Magic Sauce

I call this the magic sauce recipe. In part, because it makes everything it touches shimmy with deliciousness. It's magic like that. Technically, it's a riff on a chimichurri sauce - one that has veered off the rails in a big way.

Magic Sauce

I call this my magic sauce recipe. In part, because it makes everything it touches shimmer with deliciousness. It's magic like that. Technically, it's a riff on a chimichurri sauce - one that veered off the rails in a big way. Much tweaking has rendered it a distant second cousin. If that. In fact, the hallmark of that sauce, parsley, I skip entirely. But I love this. Love love love. And I use it a hundred different ways. Magic sauce, it's real.

Magic Sauce Recipe

Double Up

Let's just start by putting one thing out there. You're best off making a double or triple batch. This is the sort of stuff you burn through in minutes. Not exaggerating. I cook eggs in it - scrambled, omelette, frittata, you name it. I drizzle it on soups. This time of year that means corn soups, brothy bean pots, or lunch time slurpy noodle bowls.
Magic Sauce Recipe
Magic Sauce Recipe

 I can also attest it's the sort of thing that makes baked potatoes even better than usual. And salads welcome it as well - particularly shaved salads, or ones made from spicy greens. You can use it to marinate or slather ingredients before grilling or roasting. And its the sort of dressing that turns a bowl full of farro or quinoa or soba noodles into something close to a full meal - just toss in another favorite seasonal ingredient or two.

Magic Sauce Recipe
This sauce is as versatile as a black dress. Although, it's not really the little black dress of sauces. Think more bohemian that that - earthy, intricate and interesting. Completely approachable. The way the garlic-perfumed oil suspends flecks of rosemary, thyme, and oregano is really nice. And the rusty red tint of the paprika makes everything this sauce touches look just that much more special.
Magic Sauce Recipe

If you do anything extra special with it, give a holler in the comments. I still have a half-full mason jar of it ready for business. -h

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Magic Sauce

3.67 from 133 votes

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
  • 1 well-crumbled bay leaf
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4+ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat.
  2. While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil. Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.
  4. You can use this now, but know - the oil just gets better as it ages over a few days. Keep it in a refrigerator for up to a week/ten days-ish. It thickens up when cold, so if you need it in a liquid state, place it in the sun or in a warm place for a few minutes.
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


This sounds amazing! I was going to do a "beer" can chicken this weekend for dinner using chicken stock instead of beer. This sounds like it would be an amazing thing to rub all over the skin and cavity. Question: I don't have the fresh herbs. What would be the compatible amounts of dried thyme/rosemary/oregano to use? Also, has anyone tried making this using kosher instead of fine-grain sea salt?


This looks right up my alley with all the herbs I have in my garden at this time. Your picture looks as tho it has red chunks of tomato in the mix-what is it exactly? did you put sun dried or roasted tomato in yours?

Teri C

Thanks for the great recipe! I used the magic sauce to saute boneless chicken thighs mushrooms and zucchini and added it all to a risotto. Even my husband was impressed.


I put this magic sauce on roasted chick peas and oh boy! Delish! Thanks Heidi and please keep them coming!

Allison from NY

Love this! Looks really delicious, and I love your photos.


I dare say this is just the thing to elevate 'straight-up" kid food to "hoo-boy!" grown-up fare. Cannot wait.


Wow this look incredible! It looks so flavorful and fresh, and your pictures are beautiful. I like that is keeps well for a while, or even that it gets better after a week or so. I just cook for one (me!), so anything that I can make on the weekend at home and bring up to school that'll last me through the week is perfect! Thanks for another great post!

Toni @ Not Yet A Mommy Blog

Wow, just your descriptions make it sound heavenly, and then pictures to boot! I will definitely be trying this out.


So excited about this sauce that I forgot to comment. Wonderful...did I say wonderful?


This will make a great alternative to pesto. Not that I need an alternative - I love pesto - but I also like to have options! Besides, if you put the word magic in your recipe title... I'm going to make it. Period.


When I was a kid, I had a metal Hugga Bunch kid-sized play kitchen. I used to take my mom's dried herbs and mix them into odd concoctions with oil and spices. I still remember the scent, dominated by rosemary, although I think I knew better than to taste anything I ever stirred up back then. I hope you don't take it as an insult that your magic sauce brings to mind this childhood memory! I look forward to trying your more refined version. :)


I'm so happy I found this before the long weekend. I suspect this will be a fine alternative to harissa (which I adore, but at this point, I need a change of pace). I'll be pulling carrots from my garden this weekend, so I'm thinking grated carrot and this sauce, topped with sunflower seeds and a light-handed sprinkling of goat cheese.


This sounds lovely and easy. Right up my alley. I really appreciate you telling all the things it can work with, since I'm not much of a gourmet cook. Any idea how long this will last? Ok, let me re-phrase that, since I"m sure a magic sauce disappears quickly! How long it will stay fresh in the fridge. :)

shirley moore

This is perfectly timed. I was wanting to start incorporating some good sauces into my cooking- rather, I have TONS of grains right now that are waiting to be cooked, and I want something versatile and easy. It strikes me as very Ethiopian, light and a little acidic with the lemon, clean, but still earthy. Yummy!


Yum!!!!! I always get excited when I see a new recipe posted on your website in my Google Reader feed. I always have more smoked paprika than sweet paprike around, so I wonder if that would be good in this or if it's one of those things where the smokey flavor is just TOO MUCH and masks everything else. Either way I have BOTH in my kitchen now, so I will make this soon. Another comment mentioned polenta and peppers...mmm, that sounds good!


You have me convinced. This sounds amazing! Plus I know that I will like it as I have had and loved a parsley free chimichurri sauce before.

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

This looks fantastic and I love the idea of it on eggs.... How long will this keep in the refrigerator? Days, weeks?


I love this! Sounds so simple but so, so flavorful -- and sweet paprika is possibly my favorite spice of all time. Was going to make pasta with a pretty standard tomato & basil sauce tonight, but I might have to reconsider!

Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake

love the sound of this! i think just dunking crusty bread in this as an appetizer before the meal would be pure bliss.

laura @ glutton for nourishment


Denise | Chez Danisse

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