How to Make 24 Fast Food Sauces with Copycat Recipes


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Olesia Shadrina/istockphoto

Feeling Saucy

Now is a great time to experiment with making your favorite fast food sauces at home. The pandemic has not gone away yet, and with another wave potentially in the future, it's great to be able to make your own fast food-style meals. Most of these sauce and dip recipes are simple to make with only a few ingredients, so beginning cooks will have no problem. If you've always wanted to recreate your favorite fast food condiments, start with these copycat recipes. (If you have a stockpile of condiments, here are 26 Delicious Recipes That Use Up Those Aging Condiments in the Fridge.) 

Chick-Fil-A Skip the Sandwich

Chick-fil-A Sauce

Creamy, tangy Chick-fil-A sauce is a favorite for dipping chicken nuggets and french fries. It's really easy to make just by mixing together pantry staples like honey, mustard, barbecue and mayonnaise. Now you can have it on Sundays.

Recipe: Family Fresh Meals  

McDonald's: Big Mac Lineup

Big Mac Sauce

Trying to replicate a Big Mac at home would be futile without the classic sauce. This recipe uses a mayo base along with pickle relish, mustard, and seasonings like paprika, onion, and garlic powder.

Recipe: Fox Valley Foodie

In-N-Out Burger
Albert H./Yelp

In-N-Out Spread

At the beloved West Coast chain In-N-Out, you can order burgers "animal style," which comes with grilled onions, extra burger sauce, and mustard fried into the beef. This recipe for animal-style fries includes the creamy sauce, punched up with vinegar and mustard for extra tanginess.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Panda Express Orange Chicken
Panda Express/Yelp

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Panda Express' ever-popular orange chicken is coated in a sweet, salty sauce with lots of orange flavor. This recipe is for the whole dish, chicken included, but you can make the sauce and put it on anything you want, or use it as a dipping sauce for chicken wings or nuggets.

Recipe: Dinner Then Dessert 

Horsey Sauce
Horsey Sauce by Chris Martin (CC BY-NC)

Horsey Sauce

Horsey sauce at Arby's has always been the best foil to the rich roast beef sandwiches. Start with mayo, then add sugar and vinegar for a sweet and tart base, then plenty of horseradish. The best part about making it yourself is that you can make it as hot as you like.

Recipe: Top Secret Recipes

Taco Bell Fire Sauce
Taco Bell Fire Sauce by Shane Ronemus (CC BY-NC-ND)

Taco Bell Fire Sauce

If you're one of those people who never seems to get enough Taco Bell sauce packets, this recipe is for you. The base of this fire sauce is tomato paste, plus pickled jalapenos and lots of spices. All you have to do is blend it all up and simmer it.

Recipe: Spork and Barrel

Grilled Spicy Chicken Breast with sauce

Zax Sauce

The chicken finger dipping sauce at Zaxby's is called Zax sauce. It's creamy with a good amount of ketchup to make it orange hued. Worcestershire sauce gives it a more complex flavor than other sauces.

Recipe: This Old Gal

Tim C./Yelp

Qdoba Queso

It's hard to resist getting a ladle of queso in your burrito at Qdoba. It's made with roasted peppers and tomatoes blended into a 3-cheese sauce. Now you can make your own nachos at home, or just use it as a dip.

Recipe: Sweet Phi

KFC Gravy
KFC Gravy by Karl Baron (CC BY)

KFC Gravy

The gravy might just be the best part of the mashed potatoes at KFC. Most copycat recipes use a combination of beef and chicken bouillon or broth, but you can use only chicken for a lighter flavored gravy.

Recipe: CD Kitchen

Spicy Mayo Dip

Raising Cane's Sauce

You can never have too many chicken-finger dipping sauces. This copycat recipe for the sauce from Raising Cane's has only five ingredients, and you probably have all of them in your kitchen right now.

Recipe: Spoon University 

Cheesy Fries
Cheesy Fries by kizzzbeth (CC BY-SA)

Shake Shack's Cheese Sauce

Unlike most recipes on this list, Shake Shack actually released a recipe for their popular cheese sauce, so you don't have to guess the ingredients. It uses a blend of American and cheddar cheese plus jalapenos, onions and white wine to flavor the cream.

Recipe: Thrillist


Halal Guys' White Sauce

The Halal Guys food cart had such a cult following in New York City that they have opened locations all over the country. You can make the crave-worthy white sauce at home to sauce your shawarma, gyros, and yellow rice.

Recipe: Epicurious

Papa John's

Papa John's Garlic Sauce

There's no one who doesn't like dipping their pizza crust in Papa John's garlic sauce. It's really easy to make because it's just three ingredients: margarine, garlic powder, and salt. You can also use butter if you prefer.

Recipe: Budget Savvy Diva

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 3
Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 3 by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce

If the hottest sauce packets are your jam at Taco Bell, you can make diablo sauce at home to heat up your own tacos. It's full of peppers, including habanero, chipotle, cayenne, and ancho in a base made with tomato paste.

Recipe: Master Cook

 Szechuan Sauce
Szechuan Sauce by melvin imanuel (CC BY)

McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

Originally released to coincide with the movie "Mulan," McDonald's Szechuan dipping sauce made a 1-day comeback a few years ago because it was featured on a popular adult cartoon "Rick and Morty." The lengths fans went to get the sauce were legendary, but it sold out fast. Now the only option is to make your own.

Recipe: Top Secret Recipes 

Related: 23 Fast Food Items Overdue for a Comeback

Subway: Family Takeout Special

Subway Sweet Onion Sauce

There are loads of sauces you can jazz up your sub with at Subway. The sweet onion sauce is one of the more unique options. It's a sweet and tart vinaigrette-like sauce with hot mustard powder, spices, and poppy seeds.


Arbys by Broderick (CC BY-SA)

Arby's Sauce

Besides horsey sauce, roast beef fans love Arby's sauce. It's a mild, ketchup-based barbecue sauce made with spices and Worcestershire for complexity. It goes great with any type of beef or steak sandwich.

Recipe: CopyKat

Chicken and Sweet and Sour Sauce

Polynesian Sauce

The Polynesian sauce at Chick-fil-A has a lot of loyal fans. The bright red sauce is tangy and sweet and perfect for dunking chicken into. To make it at home, you only need three ingredients: Catalina salad dressing, vinegar, and corn syrup.

Recipe: Kitchen Dreaming

Cheese Dip

Taco Bell Lava Sauce

Another fast food sauce with a cult following is Taco Bell's lava sauce. It was used in items on the volcano limited-time menu, and it only stuck around for a few years. It's unusual because it contains cheddar cheese, which in this recipe means powdered cheese from a box of mac and cheese.

Recipe: Top Secret Recipes

Sweet and Sour Sauce

McDonald's Sweet and Sour Sauce

This tart and sweet sauce from McDonald's is usually used for dipping McNuggets, but if you make it at home, you can dunk anything. It includes peach and apricot preserves for a fruity sweetness, and only takes a quick whirl in the blender and some simmering to make.

Recipe: Top Secret Recipes 

Fried Chicken Dinner

Popeye's Cajun Gravy

The Cajun gravy from Popeye's is great on mashed potatoes, rice, chicken and anything else you want to put it on. The recipe for it is no joke, and includes chicken gizzards, ground meat, bell peppers and plenty of seasonings.

Recipe: Marinate Me Baby

Garlic breadsticks on with marinara sauce

Little Caesars Crazy Sauce

It's hard to resist Crazy Bread from Little Caesars, and it's practically a requirement to dip the breadsticks into a side of Crazy sauce. It's a pretty simple marinara-style sauce made with tomato puree and dried spices.

Recipe: Restaurant Owner & Manager 

Spicy Mayo

Subway Chipotle Southwest Sauce

The chipotle Southwest sauce at Subway gives your sub a bit of a spicy kick. It's a mayonnaise base mixed with lime juice, cilantro and cumin, plus canned chipotle peppers which add the heat and smokiness.

Recipe: Recipe Fairy

Chipotle Salad
Chipotle Salad by Michael Saechang (CC BY-SA)

Chipotle Hot Salsa

The deep red hot salsa at Chipotle is a favorite of heat lovers. It's made with roasted green tomatillos, and gets its hue from dried New Mexican chiles. Cumin, lime juice and garlic add more flavor and some tartness to the pureed salsa.

Recipe: Culinary Hill