Homemade condiments that are so much better than ketchup and mustard

I love ketchup and mustard just as much as the next American, and have several kinds of each in my fridge right now. But as the American culinary palate has diversified and gotten more sophisticated over the decades, so too has our knowledge of flavors and how to combine them in our kitchens. And condiments are ripe for a little experimentation given how versatile they are; they can be the one ingredient that takes your dish to the next level! Or, maybe you just want to jazz up your usual lunch sandwich. Well, condiments are just the thing for that. Here's a list of some homemade condiments that are so much better than regular old ketchup and mustard.

Mango BBQ sauce

There's a crazy selection of BBQ sauce at grocery stores these days, which is fine by me because BBQ sauce is delicious. But store-bought sauce doesn't quite compare to some of the fresher, fruitier variations you can make at home with your food processor. This recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats caught my eye because it puts mangoes, one of my favorite tropical fruits, in the center of the sauce — as it should be. 

To start, saute onions, garlic, and mango all together in a pan. Once the mango is browning and the onions are sweaty and translucent, add chili paste (for a kick), tomato sauce, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar, along with salt and pepper for seasoning. Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat. Blend with an immersion blender and serve hot, or cool the sauce and blend in a blender. 

Sriracha-soy ketchup

Sriracha is a legendary condiment in and of itself. Huy Fong, the producer of the iconic hot sauce, sells about 20 million bottles of Sriracha per year, which is a staggering statistic. So why not pair it up with another stalwart staple in America's kitchens — ketchup — for a new flavor combination? This recipe from Midwest Living beat us to it, and the result is delicious.

Plus it's easy to prepare, given that there are just four ingredients. Stir together ketchup, Sriracha, brown sugar, and soy sauce, and chill for as long as you like to marry the flavors together. You can basically use this as a replacement for basic ketchup on hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries for a more developed flavor profile.

Peppercorn shallot mayo

Mayonnaise is a condiment often subject to scorn from foodies and dietitians alike due to its texture and high fat content. But it's a staple condiment in many kitchens because of its creaminess and its rich, distinct flavor. It also does well when elevated with fresh herbs, spices, and textures. And this recipe from the Food Network does just that — your deviled eggs and tuna salad sandwiches will never be the same.

Literally all you have to do is a little bit of chopping, juicing, and stirring to make this mayo. Then, mix all of the ingredients together — mayonnaise, chopped shallot and tarragon, cracked peppercorns, lemon juice, and salt — and you're done. You can also do this with vegan mayonnaise, which often has an inherent lemon flavor already. 

Basil-honey dressing

Basil, with its bold and aromatic flavor, is a classic herb that's super easy to grow. And it proliferates quickly, so I'm often on the lookout for creative ways to use it beyond a basic pesto. That's why this recipe from Shockingly Delicious is a good go-to for my fellow aficionados with extra leaves on their hands. 

Start by giving the basil leaves a rough chop (to ensure they blend well later). Toss them into a blender with honey, olive oil, cider vinegar, and a little bit of salt. Blend until smooth, though you will likely have a few basil flecks here and there — that's okay! Pour into a container and refrigerate before you serve. It's a great dressing for any kind of green.

Avocado shallot spread

If I had to pick one food to bring to a deserted island, avocados would easily be a contender. They're delicious, full of good fats and nutrients, and versatile, especially in sauces and condiments. And this recipe from Nutrition Stripped combines the creamy, earthy flavor of the avocado with crispy shallots, making for a super nice balance. 

Once you've mashed the avocado in a mixing bowl with olive oil, fresh cilantro, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper, prepare to fry the sliced shallots in olive oil. Once you've fried them for four minutes and let them dry on a paper towel, add them into the mash and stir. You can spread this on bread and garnish with arugula, or serve with raw veggies as a dip. 

Saffron pepper sauce

If you're looking for a condiment that's rich in flavor and deep in color, it makes sense to build it using piquillo peppers and saffron. Piquillo peppers are famous for having a sweet taste but little heat, and saffron is known for its pungent but subtle flavor and awesome yellow color. So thanks to the Food Network for this recipe for a saffron and pepper sauce, easily made with an immersion blender and a little bit of heat.

Begin by cooking saffron and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat. Add the piquillo peppers and saute them for about three minutes. When it's done, add in the lemon juice, season with a little bit of salt, and hit it with the immersion blender. Add some goat cheese for a creamy, salty element.

Red onion marmalade

If you love the combination of sweet and savory flavors with textural complexity and a bit of a bite, it's time to bring onion jam into your life. And this recipe from Epicurious makes a lot of it, so this is a great way to use up leftover onions from a bulk-sized bag. 

Once you've diced the onions, add them along with dried, crushed red pepper to a pan with hot oil. After about 15 minutes, when the onions are tender and translucent, add the sherry, brown sugar, vinegar, and grated, peeled fresh ginger. Cook for about 20 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken, then add raisins, and cook for another 20 minutes so the flavors really blend together. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Once it's cooled, spoon into a container and refrigerate. It's great on a cheese plate, or slathered on a piece of wheat toast.

Buffalo hummus

Buffalo sauce is good on just about everything thanks to its spiciness and unique, tangy flavor. It stands up nicely to poultry, and pairs beautifully with creamy sauces like blue cheese and ranch — obviously so, as Buffalo wings and dip are a classic American party food. This recipe from the No Meat Athlete is a healthier take on this flavor profile, is suitable for vegans, and is super tasty, to boot.

As long as you have a food processor, this recipe is fast and easy to make. Add a can of chickpeas, garlic cloves, roasted red pepper from a jar, tahini, hot sauce, lemon juice, salt, smoked paprika, and cumin into your processor, and pulse it, scraping down the sides a few times. Stream in olive oil and blend until it's nice and creamy. Finish it with cayenne pepper for an additional kick, and serve with fresh, raw veggies.

Cucumber salsa

Salsa by itself is a beautiful thing, in its many variations and combinations. If you have a garden, it's a great way to use up abundant vegetables, like tomatoes and onions. It's also a condiment that balances acidity, heat, and sweetness, making its flavor profile flexible and variant. This salsa recipe from Bon Appétit uses cucumbers as the base, making for a refreshing (and low calorie!) condiment you can put on everything from tacos to avocado toast.

Dice cucumber, red onion, and jalapeño, and place the mixture in a bowl with chopped cilantro and mint. Juice a lime, then add it to the veggies along with a little bit of vegetable oil. Finish it off with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning, giving it a good stir. Let the flavors marry for at least an hour for the best taste.

Meyer lemon vanilla salad dressing

It sounds crazy, but pairing vanilla and lemon in a savory format really works, and this recipe from Shockingly Delicious is proof of that. The perfume of the vanilla and the acidic tang of the lemon play off each other, and are rounded out with a little brown sugar and salt — yum. 

Begin by juicing two lemons, then add the juice to a mason jar or another container that can handle an immersion blender. Add vanilla bean paste (extract will do if you don't have any), brown sugar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Once you have everything ready, blend until everything is smooth and the mixture is emulsified. It's great on salads, of course, but it's also great on all kinds of fish.

Rosemary, lemon, and feta spread

If you're a bagel person and you live outside of New York, you're likely hip to the fact that it's a little tough to get a good bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. And while you might not be able to get a good bagel unless you have a serious kitchen set-up and impressive skills, it is somewhat easy to step up your cheese spread game, especially if you grow a little rosemary in your herb garden.

This five-ingredient (plus salt and pepper) recipe from Snappy Gourmet blends creamy, cheesy, acidic, and herbaceous together for a great depth of flavor. Combine cream cheese, feta cheese, rosemary, juiced lemon, and minced garlic in a food processor (or mix it in a bowl if you don't have one) and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with the carbohydrate of your choice.