garlic sauce. While not technically a condiment, red pepper flakes are another good spicy ingredient to keep on hand as well.
Nutritional yeast is used in a lot of vegan cooking to add cheesy flavor without dairy products. However, even home chefs who are not vegan love nutritional yeast for its delicious flavor and ease of use. If you have never tried it before, it is definitely time to add nutritional yeast to your pantry.
Whether you are making nachos or an egg scramble, salsa is the perfect condiment to put on top. Salsa is available in many different flavors and levels of hotness, and there are even sweet salsas available if you do not have much spice tolerance. Keep at least one jar of salsa on hand, and do not hesitate to buy more if you love this condiment as much as we do.
A staple of Asian cuisines, soy sauce is essential for flavoring rice, stir-fries, tofu, tempeh and more. It is also a great way for vegan and vegetarian home chefs to add umami flavor to their dishes without using meat products. It can be high in sodium, so check the label and consider choosing a lower sodium version if that is a concern for you.
On the other hand, Worcestershire sauce is a must if you cook with meat a lot, as it frequently makes an appearance in meat stews, marinades, casseroles, savory pies and sauces. Made from a base of vinegar and then flavored with other ingredients, it has a unique, rich flavor that no other condiment can quite replicate.
Do not forget to add these to your shopping list the next time you visit the grocery store! Condiments are essential to making a delicious meal, and every chef needs a go-to selection of them at home.
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