We Ordered All 8 McDonald’s Sauces to Find the Best One
I used to be overwhelmed by the number of McDonald's sauces on the menu, then I ordered every one so I could rank them. Here's what I discovered.
The best sauce at McDonald’s
There are so many choices when you order at the McDonald’s drive-thru. Is it a Big Mac kind of day, or is there a Happy Meal in your future? Would you like fries with that? Absolutely. Then there are the McDonald’s sauces.
While chicken nuggets are the most obvious menu item for dipping sauces, the sauces can also be a great way to enjoy your fries if you want to venture beyond ketchup. Some people even add a dipping sauce to their burgers.
For this ranking, we ordered all the McDonald’s sauces on the menu, from classic favorites to new limited-edition sauces. For an equal comparison, we dunked chicken nuggets, but we also tasted each sauce on its own, analyzing the flavor and consistency.
Take a look at our rankings below, and see how your favorite fared in the taste test.
This option is pure honey, so it’s a dipping sauce for people who only want to add sweetness to their fast-food nuggets. It definitely gets points for being a single-ingredient sauce, without anything artificial. The idea of using honey with chicken nuggets would be to go for the sweet-and-salty vibe of chicken and waffles. But in this case, the crispy coating on McDonald’s nuggets isn’t thick enough to balance the sweet with the salty. We would probably save the honey for the breakfast menu—or use it to sweeten coffee.
Ranch is a standard choice without being a standout on the menu. This sauce is creamy and not sweet like the majority of McDonald’s sauces. Their version of ranch skews quite salty, so if that is what you’re looking for, this would be right up your alley. Ultimately, we prefer ranch as a salad dressing or in a wrap or sandwich, rather than as a dipping sauce.
6. Honey Mustard
Honey mustard is a classic favorite for kids, and it certainly brings the nostalgia. Tasting it now with an adult palate, we wished it had a stronger mustard taste to balance the sweet flavor coming from the honey. This tastes like a combination of yellow mustard with honey, but it would be much more interesting if it was made with a Dijon-style mustard for balance.
5. Sweet ‘N Sour
Sweet-and-sour sauce has been a fan favorite for years and is a staple McDonald’s dipping sauce. With notes of apricot and pineapple, this sauce definitely skews more on the sweet side, with just a hint of sour. Again, we wished the flavors were a little more bold and balanced. But if sweet-and-sour is your thing, you can even try making a copycat McDonald’s sweet-and-sour sauce at home.
4. Sweet & Spicy Jam
This limited-edition dipping sauce is reminiscent of your favorite party meatballs, when you combine a jar of grape jelly with chili sauce. Everyone loves those meatballs, so this dipping sauce was a fun way to enjoy those flavors at the drive-thru.
3. Tangy BBQ
Chicken and barbecue sauce go hand in hand, so this menu classic will always be a solid option. It’s a blend of sweet, tangy and smoky, which makes it a little different than the sweet-and-heat combinations of many of the sauces. It’s definitely a more interesting option than simply dipping your nuggets or fries in ketchup.
This is another limited-edition sauce at McDonald’s. It’s their take on the popular Washington, D.C., condiment, and it’s a wonderful addition to the menu. This sauce is the perfect combination of a barbecue sauce with a sweet-and-sour sauce, plus a bit of heat thrown in for good measure. Don’t miss out on giving this one a try, because it is a standout! Maybe even stock up before it disappears from the menu.
1. Spicy Buffalo
Ultimately, our favorite dipping sauce was the spicy buffalo. This makes an order of chicken nuggets reminiscent of a basket of wings, so we are on board. Truth be told, it was a close call between this and the mambo sauce, since both add that heat we love with chicken nuggets. However, because this one is always on the menu, it earns the top spot because we can rely on it to be there on any visit.
Why do we like it? This sauce is formulated to be creamier than the typically thin consistency of bottled buffalo sauces. It was perfect for dipping, and we even liked it on our fries. It’s not too hot, so don’t be afraid to give it a try with your next order.
In the end, it was interesting that most of the McDonald’s sauces skewed on the sweeter side. We wished there were bolder options as well! That’s usually where the limited-edition sauces come in, so anytime you see those on the menu, they’re definitely worth a taste test. We also appreciated that all the sauces were packaged for on-the-go dipping. Plus, the smaller size of the containers means you can ask for two or three with your order to try a variety each time.