Our Best Sauces for Chicken

Chicken is a versatile protein that can be enjoyed with a variety of flavorful sauces.

Whether you’re planning a casual weeknight dinner or a festive gathering with friends and family, experimenting with different sauces for chicken can elevate your culinary experience to new heights. This article will guide you through some delightful sauce options to complement your chicken dishes.

From savory classics like barbecue and teriyaki to creamy options like alfredo or lemon butter, you will discover an assortment of sauces that can easily be paired with chicken. As you explore different combinations, you may even find yourself inspired to create your own signature sauce that blends flavors to your taste.

So, get ready to delight your taste buds and add a new dimension to your chicken dishes by trying out some of these incredible sauces. Your culinary journey starts here, and who knows what delicious discoveries await you?

The Art of Enhancing Chicken Flavor

How to make ANY pan sauce you can think of

Creating delicious and flavorful chicken dishes often involves a well-rounded approach to seasoning. To bring out the best in your poultry, consider these essential ingredients and techniques.

First, start with fresh garlic. This versatile ingredient adds a deep, earthy flavor to chicken. Crush or finely chop one or two cloves, then mix with olive oil. This combination creates a base for additional seasonings and herbs. Along with garlic, try incorporating freshly chopped herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or parsley. These additions will instantly elevate the taste of your chicken.

On top of garlic and herbs, black pepper is a well-known ingredient that brings robustness to the flavor profile. A simple sprinkling of freshly ground pepper just before cooking creates a warm, spicy edge.

Consider the following seasoning blend for a tasty chicken dish:

  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix these ingredients together and generously coat your chicken prior to cooking. For an even richer flavor, marinate the chicken in this mixture for at least 30 minutes.

Experimenting with assorted seasonings will enable you to find the perfect balance for your taste buds. The key to success lies in the diversity of flavors. Combine the mentioned essential ingredients with additional spices, such as cumin, paprika, or red pepper flakes, to create a truly unique chicken dish.

Ultimately, enhancing the flavor of your chicken involves a harmonious blend of garlic, olive oil, herbs, black pepper, and seasonings. By mastering these elements and constantly refining your techniques, you will create mouthwatering chicken dishes that leave a lasting impression.

Types of Sauces for Chicken

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In this section, we will explore various types of sauces that pair perfectly with chicken dishes. The sauces are divided into four categories: Sweet and Tangy Sauces, Creamy and Smooth Sauces, Rich and Heavy Sauces, and Light and Refreshing Sauces.

Sweet and Tangy Sauces

Sweet and tangy sauces complement the taste of chicken by adding a hint of zest and sweetness. Here are a few examples:

  • BBQ sauce: A classic choice, this sauce combines sweetness and tanginess, often with a hint of smokiness. You can use store-bought varieties or try making your own by mixing ingredients such as tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices.
  • Honey mustard: This popular dipping sauce combines the sweetness of honey with the tangy flavors of mustard. It’s easy to make, with ingredients like honey, yellow mustard, and mayonnaise.
  • Sweet chili sauce: This Asian-inspired sauce has a vibrant sweet-and-spicy flavor thanks to ingredients like chili pepper, sugar, and vinegar. It’s great as a dipping sauce or marinade.

Creamy and Smooth Sauces

These sauces boast a velvety texture and rich flavor that go well with chicken dishes:

  • Creamy garlic sauce: Made from a base of heavy cream, garlic, and butter, this sauce is a versatile option that pairs well with grilled or baked chicken.
  • Alfredo sauce: A classic Italian sauce made from butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, Alfredo creates a decadent dish when served over chicken and pasta.
  • Honey mustard dipping sauce: Combining the flavors of honey mustard with a creamy base, this sauce works as both a topping and a dipping sauce for chicken tenders or nuggets.

Rich and Heavy Sauces

These sauces provide a more indulgent experience with their bold flavors and heavier consistency:

  • Marsala sauce: This elegant Italian sauce is created by combining Marsala wine, mushrooms, and garlic, resulting in a rich and flavorful accompaniment for sautéed or grilled chicken.
  • Pesto cream sauce: Enhance your chicken with the herbal flavors of pesto blended into a luxurious cream sauce. The combination of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan create a unique taste experience.
  • Maple-bacon sauce: Add a touch of sweetness and smokiness to your chicken dishes with this sauce made from maple syrup, bacon, and butter.

Light and Refreshing Sauces

If you’re looking for a lighter option to accompany your chicken, these sauces are ideal:

  • Lemon-herb sauce: A simple yet flavorful sauce made from lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs such as parsley or basil, this sauce brings a bright, zesty touch to your chicken dishes.
  • Cilantro-lime sauce: With its blend of cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeño, this vibrant sauce adds a refreshing zing to your chicken.
  • Sriracha aioli: For those who love a kick of heat in their dishes, this spicy sauce is a blend of Sriracha, mayonnaise, and freshly squeezed lime juice.

These are just a few examples of the many types of sauces that can elevate your chicken dishes to new heights. Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover new flavor combinations that suit your taste preferences.

Popular Sauce Ingredients and Their Roles

This is my FAVORITE sauce for fried chicken!

When it comes to preparing a delicious chicken dish, the right sauce can make all the difference. In this section, we’ll explore some popular sauce ingredients and their roles in creating the perfect flavor profile for your chicken.

Butter and Heavy Cream: These dairy products add richness and creaminess to sauces. They are often used in recipes like white wine sauce, along with ingredients such as dijon mustard and mascarpone cheese. Cooking sauces in a skillet can help to meld these flavors together and produce a velvety texture.

Honey and Sugar: Adding a touch of sweetness to your sauce can complement the savory flavors of your chicken. Honey is a common ingredient in dishes like honey mustard chicken, which blends the sweetness of honey with the tangy flavors of mustard. Sugar, on the other hand, is often used in Asian-inspired recipes, where it is combined with soy sauce and other ingredients to create a balanced flavor.

Mustard and Dijon Mustard: These ingredients provide a tangy, slightly spicy element to sauces. They can be used in various ways, such as combining with vinegar to create a zesty vinaigrette, or mixing with other ingredients like honey for a more complex flavor profile.

IngredientRole in Sauce
PaprikaAdds smoky, earthy notes
VinegarProvides tanginess and acidity
Buffalo SauceContributes spiciness and robust flavor
Lemon JuiceAdds a fresh, citrusy note
Garlic PowderImparts a savory, aromatic quality
CornstarchThickens sauces, giving them a silky, smooth consistency

Wine, such as white wine, can be used to deglaze the skillet, adding depth and complexity to the sauce. The acidity in wine also helps to balance out the rich dairy products like butter and heavy cream.

Remember, the key to a successful sauce is finding the right balance of flavors to complement and enhance your chicken dish. Experiment with different combinations of these popular ingredients to create your own signature sauce that will consistently impress your friends and family.

Chicken Prep Methods and Their Suitable Sauces

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Fried Chicken

Frying chicken is a popular method, particularly for chicken tenders, drumsticks, and thighs. A crispy coating pairs well with a variety of sauces. For a classic choice, try honey mustard for your dipping sauce. If you prefer a bit of heat, a buffalo sauce or spicy garlic sauce can bring your fried chicken to another level. Alternatively, a tangy barbecue sauce is a great option.

Baked Chicken

When baking chicken dishes, you’ll often find chicken breasts or thighs are used. Baked chicken breast recipes may call for a sauce to be added during the cooking process. A simple garlic sauce enhances the flavor of the chicken and pairs well with pasta. For a richer taste, a creamy mushroom sauce can be superb. If you’re seeking a lighter option, try a citrus-based sauce like lemon herb or orange ginger.

Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken is synonymous with summertime and barbecues. Chicken breasts and drumsticks often make their way onto the grill. As you cook your grilled chicken, baste it with a flavorful marinade or try a dry rub. Once your chicken is cooked, you can serve it with various sauces such as barbecue sauce, tzatziki, or chimichurri.

Sauces for Grilled Chicken
Barbecue Sauce

Chicken Cutlets

Chicken cutlets, commonly made from pounded chicken breasts, can be served in various ways, including over pasta or in a sandwich. When you’re enjoying chicken cutlets, some sauce options include marinara for an Italian-inspired dish or a creamy alfredo for added richness. For a lighter choice, opt for pesto sauce.

  • Marinara
  • Creamy Alfredo
  • Pesto Sauce

Sauce Cooking Techniques

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When preparing a sauce for chicken, it’s important to master a few essential techniques to achieve the best results. Here, we will discuss simmering, using flour as a thickening agent, and incorporating various seasonings. You’ll soon find that creating delicious sauces is both quick and easy.

First, let’s talk about simmering. To make a velvety and rich sauce for your chicken, you’ll want to simmer the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Low and slow is the key to letting the flavors meld together and create a thick, syrupy consistency. When simmering, remember to stir occasionally to prevent scorching and ensure even cooking.

Basic Simmering Steps:
1. Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Set heat to low.
3. Stir occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken and flavors to meld.
4. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Another important aspect of creating sauces is using flour as a thickening agent. To avoid a lumpy mixture, first, make a roux by combining equal parts flour and fat, such as butter or oil, in a saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in your liquid (such as broth or cream) to create a silky, lump-free sauce.

Adding various seasonings to your sauce can enhance the flavor and complement your chicken. Consider incorporating herbs, spices, and other ingredients to elevate your dish. Here are some suggestions:

  • For an Asian-inspired sauce, include soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
  • Create a smoky barbecue sauce with paprika, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Give your sauce a zesty kick with lemon zest, capers, and fresh herbs.

Finally, while our focus here is on chicken, don’t hesitate to experiment with other proteins. Many of these techniques can also be applied to fish, tofu, and chops, broadening the versatility of your sauce-making skills.

Creating Special Restaurant Style Sauces at Home

The BEST Sauce Anyone Can Make

BBQ Sauce is a crowd favorite, and you can make a delicious homemade BBQ sauce using just a few pantry staples. Combine ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, and a few spices in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let it thicken to your preferred consistency.

Chick-fil-A Sauce is known for its tangy and sweet combination. To recreate this sauce, mix together mayo, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, and a dash of lemon juice. For a Polynesian-inspired twist, try making their Chick-fil-A Polynesian Sauce by combining French dressing, honey, and apple cider vinegar.

For a creamy addition to your chicken dish, there’s nothing better than Alfredo Sauce. Whip up a simple homemade version by melting butter and cream cheese together in a saucepan. Stir in heavy cream and grated Parmesan cheese, and add salt and pepper to taste.

If you’re a fan of In-N-Out Sauce, you’ll be happy to know it’s easy to make at home. Just mix together mayo, ketchup, pickle relish, and a splash of white vinegar. Add a pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper, and you’ll have your own version of this famous sauce.

A rich and savory option for chicken is a Creamy Mushroom Sauce. Sauté sliced mushrooms in butter, then add minced garlic and a splash of chicken broth. Stir in Greek yogurt or heavy cream to create a silky, delicious sauce.

Honey Garlic Sauce offers a delightful balance of sweet and savory flavors. To make it, cook minced garlic in a bit of oil, then add honey, soy sauce, and a touch of white vinegar. Let the mixture simmer until it thickens up and then pour it over your cooked chicken.

For a unique and tangy sauce, give Alabama White Sauce a try. Simply whisk together mayo, apple cider vinegar, and spicy mustard. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, some minced garlic, and a touch of horseradish to achieve that classic white BBQ sauce flavor.

Chimichurri is a fresh and zesty choice, perfect for grilled chicken. To make it, combine finely chopped parsley, cilantro, and oregano with minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in olive oil and red wine vinegar to create a vibrant, herby sauce.

Here’s a quick summary of ingredients for each sauce:

SauceKey Ingredients
BBQKetchup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, Mustard Powder, Spices
Chick-fil-AMayo, Honey Mustard, Barbecue Sauce, Lemon Juice
AlfredoButter, Cream Cheese, Heavy Cream, Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Pepper
In-N-OutMayo, Ketchup, Pickle Relish, White Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Pepper
Creamy MushroomMushrooms, Butter, Garlic, Chicken Broth, Greek Yogurt or Heavy Cream
Honey GarlicGarlic, Honey, Soy Sauce, White Vinegar
Alabama WhiteMayo, Apple Cider Vinegar, Spicy Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic, Horseradish
ChimichurriParsley, Cilantro, Oregano, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar

With these sauce recipes, you can easily elevate your home-cooked chicken dishes and impress your guests with your culinary skills.

30+ Sauces for Chicken + Recipes

Try these chef tested sauces!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 14 minutes
Course Seasoning
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 123 kcal


  • BBQ Ketchup Apple Cider Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, Mustard Powder, Spices
  • Chick-fil-A Mayo Honey Mustard, Barbecue Sauce, Lemon Juice
  • Alfredo Butter Cream Cheese, Heavy Cream, Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Pepper
  • In-N-Out Mayo Ketchup, Pickle Relish, White Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Pepper
  • Creamy Mushroom Mushrooms Butter, Garlic, Chicken Broth, Greek Yogurt or Heavy Cream
  • Honey Garlic Garlic Honey, Soy Sauce, White Vinegar
  • Alabama White Mayo Apple Cider Vinegar, Spicy Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic, Horseradish
  • Chimichurri Parsley Cilantro, Oregano, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar


  • Pick a sauce and try it out with your favorite chicken dish.


Calories: 123kcal
Keyword sauces for chicken
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Frequently Asked Questions

Professional Chefs Answer 13 Common Chicken Questions | Test Kitchen Talks | Bon Appétit

What are some classic chicken sauce options?

There are many classic chicken sauce options you can choose from. Some popular options include BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, and honey mustard. You can also try lemon garlic sauce, Buffalo sauce, and sweet and sour sauce. These sauces can be prepared at home or purchased from a store.

Which dipping sauces pair well with chicken dishes?

Dipping sauces that pair well with chicken dishes include honey mustard, blue cheese, and ranch dressing. Other popular options are Buffalo sauce, sweet chili sauce, and Sriracha. You can experiment with different dipping sauces to find your favorite combinations.

How can I make a simple sauce for chicken breast?

To make a simple sauce for chicken breast at home, you can start with a basic garlic herb sauce. Mix melted butter or olive oil with minced garlic, lemon juice, and chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, or oregano). Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over cooked chicken breast.

What are some recommended sauces for chicken and rice?

Some sauces that complement chicken and rice dishes well are curry sauce, soy-ginger sauce, and coconut milk sauce. You can also try experimenting with homemade salsa, chimichurri, or homemade tomato sauce to add a different flavor profile to your chicken and rice dish.

Any suggestions for light and healthy chicken sauces?

For a light and healthy chicken sauce, you may opt for a simple lemon herb sauce or a yogurt-based sauce. Mix plain yogurt with minced garlic, cucumber, and fresh herbs such as dill, mint, or parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. These sauces add a delicious zing of flavor without adding a lot of calories or unhealthy fats.

What is a good pan sauce to accompany chicken?

A good pan sauce to accompany chicken can be made using the pan drippings after cooking your chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan, then add a bit of minced shallot or garlic and sauté until fragrant. Next, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine or chicken broth. Stir in some whole grain mustard or Dijon mustard, and finish with a splash of cream or a pat of butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and your pan sauce is ready to drizzle over your cooked chicken.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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