How To Make Sofrito

Sofrito is the aromatic flavor base of many Caribbean dishes. It’s budget-friendly, easy to make, and pure magic in almost any savory recipe.

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Sofrito is the heart and soul of Caribbean cuisine and the knock-out flavor base of many of its dishes. It’s budget-friendly, easy to make, and pure magic in almost any savory recipe. If you want to kick up your cooking prowess a hundred notches with just one technique, THIS IS IT.

Overhead shot of green sofrito in a white bowl with a wooden spoon in it.

What is sofrito?

Sofrito originated in Spain, and the word refers to a technique where you fry aromatics to release flavor compounds. The sauce took on different forms as the Spanish colonized the Caribbean, and islanders recreated sofrito with available ingredients. In Puerto Rico, where I was born and raised, sofrito is called recaito, after recao, an herb that grows wild throughout the island and gives the puree its distinctive bright green color.

How do you make sofrito?

In its most basic form, sofrito is a mix of aromatics like peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. Think of it like the Latin version of a mirepoix or the holy trinity. Except making it is as simple as busting out your blender or food processor. Of course, if you don’t have these kitchen tools, you’ll have to rely on old-fashioned elbow grease and mince the ingredients. Either way, the results will always be fantastic.

What’s in Sofrito?

The ingredient list for sofrito changes depending on the region. In Spain, the sauce includes tomatoes; in the Dominican Republic, it contains vinegar; in Puerto Rico, neither of those ingredients made the cut. Traditionally, Boricuas (i.e., Puerto Ricans) make sofrito with a sweet pepper known as ají dulce, garlic, onion, and, as I mentioned earlier, recao. This pungent herb is a distant relative of cilantro and is also known as Chinese parsley or sawtooth coriander. You can usually find ají dulce and recao at an Asian or Latino supermarket. When I can’t find these traditional ingredients, I sub them with green bell pepper and cilantro.

No matter what the ingredients, sofrito is usually the first thing to hit the pan, where it is lightly fried until your kitchen smells like heaven. (Am I the only one that thinks heaven will smell like something amazing’s cooking?) No matter your religious musings, I’ve seen many islanders get choked up at the first whiff of sofrito. TRUST ME. This sauce is powerful stuff.

How do you store sofrito?

A little sofrito goes a long way, so you’ll always have leftovers when you make a batch. Store it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a month. Or do like every abuela (Spanish for grandma) does on the island: freeze any leftovers in an ice cube tray. Then transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe container, where they will stay fresh for up to three months.

How is Sofrito Used?

Honestly, many savory recipes would benefit from a few tablespoons of sofrito. Of course, it’s imperative that you use it in Caribbean dishes, like my recipe for Arroz con Pollo (Puerto Rican chicken and rice). But you should also try it in your favorite stews, soups, beans, and sauces. For example, a few tablespoons would be spectacular in this easy chili, this hearty vegetable barley soup, or this dreamy Spanish chickpeas and rice.

Side view of sofrito in a white bowl with a wood spoon in it and a black and white linen napkin next to it.
Close up of sofrito on a wooden spoon with the bowl in the background.

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Sofrito is the aromatic flavor base of many Caribbean dishes. It's budget-friendly, easy to make, and pure magic in almost any savory recipe.
Cuisine Latin
Total Cost $2.53 recipe / $0.36 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 7 ¼ cup each
Calories 14kcal
Author Monti – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.37
  • 1 green bell pepper $0.79
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro $0.89
  • 6 cloves garlic $0.48

Instructions

  • Peel the onion and deseed bell pepper, then quarter them. Rinse the cilantro and chop the bunch roughly.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a smooth, thick puree forms.
  • Use the sofrito in a recipe immediately, store in an air-tight container for up to a month in the fridge, or portion into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for up to three months.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 1g
Close up of sofrito on a wooden spoon with the bowl in the background.

How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito- Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of cilantro, green bell pepper, yellow onion, and garlic in a food processor.

Prep and quarter the onion and bell pepper. Rinse and chop the cilantro. Add the onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Overhead shot of blended sofrito in the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse until the ingredients transform into a smooth, thick puree. If the blades get stuck cutting through the ingredients, add a little olive oil to move things along.

Sofrito being portioned into an ice cube tray.

You can use the sofrito immediately, store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a month, or portion into an ice cube tray and freeze. Place the cubes into a freezer-safe container and store for up to three months.

Overhead view of a bowl of sofrito with a wooden spoon.

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Strawberry Syrup

Homemade strawberry syrup is so easy to make and it tastes great in and on everything from yogurt and ice cream to waffles and pancakes!

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Strawberry season is so fleeting and I’m always tempted to buy a ton of strawberries when they’re on sale at the height of the season. So I like to make a quick batch of this strawberry syrup to enjoy that fresh strawberry flavor a little longer. You can use it in all sorts of things from strawberry lemonade, to homemade ice cream (recipe coming soon), or just as a topper for your yogurt, ice cream, waffles, and pancakes. Bonus: if you cook it down a little longer it will thicken up even more and make a delicious homemade strawberry jam!

Side view of a jar of strawberry syrup with a spoon.

What’s in Strawberry Syrup?

Strawberry syrup, at its most basic, is just fresh strawberries and sugar cooked down until they form a delicious and vibrant syrup. I’ve added a little bit of vanilla extract and salt for depth, which really gives the strawberry syrup more dimension. It’s so good that you’ll want to just eat it by the spoonful!

Make it Chunky or Smooth

I like my strawberry syrup to be a little bit chunky with bits of strawberry still in the syrup, but if you prefer a smooth and clear syrup, simply strain the mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer to remove the remaining strawberry flesh. The total volume of the syrup will be slightly reduced after straining.

How to Use Strawberry Syrup

I love spooning strawberry syrup over pancakes, waffles, French toast, ice cream sundaes, or yogurt parfaits. But you can also use it to make lemonade, mix it into cocktails and homemade popsicles, drizzle it over cakes, or blend it into smoothies.

A bowl of ice cream with strawberry syrup on top.

Make Strawberry Syrup or Strawberry Jam

With this one simple recipe you can make either strawberry syrup or strawberry jam! The only difference is how long you simmer the strawberries. A shorter simmer time will have less evaporation and a more syrupy consistency. Simmer longer to evaporate more water and create a thicker, jam-like consistency. And if you accidentally simmer too long and make the syrup thicker than you’d like, you can simply stir in a bit of water to thin it out again.

How Long Does Strawberry Syrup Last?

You can keep this homemade strawberry syrup in the refrigerator for about three weeks, or freeze it for longer storage.

Overhead view of strawberry syrup in a jar with a spoon.
Side view of a jar of strawberry syrup with a spoon.

Strawberry Syrup

Homemade strawberry syrup is so easy to make and it tastes great in and on everything from yogurt and ice cream to waffles and pancakes.
Course Dessert, Sauce
Cuisine American
Total Cost $2.37 recipe / $0.40 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 ¼ cup each
Calories 121kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries $1.99
  • 3/4 cup sugar $0.12
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract $0.25
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01

Instructions

  • Wash and chop the strawberries into ¼-inch pieces.
  • Add the chopped strawberries and sugar to a saucepot. Stir and cook over medium heat until the strawberries release their liquid and form a syrup in the saucepot.
  • Let the strawberries simmer in the syrup, stirring occasionally, until they break down and lose their shape and the syrup has thickened to your desired consistency (5-10 minutes). Keep in mind the syrup will thicken more after cooling.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Let the syrup cool. Use the syrup as-is, or strain through a wire mesh strainer for a clear, smooth syrup.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 49mg | Fiber: 2g
Strawberry syrup being spooned over waffles with whipped cream.

How to Make Strawberry Syrup – Step by Step Photos

Strawberries being chopped on a cutting board.

Begin by washing and chopping one pound of fresh strawberries into ¼-inch pieces.

Chopped strawberries and sugar in a saucepot.

Add the chopped strawberries to a medium saucepot along with ¾ cup of sugar.

Strawberries and sugar being stirred in the pot.

Begin to stir and cook the strawberries over medium heat. The sugar will immediately start to draw the water out of the strawberries, creating a syrup.

Simmering strawberries in the saucepot.

Let the strawberries simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the strawberries have broken down and lost their shape, and the syrup has thickened to your desired consistency. Keep in mind that the syrup will thicken further as it cools.

Thickened strawberries in the pot being stirred with a spoon.

Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp salt. You can either use your syrup as-is with the strawberry chunks in it or strain it through a fine wire mesh strainer to make a clear, smooth syrup. I like the bits of strawberry in mine. ;)

Finished strawberry syrup dripping off a spoon into a jar.

Keep your strawberry syrup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Spoon it over all of your favorite summer foods!

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Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Let the slow cooker do all the work for you when you make this big batch of freezer-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce.

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I’ve made a few variations of pasta sauce over the years, but this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is definitely one of my favorites. The long slow simmer caramelizes the sugars in the tomatoes and creates a depth of flavor that can’t be matched. Plus, what more could you ask for than to just throw some ingredients in a pot, forget about it for 8 hours, and then come back to a rich, delicious homemade sauce? Then you can divide the sauce into portions, freeze, and you’ll have delicious homemade pasta sauce on hand for quick busy weeknight dinners.

Originally posted on 11/4/2011, updated 1/12/2022.

Pasta sauce in a slow cooker with a spoon, garnished with parsley

Why make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce?

Pasta sauce can be bought premade really cheaply, so I think in a lot of cases it does make sense to just buy a jar and go with it. But if you want to have a little more control over the quality and ingredients of your pasta sauce while still keeping costs low, this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is a great option. 

What Size Slow Cooker to Use

This recipe makes about 2 quarts of sauce, so I would suggest using a 3 quart or larger slow cooker. You don’t need anything fancy, just a very basic slow cooker with basic functions like warm, low, and high. I do find that slow cookers made with a thick ceramic insert (or “crock”) cook much more evenly than metal inserts, like you’d have when using the slow cooker function on an Instant Pot.

Why Add Balsamic Vinegar?

The balsamic vinegar in this recipe adds a subtle depth and brightness to the sauce. It can seem strong at first, but it mellows out as the sauce is cooked. If you’re not a fan of balsamic vinegar or just don’t have any on hand, this recipe will still make a really amazing sauce even if you leave it out.

Can I Add Meat?

I’ve tried this sauce before with ground beef and I found the cook time to be far too long for the ground beef, so if you do want to add meat I suggest browning it separately and then just stirring it into the sauce after cooking. You can also check out my quick Weeknight Pasta Sauce for an easy and flavorful meat sauce option.

How to Freeze Pasta Sauce

This recipe makes about 7 cups. I suggest dividing the sauce into two or three cup portions before freezing so you can take out just enough for one recipe at a time to thaw. Let the spaghetti sauce cool completely in the fridge, then transfer to freezer-safe containers to freeze. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for about three months, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your freezer. If you use quart-sized freezer bags and freeze them laying flat they stack nicely in the freezer without taking up much space. 

You can thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight or just cut the bag away from the frozen sauce, place it in a saucepot, and heat over medium-low until it’s heated through (stir occasionally).

This sauce goes great with Homemade Meatballs (also freezer-friendly)!

A plate of pasta covered in sauce with bread on the side

Pasta sauce in a slow cooker garnished with parsley

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Let the slow cooker do all the work for you when you make this big batch of freezer-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce.
Course Dinner, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $4.40 recipe / $0.63 per cup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 7 cups
Calories 77kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes $2.00
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste $0.69
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil $0.30
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.03
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar $0.14
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.05

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Place both in a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and butter to the slow cooker. Stir everything together well.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
  • After cooking, give it a good stir, then add salt to taste. Start with just ½ tsp of salt and add more if needed (I added 1 tsp). Use the sauce immediately, refrigerate, or freeze for later.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 393mg | Fiber: 1g

Homemade pasta sauce being spooned over a plate of spaghetti

How to Make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce – Step By Step Photos

Onion and garlic in slow cooker

Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Add both to a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.

Tomatoes added to slow cooker

Add 2 28oz. cans of crushed tomatoes and one 6oz. can of tomato paste to the slow cooker.

Seasonings added to the slow cooker

Also add 1 Tbsp dried basil, 1.5 tsp dried oregano, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 4 Tbsp butter to the slow cooker. 

Sauce ingredients being stirred together before cooking

Give the ingredients a good stir until they’re evenly incorporated.

Simmered pasta sauce in the slow cooker

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. After cooking, it will look a little like the photo above (the white is just the milk fats from the butter). Give it a good stir.

Finished pasta sauce in the slow cooker garnished with parsley

Add salt to the sauce to taste. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more until the flavors pop. I ended up using one teaspoon total. 

Side view of pasta sauce in the slow cooker

Use the slow cooker spaghetti sauce immediately or refrigerate then freeze for long-term storage.

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Easy Buffalo Sauce

This incredibly easy buffalo sauce only takes a few minutes to make and is perfect for dipping or drizzling all over your favorite foods.

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I posted some Baked Chicken Wings earlier this week, so it’s only natural that I teach you how to make your own buffalo wing sauce as well! Buffalo sauce is an incredibly addictive, spicy, tangy, and rich sauce that is an absolute must-have for your chicken wings. And the best part? It’s so easy. Just four simple ingredients and about five minutes, and you’re ready for dipping and drizzling the buffalo sauce over your favorite foods.

Buffalo sauce in a jar with wings in the background

What is Buffalo Sauce?

If you’re not from the U.S. you’re probably asking yourself how someone made a sauce out of a buffalo, but don’t worry, the name actually comes from Buffalo, New York, where this sauce is said to have originated. It’s an incredibly tasty mix of cayenne hot sauce and butter. This simple combination of ingredients hits four of the major flavor elements (salt, fat, acid, and heat), making it incredibly delicious and almost downright addictive.

Sometimes, depending on the recipe, other ingredients are added for even more flavor. For my recipe below, I kept the sauce fairly simple with just a little garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce for a little more dimension.

What Kind of Hot Sauce to Use

Buffalo sauce is traditionally made with Frank’s Original Redhot Sauce, which is a vinegar-based cayenne hot sauce. That being said, I’ve made buffalo sauce with other brands of cayenne hot sauce and they were equally as delicious, so if you want to cut costs a bit you can always go with a different brand. Just make sure it’s a vinegar-based cayenne hot sauce.

Customize Your Buffalo Sauce

One reason I love this Buffalo sauce recipe is that it is customizable. By simply adding one or two more ingredients you can really change the direction of the sauce. Here are some ideas:

  • Honey or brown sugar to make a sweet-spicy sauce
  • Smoked paprika for a smokier flavor
  • Ranch seasoning for a garlic-herb infused buffalo sauce
  • Roasted garlic for an extra garlicky kick
  • Cayenne pepper for an extra hot buffalo sauce

How to Use Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo sauce isn’t just for chicken wings! You can use this tasty sauce on plenty of other types of foods. It’s great for dipping, drizzling, or even using as a dressing. Here are some other foods that taste great when blessed with a little buffalo sauce:

Buffalo wings on a plate with celery next to a jar of buffalo sauce
buffalo sauce in a jar with wings in the background

Easy Buffalo Sauce

This incredibly easy buffalo sauce only takes a few minutes to make and is perfect for dipping or drizzling all over your favorite foods.
Course Appetizer, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Total Cost $1.73 recipe / $0.29 serving
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 makes ¾ cup
Calories 69kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Redhot Sauce $1.26
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepot over medium heat, then add the remaining ingredients (hot sauce, Worcestershire, garlic powder).
  • Whisk the ingredients together and heat through. Serve hot or refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 690mg | Fiber: 1g
a hand dipping a chicken wing into a bowl of hot sauce

How to Make Buffalo Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Buffalo sauce ingredients in the saucepot

Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a small saucepot over medium heat. Once melted, add ½ cup Frank’s Redhot Sauce, ½ tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce.

Finished buffalo sauce in the pot with a whisk

Whisk the ingredients together and heat through.

buffalo sauce being poured over a bowl of chicken wings

Use the finished sauce for dipping or drizzling over your favorite foods (baked chicken wings pictured above).

Finished buffalo wings in a bowl

This spicy, tangy, rich sauce instantly transforms wings into an insanely addictive snack.

buffalo wings on a platter next to a jar of sauce

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Homemade Balsamic Glaze

A simple homemade balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is super easy to make and tastes great drizzled over vegetables, meat, and more!

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I really try my hardest not to have 50 different bottles of sauces and condiments in my fridge and pantry, so I stock up on the basics and try to make my own sauces whenever possible. A simple balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is one of those sauces that is SUPER easy to make at home. Yes, you can buy it premade in the store, but it only takes a few ingredients and maybe 15 minutes to make at home. So it makes sense to just whip some up as needed instead of having that extra bottle hanging around!

Balsamic glaze dripping off a spoon into a small bowl

What is a Balsamic Glaze?

A balsamic glaze, sometimes called a balsamic reduction, is balsamic vinegar that has been simmered until a majority of the water content has evaporated away, leaving a thick, syrupy glaze. It’s slightly sweet, tangy, and tastes great drizzled over all sorts of things like roasted vegetables, meat, pasta, pizza, and more.

For this balsamic glaze recipe, I added a little brown sugar to balance the acidity and help it thicken faster, but you can skip the sugar if you prefer a balsamic glaze with more of an acidic punch. You can also add a pinch of salt to your glaze, if you prefer. Depending on how I’m using it, I find that sometimes salt can help make it pop just a bit more. If you want your balsamic glaze to be extra rich, you can melt a tablespoon of butter into the glaze after simmering.

What Kind of Balsamic Vinegar to Use

Since the flavors of the balsamic vinegar are going to be intensified, I would not suggest going with the absolute cheapest vinegar available. A good place to start is to make sure the label says “balsamic vinegar of Modena”. Here’s a great article from the Huffington Post about choosing balsamic vinegar, if you want to dive deeper. Lately, I’ve been loving Colavita brand balsamic vinegar because it seems to have a good flavor and is priced low enough for every dayuse.

How Much Glaze Does it Make?

This recipe makes about a ½ cup of glaze. You can make a half batch if you just need a little bit of glaze for a couple of servings. The method will be the same, but the simmer time may be slightly shorter. You can keep the leftover glaze in a closed container in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

How to Use Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic glaze is great drizzled over roasted vegetables, like Roasted Brussels Sprouts, or roasted meat like Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin. It’s also great over fresh produce like salads, sliced tomatoes, or Bruschetta. This week, I used it on some Caprese pizzas (recipe coming this week!).

Balsamic glaze being drizzled onto a Caprese pizza
Balsamic glaze dripping off a spoon into a small dish, basil leaves all around

Homemade Balsamic Glaze

A simple homemade balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is super easy to make and tastes great drizzled over vegetables, meat, and more!
Total Cost $2.32 recipe / $0.58 serving
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 2 Tbsp each
Calories 108kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar $2.16
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar $0.16

Instructions

  • Add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepot. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced in volume by about half. This should take around ten minutes, but the total time can vary depending on your cookware and burner. You'll know it's done when the simmering bubbles linger on the surface of the vinegar instead of immediately popping.
  • Remove the glaze from the heat and allow it to cool. It will thicken considerably more as it cools. If it isn't to your desired thickness, you can simmer the glaze again to further reduce.
  • Once cool, drizzle the glaze over your favorite foods and enjoy! Refrigerate leftovers until ready to use.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 108kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 19mg

How to Make Balsamic Glaze – Step by Step Photos

Balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepot

Add ¼ cup brown sugar and 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepot.

balsamic glaze being stirred

Stir the vinegar to dissolve the brown sugar. Heat the mixture over medium, allowing it to come up to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by half. You’ll notice that as the vinegar gets thicker the bubbles from simmering take a little longer to pop on the surface.

Finished balsamic glaze on a spoon over the pot

When the volume has reduced by half, remove the balsamic reduction from the heat. It will continue to thicken quite a bit as it gets closer to room temperature. If it doesn’t get as thick as you’d like, you can just simmer the glaze again.

Balsamic glaze being drizzled over a Caprese pizza close up

Drizzle the balsamic glaze over your favorite vegetables, pastas, salads, meat, and more!

The post Homemade Balsamic Glaze appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy Hollandaise Sauce

An easy, no-fail method for making homemade hollandaise sauce in just minutes. Anyone can make this rich and creamy lemon butter sauce!

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I recently polled my Facebook followers to see what recipes they’ve been too intimidated to try, and hollandaise sauce was a popular answer. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s a lot easier than you think! This super easy hollandaise sauce recipe will get you rich, creamy, lemony hollandaise sauce in just a few minutes and with nothing more than just a sauce pot and a whisk. So you can have this dreamy sauce whenever you want and without breaking a sweat. Let me show you how it’s done.

P.S. if you’ve ever made my Luscious Homemade Lemon Curd, this hollandaise sauce is basically the same thing, but savory!

two eggs on English muffins drizzled with hollandaise sauce

What is Hollandaise Sauce?

If you’ve never experienced the magic of hollandaise sauce, let me attempt to describe it to you. It’s a very simple savory sauce made with butter, egg yolk, lemon, and salt. It has a smooth, velvety texture with just the right amount of bright lemon flavor to keep it from being too heavy. If you’ve ever had Eggs Benedict, this is the dreamy yellow sauce that is drizzled over top. But it’s great on a lot more than just Eggs Benedict…

How to Use Hollandaise Sauce

As mentioned above, hollandaise sauce is often served over poached eggs, like in Eggs Benedict, but it’s also great over steamed or roasted vegetables, like asparagus, potatoes, or broccoli. The buttery lemon flavor is also great on salmon, crab, or even steak. Hollandaise sauce is practically all butter and I think we can all agree that butter tastes great on everything!

Small Batch for No Leftovers

Hollandaise sauce is very rich, so you don’t need a lot. And since reheating leftovers of emulsified sauces can be tricky, I decided to make this a small batch recipe so you can avoid the trouble of trying to use up your leftovers. The recipe below makes about ⅓ cup, or just enough for two people (about 3 Tbsp each).

If you want to make a larger batch, it’s just as easy. Simply adjust the number in the “servings” box in the recipe below and the ingredient quantities will adjust for you. The method will be exactly the same, but it may take a few minutes longer for the sauce to heat as you whisk.

hollandaise sauce dripping off a spoon into a bowl in front of a plate of asparagus
hollandaise sauce being drizzled over two eggs on English Muffins

Easy Hollandaise Sauce

An easy, no-fail method for making homemade hollandaise sauce in just minutes. Anyone can make this rich and creamy lemon butter sauce!
Total Cost $0.72 recipe / $0.36 serving
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Servings 2 3 Tbsp each
Calories 238kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg, separated $0.23
  • 1 Tbsp water $0.00
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice $0.02
  • 4 Tbsp butter* $0.44
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02

Instructions

  • Separate the egg and place the egg yolk in a small saucepot. The whites can be saved for a different recipe.
  • Add the water and lemon juice to the pot with the yolk and whisk until smooth (no heat yet).
  • Cut the butter into small pieces (about ¼ Tbsp size) , then add them to the saucepot with the egg yolk, lemon, and water.
  • Place the pot over medium-low heat. Continuously whisk as the mixture heats. First the butter will melt, then the mixture will begin to get a bit frothy. Finally, as the egg yolk begins to cook, the sauce will thicken. Make sure you're whisking the entire time to achieve a light, smooth sauce. Once it thickens to the consistency of gravy, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Season the sauce with salt and cayenne, then drizzle the sauce over your favorite food!

Notes

*I use salted butter, but if you have unsalted butter simply add a pinch more salt to your sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 3Tbsp | Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 25g | Sodium: 381mg | Fiber: 1g
hollandaise sauce being drizzled over two eggs on English Muffins

How to Make Hollandaise Sauce – Step by Step Photos

a raw egg yolk in a small saucepot

Separate one large egg and place the egg in a small saucepot (this is a 1 qt. saucepot)

egg yolk whisked with water and lemon juice

Add 1 Tbsp water and ½ Tbsp lemon juice to the pot with the egg yolk, then whisk until smooth (do not heat the mixture at this point).

small butter cubes added to the saucepot

Cut 4 Tbsp butter into small pieces (about ¼ Tbsp sized pieces). Add them to the pot with the yolk, water, and lemon juice.

half melted butter in the sauce pot with a whisk

Place the pot over medium-low heat and continuously whisk while the butter begins to melt.

frothy egg mixture in the saucepot with the whisk

Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to heat. You’ll notice it begin to get frothy…

thickened sauce in the sauce pot with a whisk

And then when the egg yolk begins to actually cook, it will thicken the sauce to a consistency similar to gravy. Make sure you’re whisking throughout this entire process. It should only take 3-5 minutes for the sauce to thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat once thickened.

cayenne pepper and salt added to the hollandaise sauce

Season the sauce with about ⅛ tsp cayenne and ⅛ tsp salt (or to taste).

hollandaise sauce dripping off a spoon into a saucepot

And now your rich and dreamy lemony sauce is ready to eat! You did that!

Hollandaise sauce being drizzled over asparagus and salmon

Drizzle that heavenly sauce over all your favorite foods!

The post Easy Hollandaise Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Country Sausage Gravy

Make this easy Country Sausage Gravy from scratch in under 20 minutes for a hearty southern style breakfast at home.

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If you don’t live in the south, you might have never tried this classic southern breakfast dish, and believe me when I say you’re missing out. Sausage gravy is rich, comforting, inexpensive, and surprisingly easy to make from scratch. So you don’t have to wait 45 minutes in line at your favorite brunch spot to get some good biscuits and gravy. Let me show you how to do it at home for way less time and way less money.

Biscuits and gravy on a plate with eggs, a fork taking a bite

What Kind of Sausage to Use for Sausage Gravy

The sausage is the most important part of sausage gravy because the herbs and spices in the sausage end up flavoring the gravy, and the fat from the pork makes everything extra rich. Look for a fresh pork sausage (not in links or patties) that is labeled either “pork sausage,” “country sausage,” or “breakfast sausage.” You’ll usually find it packaged in a tube or roll.

Here are some examples of sausage that you can find in most grocery stores in the U.S. that can be used for Country Sausage Gravy: Tennessee Pride Country Sausage, Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage, or Bob Evans Original Sausage Roll. Most major grocery stores also sell their own store brand of country sausage.

What to Serve with Country Sausage Gravy

Traditionally, sausage gravy is spooned over homemade biscuits (or you can use store-bought biscuits as a shortcut), but this rich gravy is pretty good on just about any starchy vehicle. Here are some fun alternatives to biscuits for your sausage gravy:

  • Breakfast Potatoes or hashbrowns
  • Tortilla Chips (make it like breakfast nachos)
  • English Muffins
  • Grits
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Hearty toast

And if you want something on the side? Definitely some fried or scrambled eggs!

Can You Make it Ahead?

While this sausage gravy is definitely best when made fresh (and it only takes a few minutes), you can make it ahead if you need to. Sausage gravy will stay good in the refrigerator for a couple of days. To reheat, simply add it back to a skillet and reheat over medium-low, stirring often until heated through, and adding a splash of milk to loosen it up if needed.

Side view of biscuits and gravy on a plate with eggs

P.S. Don’t forget you can double the recipe below by simply changing the number in the “servings” box to 8 and it will automatically double the ingredient amounts for you! :)

Side view of biscuits and gravy on a plate with eggs

Country Sausage Gravy

Make this easy Country Sausage Gravy from scratch in under 20 minutes for a hearty southern style breakfast at home.
Total Cost $2.53 recipe / $0.63 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 ¾ cup each
Calories 296kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. pork sausage $1.45
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.82
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Add the pork sausage to a skillet and cook over medium heat, breaking it into chunks as you stir, until it is cooked through. Do not drain the fat from the skillet.
  • Add the butter and flour to the skillet with the pork. Continue to stir and cook for about 2 minutes more.
  • Whisk the milk into the skillet, making sure to dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet as you whisk. Continue to stir and cook until the milk begins to simmer lightly, at which point it will thicken into a nice gravy (5 minutes).
  • Season the gravy with red pepper, freshly cracked black pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Serve over biscuits or your favorite starchy breakfast item.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 23g | Sodium: 523mg | Fiber: 1g
Close up of country sausage gravy in a skillet with a spoon lifting a bite

How to Make Sausage Gravy From Scratch – Step by Step Photos

browned sausage in a skillet

Add ½ lb. fresh pork sausage to a skillet and stir and cook over medium heat until browned. Break the sausage into pieces as you stir.

butter and flour added to cooked sausage in a skillet

Add 1.5 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir for about two minutes more.

Milk being whisked into the skillet

Whisk 2 cups whole milk into the skillet, dissolving all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet as you whisk.

Thickened gravy in the skillet

Continue to cook and stir until the milk comes up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken into a nice gravy (5 minutes).

Seasonings added to gravy in the skillet

Season the gravy with ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper, ⅛ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, ⅛ tsp garlic powder, and ⅛ tsp salt.

Finished sausage gravy in the skillet

Give the gravy a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

A fork taking a bite of biscuits and gravy off a plate with eggs

Serve over biscuits or with your favorite starchy breakfast food!

The post Country Sausage Gravy appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

This super fast and easy dressing has bold flavors of garlic, lemon, and nutty tahini. Drizzle over salads, roasted vegetables, and more!

The post Lemon Tahini Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

It’s about time this delicious, magical elixir got its own blog post. I first used this dressing on a cauliflower salad years ago, and have been adding it to salads, side dishes, meal preps, and more ever since. So here is the famous Lemon Tahini Dressing recipe on its own, so you can bookmark it and easily refer back or share it whenever you want. And if you haven’t tried this lemon tahini dressing yet, get on it! You’re missing out!

Lemon tahini dressing in a wooden bowl dripping over the side, a cut lemon in the back

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made out of ground sesame seeds. Think peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts. It has a very distinct flavor that is slightly nutty and mildly bitter. You can find tahini in the grocery store either near the peanut butter or near middle eastern ingredients.

Tahini stays good in the refrigerator for months, just like peanut butter, so don’t worry about not being able to use the leftovers. Not only will you want to make this dressing over and over, but it’s the key ingredient for making really good homemade hummus. You can check out the rest of our recipes that use tahini in our tahini archives.

Can I Substitute the Tahini?

I don’t suggest substituting the tahini in this recipe because the tahini is what makes this dressing what it is. Not only is the nutty-bitter flavor perfect for balancing the lemon and garlic, but the thick texture emulsifies with the lemon juice and water to create a thick and creamy dressing (without using dairy).

How Long Does This Dressing Last?

For any homemade dressing, I suggest refrigerating it for a maximum of about five days. Fresh ingredients, like garlic, and even dry spices can contain yeast and mold that can eventually begin to ferment the dressing.

How to Use Lemon Tahini Dressing

The original recipe where I used this incredible dressing is my Roasted Cauliflower Salad, but I’ve also used it on other salads, like this Mediterranean Farro Salad. This dressing is also great drizzled over roasted vegetables or used as a dressing for wrap sandwiches.

Do I Have to Use Fresh Lemon?

Nope! While I do have some pretty fresh lemons in the photos, I most often make this recipe with bottled lemon juice for convenience (and price). If you do have fresh lemons that will definitely make the dressing even more flavorful, but I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker, by any means.

A spoon stirring the thick lemon tahini dressing in a wooden bowl, ingredients on the sides
Side view of a wooden bowl with lemon tahini dressing, some dripping down the side

Lemon Tahini Dressing

This super fast and easy dressing has bold flavors of garlic, lemon, and nutty tahini. Drizzle over salads, roasted vegetables, and more!
Total Cost $1.56 recipe / $0.39 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 8 2 Tbsp each
Calories 62.31kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup tahini $1.13
  • 1/3 cup water $0.00
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice $0.18
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, thick, and creamy. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 62.31kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.95g | Protein: 1.79g | Fat: 5.39g | Sodium: 74.73mg | Fiber: 0.99g

How to Make Lemon Tahini Dressing – Step by Step Photos

lemon juice being poured into a blender containing the rest of the dressing ingredients

Add ⅓ cup tahini, ⅓ cup water, ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), ½ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp salt to a blender.

Blended lemon tahini dressing in the blender

Blend the ingredients until the dressing is thick, smooth, and creamy.

Lemon tahini dressing dripping off a spoon into a wooden bowl. Lemons in the background

Serve immediately or refrigerate for later!

The post Lemon Tahini Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes. So I shredded a couple of handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and added some extra herbs and spices to make this […]

The post Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This week I had a killer craving for some classic spaghetti and meat sauce. But, as you may know, I like to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can to recipes. So I shredded a couple of handfuls of vegetables, tossed them into the sauce, and added some extra herbs and spices to make this absolutely incredible “hidden vegetable” pasta sauce. It has more flavor, more color, and more texture (read: fiber). It’s a win-win-win!

 Originally posted 11-21-2015, updated 4-17-2021.

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce and garlic bread on the side

Shown with Homemade Garlic Bread

Balance Your Costs with Vegetables

My favorite trick for stretching ground meat in recipes is to use vegetables or beans to replace half of the ground meat. This time I shredded vegetables, which mimicked the texture of the ground meat, but added a subtle sweetness and a whole lot of extra flavor, texture, and nutrition to the sauce. This sauce is so delicious that I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls while I took photos!

Can I Make This Sauce Vegetarian?

If you want to make a vegetarian version of this hidden vegetable pasta sauce, I suggest mincing an 8oz. container of mushrooms and sautéing them with the onions and garlic. The minced texture will mimic the ground meat and mushrooms have that umami flavor that is similar to ground meat.

Is Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce Freezer Friendly?

This sauce freezes great if you want to make a double batch and have it on hand in your freezer for busy nights. Just make sure to cool the sauce completely in the refrigerator first, then transfer to the freezer. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for months. To reheat, empty the freezer container into a sauce pot and heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Side view of hidden vegetable pasta sauce in a skillet with a spatula

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

Give your spaghetti an upgrade with this hidden vegetable pasta sauce that contains a medley of vegetables plus extra herbs and spices for maximum flavor.
Total Cost $6.21 recipe / $1.55 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 366.78kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini $0.57
  • 2 carrots $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.25
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef $2.50
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper $0.03
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) $0.02
  • 1 24oz. jar pasta sauce* $1.49
  • 12 oz. spaghetti $0.75

Instructions

  • Use a cheese grater to grate the zucchini and carrots. You'll want about 1.5 cups of each, but the amount is flexible. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large, deep skillet. Cook the ground beef over medium heat until it is fully browned. Add the diced onion and garlic and continue to sauté a few minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with the basil, oregano, salt, freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are wilted (about five minutes).
  • Add the pasta sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Allow the contents of the skillet to come up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and simmer the sauce as you prepare the spaghetti. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the drained spaghetti to the pot with the heat turned off. Add one cup of the prepared sauce to the pasta and stir to coat. Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with additional sauce.

Notes

*Use your favorite brand or flavor of red pasta sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 366.78kcal | Carbohydrates: 46.73g | Protein: 25.98g | Fat: 13.53g | Sodium: 979.83mg | Fiber: 7.78g

Close up of a fork twirling spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

How to Make Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Shredded zucchini and carrot on a cutting board

Start by preparing your vegetables. Use a cheese grater to grate one small zucchini and two carrots. You’ll want about 1.5 cups each, but this is flexible so don’t sweat it if you have a little more or less. Also dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic.

Browned ground beef with onions and garlic

Add 1/2 lb. ground beef in a large deep skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook over medium heat until the beef has browned. Once browned, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté for a few minutes more, or until the onions are soft and translucent.

Shredded vegetables added to the skillet with the meat

Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, about ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional). Continue to sauté the vegetables until they soften, or about five minutes. 

Pasta sauce being poured into the skillet with the meat and vegetables

Finally, add one 24oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce and stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come back up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and continue to let the contents of the skillet simmer as you begin to prepare your spaghetti.

Simmered hidden vegetable pasta sauce in the skillet

Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers. The vegetables will continue to soften as the sauce simmers, further “hiding” them in the sauce.

Spaghetti and sauce in the stock pot

Cook 12oz. of spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the cooking pot with the heat turned off and add about 1 cup of the sauce. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Overhead view of a bowl of spaghetti with hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Divide the pasta into serving bowls, then top each bowl with additional sauce. This stuff is seriously so good, my mouth is watering just looking at that bowl!

Pasta sauce in a freezer bag

And don’t forget, this sauce is freezer-friendly! Just make sure to cool it completely in the refrigerator first, then place in a freezer-safe container (I used freezer bags), label, date, and freeze for later! It can be thawed in a saucepot over low, stirring occasionally.

The post Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

This tangy and creamy avocado dressing is great drizzled over salads, sandwiches, wraps, bowl meals, nachos, tacos, fresh vegetables, and more.

The post Creamy Avocado Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

If you’re a fan of my Lime Crema, I think you’re going to also love this Creamy Avocado Dressing. It has the same bones as the Lime Crema, but is dressed up with a few more flavors to really make it a flavor bomb. This dressing comes together super fast, so you can make it fresh on the spot whenever needed.

P.S. It’s great on a lot more than just salads!

Creamy avocado dressing in a mason jar with a black spoon in the center

What’s in Creamy Avocado Dressing

This recipe is SO simple. It starts with the same ingredients as my Lime Crema: sour cream, garlic, lime, and salt. Then I added an avocado and fresh cilantro to freshen it up and make it a total flavor bomb. It’s so simple, but SO good.

Do I Need a Food Processor?

I found my food processor to be the easiest tool in my kitchen to make this dressing, but it is definitely soft and fluid enough to use a good blender if you have one. This recipe makes about one cup, so you’ll need something with at least a 1.5 cup capacity to allow for movement.

How to Serve Creamy Avocado Dressing

I used this avocado dressing on a really great taco salad (recipe coming later this week!), but I found myself dipping all sorts of vegetables into the jar throughout the rest of the day. This dressing is so good that I was looking for anything and everything to dip into it!

Try this dressing on your sandwiches, wraps, tacos, salads, nachos, bowl meals, fresh vegetables, and more!

Creamy avocado dressing dripping off a spoon into a bowl
Creamy avocado dressing dripping off a spoon into a bowl

Creamy Avocado Dressing

This tangy and creamy avocado dressing is great for both salads and for dipping your favorite vegetables. Mixes up in minutes!
Total Cost $1.93 recipe / $0.48 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 ¼ cup each
Calories 122.88kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado $0.89
  • 1/2 cup sour cream $0.24
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (1 lime) $0.50
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro $0.20
  • 1/4 cup water (or as needed) $0.00

Instructions

  • Add the avocado, sour cream, minced garlic, salt, lime juice, and cilantro to a food processor or blender. Puré until smooth.
  • Add water, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, and purée again until it reaches your desired consistency (leave thicker for a dip, add more water for a pourable dressing).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 122.88kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.58g | Protein: 1.6g | Fat: 11.3g | Sodium: 160.63mg | Fiber: 2.6g

How to Make Creamy Avocado Dressing – Step by Step Photos

Avocado dressing ingredients in a food processor

Add 1 avocado, ½ cup sour cream, 1 clove of garlic (minced), ¼ tsp salt, 2 Tbsp lime juice, and ¼ bunch cilantro to a food processor or blender.

finished avocado dressing in the food processor

Purée until smooth. Add water, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, and purée again until the dressing reaches your desired consistency. To use as a dip, leave it thick and don’t add any water. For a more pourable dressing, add about ¼ cup water.

Creamy avocado dressing in a bowl with a black spoon in the center

Serve over your favorite salad, tacos, nachos, wrap sandwiches, chips, or fresh vegetables!

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