Trendy Condiments Ranked From Worst To Best

There's no sure-fire, quicker way to instantly upgrade and elevate any meal than with a drizzle of some savory sesame tahini or the most fragrant truffle oil. We've come a long way from the standard Heinz 57, and now the grocery aisles have graced us with a sea of thousands of sauces ready to change our mealtimes. We no longer have to content ourselves with one-note, vinegary mustards or cloyingly sweet red glop that dares to call itself ketchup. Sad desk lunches be gone!

We've done the hard work for you and dug through the seemingly never-ending options, all in order to unlock which ones are worthy of a permanent spot in your refrigerator. We're going way beyond Sriracha and Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning. There's sweet, savory, and even a little spice to heat things up on this list. The condiment-obsessed masses shall rejoice at the variety, but remember that, for all the good condiments out there, you might also find a dud or two. So, here's our list of trendy condiments ranked from worst to best.

14. Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp sauce

The quickest way to make an instant improvement on lackluster Asian takeout is with some sauce. There's soy sauce, of course, but that can get repetitive (not to mention pretty salty) after a while. If you love a little heat, you should be grabbing some chili oil instead. 

While browsing any local Asian supermarket, you'll likely be met with a number of chili oil options, with one of the most widely available ones being Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce. It's easy to spot with a somber-looking person on the label. We're perplexed as to why they are making that face, but "gan ma" does mean godmother in Chinese, according to a glowing review in New York magazine.

While it's certainly called a sauce by many, Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp is more like a crunchy topping featuring a packed jar of dried chilies and spices. The chilies are fried, crushed, and then combined with fermented soybeans and Sichuan peppercorn. We found that it lacks any real depth of flavor, apart from the fermented soybeans. It also lacks any real heat from the spice, though, as with many spicy things, your mileage may differ. New York certainly loves the stuff. Still, this was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment.

13. Mina Harissa

Harissa is a pepper-based sauce with origins in North African countries. It's recently gotten ultra-popular beyond its place of origin, meaning that it's now much more common to find it on menus across the United States and in other nations. Delicious paired with grilled meats, it's an extremely versatile condiment usually made from roasted red peppers or Serrano peppers with added spices, like coriander and cumin.

Mina Harissa is one of the most popular brands of store-bought jarred red pepper sauces that are widely available at many supermarkets. As per We Dish Nutrition, Mina Harissa's take on the classic condiment uses red bell peppers and red chili peppers that are then blended with fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and vinegar. Sadly, this one was nowhere near as good as freshly made harissa you'd find in a restaurant. Harissa should be packed full of flavor, and this just didn't do it for us with its rather gentle approach. It also lacked any spice which we think would greatly help the flavor here.

12. KPOP Foods Kimchi Mayo

After ketchup and mustard, mayonnaise is surely just about the most popular condiment out there. A staple in many kitchens, mayo can be used to add a tangy flavor to a standard sandwich or make for a wonderful base in many sauces. Heck, it's even the secret ingredient in a truly excellent grilled cheese sandwich. But any true, self-respecting mayo lover knows that there's an entire world out their way beyond the standard variety on your local grocery store's shelves. Thanks to the powers that be, there's now Sriracha, wasabi, and even kimchi mayo.

KPOP Foods brings the unique flavors of Korean food and culture to the masses with its line of products. The Los Angeles-based startup has a versatile Korean chili sauce that's already pretty popular, but their standout product is their kimchi mayo. This versatile sauce takes mayo to another level with the addition of Korean chili peppers and garlic, which happen to be classic kimchi flavors in Korean cuisine. While it adds a hint of spiciness to any dash, we were hoping for a little bit more flavor and a better balance of the salty-meets-savory sauce. It falls just short of kimchi-infused glory.

11. Stonewall Kitchen Sweet Honey Mustard

Stonewall Kitchen's line of condiments has been a longtime favorite of anyone who loves to spend time in their favorite room of the house — that's the kitchen, of course. From kitchen décor to gift baskets, they've got it covered for all the foodies out there. Our favorite products include their large lineup of dips and chutneys, which include a delicious horseradish bacon mustard dip and even a mango chutney. 

These little jars are perfect to grab when throwing a dinner party or delighting your friends with a culinary gift. A longtime favorite from the line and many cook's usual go-to is Stonewall Kitchen's sweet honey mustard.

Each jar is packed with tangy mustard with just the right hint of fresh honey added to balance the vinegary bite with a bit of sweetness. It works really well as a marinade component for meats and is the perfect dip for your soft pretzels. While not as unique as some of the other condiments on our list, this one is worthy of a spot thanks to the perfect balance of the honey and mustard. Simply put, it's tried and true, though perhaps not quite as exciting as you may have hoped.

10. Momofuku Ssäm Sauce

You may not be lucky enough to live near a Momofuku restaurant, but chef David Chang is bringing his culinary skills to the wider world with the release of Momofuku Ssäm Sauce. The celebrated chef and restaurateur used inspiration from his uber-popular New York City restaurant to develop the sauce, according to Better Homes & Gardens. The Ssäm Sauce had long been available only in his restaurants for over 15 years until he partnered with legendary condiment brand Heinz in 2018 for the nationwide release.

The base of the sauce is gochujang, a Korean chili paste that is made with miso, sake, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, among other ingredients. Offering the right amount of tang, Ssäm Sauce is delicious on fried chicken, pizza, and even roasted vegetables. It's noticeably saltier than the in-restaurant version but it still does the trick when a craving strikes. In addition to the original version, they also offer a spicy option as well as a smoky variety.

9. Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise

If you're not in the know, Kewpie is a mayo brand with some pretty dedicated followers. To them, Kewpie simply blows its competition right out of the water. It's much creamier than standard mayo and often comes in a squirt bottle for easy consumption, though you can also occasionally find it bagged. 

According to Thrillist, Toichiro Nakashima tried American mayonnaise on a trip to the United States and was inspired to create something similar back home. His Kewpie mayo was first developed in 1924 in Japan and has since become a staple in many homes there. It's now so popular that in 2017 alone the company took in over $4.5 billion in net sales.

So, what's so different about this mayo? It's all about the eggs. The eggs used in Kewpie Mayonnaise come from free-range chickens, whose eggs produce a more deeply-colored, flavorful yolk. Kewpie also uses only the yolk in making the mayonnaise as opposed to our version which uses the entire egg. The use of yolk only is what gives it a creamy custard-like texture that is, dare we say, almost luxurious. Then again, it is still mayonnaise, which can be a turnoff for some palates even at this level.

8. Trader Joe's Yuzu Hot Sauce

Trader Joe's continues to vow us with their never-ending releases of unique products that have since become staples in our pantries and refrigerators. They've gone hard in the condiment department, but if you pick up just one thing, make it their Yuzu Hot Sauce. Advertised as "simultaneously spicy and citrusy fragrant" on the label, this may very well be the best thing that Trader Joe's has done yet.

Ok, so what is yuzu? According to The Guardian, it's an Asian citrus fruit that, while kind of ugly on the exterior, produces a flavor that's a delightful, often delicate mash-up of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Trader Joe's takes this citrus combo and adds some spice and acidic vinegar to create the final hot sauce. 

The fruity flavor of this hot sauce hits the tastebuds first, which quickly gives way to a nice punch of heat. It's sugar, spice, and oh so nice. Its uses are also endless. According to Cooking Light, the sauce works well on top of avocado toast, over leftover pad Thai, or even added to margaritas for a nice kick. Still, for some, it might be just a bit too sweet and delicate for their purposes.

7. Tutto Calabria Crushed Calabrian Chili Peppers paste

We've all been there. It's mid-week and you just clocked out of a 12-hour shift. You're starved but also feeling uninspired, so you grab a box of pasta and a standard jar of sauce. It's quick, easy, and cheap. What if we told you the answer to your boring meal was in one tiny jar? The Tutto Calabria Crushed Calabrian Chili Peppers paste is here to save the day (and meal). According to Buzzfeed, by adding just one spoonful to some plain old jarred pasta sauce, you'll instantly make your dinner infinitely better.

Calabrian chiles, a staple in Italian cuisine, hail from Calabria, a region in Southwest Italy. They offer a unique flavor with notes of spice and also fruit. With just a medium level of spice, they add flavor without setting your tongue on fire, which may be either a relief or a slight disappointment, depending on your desired spiciness level. Tutto Calabria can also be used on pizza, in soups, and even infused with olive oil for a drool-worthy bread dip.

6. Soom Foods Pure Ground Sesame Tahini

First off, tahini is a seed butter made into a smooth paste from sesame seeds. It's commonly used as a base for dressings and dips in Mediterranean-inspired cooking, like hummus. With the ever-growing popularity of tahini, there are many store-bought options available in your local grocery store. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods even now carry their own store brand versions. But, which one is worth your money? 

The holy grail of store-bought tahinis is, in our humble opinion, Soom Food Pure Ground Sesame Tahini. This one is super buttery, making it really easy to stir and mix to create sauces. It's not overwhelmingly bitter and, dare we say, is pretty close to perfection with a slightly nutty, yet sweetness to it. Soom's version makes for delicious hummus, a hearty salad dressing, and can even be used for baking brownies or making homemade soft serve ice cream, assuming you're good with the complexity of its nutty, slightly bitter flavors. The more you know, right?

5. The Truffleist Truffle Oil

Oh, truffle oil. You either love it or you hate it. Truffles are, after all, pretty fragrant or, as some might say, pungent. The truffle fungus requires a team of trained dogs or pigs to hunt it down in the midst of European forests, adding to its price tag and making it a staple of culinary luxury and fine dining. That price tag, however, can make a lot of cooks think twice about using truffles. 

And so enters truffle oil. Truffle oil, many times, isn't made from truffles but instead truffle essence. You'll still get all the wonderful aromas of the truffle without the shocker of a price tag, though, as The New York Times reports, some people still pine for the real fungal deal. Regardless, the market for truffle oil is large and the stuff has become a staple in many kitchens, used on everything from pasta and pizza to roasted vegetables and drizzled atop popcorn.

The Truffleist Truffle Oil wowed us right off the bat. It's made in small batches using black truffles. Unlike its cheaper counterpoints, this one has a strong yet smooth taste of truffles. Good luck getting your hands on it as it's known to constantly sell out online, so you'll have to be on your toes to procure a bottle.

4. Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha

Sriracha may be considered a trend of ages past, but it still holds its rightful place in our fridge door and many others. In the midst of the Sriracha craze, a Brooklyn-based company took America's obsession with the condiment one step further and infused it with the Korean cooking staple, gochujang. Gochujang is a red paste made from fermented chili peppers that has a bit of smokiness to it and a sweet aftertaste. It also happens to be a match made in heaven for Sriracha.

Bushwick-based Weak Knees released their Gochujang Sriracha and saved the buzzy condiment from falling into irrelevant obscurity. Available in regular and super-spicy, it's a thick sauce that offers a nice hit of tang and not too much spice. If they kicked up the spice levels just a tad this one may have dominated our list. Overall, it is extremely versatile and has permanently replaced Sriracha in our kitchen. It's a bold statement but we stand by it.

3. Mike's Hot Honey

We never knew we could be so obsessed with a honey product, but alas, here we are, saving the bee population and in our dining glory. Everything is just better with the addition of Mike's Hot Honey, the trendy and highly buzzed-about condiment that comes straight from Brooklyn. It's the brainchild of Mike Kurtz, who released the product in 2010. He takes high-quality honey and infuses it with chili peppers for the ultimate sweet and heat experience. 

Kurtz, once a pizza maker, was drizzling his homemade creation on pizzas and, once other people started trying his creation, demand quickly ramped up. Mike's Hot Honey is now available on menus across the country. You can also have as many bottles as you like, including a gallon jug, shipped directly to your house.

It's fantastic on pizza, invaluable on your next charcuterie board — it's so good on top of some cheese, seriously. It even somehow works drizzled on a high-quality vanilla ice cream. They've since released an extra hot version that's just as great as the original.

2. TRUFF

Continuing to ride the wave of the popularity of all things truffle, TRUFF is the answer for a lover of the fragrant fungus who also enjoys a hint of heat. If you've been living under a rock, Today explains that TRUFF is a premium hot sauce that is infused with black truffle oil and ripe chili pepper and presented in a very Instagram-friendly glass bottle with a minimalist label. It's held strong on Amazon these last few years as the top seller in the hot sauce category and for good reason. 

While a little pricey — it typically comes in at almost $20 for a 6-ounce bottle — TRUFF is the most used condiment in many a kitchen arsenal. It's divine on eggs and will transform a carry-out pizza into a culinary wonder. The truffle isn't too overwhelming, for the truffle-phobic amongst us, while the addition of organic agave nectar adds a hint of sweetness. The sauce is of a thick consistency that was practically made for drizzling. They've since released an extra hot version, properly called Hotter Sauce, that sees the addition of jalapeños and packs a serious, lip-burning punch.

1. Bachan's Japanese Barbecue Sauce

First thing's first, this is not what we think of in America as barbecue. Spoiler alert: it's much better. 

Bachan's Japanese Barbecue sauce, developed from an old family recipe according to Bachan's itself, uses high-quality ingredients that come together in perfect harmony creating a sweet meets savory sauce that hits all the right notes. Using toasted sesame oil, Japanese-brewed soy sauce, real mirin, ginger, garlic, and sugar, it's become our go-to chicken marinade since its release. It's thin and velvety, but not quite as thin as soy sauce, making for the perfect sauce or marinade.

This small-batch product is somewhat like teriyaki sauce, but thankfully lacks the sometimes overbearingly sweet and syrupy nature of teriyaki. It's made and bottled in small batches so you're getting that super fresh taste, unlike many other inexpensively made Asian jarred sauces. Extremely versatile in nature, we've enjoyed using it as a delicious salmon marinade or drizzled into a stir fry or rice dish.