The best condiments and most popular sauces tie a dish together. They fill flavor gaps and add to the dish’s presentation. If you’re missing a sweet or a sour, the right sauce can quickly and easily fill that void.
Restaurants have long relied on condiments, sauces and dressings to elevate their menus. Here’s how:
Put on a Twist on the Basics
One simple way to take advantage of the sauces and condiments trend is to put a twist on basic types of condiments like ketchup, mustard and even butter. Adding spices and flavors to everyday condiments can take your dishes to the next level.
Many restaurants are putting contemporary spins on popular steak sauces, hot dog condiments and sandwich condiments, like:
- Red onion pickles
- Gochujang ketchup
- Pickled mustard seeds
- Chorizo ketchup
- Beer mustard
- Molasses spread
- Maple barbecue sauce
- Blueberry bourbon steak sauce
- Garlic aioli
- Chipotle mayo
- Sea fennel mayonnaise
- Vodka tomato ketchup
Customizing basic condiments with unique flavors will not only add a new element to the flavors of your dishes, but also grab the attention of customers looking for a fresh take on their favorite foods.
Consider your customer base and their flavor preferences. It’s great to venture outside of your comfort zone, but make sure that your choices will be well-received by your patrons.
Focus on Premium Options
Premium condiments and sauces can put an upscale touch on menu items. Imported items, like Dijon mustard from France or popular pasta sauces from Italy, can elevate your standard menu items.
Many premium condiments and sauces are associated with luxury, or they may be considered exotic by your customer base.
Over the last few years, many popular restaurants have focused on offering premium condiments and sauces, like:
- Truffalo sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings
- Black truffle sauce from Shake Shack
- Garlic-Champagne sauce from Velvet Taco
- Herbes de Provence aioli with lavender syrup from Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes
Along with elevating your menu and image, upscale sauces and dressings can help you generate more revenue. Customers are happy to pay a little more (within reason) for special, unique and premium toppings.
Offer these options as an additional charge. Buffalo Wild Wings successfully implemented this strategy with their Truffalo sauce, which was available for an additional $1.
Fermented condiments and dressings are gaining steam. Internationally inspired additions like kimchi, yuzu kosho and fermented chilis add tangy flavor to round out flavors. Other international flavors like Indian condiments and popular hot sauces can take customers around the world without having to leave your restaurant.
With travel being restricted because of the pandemic, customers are looking for ways to enjoy global flavors right from the comfort of home or local restaurants.
Popular, internationally inspired condiments and dressings that recently hit the market include:
- Cranberry chutney from Circle B Ranch Marina
- Lebanese garlic sauce from Anne’s Toum
- Raspberry wasabi ketchup from Terrapin Ridge Farms
- Kewpie mayonnaise
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Many condiments and sauces that were once deemed “exotic” are far more mainstream now. Just a few years ago, sriracha fit into that exotic category. Today, it’s as common as hot sauce.
Customers are willing to embrace new flavors, and many international sauces and condiments are already known and well-liked by consumers.
If you really want to impress guests, offer house-made condiments, dressings and sauces. The great thing about house-made dressings and toppings is that they are unique to your restaurant. Your condiments and sauces can be a draw all their own.
Let’s say that you run a sandwich shop. Your sandwiches aren’t anything particularly unique, but you focus on using the freshest ingredients. Your secret weapon is your house-made spreads and condiments. No one else in town makes pickled red onions quite like you, and your house-made chipotle-garlic aioli is one of your most popular toppings.
Many popular restaurants know the value of homemade dressings and condiments, and they use this to their advantage. In fact, some restaurants now sell their unique dressings and sauces in stores, providing another avenue for revenue generation.
- Casual dining chain Cowboy Chicken offers house-made tomatillo sour cream sauce on their enchiladas.
- Farmer Boys serves their veggie burger with their homemade Thousand Island dressing.
- California Pizza Kitchen adds their own sun-dried tomato aioli to their grilled vegetable sandwich.
House-made restaurant condiments are a popular draw, and they add something special to your menu. Get creative, experiment with different flavor combinations, and perfect your homemade recipes to attract more customers.
Don’t underestimate the power of popular sauces and condiments. Many customers choose restaurants purely because of their sauces, dressing or condiments. Use them to elevate your menu. You’ll attract new customers and even increase your bottom line. Experiment with different flavors and combinations to see which ones really take off with customers.