Simple Sauces for Chicken

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Chicken is the go-to protein for a light and healthy meal, but when you announce that you're having grilled chicken breasts for dinner, does anyone applaud or yell "great, I can't wait"?

What if you said you were having Grilled Chicken Breasts… with a Citrus-Infused Sauce?

And the crowd goes wild! 

Let's start with the chicken. I recommend one of these two easy cooking methods:Chicken is so versatile--I often call it the little black dress of lean proteins because you can dress it up or dress it down for any occasion--but it can be a bit bland on its own. With five to 10 extra minutes in the kitchen, you can flavor up all your chicken dishes, without reaching for a bottle of sauce loaded with salt and sugar. Here's how.
Use What is Left in the Pan
The next time you sauté chicken in a skillet remove the cooked meat and let the "fond" or crust left in the pan be a base for a quick sauce.  While the pan is still hot, pour red wine vinegar, stock, fruit juices, wine, or tomatoes into the pan.  Stir, scrape and swirl to pull up the flavor cooked in the bottom of the pan and reduce the liquid.  Finish by adding with Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, or sliced fruit to flavor the sauce.
Make a Reduction Sauce
Concentrated juices make great quick sauces.  Simply add your favorite juice (I like pomegranate, orange, apple, or cranberry juice) along with fresh herbs or spices to a sauce pan and cook over high heat 10 minutes until the mixture is thick and syrupy.
This same technique works well with balsamic vinegar.  
Vegetable Coulis
This sounds difficult but really simple to prepare. "Coulis" (pronounced KOO-lee) refers to a thick sauce of pureed vegetables and some flavorful liquid, with herbs and spices. Cook 1 pound chopped vegetables with 1 clove garlic over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup tomato juice, vegetable juice, or stock.  Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender and season to taste.  My favorite two are Red Pepper Coulis with garlic and onions and Yellow or Tomato Coulis with garlic and onions flavored with chopped oregano and thyme.
Cool and Creamy Greek Yogurt Sauces
These are super quick. Just peel back the foil top and add your favorite chopped vegetable, condiment, spice or herb for a quick cold sauce. Spoon the cool sauce over chicken just before serving, or mix with shredded cold chicken for a quick salad. Here are some of my favorite combinations:
  • Chopped fresh thyme, parsley, dill, chives, rosemary, oregano or basil
  • Roasted red peppers (packed in brine) chopped
  • Salt free spice blends
  • Dijon mustard and honey
  • Horseradish with Dijon mustard and  white wine vinegar
  • Roosters or Sriracha sauce
  • Segmented oranges and juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Chopped shallots
  • Crumbled blue cheese with chopped chives
  • Peeled and chopped cucumbers with dill
  • Prepared barbeque sauce
Lighter Coconut Milk Sauces
Coconut adds richness and sweetness to your sauces.  A little goes a long way--1-2 tablespoons of sauce will be plenty for one serving.

Kids love peanut sauce over chicken and noodles too.  Combine 1/4 cup coconut milk with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 garlic clove, 1 lime zested and juiced with 1/2 cup warm water over low heat.  Stir and simmer 3-4 minutes.  Switch up the sauce and omit the peanut butter, add red or green curry paste with some added grated ginger.  Opt for a two ingredient sauce with just coconut milk and prepared mango chutney or fruit preserves for a sweet sauce.  Combine 2 tablespoons chutney with 1/2 cup coconut milk, then warm.  
Sauces don't need to be fussy or complicated.  The goal is to simply add flavor and moisture to the dish which will in turn wow the crowd or better yet your family.

Try some of my other sauces:
Creamy Fat Free Herb Dressing
Mole Sauce
Ginger-Garlic Sauce
Hummus Dipping Sauce
Chipotle Mustard Dipping Sauce
Lemon Zucchini Dip
Avocado Cream
Black Bean Spread
Strawberry-Rhubarb Conserve
Summer Corn Relish
Spicy Chili-Garlic Paste
What is your favorite quick sauce for chicken?
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DEE107 7/1/2021
thanks Report
MUSICNUT 2/28/2021
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
NASFKAB 12/5/2020
Great Report
EVILCECIL 11/16/2020
Great ideas. Thx Report
NANHBH 11/14/2020
Interesting options. Report
REDROBIN47 11/14/2020
These sound great. Thank you. Report
Nice...thanks!! Report
CECELW 11/14/2020
I like to make different types of sauces. I have a feeling I have read this article before Report
CD15936081 11/14/2020
Thank you! Just what I needed! Report
JVANAM 11/14/2020
Sauces GOOD.
Chicken BAD.
I prefer these tasty sauces on FIRM FISH. i.e. Tuna Stakes, Shark. Mahi. Trout. Salmon. Also great for side sauce on a Seafood Varies platter. Report
CECTARR 11/14/2020
Thanks Report
CD6913562 11/14/2020
Great selections of sauces. Report
JANIEWWJD 11/14/2020
Wonderful sauces!!! Report
LIS193 11/14/2020
Great ideas Report
KITTYHAWK1949 11/14/2020
interesting Report
_CYNDY55_ 11/13/2020
Thanks Report
WALKZWDOGZ 10/11/2020
Several of these sauces would be great on tofu too!. Love peanut sauce! Can make it with PB2 also. Report
2DAWN4 8/1/2020
I just got a grill so I can't wait to use these with my grilled chicken Report
CD10676776 8/1/2020
Good need-to-know recipes for grilled chicken, thanks! Report
LISAMARIE2015 8/1/2020
😊 Report
Thanks Report
thanks Report
When in a really big hurry, I buy, usually on sale, (or sometimes make) foods with an influence from India, like those Indian foods/sauces in a plastic envelope or jar, like TastyBite's or others to pour over chicken / plain legumes / veg proteins / rice. Literally 99 secs to nuke 'em, after tearing open. Since they are actually an entree, they add useful nutrition (usually legume based (protein, fiber), sometimes mostly veg (vitamins & minerals)). Report
Good ideas Report
I love the coconut milk sauce Report
very good things to do. I love the flavor in the pan. good ways to get it up and use it to flavor the broth and make a sauce. thank you so much. Report
I want to try the peanut sauce! Report
Awesome recipes! Report
chicken! love it. Report
Great list! Thanks! Report
nice thanks Report
thanks Report
great info~ Report
good ideas Report
Several of these sound very good Report
Anything with ginger, garlic and/or sesame! Many of these ideas sound tempting too! Thanks!
For a quick sauce to perk up my chicken I will pour a couple tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, a tsp. or more Dijon mustard and a tsp. of Sriracha sauce in the skillet. Stir together quick before too much balsamic reduces. I will put over my cooked chicken and salad greens or wilted greens (kale, spinach or whatever). Report
These seems really yummy, I hope to try them out some day soon to put a bit an upbeat to my regular chicken recipe... Report
Thank you, loads! I LOVE chicken, but my family gets bored with it. Report
Thanks for all your great idea's! Ummmmm good. Report
Thank you for this information. I have been getting tired of trying the things I have for the last 6 years and it will be great to have other things on my chicken. Report
I never know what to do with the 8000 frozen chicken breasts in my freezer - now I do! Thanks! Report
Capers! Anything with capers! Report
Saving this one to favorites! Sounds like a "go to" resource to me. Report
Now THAT'S a whole "chicken wardrobe!" Thank you. Report
sounds like some great ideas! I plan to add them to my recipe book!! Report
I love spicy jerk chicken sauces Report
Great. I'll tell my daughter about it. Thank you. Report
OH my goodness! This looks delectable!