A taco is nothing without the perfect sauce to go with it. Whether it’s spicy, sweet, creamy, or chunky, there is no better way to dress up this easy weeknight dish than with a full-flavored taco sauce. No one knows this more than professional foodies, whose innovative recipes will inspire you to get a little more creative in the kitchen. Sure, you can buy taco sauce from the store, but customizing your own at home will create just the right flavors (and make your meal a little bit healthier).
We asked three food bloggers to share the story behind a taco sauce they created to perfectly match their unique taco recipe. Fish tacos with creamy avocado sauce, steak tacos with black bean mole, and king oyster mushroom tacos with chipotle cacao sauce are all on the menu.
Blackened Fish Tacos With Creamy Avocado Sauce
The Tacos: Make these flavorful fish tacos with tilapia, a mild-tasting fish with just a hint of sweetness. All you need to spice it up is a bit of Cajun seasoning before placing the fish on a preheated sheet pan in the oven to make it extra crispy without frying.
The Sauce: This sauce could not be any simpler to make at home. You can use store-bought tartar sauce and combine with avocado, cilantro, and lime juice for a creamy avocado tartar mash. The cool, flavorful sauce pairs perfectly with the blackened tilapia.
The Story: “I love avocado, and I love tartar, so blending the two together for a creamy avo-tartar is the perfect healthy-ish recipe mashup. Literally,” says Heidi Larsen of Foodie Crush.
Flat Iron Steak Tacos With Black Bean Mole, Pico de Gallo, Slaw, and Lime Crema
The Tacos: If you know your way around a grill, you’ll want to make these steak tacos. This recipe calls for black bean mole, tomatoes, avocados, slaw, and lime crema to top the steak wrapped in a warm tortilla.
Grill your meat for three minutes on each side to keep it tender, and then let it rest for five minutes.
The Sauce: Because one sauce isn’t enough, this recipe includes not only a black bean mole but also a lime and coriander crema. Season the black beans, onion, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic cloves with spices like cumin, oregano, cinnamon, dutch cocoa, and chopped dark chocolate (yes, really). Pair this heavy, rich sauce with a citrus crema made in a food processor to lighten up the flavors.
The Story: “Because I live in New Zealand, it can be hard to come across authentic Mexican food. The inspiration for this dish came from a meal made for me by my dad’s American partner—I decided that I would like to try and replicate some of the flavors in a mole made from scratch.…For me the special thing is the way the flavors blend together—the fragrant oregano, sweet cinnamon, pungent cumin and coriander, sweet/hot smoky paprika, bitter cocoa, and chocolate all meld together to create depth,” says Sarah Tuck of Stuck in The Kitchen.
Roasted King Oyster Mushroom Tacos With Chipotle Cacao Sauce
The Tacos: These vegetarian tacos are not your typical taco Tuesday fare, but they are as delicious as they are unique. Instead of chicken, steak, or beef, the tacos are stuffed with sliced king oyster mushrooms baked to perfection in sunflower oil.
The Sauce: Top your mushrooms with a chipotle cacao sauce comprised of an onion and tomato paste mixture, dates, almond butter, cacao powder, and tamari. This rich sauce is easily the hero of this recipe with a bold flavor to match its rich ingredients. Garnish with thinly sliced radishes, avocado, and fresh cilantro leaves.
The Story: “I was using raw cacao powder for another savory dish when I noticed that it had a bit of a smoky aroma as I scooped it from the bag. Then I thought about mole and the depth that cacao/chocolate adds to that. I wasn’t trying to make a fast mole or anything because you just can’t do that. This sauce is very, very lightly inspired by those smoky and well-rounded flavors,” says Laura Wright from The First Mess.