A recent question got me wondering: are there any cuisines that rarely, or never, use sauces?

There's many cuisines that are very sauce-centric: French, Italian, Thai, Szechuan, Mexican, etc. But are there cuisines that use sauces so rarely that you could open a restaurant and not have one sauce on the menu, without really going out of your way to do so? I can't think of one.

Let's include some definitions to make this question answerable:

  • Sauce: a liquid, puree, or paste that adds flavor to a dish or seasons other ingredients
  • Cuisine: the complete foodways of a cultural or regional group (not just a specific dish or specific type of specialty restaurant)

Let's also limit this to "cuisines that you could conceivably open a restaurant for"; while there are definitely groups of people who live in remote areas, don't trade, and thus don't have any basis for sauces, I'm asking for culinary traditions that have chosen to turn away from them instead.

Are there any? Can you name one or two?

  • 1
    Interesting question. Maybe a nomadic culture. As in, a culture where most of the food is recently hunted or gathered, and everything else is only what they carry with them. If the main meal is prepared after a day of travel, there's not a lot of time to develop a sauce, and one would probably not be carried due to the weight. So the food is basically meat cooked over a fire, plus some bread, maybe some beans. (I'm thinking of cowboys, but perhaps other nomadic cultures would fit.)
    – csk
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 6:07
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    Cowboys like sauces @FuzzyChef, trust me I cooked for a bunch of them one summer.
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 8:22
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    When you add pan sauces, hot sauces, and condiments (which fit your definition)...what is left? Just proteins, starches, and veg?
    – moscafj
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 10:44
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    "Traditional" Dutch cuisine is very much only proteins, starches, vegs, and some gravy, but not sauces. But present day the cuisine has evolved and most people and restaurants will add sauces to dishes. Too bad you're ruling out 'specialty restaurants', because at this point traditional Dutch cuisine like stamppot (which is potatoes mashed with vegetables like carrots/onions, sauerkraut, kale or endive, and no sauce) is served in 'specialty restaurants'. Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 11:19
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    If you exclude sauces used as condiments then British cuisine is largely about stews and plain roasted meats, with very few sauces. Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


Pilav-and-kabab-centric cuisines, such as Afghan, Uzbek, Tadjik seem sauceless. Of course I cannot prove that they don't have them, but I have never seen one.

Armenian (and perhaps Turkish) cuisine also deserve close inspection.

  • 1
    No yogurt sauce?
    – moscafj
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 22:54
  • @moscafj In Uzbekistan? No.
    – user58697
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 23:09
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    I'm not that familiar with Uzbek or Tadjik, but I do make a fair amount of Afgan and Turkish cuisine, and you missed on those. For one thing, at both Afgan and Turkish restaurants, the customary free appetizer is bread with between one and three dipping sauces.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 0:07
  • Lemme dig a bit into Armenian, though. They do rely on marinades and rubs a lot more.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 0:09
  • Also ... add a link to Uzbek or Tadjik cuisine resource to your answer? That would let me evaluate.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 0:13

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