Make your own condiments

by April Fortner

Making your own condiments can be rewarding in so many ways. They taste better, cost less, are more convenient than going to the store and can even take up less space in the fridge! 

Your local grocery store stocks squirt bottles in the kitchen gadget aisle, or you could go to a kitchen supply store. I find that having the right one (with the right size hole) can improve storage in the fridge and be a benefit when I’ve added diced vegetables or herbs.

Here is a list of things that most people buy pre-made, but can be made at home with minimum fuss:

Ranch dressing
Italian dressing
Thousand Island
Chocolate syrup
Barbecue sauce
Teriyaki sauce
Tartar sauce

The easiest thing here to make is tartar sauce. All you do is mix mayo with diced sweet pickles. Who knew?

Similarly, Thousand Island dressing is just a mixture of ketchup, mayo and sweet pickles. It’s great on sandwiches!

Teriyaki sauce is also super easy, and it saves me about $4 a bottle (I like the good stuff). Just mix 1 cup soy sauce, half a cup of brown sugar, a diced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon diced ginger and some sesame seeds. Then I microwave it in a cereal bowl for a minute and put it in my squirt bottle. It’s yummy on salmon or chicken.

Believe it or not, chocolate syrup is the hardest thing to get right because of the sugar crystal formation. You can prevent some of that by not boiling it when you cook it and by substituting corn syrup for some of the sugar. I looked up several recipes, but they are all pretty similar except for the one that used whole milk instead of water. That works well, but doesn’t last long! Of course, chocolate never does . . .  

To make chocolate syrup: Heat until dissolved 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup corn syrup, 3/4 cup cocoa powder (good quality helps), 1 cup water and a dash of salt. Cool it, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and put it in your squirt bottle. If crystals form after refrigeration, heat it in the microwave for fifteen seconds with the lid off.

My family uses a lot of ranch, so I was very excited to find this recipe! I have adapted it quite a bit. In a food processor, add half a cup each of mayo, buttermilk and sour cream. Add 1 garlic clove, 2 teaspoons red onion (or green onion, or chives), 1 tablespoon parsley and paprika, salt and pepper to taste. 

I plan on sharing a few other recipes on my blog, including my grandmother’s crystal sweet pickles (so good!) and fresh salsa at


A resident of Conway, April Fortner is a wife and mother of four. She has a bachelor’s degree in physics and enjoys cooking, gardening, writing and homeschooling her children. In her free time, she likes to think of creative ways to stretch their income.