We Tested 142 Time-Saving Cooking Sauces—These Are the Best Options

From tikka masala to seasoned short ribs, we ranked several shortcut sauces to upgrade dinner fast.

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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.

We fired up the stove and tested 142 braising, simmering, and starter sauces that will cut your meal-prep time in half. Which is the best sauce for chicken, or better yet, which is the best tikka masala sauce? We tried them on a variety of quick dinners, and these six sauce options reigned supreme.

Our Top Picks

Best for Beef: Williams Sonoma Braising Sauce, Black Truffle Short Rib

Williams Sonoma Braising Sauce, Black Truffle Short Rib
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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.

Best Thai Sauce: Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce

Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce
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Smooth and fragrant, this sauce pairs as deliciously with chicken as it does with crispy tofu. Add some mixed vegetables, and this mild curry will become a dinnertime favorite.

Best Tikka Masala Sauce: Masala Mama Tikka Masala

Masala Mama Tikka Masala
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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.

Best Enchilada Sauce: Ortega Red Chile Enchilada Sauce

Ortega Red Chile Enchilada Sauce
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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.

Best Marsala Sauce: Stonewall Kitchen Chicken Marsala Simmering Sauce

Stonewall Kitchen Chicken Marsala Simmering Sauce
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Need a way to transform a chicken breast fast? Sweet Marsala wine, garlic, and umami-rich mushrooms can transform chicken cutlets into a restaurant-caliber meal in less than an hour.

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