15 Inexpensive Condiment Recipes

About a year ago, I shared an article about homemade condiment recipes. Rather than buying expensive mixed condiments, I like to save squeeze bottles and make my own condiment mixes, filling up squeeze bottles with interesting mixes and using them on sandwiches and as dipping sauces and, well, using them for all kinds of things.

In the recipe, I shared a few mixes I liked. Afterward, a number of readers shared their own recipes and a few asked for a follow-up article sharing lots of different recipes. Over the past year, I’ve made lots of different condiment mixes (mostly in very small batches, just to try them out) and found a bunch I really liked (and several I didn’t).

Here’s a list of 15 homemade condiment recipes, along with my notes on how they taste and what they’d be useful for. I only included ones that I really liked and could see myself using often enough to mix up a batch to fill a condiment bottle. Remember, each of these mixes made at home is going to be far cheaper than buying a condiment “mix” at the store, a point that was really the main focus of my earlier article on homemade condiments. I also intentionally stuck with recipes made up of common ingredients, nothing too fancy to begin with. It’s all stuff that most people that cook at home very often already have in their fridge or pantry.

As always, this article is a buffet of options. I strongly suggest making very small batches of the ones you’re interested in, mixing together just a few tablespoons of it in a small cup. Try it and decide for yourself if you like it.

If you do like one, then hold onto a squeeze bottle of another condiment when you empty it. Clean it out thoroughly, then make a bigger batch of your new condiment discovery in a bowl, then spoon that mix into the newly-cleaned bottle. Label it with a bit of masking tape and then you’re good to go!

These recipes all use common condiments and other items you can easily find at most grocery stores. The store-brand versions of these ingredients will work perfectly fine.

Also, I list these recipes as “parts.” For example, I might list a recipe of “6 parts mustard, 1 part mayonnaise, 1 part ketchup.” A “part” can be whatever small unit of measurement you’d like; I recommend using a teaspoon for small batches and perhaps 1/8 cup for larger batches.

The instructions for each are simple. Just put all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly, and enjoy.

What about basic things like ketchup? For a lot of basic condiments, like ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, the store brand versions of those things are inexpensive enough that you don’t make up much ground making them yourself. I’m mostly targeting more expensive specialty condiments with this article.

15 easy, inexpensive homemade condiment recipes

1. Fry sauce is my favorite French fry dip.

  • 12 parts mayonnaise
  • 8 parts ketchup
  • 2 parts yellow mustard
  • 1 part Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • Tiny pinch of garlic powder (optional)

(Try using 1 teaspoon as the “part” in this to make a small batch, probably enough for a small family to dip a meal’s worth of fries in. In that conversion, 12 parts is 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 8 parts is 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of ketchup.)

I received countless variations on “fry sauce” from different people, but they all generally boil down to a mix of condiments that’s mostly mayonnaise and ketchup with other ingredients for flavor. The most common difference is that some recipes use white vinegar, while others use pickle juice; other variations include using barbecue sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce and, often, people suggest using a pinch of garlic powder or onion powder. The recipe listed above is my favorite choice.

This mix is probably my favorite one to dip french fries in. It seems to mix wonderfully with the flavor and crispiness of a well-cooked french fry (which I vastly prefer on the “crispier” end of the spectrum). It’s good as a vegetable dip and solid as a sandwich spread, but there are other options for those uses in this list that I prefer much more. The pickle juice variant (swapping out the white vinegar for pickle juice) was good, but that made it better as a sandwich spread and worse as a french fry dip, in my opinion, and there were still sandwich spreads I liked better.

2. Creamy fry sauce is a close second, though, and probably better for some taste buds.

  • 48 parts mayonnaise
  • 48 parts sour cream
  • 24 parts ketchup
  • 4 parts sugar
  • 2 parts yellow mustard
  • 2 parts Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 part paprika
  • 1 part garlic powder

(To try this out, use 1/4 teaspoon as the “part” — you’ll still wind up with quite a bit.)

This is an alternative fry sauce that tastes quite a bit different than the other one. It’s definitely creamier than the other version and has more of a sour cream flavor to it and a much lighter color.

I think I prefer this one to the original for dipping vegetables, and it’s really good as a french fry dip, but it’s not the best french fry dip. It hews a little close to just dipping french fries in mayonnaise, which I like, but don’t love.

3. “Big Mac” sandwich spread does a pretty nice job of imitating the flavor of a “Big Mac.”

  • 32 parts mayonnaise
  • 3 parts yellow mustard
  • 3 parts sweet pickle relish
  • 2 part white vinegar
  • 1 part onion powder
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part paprika

(If you do this with each “part” being a tablespoon, that amounts to two cups of mayonnaise; making each “part” a teaspoon makes a nice small batch, with just 2/3 cup mayonnaise.)

This sauce makes for a great sandwich spread, particularly on hamburgers and cheeseburgers, and does a great job of conveying the flavor of a Big Mac. I think the paprika in this is just a little bit more intense than in an actual Big Mac, so you may want to tone it down and just use a half-part of it.

It turns out that this is a really good sandwich spread on a wide variety of sandwiches, not just hamburgers. I’ve enjoyed it on a variety of deli-style sandwiches and it remains pretty tasty.

If you choose to use this in a squirt bottle, make sure the opening is wide enough to accommodate the bits in your pickle relish or you will get clogging.

4. Curry ketchup is manna from heaven if you like the taste of curry.

  • 48 parts ketchup
  • 16 parts vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 3 parts tomato paste
  • 3 parts honey
  • 2 parts Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 parts sugar
  • 2 parts curry powder
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part onion powder
  • 1 part paprika
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part yellow mustard
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground black pepper

(Try making a “part” equal to 1/2 teaspoon for an amount equal to about a cup. You can thicken or thin it by increasing or decreasing the amount of broth; that’s the purpose of it, actually.)

This is an amazing substitute for ketchup if you like curry flavor at all. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if you like curry flavor, this will largely replace ordinary ketchup for you. It works as a great hamburger condiment and as a curry-flavored french fry dipping sauce. It’s actually the only ketchup-heavy condiment that I really like on many sandwiches, but I love the taste of curry.

[Read more: 10 Meals in 10 Minutes Under $10]

5. White barbecue sauce is a spicy and distinct variation on normal barbecue sauce, great as a marinade, basting sauce, a dip and sandwich topping.

  • 32 parts mayonnaise
  • 8 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 4 parts prepared horseradish
  • 2 parts lemon juice
  • 1 part ground black pepper
  • 1 part yellow mustard
  • 1 part salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like heat)
  • Pinch of garlic powder

It looks really strange to baste something on the grill with a white sauce, but this evokes such a great citrusy and spicy flavor from the vinegar, horseradish, and lemon juice that I can’t resist it. If you have anything that you like to smother in barbecue sauce while grilling, this is a great unusual alternative.

It’s also pretty good as a dipping sauce. While I don’t think I’d make it solely to use as a dipping sauce, I’d definitely use any leftover sauce from barbecuing or marinating as a dipping sauce for fries or vegetables.

6. Sriracha mayonnaise taco sauce is pretty much an essential ingredient for fish tacos and makes for a nice dipping sauce or sandwich spread.

  • 36 parts mayonnaise
  • 6 parts sriracha
  • 4 parts lemon juice
  • 1 part garlic powder

(Try using 1/2 teaspoon as a “part” for a sample batch, so you’d use 6 tablespoons of mayo (3/8 cup), 1 tablespoon of sriracha, and two teaspoons of lemon juice.)

With this mix, you end up with a pinkish sauce that works amazingly well as something to drizzle on tacos as a topping, particularly fish tacos (something we often make at our house, particularly in the summer, with baked fish). It does work pretty well as a substitute for normal mayonnaise as a sandwich spread, too, and as a fry dip.

One thing I’ve noticed is that most condiments work well as a fry dip. I prefer the “fry sauce” listed at the top of this purely as a fry dip, but it doesn’t really work well on sandwiches. Many of the other condiments and sauces listed here work well on sandwiches and reasonably well as a french fry dip, but they’re not the best at being a french fry dip.

7. Garlic aioli is basically just garlicky mayonnaise, but boy is it good on a dell sandwich

  • 36 parts mayonnaise
  • 6 parts lemon juice
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part salt
  • (Optional) 1 part Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

(A nice sample batch of this is using 1/2 teaspoon for each part, so you’d be using 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) of mayo and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.)

This ends up tasting like a slightly thicker mayonnaise with a garlic-lemon flavor. The lemon juice thickens the mayonnaise, resulting in a mix that’s on the thick end of what you’ll want to squirt out of a bottle, but the lemon juice and the garlic complement each other so well against the mayo that it’s worth it. You may end up preferring to keep this in a small jar with a lid.

This one works spectacularly well as a sandwich topping for all kinds of sandwiches, particularly deli sandwiches with cold cuts or on cheese sandwiches. I really like using this for grilled cheese sandwiches, as I’ll use this mix on the outside of the bread so that it’s the grilled part.

8. Caesar salad dressing is a great homemade salad dressing, but it also works pretty well as a vegetable dip and on many sandwiches

  • 48 parts mayonnaise
  • 24 parts finely ground Parmesan cheese
  • 6 parts lemon juice
  • 1 part anchovy paste (this is often found near the canned tuna in the store)
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part Dijon mustard
  • 1 part Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

(Think of 1 part being a teaspoon and 48 parts being a cup, or 1 part being 1/2 teaspoon and 48 parts being 1/2 cup. You may want to run this mix through the blender just so that the Parmesan cheese is fully smoothed out.)

This is a great salad dressing that works perfectly with lettuce and other greens. It also serves very well as the sauce when you make a chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad mix, as this will bind the other ingredient together. Just add some finely chopped chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or tuna to this sauce and stir, adjusting the sauce and the chicken/egg/tuna until you have the right consistency for sandwiches.

You can leave out the anchovy paste if you so wish, but I think the mix is lesser for it, and you may want to slightly increase the salt or the Worcestershire sauce if you do so.

9. Buffalo sauce is really good for coating chicken wings, but it’s a pretty good sandwich spread and fish taco topping, too.

  • 36 parts hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot works really well here)
  • 24 parts melted butter
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 part cayenne pepper

(Once you melt the butter and make the sauce, it stays in liquid form. You can make a small sample batch by using 1/2 teaspoon for each “part,” meaning six tablespoons (3/8 cup) hot sauce and four tablespoons (1/4 cup) melted butter.)

This isn’t a particularly healthy sauce, but it’s wonderfully delicious and is delicious on chicken wings and on vegetables as a dipping sauce. If you thicken it a little (by heating it to a simmer, adding 1 part corn starch, stirring, and then letting it cool to room temperature), it can easily be put into a squirt bottle and used as a dip for or topping on french fries and vegetables.

This is the backbone of lots of different variations on Buffalo sauce; you could add 1 part garlic powder to make a garlic Buffalo sauce, for example, or 1 part curry powder to make a curry-flavored Buffalo sauce. If you want heat, use a hotter hot sauce. I like the basic sauce pretty well myself, but you can take it in all kinds of directions.

[Read: 17 Cheap, Vegetarian Recipes]

10. Barbecue sauce is sold in infinite varieties in the store, but here’s the basic one I like the most (which can easily be modified).

  • 64 parts ketchup
  • 16 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 8 parts brown sugar
  • 3 parts honey
  • 2 parts Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 parts lemon juice
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part ground black pepper

(Try using 1/4 teaspoon as the “part” in this recipe for a very small batch, adding up to about 5 tablespoons ketchup, 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon honey, and so on.)

This is the basic recipe for my preferred barbecue sauce, usable as a sandwich topping, marinade, dipping sauce, and basting sauce.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it serves as a great backbone for whatever variants you like. If you like heat in your barbecue sauce, add a part or two of your favorite hot sauce. If you like a stronger garlic flavor, add an extra part of garlic powder. If you like it sweet, up the brown sugar and honey; if you like it less sweet, cut down the brown sugar and honey. This recipe just provides a great basic framework for you to twist it however you like.

11. “Durkee” sauce is an imitation of Durkee Famous Sauce, often found in stores in my area, and it’s a great tangy sandwich spread and is sometimes even used as a barbecue sauce substitute.

  • 4 parts vegetable broth
  • 4 parts balsamic vinegar
  • 2 parts corn starch
  • 2 parts yellow mustard
  • 2 parts unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 part mayonnaise
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part sugar

(Mix everything but the corn starch, heat to a very low simmer, mix in the corn starch, and allow it to cool to room temperature.)

This isn’t actually quite the same as Durkee sauce, which I find to be way too sweet in the form found in the store. To imitate what you find in the store, you’d probably want to double the sugar.

My variation of the sauce works really well as a sandwich topping, particularly on ham and cheese sandwiches, and you can even use it as a barbecue sauce. I’m not a big fan of it as a French fry dip, but some swear by it that way.

12. “Hot dog sauce” is just what it sounds like — a killer standalone sauce for hot dogs.

  • 36 parts ketchup
  • 24 parts brown sugar
  • 12 parts honey
  • 2 parts Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 part barbecue sauce
  • 1 part cider vinegar
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part onion powder

(Combine all of this over high heat until it’s simmering, then stir it as it cools. Try making a small batch with a “part” equaling 1/2 teaspoon.)

If you prefer ketchup or tomato-based toppings on your hot dog as opposed to mustard-style toppings, this one is amazing. It just perfectly complements the texture and flavor of a hot dog, with the sweetness of the brown sugar and honey complemented with the tang of the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.

I think it works well as a standalone sauce, but feel free to add on whatever additional toppings you like on a hot dog.

13. Pretzel sauce is a great mustard-based sauce for dipping pretzels in.

  • 2 parts Dijon mustard
  • 2 parts brown mustard
  • 1 part maple syrup
  • 1 part hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot is perfect)
  • 1 part mayonnaise
  • 1 part apple cider vinegar

This was described to me as “pretzel sauce,” and that’s actually a perfect description because pretzels — both soft pretzels and crispy ones — are delicious when dipped in this.

The thing is, that’s exactly what this mix is good for because I don’t find it to be particularly good with other things. As a sandwich topping, I’d rather have ordinary mayonnaise. There’s just something about it that works really well for dipping pretzels, though.

(This was actually the condiment that made me want to go make some of it as I was writing this article, as I was craving a handful of pretzels dipped in this.)

14. Sriracha aioli is a great condiment for crab cakes, fish tacos or as a fry sauce

  • 16 parts mayonnaise
  • 4 parts Sriracha
  • 1 part lemon juice

If I commonly ate both french fries, fish tacos and crab cakes on consecutive nights, I’d make a big batch of this because it’s a great sauce that serves all three of those things quite well. It also works as a sandwich spread for hamburgers if you tend to prefer mayo as your primary condiment on a burger.

Be aware that this does thicken a little if you stir it thoroughly and might end up being too thick for your squeeze container. If that’s the case, add more mayonnaise and sriracha at a 4 parts mayo to 1 part sriracha ratio until it’s your desired thickness.

15. “Hoisin sauce” is my default sauce on most stir fries.

  • 24 parts soy sauce
  • 12 parts peanut butter
  • 6 parts molasses
  • 4 parts rice vinegar
  • 4 parts sesame seed oil
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part hot sauce

We often have stir fry, and rather than buying a bottle of stir fry sauce at the store, I’ll often just mix this up. We usually have a large bottle of soy sauce in the fridge and the rest in the pantry, so it’s easy.

This sauce feels like it has nice hints of lots of flavors in it, but nothing overwhelms the other and it ends up complementing whatever it is that you’re frying up, providing nice flavors without overwhelming the actual dish.

Homemade condiments and sauces are fun to make, delicious to eat, and much less expensive than unusual condiments in the store.

Most of the condiments and sauces you buy at the store are just expensive mixes of common staple condiments and spices. That wonderful sauce that sells for $10 is probably just a mix of two condiments and a few additional spices, something you can whip up in your own kitchen for pennies.

What’s the point? Experiment! Try different mixes. Find ones that you really like, then make a bigger batch and partially fill up an empty squirt condiment bottle with it. Then, when you grow tired of it, make something different.

Good luck!

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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