Going vegan can help you add more vegetables and plant-based proteins to your diet. To fully embrace a vegan diet, you need to cut out anything made with animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and even honey. But… what about sauces?
A good sauce or dressing can enhance even the blandest block of tofu or tempeh. And while many standard sauces contain eggs, dairy, or honey, resourceful plant eaters know there are several ways to replace non-vegan ingredients with vegan ones. (Aquafaba, anyone?)
Here are more than a dozen vegan sauce recipes that’ll satisfy your cravings and jazz up your kelp noodles. So grab your blender, prep a plate of fresh veggies, and get ready to enjoy.
13 vegan sauces for dipping, drizzling, and dunking
This vibrant green, zingy sauce is the perfect way to use up fresh herbs (and a great reason to start growing herbs at home).
It goes great with grilled veggies (though traditionally folks pair chimichurri with meat). You can use a blend of parsley and oregano or parsley and cilantro, depending on what you have and prefer.
What’s not to love about a creamy, salty, spicy sauce you can whip up with only five ingredients?
Soaking cashews in water for an hour and then throwing them in a blender creates a creamy base, and adding chipotle peppers and adobo sauce lets you bring as much heat as your heart desires.
This aioli is perfect on sandwiches, with fresh veggies, or mixed into your favorite potato salad to give it a little extra kick. Trust us, you won’t even miss the mayo. (But if you’re looking for a shortcut, just doctor some store-bought vegan mayo with spices and lemon juice.)
Green goddess dressing is a staple for any health-food fan. While you can always substitute vegan mayonnaise and nondairy yogurt in a traditional recipe, this avocado-based version tastes fresh and summery thanks to lemon juice and herbs.
Great on steamed veggies, quinoa bowls, and pasta salads, this green goddess dressing lives up to its name. (You can also try a version based on silken tofu if you’re fresh out of ripe avocados.)
You may think that jar of pesto in your refrigerator is already vegan, but chances are it secretly has Parmesan cheese in it.
This dairy-free recipe features nutritional yeast as a substitute for grated Parmesan. It may sound odd, but nutritional yeast is a popular vegan substitute that really does mimic the taste and texture of cheese (so try it in vegan queso and vegan mac and cheese too).
Slather this plant-based pesto over pasta or bake it into breadsticks or on pizza for a truly savory treat.
You may not have realized that most barbecue sauce recipes are naturally vegan.
While we can’t promise that slathering this sauce on tofu will make you forget all about pulled pork and short ribs, it will remind you of your favorite barbecue joint thanks to the savvy replacement of Worcestershire sauce with soy sauce and honey with maple syrup.
Nachos feeling a little too naked due to a lack of vegan queso options? There’s a workaround: nondairy milk and nutritional yeast.
Starches from carrots and potatoes give this sauce the thick, gooey consistency that makes it perfect for a hearty and healthy mac and cheese. You can also drizzle it over broccoli to deliver a (secret) double dose of vegetables to even the pickiest eater.
Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans, packs concentrated flavor and nutrition (probiotics for days), making it the ideal base for a sauce to add to your Japanese-inspired dishes.
With ginger to brighten the miso’s umami flavor and a groundbreaking cameo from sesame oil, this sauce is perfect for noodles, tofu, and stir-fries.
Red peppers, chili flakes, and garlic give this sauce a rich flavor, and almonds add a tiny crunch you can sink your teeth into.
Most recipes for this savory Spanish sauce are naturally vegan, and the selected recipe is no exception. To keep it vegan-friendly, slather it on bread that doesn’t have egg in it or omit the bread entirely.
Romesco is also great on pita slices or potato wedges or as a stand-alone dip for veggies.
You can make ranch dressing vegan by blending cashews for the base. Or, as in this recipe, simply use nondairy substitutions like soy, nut, or oat milk and store-bought vegan mayonnaise (you can make your own vegan mayo if you like).
Parsley, garlic, chives, and dill give this dressing a tangy taste that will enhance any salad or vegetable dish.
Vegan “honey” mustard sauce is as simple as mixing mustard with the liquid sweetener of your choice, like maple syrup or agave nectar.
Dip pretzels, faux chicken nuggets, or whatever else you like. Or thin it out with a little vinegar for a salad dressing. You can switch up the type of mustard, too, but note that most Dijon mustards aren’t vegan!
There are many versions of vegan Caesar. (Et tu, Fruitus?) But they all have two things in common: plenty of garlic and no anchovies, which might be a plus even to omnivores who remain suspicious of the salty little fishes.
You don’t have to stick to salads with this one, either — you can drizzle it on wraps, bowls, and sandwiches, as well as use it for dipping fresh or fried veggies.
This beautiful, creamy sauce uses peanut butter, coconut milk, maple syrup, soy sauce (swap in liquid aminos if you’re eating gluten-free), ground ginger, and chili flakes.
The beautiful, zingy, peanutty blend is great on stir-fries, noodle salads, crunchy slaw, Asian-inspired wraps, broiled tofu, and so much more.
Of course, we saved the best for last! Embracing a vegan diet doesn’t mean chocolate is off the menu.
This vegan chocolate sauce recipe uses coconut cream and maple syrup in place of dairy products to sweeten the bittersweet cocoa powder.
This tastes sumptuous on fresh fruit, nondairy ice cream, and other sweets. But hey, if you want to put it on more than just desserts, go for it!
Veganizing your fave dressings and sauces involves little more than swapping out the dairy content and honey for plant milks, alternative sweeteners, and aquafaba. Getting your tasty on doesn’t restrict you to animal products.
From Asian-inspired tastes to dessert drizzles to nacho dips, there’s a vegan alternative to any sauce you can dream up.