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Pantry Essentials: Condiments

From classics like mayo and mustard to modern standards like tamari and sambal oelek, today we’re sharing a list of the essential condiments that every well-stocked pantry should have.


honey, chili sauce, bouillon, mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, fish sauce, essential condiments for your pantry

The Best Condiments List of All Times Starts Here.

You are going to love this list of our favorite condiments. You may be wondering what exactly we consider being worthy of this list. So, what is a condiment anyway? In our opinion, a condiment is any saucy type food that we add to our recipes to enhance it! Or in some cases as a base for a sauce or dip!

If you have any or ALL of these sauces, pastes and condiments in your pantry, you are on the right track to making some flavorful dishes! Here are the condiments list we just can’t live (or cook) without.

raw honey, local honey on a drizzle stick and strawberry jam

Honey & Jam

Honey has about a zillion uses in the kitchen, both savory and sweet. And jam—well, jam is our jam! These two sweeties are absolute pantry condiment musts.

  • Honey: from adding natural sweetness to our Honey Mustard Salmon to drizzling over Middle Eastern Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Labneh, to lending its floral fragrance to healthy(ish) Raspberry Breakfast Bars, honey is an essential ingredient for dishes both sweet and savory.
  • Jam: jam is particularly handy if you have tiny mouths to feed. Plain toast is just crispy bread, but toast with a slather of good raspberry jam is easily sold to picky kiddos as a special snacktime treat. Also, PB & J. What even is a home kitchen that can’t produce a PB&J at the drop of a hat? And lastly, we honestly keep jam around at all times so that we can make Jam Dot Oat Scones anytime the fancy strikes. Which is often.
A bottle of 100% pure maple syrup

Maple Syrup

And of course we’re talking real, 100% pure maple syrup—skip the fake stuff, please! Yes, pure, real maple syrup comes with a much, much higher price tag, but it is worth it! “Pancake and waffle syrup” or maple-flavored syrups don’t even begin to come close to the real deal. Real maple syrup can be identified in a few easy ways. A higher price is your first good indicator, and secondly by simply looking at the ingredient list you’ll know what you’re working with. If you see anything other than “100% pure maple syrup” listed under “ingredients”, just put that bottle back on the shelf. Maple syrup is used for so much more than just drizzling over pancakes—here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy that unique, richly sweet sap:

a jar of mayonnaise and mayo on a spoon a jar of aioli

Mayonnaise & Aioli

Classic jarred mayonnaise and it’s thinner, garlicky cousin aioli have both earned places in our pantries. What sandwich isn’t made better by a slather of aioli? What burger doesn’t benefit from a healthy spread of mayo? We know you know what to do with everyone’s favorite egg yolk-and-oil emulsion, but in case you need a reminder, here are a few of our favorite uses for it:

bottles of stone ground mustard, organic ketchup, yellow mustard and dijon mustard

Ketchup & Mustard

The all-American classics—it’s just not summertime if you don’t have these two burger toppers on hand. If you look up “condiments” in a text book, surely ketchup and mustard would appear as picture-perfect examples of what a condiment is. And we honestly just can’t cook without mustard in particular. From sandwiches to potato salads, vinaigrettes to marinades, we reach for a jar of a mustard most every day. We always keep our pantry stocked with:

  • Good ketchup.
  • Yellow mustard.
  • Dijon.
  • Stone-ground (or “whole-grain) mustard.
a jar of organic better than bouillon chicken flavor

Better Than Bouillon

If you have a jar of Better Than Bouillon in your fridge, and you have some basic veggies and meat on hand, you can probably make a really delicious soup. We love these little jars of stock concentrate—one tiny jar contains enough concentrate to mix up the equivalent of at least eight or nine Tetra-Pak containers of already-made stock. Plus, we much prefer the flavor of Better Than Bouillon—and no! This is not a sponsored post in an way, shape or form. We just happen to be big fans of this stuff. We’ve use it to flavor dishes like Chicken Divan, Marry Me Chicken and Leek Soup. Pro tip: Start with a little bit—you can always add more but it’s hard to go back if you’ve added too much.

A bottle of Red Boat Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is definitely a not-your-Grandma’s pantry staple (unless your Grandma is from southeast Asia or was just a really adventurous cook, in which case, more power to her!). But this salty, umami-rich flavor bomb has earned its keep as a modern pantry condiment. Its assertive, unique flavor is a must-have for dishes like:

A bottle of Soy Sauce and a bottle of Tamari

Soy Sauce or Tamari

No need to have both, but one or the other of these super salty sauces are essential for making any sort of Asian food. They flavor our favorite stir-fries, dressings and sauces and we feel confident in saying that no pantry is complete without them. And if you’re wondering what the difference between tamari and soy sauce is, wonder no more! Both are made from fermented soybeans, but tamari is made without the use of wheat whereas traditionally-made soy sauce contains wheat. Sometimes, tamari does have trace amounts of gluten in it, though, so if you need to completely avoid gluten, be sure to double check the packaging. Lastly, if you’re looking for a soy-free alternative to both soy sauce and tamari, coconut aminos are a near-perfect sub.

a bottle of sriracha next to a jar of Samba Oelek

Sriracha and Sambal Oelek

While some may say that you could squeeze by with either / or, we’re firmly in the “stock both” camp. Why skimp on these inexpensive flavor bombs—and they are not the same thing. Each deserves a spot on your shelf.

  • Sriracha: this now-ubiquitous sweet-salty-tangy chili-garlic sauce is arguably the defining condiment of our generation. Just like everyone else, we use it on everything—from Asian Slaw to this Pork Banh Mi Burger, it makes everything taste a little better.
  • Sambal Oelek: this spicy southeast Asian chili sauce is quite a bit simpler than sriracha, made with just chilis, salt and (sometimes) vinegar. It adds heat and assertive, savory chili flavor but that’s it. We love its simplicity, and use it in dishes like Baked Teriyaki Meatballs and thisCrispy Chicken Stir Fry.
a tub if Mae Ploy brand red curry paste

Thai Curry Paste

Again, we just can’t talk about curry paste without saying how much we love the Mae Ploy brand of curry pastes! They just offer so much variety. At any given time, we’ve got at least red and green curry paste on hand, but if you love to make Thai food at home you might want to stock even more variety. Faster (and sometimes easier) than ordering take out, we use Thai curry paste in:

jar of honey, better than bouillon, mustard, chili paste sriracha, fish sauce, soy sauce, mayonnaise tamari

Did We Miss One Of Your Must-Have Condiments?

Or is our checklist the same as yours? Tell us all about it! Snap a photo of your pantry and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. We want to see how you stock your pantry!

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Pantry Essentials: Condiments

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Cherie

    The chili-garlic recipe, previously referenced by Sharon & replied to saying that it would be added, still is not here. If it's somewhere else I need it too! Thank you!

    Hi Cherie! Huey Fong is our favorite brand of chili-garlic paste if you can find it at your local grocery store. It's not currently available on amazon but here is a link so you can see which one we like to use There are a couple other brands available on amazon if you want to try one of those. Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

  • Sharon

    I've looked on your website and can't find what the chili-garlic paste is (from the Orange Chicken Recipe). Can you help please?


    Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce. You're right! That's funny that it links to this condiments post and it isn't even listed! I'll add it!

  • Jenn

    Really helpful! I never know what to have on hadn't to make throwing dinner together simple!