Different variations of nut butter sauces and dressings make an appearance every single week in my plant-based meal prep. They're simple to make and super versatile.
Combining whole food ingredients you can pronounce and stand by to create nut (or seed!) butter sauces at home have a couple key benefits.
- Make more for less than the cost of buying pre-made processed options at the store.
- Maintain full control of the ingredients and flavors to keep things as healthy and nutritious as YOU want.
- Keep things simple and free of additives, gums, preservatives, etc.
I use nut butter sauces to dress salads, drizzle over roasted vegetables, in bean and rice bowls, or as a dipping sauce. They basically make every food a little more interesting and add an additional bit of protein too!
I rarely measure ingredients with precision, everything is heaping this or sorta kinda that. Unless you throw in 12 cloves of garlic instead of one or two, or 3 tbs. of cayenne instead of ½ tsp. — you really CAN’T MESS THIS UP.
I love recipes that involve “throw all the ingredients in and blend until smooth” as a step. This is the case with nut butter sauces and dressings. I basically throw it all in my Vitamix, blend it up, taste, adjust and I’m done.
Side note: I still made alllll the homemade sauces and dressings while we traveled full time in the bus too, sans Vitamix. I had my trusty $20 hand blender (immersion blender) and stainless steel smoothie cup by my side instead. They were a magical duo. But I do appreciate the upgrade to a blender.
Use whatever you have at home!
BASIC ELEMENTS OF A GOOD NUT BUTTER SAUCE
There’s a handful of basic categories of ingredients that come together to make a nut butter sauce. Take the recipe I share below for example: nut butter (duh.), spices (ginger + cayenne), sweet (maple), tangy/savory (tamari + vinegar), oil (sesame), and a bit of acid (lime juice).
All of these things can be easily swapped with another ingredient in the same category to make a completely different tasty dressing/sauce.
It’s more important to learn the basic concepts and building blocks behind an element of cooking rather than worrying too much about strictly adhering to one specific recipe or LOOK.
Sometimes I feel like the overly perfected and expertly plated recipes featured on social media or in major magazines can be a little defeating and unapproachable! Give me something REAL I can make EVERY WEEK for cheap and feel good about without spending 4.5 hours to make it. 🙂 Using obscure and unapproachable ingredients and methods isn't a lifestyle you can stick with, it's a special occasion kind of thing.
This flexibility and understanding exercises our eye and taste buds to cook intuitively with what we have on hand. That’s both more convenient and more fun because you really CAN make delicious stuff happen with random things in your house right now. What can i do with what I currently have? Well, if you're stocked with spices and staple pantry items, you're off to a good start.
ESSENTIALS ON HAND
When you dig into the HOW, you can create 10+ nut (or seed!) butter sauces and dressings on a whim.
Over time you will get to know the key pantry and ingredient staples to have on hand for meal prep greatness.
Here is a quick list of 10 things I use constantly and always have on hand:
- Unsweetened organic soy milk
- Better than Boullion Vegetable
- Nutritional Yeast
- Sesame oil
- Nut butters
- Garlic & onions (they go in everyyyyythiiiingggg)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Different types of dry rice, beans and lentils
- Lots of fresh produce (greens, lemons, limes, carrots, peppers, kale, spinach, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, etc. etc.)
Think about what your essentials are. Sometimes having a bit of an outline and routine to your weekly meals helps to keep things on a healthier track. You're not wondering WHAT to buy because the list rarely changes. You know you can make a long list of delicious things with the same core ingredients + different sauces + different spices.
I hope this sparks some ideas for how you can create some sauces in your kitchen!
INGREDIENT SWAP TALK
Ohhhh the possibilities. Here is a list of ingredients in my favorite peanut sauce (below) along with a few ideas of swaps you can make to switch up the flavor profile of the nut butter sauce you're dreaming up.
PEANUT BUTTER - almond butter or tahini or omit for a lighter feel of a dressing.
GARLIC - fresh minced ginger (tasty with apple cider vinegar and tahini) or 1 tsp. dijon mustard (great to pair with balsamic)
RICE VINEGAR - apple cider vinegar, balsamic or omit the vinegar and add more liquid via water or soy milk for a milder flavor, less tang.
SESAME OIL - olive oil or avocado oil
TAMARI - coconut aminos (sweeter, LOVE this with almond butter, lime juice and some soy milk) or liquid aminos (milder flavor)
MAPLE SYRUP - agave (I like using a liquid sweetener in dressings but coconut sugar works too, just shake/blend it well)
LIME JUICE - lemon or orange juice (this piece really adds something FRESH, orange juice is delicious with ginger and sesame)
GINGER & CAYENNE - curry powder + onion powder (sometimes I go a bit crazy in the spice department but I’ve yet to go wrong. If you have the right core spices at hand, just pick and play.)
Here's a base nut butter sauce recipe idea to start adjusting and swapping ingredients. Please, as always, feel free to reach out to me on FB messenger or email if you have any questions. I'm always happy to help.Print
This is a delicious plant-based peanut sauce recipe (quite possibly my favorite variation yet) that can be used as a dressing, dip or drizzle on salads, roasted vegetables, in a wrap, on pasta, you name it. It makes everything it touches a bit more interesting.
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbs. tamari
- 3 tbs. rice vinegar
- 2 tbs. sesame oil
- 2 tbs. maple syrup
- 2 tsp. lime juice (½ a lime)
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional but tasty)
- 2-4 tbs. water (start with 2 tbs.)
- Throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend it up until smooth.
- Check consistency. Add 1-2 tbs. more water to thin it out if needed.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. We usually eat ours within a day or two because it's so good. Juuuuust a warning.
Keywords: vegan, dressing, sauce, peanut sauce