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The Soul of Spanish Cuisine: Sauces for Every Occasion

(Romesco, Sofrito, Alioli, Mojo, Bravas Sauce, and Salsa Verde)

Written By: Byron | September 20, 2023

Unlock the world of Spanish sauces and their culinary magic. Learn about the rich history, regional variations, and perfect dish pairings. Discover a Spanish sauce for every occasion!

The Spanish gastronomic landscape is vast, but if we had to point out a single element that ties the multitude of regional cuisines together, it would be the sauces. From the fragrant Romesco to the comforting Alioli, Spanish sauces are more than mere accompaniments — they are the pulse of many Spanish dishes.

A pan of Spanish chicken with smoky Bravas sauce sits at a table setting.

Spanish Sauces Are Nothing New!

The history of Spanish sauces is linked to the influences that have swept the Iberian Peninsula over the centuries. 

Moorish Influence: Almogrote and Salmorejo

The Moors left a huge mark and some great food traditions we’re happy lived on. Almogrote, a potent cheese and garlic sauce from the Canary Islands, and Salmorejo, a tomato-based purée, bear traces of Moorish culinary wisdom.

The New World and the Birth of Mojo

The introduction of tomatoes and peppers from the New World in the late 15th century revolutionized Spanish sauces. This led to the creation of Mojo sauces — fiery red or herby green sauces that often accompany Canarian potatoes and grilled meats.

Regional Specialties

Romesco: Catalonia’s Crown Jewel

In Catalonia, the land of Antoni Gaudí and Salvador Dalí, Romesco sauce reigns supreme and it’s a favorite in our house too. Made from a blend of roasted red peppers and toasted almonds, it’s a versatile sauce that pairs excellently with everythig from fish and seafood to vegetables.

Salsa Verde: The Basque Country’s Seafood Companion

In the Basque Country, salsa verde — a blend of parsley, garlic, and white wine — is indispensable when it comes to accompanying hake or clams. It also pairs well with just about any seafood and will dress up any mild-flavored fish. 

Sofrito: The Backbone of Spanish Cuisine

A Spanish classic, Sofrito is the base sauce for countless dishes. This aromatic blend of onions, garlic, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil is fundamental to the flavor profile of Spanish cuisine.


A spoonful of green mojo sauce sits above a jar of green mojo sauce

How to Use Spanish Sauces in Your Kitchen

As a Marinade: Mojo in Action

Mojo is not just for dipping, although it’s perfect just like that; but it’s also an exceptional marinade for meats and seafood, offering a burst of flavors — either spicy or tangy — that elevate the dish. Once you make mojo you can’t stop adding it to everything! And, there are different flavors: mojo verde, rojo, and picon.

In Stews and Paellas: The Role of Sofrito

For those who have ventured into making stews like Cocido or the famous Paella and many rice dishes, Sofrito acts as the foundation upon which these dishes are built.

As Dips and Spreads: Almogrote and Alioli

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to Almogrote and Alioli. Whether slathered on bread or used as a dip for vegetables, they add a layer of complexity to the simplest of dishes. These aren’t healthy like the other sauces on this page, so use them more sparingly, but they must be tried!

On Just About Everything: Bravas Sauce

You’ve probably heard of Patatas Bravas, one of the most famous Spanish tapas dishes. It’s the Bravas sauce that makes the recipe, but it can be used on more than just potatoes. A smoky, rich sauce that works really well spicy, it’s also great with chicken (see Spanish chicken in smoky bravas sauce) and incredible over eggs for breakfast. 

Make Your Own Spanish Sauces

Spanish sauces are not merely reserved for professional kitchens; you can easily make them at home. Finding fresh ingredients is usually the most important task. Whether it’s blending the roasted ingredients for Romesco or patiently emulsifying garlic and oil for Alioli, creating these sauces from scratch will be worth it, trust us. These sauces can take a dish from ordinary to extraordinary.

Here are recipes for our favorite (tried and tested) Spanish sauces:

A pan of Spanish chicken with smoky Bravas sauce sits at a table setting.

Spicy Bravas Sauce

Tapas Favorite | 10-Minute Recipe

A small bowl of romesco sauce sits with a jar full of romesco sauce in the background

Romesco Sauce

Goes with Everything | 10-Minute Recipe

A spoonful of green mojo sauce sits above a jar of green mojo sauce

Canarian Mojo Sauce

Mojo Rojo | Mojo Verde | Mojo Picon

homemade alioli is made in a traditional alioli mortar and pestle

Alioli & Alioli Verde

Tangy Favorite | Made in 5 minutes

a small bowl of salmorejo is garnished with some diced egg and serrano ham.


15-Minute recipe | Vegan Option

Sofrito sauce simmers in a large pan.

Sofrito Sauce

Authentic Recipe | Easy to Make


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