We Tested 142 Time-Saving Cooking Sauces—These Are the 6 Best
We fired up the stove and tested 142 sauces that cut meal-prep time in half.
We’ve all been there: The feeling of pure exhaustion after a long day, when getting a family-friendly dinner on the table feels impossible. Before you call the pizza guy, pause. Allow us to introduce you to the shortcut sauce, a pantry product that can transform even the most basic dishes with little to no effort. Here, we fired up the stove and tested 142 braising, simmering, and starter sauces that will cut your meal-prep time in half. These six reigned supreme.
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Best for Beef: Williams Sonoma Braising Sauce, Black Truffle Short Rib
Subtle truffle adds earthiness to this luscious sauce infused with red wine and caramelized onions. Simply brown seasoned short ribs before pouring the sauce on top. Then braise away for an impressive dish.
To buy: $19 for 1 lb., 9.5 oz.; williams-sonoma.com.
Best Thai Sauce: Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce
Smooth and fragrant, this sauce pairs as deliciously with chicken as it does with tofu. Add mixed vegetables and this mild curry will become a dinnertime favorite.
To buy: $3 for 8 7-oz. packets; amazon.com.
Best Taco Sauce: Williams Sonoma Taco Starter Sauce
Your new secret sauce for taco night. Slightly smoky thanks to fire-roasted tomatoes and chipotle, it’s the perfect mix-in for cooked ground beef. It also works nicely as a taco topping.
To buy: $15 for 16 oz.; williams-sonoma.com.
Best Tikka Masala Sauce: Masala Mama Tikka Masala
Skip the takeout and toss seared diced chicken or paneer into this creamy, flavorful garam masala–spiced sauce instead. Serve with warm naan or basmati rice.
To buy: $8 for 10 oz.; amazon.com.
Best Enchilada Sauce: Ortega Red Chile Enchilada Sauce
Don’t let the name fool you— this red enchilada sauce is sweet and not too spicy. Season your filling and coat your tortillas in this silky, aromatic mixture.
To buy: $2 for 10 oz.; instacart.com.
Best Marsala Sauce: Stonewall Kitchen Chicken Marsala Simmering Sauce
Sweet marsala wine, garlic, and umami-rich mushrooms transform chicken cutlets into a restaurant-caliber meal.
To buy: $20 for 17.75 oz.; amazon.com.