dipping sauces

We Tried 24 Fast-Food Sauces and These Are the Best (and Worst)

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dipping sauces

Sauce to the Races

While there are a few staple dipping sauces that most fast-food chains offer (think ranch, BBQ, and honey mustard), the reality is that most of those condiments taste pretty much the same across the board. Specialty sauces that offer unique flavors like Burger King's Zesty Sauce or Arby's Horsey Sauce, though? They're different. They're crucial. Because we are heroes, we tasted 24 specialty fast-food sauces — here's what you need to know, including which ones to avoid followed by the best fast-food sauces in the game that are not to be missed.

Related: How to Make 24 Fast Food Sauces at Home

KFC creamy buffalo
Florence S./Yelp

Most Unpleasant Mouth Experience: KFC Creamy Buffalo

The taste isn't the problem here. Flavorwise, it's actually not bad. However, the consistency is so thick and congealed that it's hard not to gag the second you put it in your mouth. The radioactive color doesn't help much, either.

McD Sweet&Sour

Is It Even a Sauce?: McDonald's Sweet & Sour

The Sweet & Sour sauce that McDonald's is serving is truly an enigma. We couldn't taste it after our first dip. We couldn't taste it after our second dip. We couldn't taste it when we stuck a finger into the container. We couldn't taste it when we dumped it all over our faces. McDonald's Sweet & Sour sauce doesn't taste like anything. How did they achieve this? Hats off to them.

Related: Why McDonald's Fries Used to Taste Better

KFC Sweet N Tangy

Most Forgettable: KFC Sweet N' Tangy Sauce

Much like the McDonald's Sweet & Sour sauce, KFC's doesn't taste like much. It edges McD's in that there is a slight fruity flavor and has a jelly-like consistency, but nothing more. Don't waste your time.

CFA Polynesian

Most Useless: Chick-Fil-A Polynesian Sauce

If you've ever tasted a sweet chili glaze but thought, "I wish this had no heat and also had a ton of ketchup mixed into it," then this sauce is for you. If you've never thought that — because nobody ever has — then this sauce is not for you.

Burger King Zesty

Biggest Oopsies: Burger King Zesty

When you're the King, you're surrounded by Yes Men, and in the sauce game that's not a good thing. We all need a bit of editing from time to time, and if somebody had tasted the King's Zesty sauce, they might have been able to tell him that something that tastes like Thousand Island dressing mixed with garlic and about a gallon of Vlasic pickle juice is a bad idea. Unfortunately, nobody did, so here we are.

Related: The Biggest Fast-Food Flops of All Time

McD Hot Mustard
Teriyaki Sauce

Biggest Whiff: Jack in the Box Teriyaki Sauce

This must be meant exclusively for their Teriyaki Bowl, but they offer it as a choice of dipping sauce when you get nuggets, so at some point in the future you may be tempted to try it out. We're here to tell you not to do that. It's thick and glazy, far too sweet, and will Venom-style absorb whatever you dip in. Avoid it at all costs.

Arbys Bronco Berry

Biggest Head-Scratcher: Arby's Bronco Berry Sauce

Not quite sure where to begin here. Arby's has a sauce called "Bronco Berry". It's basically jelly. At first we thought, "Why does Arby's serve a dipping sauce that's basically jelly?" but then we learned that Bronco Berry is served with their jalapeño poppers. Then we thought, "Why does Arby's serve jelly with their jalapeño poppers?" Let us know if you find out.

Arby's Marinara

No Horse in This Race: Arby's Marinara

Arby's makes marinara sauce for its mozzarella sticks. It's okay. Don't dip fries or nuggets in it. Because, ya know, it's marinara sauce. We're not really sure what else there is to say.

McD Buffalo

The "It'll Do" Award: McDonald's Spicy Buffalo

Mickey D's Buffalo sauce has that nauseating consistency that many "creamy" sauces do, but the flavor is not bad and it's decently spicy. It's not the best Buffalo sauce you'll find, but it's certainly not the worst. It'll do.

Dominos garlic sauce
Karen M./Yelp

Pure Sin, Yet Still Tempting: Domino's Garlic Sauce

Occasionally in this world, we do the wrong thing even when we know that it is the wrong thing to do (for instance, you may have eaten a Cinnabon at some point in the last decade). Though gluttony is quite literally one of the Seven Deadly Sins, sometimes we just have to fill our bodies with something delicious, despite the fact that it may as well be borderline poison. The Garlic Sauce from Domino's is just that. It tastes like 10 sticks of butter melted with garlic. It's delicious. It's poison for your body. Domino's Garlic sauce is pure sin.

Related: Best Cheap Delivery Pizza

KFC Finger Lickin Good

Biggest Dark Horse: KFC Finger Lickin' Good Sauce

Unfortunately for Kentucky Fried Chicken, there aren't many situations where they're going to come out on top in the fast food chicken department. At least, not while Popeyes, Culver's and Raising Cane's exist. That said, while nobody was looking they seem to have busted out an incredibly solid dipping sauce, and one that stands out as a complete original. Their Finger Lickin' Good sauce is similar to honey mustard, but as thick as a remoulade and with about a metric ton of pepper mixed in. If you're not a pepper fan, avoid this. Us? We're pepper fans.

Related: The Best (and Worst) Fast-Food Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Arby's Sauce

Most Original Sauce: Arby's Sauce

Say what you will about Arby's, but they're blazing their own trail. Sure, they occasionally put out a marinara sauce for no reason and serve their jalapeño poppers with breakfast jam, but they're standing out from the crowd. Their namesake sauce is no exception: it's completely original, and a must-try. Sweet, tangy, spicy-ish, and full of bold Worcestershire flavor. Make sure it's on your sandwich.

Related: You Have to Try These Famous Sandwiches in Every State

CFA Honey Roasted BBQ

Best BBQ Variant: Chick-Fil-A Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce

Essentially every fast food BBQ sauce tastes the same, but Chick-Fil-A has done a great job differentiating themselves. Theirs has all those smoky flavors you crave in a BBQ sauce, but it also tastes like they've dumped a little bit of honey mustard in there and mixed it together — and since their honey mustard is already mostly honey to begin with, this really ramps up the sweetness and creates a whole new BBQ sauce. It's incredibly tasty.

Popeyes Blackened Ranch

Best Ranch Variant: Popeyes Blackened Ranch

It's pretty simple here. Popeyes, as they are wont to do, has taken a sauce that you can find anywhere and improved on it. Though they still offer a great normal ranch, they are slinging a Blackened Ranch alongside it. It tastes exactly like it sounds: ranch dressing mixed with zesty "blackened" seasoning, like something you'd taste in fried catfish. It's very New Orleans. It's very delicious.

Related: Fast Food Deals to Feed the Whole Family

Popeyes Mardi Gras mustard
DeVaria H./Yelp

Best Mustard Variant: Popeyes Mardi Gras Mustard

Nearly everybody is out here slinging some sort of a honey mustard, and they mostly taste identical. Popeyes is having none of that though, and with their Mardi Gras Mustard they've taken mustard-style sauces to a whole new level. If you've ever had a stone-ground mustard full of whole mustard grains and horseradish, you know exactly how good it is. Do yourself a favor and dip their already-elite Cajun fries into this mustard, sit back, and enjoy the bliss.

Wendy;s Sriracha

Best Creamy Sauce: Wendy's Creamy Sriracha

Wendy tends to be all over the map (great shakes, weird burgers, atrocious fries, good bacon), but she's unified in one major way: her sauces are excellent. So many sauces with the word "creamy" in the title are thick, globby, mayo-y, and gross, but the Creamy Sriracha is actually perfect. Not only is the consistency not gross, but it's legitimately spicy. It's rare when a fast food sauce claims to be spicy and actually is — well done, Wendy.

CFA Sweet & Spicy Sriracha

Best Glaze-Style Sauce: Chick-Fil-A Sweet & Spicy Sriracha

There are a lot of thick, jammy, glaze-style sauces on the market today, but none of them are even half as good as the one that Chick-Fil-A is busting out. It's almost like their Polynesian sauce was just a first draft, but realized they could fix it by adding that signature Sriracha red jalapeño spiciness. It tastes great on nuggets, fries, and the tips of your fingers.

Related: Exotic Condiments to Add Zing to Meals

Arby's Spicy Three Pepper

Best Pepper Sauce: Arby's Spicy Three Pepper

Every chain has a spicy sauce or two, but for the most part they're variations of Buffalo or Sriracha. Arby's Spicy Three Pepper is different: darker, spicier, and more like a steak sauce. It makes sense, considering they specialize in roast beef. You want this sauce on your sandwich. You might even want this sauce on a steak.

Related: We Tried 20 Popular Hot Sauces — and These Are the Best

Arby's Buffalo

Best Buffalo Sauce: Arby's Spicy Buffalo

Most fast-food Buffalo sauces come with the same caveat: they're all so globby and "creamy" that the whole experience is a little nauseating. All, that is, except Arby's. Their Buffalo sauce tastes like, well, actual Buffalo sauce. You'd do just fine dumping these on some wings.

Related: This Beloved Arby's Menu Item Is Making a Comeback

Popeyes Hot Sauce

Best Spicy Sauce: Popeyes Hot Sauce

Popeyes, if you've been paying attention, just can't mess up. They know that simplicity is key, and nowhere is that exemplified more than in their signature hot sauce. If you like New Orleans-style pepper sauces like Crystal or Red Rooster, you'll love what Popeyes has going. We'd buy it by the bottle.

Horsey Sauce

Best for Sandwiches: Arby's Horsey Sauce

As a society, we've accepted that horseradish is the condiment of choice when it comes to roast beef sandwiches. Arby's Horsey Sauce is essentially just horseradish mayo, and thanks to that nostril-stinging horseradish flavor, Horsey sauce can take any sandwich to new heights. Stockpile it. You'll want it on every sandwich you ever eat.

Wendy's S'Awesome.

Best for Fries: Wendy's S'Awesome Sauce

Leave it to Wendy to keep us guessing until the end. We had never even heard of this sauce before we began this journey, yet S'Awesome Sauce was one of the best we tasted by a landslide. It's smokey, roasty, garlicky, and full of pure umami. It reminds us of a garlic chipotle aioli. Just excellent. Nary a chicken nugget exists that wouldn't benefit from being dipped into some S'Awesome Sauce.

Related: We Tried All Nine of Wendy's Breakfast Sandwiches and These Are the Best

Chick Fil A Sauce

Best for Nuggets: Chick-Fil-A Sauce

There's a lot to say about the Chick-Fil-A organization — most of it bad — but there's one thing that's undeniable: their titular Chick-Fil-A Sauce is a heavyweight of the highest degree. It exists simultaneously in the BBQ sauce and honey mustard space, tasting like both of them combined while also somehow tasting like neither. Chick-Fil-A Sauce is truly in a league of its own, offering a chance to add some flavor to the incredibly overrated chicken. Any nugget or tender would benefit from it.

Carl's Jr.
Carl's Jr. by Allen (CC BY-NC)

Overall Dip Dork: Carl's Jr.

You may have noticed Carl's Jr. did not appear anywhere on this list. This is because Carl's Jr. does not make even one single specialty sauce. Their sauce lineup consists of ranch, BBQ, and honey mustard. Boooooring. Because of this, we present to you the opposite of a Sauce Boss: The Dip Dork. Who is the Sauce Boss, then, you ask? Great question…

Chow Down at Popeyes
Jeramey Lende/shutterstock

Overall Sauce Boss: Popeyes

This was a tough title to hand off, especially with Arby's clocking in at a whopping nine sauce options. However, Arby's has a little too much nonsense going on, and even though no single Popeyes sauce is as powerful as Chick-Fil-A's namesake condiment, their consistent lineup across the board makes them the winner. They offer strong takes on the classics, while also offering innovations like Blackened Ranch and Mardi Gras Mustard to offset them. Every sauce goes well with their tenders and fries — Popeyes knows what they're doing. They are the Sauce Boss.

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