That Secret Sauce



Nobody needs to tell you that it’s all about the sauce—that tasty topping that dresses up naked noodles, perks up plain vanilla ice cream, or adds dimension to simple steamed veggies. We’ve got you—and your dishes—covered with next-level homemade sauces that are surprisingly easy to make and add an extra layer of nutrition (without excess fat, sugar, or salt!) to a variety of dishes. Here’s the real secret to these sauces: They serve up distinctive new flavor profiles even though they’re made from ingredients that are likely already in your pantry or fridge. Throw them together in a pinch or make them in advance so you’re ready to spoon them on when the time comes. Insider tip: These sauces will keep in the fridge for a week, so you may want to double or triple the recipes that follow.

Two-Ingredient Hot Fudge

Yields ½ cup


½ cup maple syrup

⅓ cup cocoa powder

To Make

In a wide pan over a medium flame, warm maple syrup.

Reduce to a low flame, slowly whisk in cocoa powder until incorporated.

Once incorporated, cook mixture over medium heat for 1 minute, or until thickened. 

Store refrigerated. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Good to Know

Feel free to incorporate milk or creamer of choice for a milk chocolate hot fudge.

For a pop of flavor, add an extract such as vanilla, almond, or orange.

Swirl into ice cream batter before freezing for a treat that’s ready to go.

Two-Ingredient Caramel

Yields 1 cup


1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

½ cup coconut sugar

To Make

To a wide pan, add coconut milk and coconut sugar. Bring mixture to a boil.  Cook over medium flame for 6 to 8 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. Note: If film forms while cooling, stir to reintegrate it with the mixture.

Serve warm or cold. Keep any leftover caramel refrigerated until ready to use.

Good to Know

Make sure to select full-fat coconut milk for best results.

Try incorporating caramel into your pancake batters for a delicious twist.

This caramel makes a great layer when building a cake.

Coffee Gochujang

Yields ¾ cup


1 cup brewed black coffee

1 tablespoon gochujang paste (or to taste)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon organic corn starch

Make it

To a saucepan over medium flame, add brewed coffee, gochujang paste, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and toasted sesame oil. Bring mixture to a boil. Note: If gochujang paste does not contain much salt, season sauce with ¼ teaspoon sea salt.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Dissolve corn starch in 2 tablespoons cold filtered water. Stir into simmering mixture and simmer for additional minute.

Store refrigerated or freeze for future use. 

Good to Know

Leftover tea—such as English breakfast, ginger, or a lemongrass blend—could substitute for the coffee.

Rice vinegar is a great addition because of its mild 4 percent acidity. Most vinegars contain 6 to 9 percent.

Maple syrup balances out the bitter notes of the coffee and helps to thicken the sauce. Plus, it gives the sauce a lovely gloss and sheen.

Nut Butter & Tamarind Dressing

Yields ¾ cup


⅓ cup almond butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Make it

Add almond butter and tamarind paste to a tempered glass jar.

Boil ¼ cup filtered water, and carefully pour into the same jar.

Allow mixture to sit for a few minutes.

Mince garlic (or pass through a garlic press).

Add minced garlic, soy sauce, sea salt and maple syrup to jar.

Secure lid and shake to emulsify.

Store dressing in refrigerator. Mixture will thicken slightly as it cools.

Good to Know

Nut butter makes a great emulsifier, creating a creamy, uniform dressing. Using hot boiling water helps the other ingredients incorporate more easily.

Substitute any nut or seed butter you prefer, such as peanut, sunflower, or hazelnut.

If tamarind isn’t available, try adding a teaspoon each of molasses and lime juice.

Try tossing extra dressing with chilled soba noodles or as a dip for summer vegetable rolls.

Hot ‘Honey’ Garlic Glaze

Yields 1 cup


4 cups apple juice

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon red chili flakes (or to taste)

¼ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 pinch sea salt

Make it

Place apple juice in a wide large pan. Bring to a boil over high flame. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until reduced to 1 cup.

Mince garlic and stir into apple ‘honey’ reduction along with red chili flakes, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt.

Mixture will continue to thicken significantly as it cools.

Store refrigerated.

Good to Know

Reduced apple juice becomes the consistency of honey and can be similar in taste and sweetness.

Feel free to skip apple juice and substitute with real honey. Stir in the garlic, chili flakes, vinegar, and sea salt and thin out with a few teaspoons of water.

This versatile sauce wakes up cooked rice and tofu but can also be drizzled over ricotta crostini or a slice of pizza—anything that could use a little kick.

Birthday Cake Whipped Coconut Cream

Yields 1¼ cups


1 13.5-ounce can coconut cream

1¼ cups organic cane sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

3 tablespoons organic corn starch

2 tablespoons sprinkles

Make it

To a saucepan, add coconut cream, cane sugar, vanilla extract, and sea salt.

Bring mixture to a simmer over medium flame, and cook for 2 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved.

Dissolve corn starch in ¼ cup of filtered water. Slowly stir into coconut mixture and cook for additional minute.

Transfer to bowl and cool mixture completely in the refrigerator until set.

Pulse briefly in food processor to aerate mixture

Stir in sprinkles.

Good to Know

This recipe is divine on cake, but also can be used as a topping for waffles or ice cream sundaes or as a dip for biscotti.

Try substituting oat or almond milk for a slightly less decadent cream.

Stir extra cream into oatmeal or use as a coffee topper.

Pomegranate Dijon Vinaigrette

Yields ¾ cup


1 cup pomegranate juice

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons maple syrup

To Make

Pour pomegranate juice into a pan. Reduce on high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until reduced to approximately ¼ cup. Cool for a few minutes.

Peel and mince garlic cloves (or pass through a garlic press).

Place pomegranate reduction, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil, sea salt, and maple syrup in a glass jar.

Secure lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified.

Store dressing in refrigerator.

Good to Know

Pomegranate molasses is delicious, but can be expensive and tough to find. This is an ideal substitute—and a more colorful one.

This flexy sauce would make a great marinade or glaze.

There is no need for acid in this vinaigrette because of the tart nature of the pomegranate juice.

Yucca ‘Mac & Cheese’ Sauce

Yields 5 cups


1 medium yucca

4 garlic cloves

3 cups plain yogurt (or vegan yogurt)

4 teaspoons sea salt

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Make it

Peel yucca and cut into a rough dice (approximately 3 cups diced). Discard any tough cores or fibers.

Place cut yucca in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until yucca is tender.

Peel and mince garlic (or pass through a garlic press).

Strain yucca and add it, along with yogurt, sea salt, nutritional yeast, and minced garlic, to a blender.

Blend until mixture is completely smooth. Note: mixture will be viscous, so consider blending in batches if not using a high-powered blender.

Good to Know

Yucca is a great base choice for creamy sauces because of its natural starch content.

Using plain yogurt instead of water adds complexity, richness, tang and, best of all, natural probiotics.

Try adding flavorings to this versatile sauce. For instance, add chipotle to make a queso or sage to make an alfredo.

Carrot & Roasted Garlic Marinara

Yields 3¾ cups


3 medium carrots

6 garlic cloves

4 rosemary sprigs

3 tablespoons olive oil

1½ teaspoons sea salt

1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes

To Make

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Peel carrots and cut into thin rounds (approximately 1/2 inch thick).

Peel garlic and cut in half lengthwise.

Place rosemary sprigs in a pile on a cutting board. Hit with a wooden spoon to bruise stems in order to release aromas.

Line baking tray with parchment paper and arrange carrot rounds, garlic cloves and rosemary in a single layer.

Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, as well as 2 tablespoons of filtered water.

Cover tightly with foil and bake mixture for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to continue to steam covered for additional 5 minutes.

Remove and discard rosemary sprigs.

Add roasted vegetable mixture and any residual cooking liquid to a food processor, along with 1 cup crushed tomatoes.

Pulse in food processor until carrots disintegrate to desired sauce consistency.  Some texture is okay.

Stir in remaining ¾ cup crushed canned tomatoes.

Good to Know

Bruising the rosemary sprigs before cooking helps release their fragrant aromatic oils.

The carrots and roasted garlic add a natural sweetness to help mellow out the acidity of the tomatoes.

Add chili flakes for a spicier, arrabiata version of this red sauce. Stirring in the remaining crushed tomatoes after processing helps retain some texture and creates a more vibrant hue.

Sweet Potato ‘Velveeta’

Yields 4 cups


3 medium sweet potatoes

5 garlic cloves

2  13.5 ounce cans coconut milk

⅓ cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 teaspoons sea salt

¼ cup organic corn starch

To Make

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into a rough dice (approximately 3 cups).

Peel and mince garlic (or pass through a garlic press).

Place sweet potatoes into a medium pot. Cover with coconut milk, 1 cup filtered water, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt.

Cover pot with lid ajar. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Use an immersion blender to puree mixture until completely smooth (or work in batches in a blender). Add in corn starch and blend until incorporated.

Simmer for an additional minute, or until mixture thickens.

Good to Know

The sauce will taste slightly sweet from the natural flavor profiles of the sweet potato and coconut. Balance the sweet by garnishing the dish with something savory, like truffle oil, seasoned breadcrumbs, chili flakes, chipotle in adobo, pickled jalapenos, or chopped fresh herbs.

Blend leftover sauce with vegetable stock into a quick and satisfying soup or use as a fondue dip for pretzels, sourdough bread, or sliced apples.

Add seasonings such as roasted garlic, fresh thyme, or hot peppers for a flavorful twist.