Switch Hits: Level Up Your Topping Game
We love the classics: they give us both the comfort of familiarity and the surprise of new rewards with each return visit. But sometimes, we can get stuck in a classics rut, choosing the known quantity over the new experience time and again.
We’re not talking about watching your favorite movie for the 500th time. We’re talking about toppings. Ketchup, relish, mustard, mayonnaise – all reliable choices when it comes to hamburgers and hot dogs, but also a little bit of the same ole, same ole, you know? We’re here to help you out of that rut – but not out of your comfort zone – with these topping recommendations, all based on the things you already know and love.
Can’t get enough ketchup? Give these tomato-adjacent options a try:
All the tomato flavor you love, plus the heat level of your choosing. You’ve probably got a jar in the fridge as we speak.
Intermediate: Tonkatsu sauce
You could go with basic BBQ sauce, but why? (via Serious Eats). This Japanese version brings unique flavors to the old standby, and gives your burger or dog an Asian twist.
Expert: Romesco sauce
We’re entering more complicated territory here, but it’s so worth it. This Spanish sauce incorporates roasted red peppers, almonds and tomatoes for a sweet-nutty flavor that elevates anything you put it on (via Chowhound).
Rabid for relish? These sweet-and-sour condiments will make you a fan:
Beginner: Tartar sauce
It’s not just for fish! Choose a brand that uses sweet pickle relish (or make your own) and you’ve got a next-level topping for burgers or dogs (via Bon Appetit).
Intermediate: Cucumber relish
Get back to relish’s roots with this combination of cucumbers, tomatoes and red peppers (via Food Network).
Hard to pronounce but easy to love, this Italian condiment may become your new fave (via Martha Stewart).
Mad about mustard? These alternatives give you a different take on the yellow stuff’s pungency, heat and tang:
Beginner: Carolina-style barbecue sauce
With a mustard base (instead of the ubiquitous ketchup of other regions), this sauce brings a different kind of sweet and tangy flavors to barbecue – but also makes a unique topping for burgers and dogs (via Food.com).
Intermediate: Pickled mustard seeds
This alternative to mustard is all the rage at some of the country’s trendiest restaurants. Bonus: they have a fun, caviar-like texture that goes “pop” in your mouth (via Food 52).
Think of mostarda as argodolce’s mustardy cousin. Tart and spicy with the sweetness of fruit, this condiment is a perfect hot dog elevator (via Food & Wine).
Is mayonnaise your main squeeze? The give these creamy alternatives a try:
Beginner: Ranch dressing
This one’s a no-brainer. Who doesn’t love ranch? And, like salsa, you’ve probably already got some on hand.
Intermediate: Garlic aioli
Think of aioli as mayo with attitude, thanks to the crucial component of garlic. It’s a stronger but also more sophisticated spread in many ways – and gives burgers or dogs an instant upgrade (via Bon Appetit).
A standard topping on Greek gyros, this cucumber-yogurt spread gives you a lighter, fresher and more Mediterranean take on mayo (via Gimme Some Oven).