Fast Food Dipping Sauces, Ranked

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When faced with so many quick-service dining options, fast food dipping sauces can tip the scale in favor of choosing one chain over another. Many can't even imagine eating a fry or nugget without dunking it into a pool of high fructose corn syrup goodness.

And there are so many to choose from. There are ranches, barbecue sauces, honey mustards, and let us not forget those secret signature sauces. Oh, those glorious dipping sauces! One of the best things about fast food dipping cups is that you can horde them. They offer the perfect way to spruce up a boring house burger or bland piece of chicken while cooking at home.

Some people's love of fast food dipping sauces, however, goes far beyond being a fan of flavor. People were so obsessed with McDonald's Szechuan Sauce that a woman was able to trade a single cup of it for a Volkswagon GTI (via The Drive). Some people even consider dipping cups to be collector's items. This cup of Wendy's discontinued Creamy Sriracha is listed for $500 on eBay and more than 400 people signed a petition demanding it be returned to the chain's dipping sauce line-up.

We all have our dipping sauce preferences, but there are those that stand out among the crowd of sauces. Who is the best among the best when it comes to the most beloved fast food dipping sauces? The Queen of Condiments? The Sultan of Sauce packets? You're about to find out.

13. McDonald's Hot Mustard Sauce

Hot mustard can be an acquired taste, but McDonald's has managed to make the brand's version superbly delicious. That's because it's not as fiery as the traditional hot mustard you get at Chinese restaurants. Its creamy sweetness cuts the heat. McDonald's Hot Mustard Sauce also has notes of turmeric and paprika.

This is one McDonald's OG dipping sauces, along with its Honey, BBQ, and Sweet 'N Sour dipping cups (via Salon). It debuted in 1983 as one of the original sauces offered with the brand-new Chicken McNugget.

But the allure of Mickey D's Hot Mustard Sauce might be derived from its exclusivity. According to The Takeout, it was largely discontinued in 2014 but can still be found at certain Golden Arches locations. It's only served in regions where there is demand for it. And there is definitely still demand for it. There are people who collect as many as they can and sell them online above market price. You can even grab a 12-pack of McDonald's Hot Mustard Sauce tubs on Amazon.

12. Wendy's Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce

Though Wendy's Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce was born out of controversy, it's no less delicious. Made with one of the spiciest peppers on Earth, its blend of buttermilk and herbs softens the burn while still delivering steady heat. It's the perfect way to punch up a plain nugget or to clear your sinuses when paired with Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets.

PepperScale reports that ghost peppers are 107 times hotter than jalapeños. That's why the pigtailed burger purveyor promised fans that their Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce would "set your tastebuds ablaze," according to Wendy's. But in a good way.

Wendy's introduced its Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce as a replacement for phasing out its Creamy Sriracha in the summer of 2021. Entrepreneur reports that fans were NOT happy about it at the time, vowing to shun the chain for life. Still, Wendy's wasn't backing down when it came to the brand's spiciest dipping sauce offering, saying that it was "proud" of its "legacy of spice" and ability to keep creating elite fast foods innovations.

11. KFC Sauce

KFC Sauce has all the things. It tastes like a creamy, smoky ketchup and mustard combo with spices and molasses. It's smoky, sweet, and has a nice tang to it. And it took about 50 tries to get the amber-colored sauce just right, according to TimeOut.

With all those attempts, you might say it's "Finger-Lickin' Good." Well, you used to be able to, but not anymore. KFC Sauce was originally called KFC Finger Lickin' Good Sauce. reports that the Colonel changed the name to KFC Sauce during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company felt "finger-lickin'" was no longer appropriate for the new germ-conscious era. The company's catchphrase is now, "it's chicken dippin' good," though KFC said it might consider switching the phrase back in the future. But the signature sauce doesn't just have a new name; it also has a different recipe. KFC Sauce is thinner and has a darker orange hue than the original KFC Finger Lickin' Good Sauce. It also has more of a mustardy taste and is sweeter.

10. Carl's Jr. Sweet & Bold BBQ Sauce

Carl's Jr.'s incredible will to succeed and grow is probably how the chain wound up creating one of the best fast food barbecue sauces out there. The Carl's Jr. website reveals the restaurant's humble beginnings in 1941. It was started by a husband and wife duo with $15 in savings and a $311 loan against their car. Carl and Margaret Karcher bought their hot dog cart in Los Angeles, California, and were able to transform it into a global restaurant chain.

That single hot dog cart turned into more than 1,100 restaurants in the U.S. and abroad. There are also about 300 Carl's Jr. locations that cohabitate with Green Burrito restaurants. Carl's Jr. is now a part of CKE Restaurants Holdings, which also operates Hardee's.

But our favorite thing to come out of the Karchers' hard work is definitely their Sweet & Bold BBQ Sauce. Carl's Jr. Sweet & Bold BBQ Sauce is just that — sweet AND bold. It's tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce heavy with sugary notes of tamarind and pineapple juice. It is our captain when it comes to the high seas of barbecue sauce.

9. Raising Cane's Cane Sauce

Not only is Raising Cane's Cane Sauce among the top-tasting fast food dipping sauces on the market, but it's also the freshest. According to QSR Magazine, their peppery smoked, tomato-based cream sauce is crafted in-house daily. That made-from-scratch flavor is what founder and co-CEO Todd Graves says sets his chain apart from others. Cane's Sauce is so beloved on its famous fried chicken that if you measured the amount people eat yearly, it would be taller than 51 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.

Raising Cane's Cane sauce recipe is a heavily guarded secret that is verbally passed down from restaurant leader to restaurant leader. At least, it was until a disgruntled fired employee divulged the alleged recipe on Twitter in 2015 (per Fox 7 Austin). After tweeting the ingredients and receiving a huge response, the user ended up posting the amounts of each ingredient a few days later.

8. Whataburger Spicy Ketchup

Whataburger's Spicy Ketchup quickly became a customer favorite and was permanently added to the menu in 2013 (via The Dallas Morning News). It's now one of the most delectable fast food dipping sauces with which to smother your food. Whataburger's Spicy Ketchup isn't "burn your mouth off" hot but delivers a burst of tomatoey heat with every bite. Whataburger fans were so crazy over it that the company started selling it in 20- and 40-ounce bottles at various stores and online.

While Whataburger is known for its "bigger, better burger," the company is also known for its fancy ketchup. The unique blend of spices, touch of sweetness, and consistency, which is thicker than traditional ketchup, is sold in 1-ounce cups for adequate dunking. The chain, which started as a burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas, had such a cult following for its ketchup that it even has its own fan page on Facebook.

But in 2012, the company made a move to make its amazing ketchup even better by adding jalapeños. While the exact measurements for the Whataburger Spicy Ketchup recipe are kept under wraps, the ingredients list shows that it's red jalapeño puree that punches this ketchup way up and makes it one of the top fast food dipping sauces in the game.

7. Dairy Queen Country Gravy

When most people think of Dairy Queen, we think of the curly-topped cones. But, according to the company's website, the franchise added hot foods to its menu in 1961. It started by serving burgers, hotdogs, and fries and eventually added the fried chicken strip basket in 1995.

And that's when we were graced with the incomparable Dairy Queen Country Gravy. One of the reasons we love this fast food dipping sauce is that there are few like it out there. It is, as they say, "like butter." And the container is big enough that you can dunk just about any food you want in it.

The recipe is a traditional southern, creamy white pepper gravy that is typically served with chicken fried steak, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, or biscuits. Homemade, southern white pepper gravy is usually made with butter, flour, seasoning, milk, and pepper, while Dairy Queen's adds in a few additional ingredients to make a gorgeously, rich and delicious dipping sauce.

6. In-N-Out Burger Spread

In-N-Out Burger Spread melts onto your savory burger covering it in tangy sweetness. It's so good that we can confidently say it rivals Big Mac Sauce. It is similar to Thousand Island dressing in color, consistency, and flavor profile but tastes much better than anything you'd pour from a bottle.

Chef and food scientist J. Kenji Lopez-Alt determined that In-N-Out Burger Spread is a mixture of mayo, ketchup, and sweet pickle relish (per Serious Eats). The only thing In-N-Out Burger has revealed about its Burger Spread recipe is that it is "our own recipe, unchanged since 1948."

And yes, is it technically branded as a "spread." In-N-Out Burger Spread comes on all of In-N-Out's burgers and the Animal Style burgers and fries, which are served with extra sauce. But it's also available in packets. If you're like us, you squeeze out as many free packets as possible and dunk your burgers and fries in them. So, to us, it is absolutely a fast food dipping sauce and among the best of them.

5. Popeyes Blackened Ranch Sauce

What's better than some ranch? An upscale ranch. And that's exactly what Popeye's Blackened Ranch Sauce brings to the table. The New Orleans chicken chain's elevated ranch greets you with a spicy and smoky kick thanks to its addition of paprika, mustard seed, parsley, garlic, onion, and other secret spices.Popeyes brought its blackened ranch into the world in 2012 as one of its six signature sauces along with Bayou Buffalo, Barbeque, Sweet Heat, Mardi Gras Mustard, and Buttermilk Ranch, reports.

But our favorite fast food dipping ranch might not be as readily available as you think. Popeyes revealed in a 2021 tweet that their Blackened Ranch Sauce is only available at participating locations. The sauce is so esteemed that you'll find plenty of Popeyes Blackened Ranch Sauce copycat recipes. If you aren't near a Popeyes, don't fret, as you can also order the dipping sauce online.

4. Chick-fil-A Sauce

The reason Chick-fil-A Sauce reigns as one of the top 10 fast food dipping sauces of all time is that it's actually made of three classic dipping sauces. The company confirmed in a tweet that Chick-fil-A Sauce is a combo of honey mustard, barbecue, and ranch. Fans of the chicken chain dip into over 84 million cups of "the magical blend" each year.

It's pretty hard to believe that this glorious creation was caused by a happy accident when an employee accidentally mixed barbecue sauce into the honey mustard while loading the honey mustard pump in the 1980s (per Insider). Chick-fil-A operator Hugh Fleming decided it would make a fantastic signature dipping sauce, and Chick-fil-A Sauce was born.

It was so popular that customers began filling drink cups with it from the pump. Fleming said that there was quite a "mania" over it. It's now offered in 1-ounce cups. Fleming handed over the recipe to the corporate office upon his retirement in 2007. Now it is enjoyed at all Chick-fil-A locations and even at home, and we don't mean by the people who stock up during every visit to the drive-thru. You can get Chick-fil-A Sauce in stores like Target or Amazon.

3. Arby's Horsey Sauce

Arby's Horsey Sauce is one of those fast food dipping sauces that are so good you would swim in a vat of it if you could. Arby's has been offering this mild mayo-based horseradish sauce since the 1970s to compliment its American roast beef sandwiches. But we love it with our fries and just about anything else we order from Arby's.

Brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel wanted to open a quick service restaurant that was different than what the other fast food giants like McDonald's were doing at the time. Leroy Raffel told Metro Monthly that they decided on roast beef sandwiches after seeing a busy sandwich stand selling them in Revere Beach, Massachusetts.

They needed to get $.69 per sandwich rather than the $.15 most quick-service restaurants were getting for a burger. Therefore, they set out to offer a more upscale experience so customers wouldn't mind paying a higher price. They designed modern-looking locations with workers who wore chef uniforms. Arby's also decided to serve its sandwiches with a horseradish sauce since that's how beef dishes were served in full-service restaurants.

Now Arby's Horsey Sauce is among the most coveted fast food dipping sauces in the U.S. Arby's decided to sell its Horsey Sauce commercially by the bottle for a limited time at stores in 2013 (via Brand Eating). Now you can get it at stores like Krogers and have them shipped to you. 

2. McDonald's Sweet 'N Sour Sauce

It was a glorious day in 1983 when McDonald's brought its Sweet 'N Sour Sauce into the world (via Salon). Though BBQ, honey, and hot mustard were also introduced that day to mark the advent of the McNugget, Sweet 'N Sour Sauce was clearly the princess at that party.

While its golden syrupy consistency might have you believe it's wholly made from high fructose corn syrup and chemicals, there's actually "apricot puree concentrate and/or peach puree concentrate" in there too, per McDonald's. But let's be real. This would still be one of our all-time favorite fast food dipping sauces, even if it were a solely chemical concoction. It's been that way since the 80s, and likely won't change.

McDonald's Sweet 'N Sour Sauce was a spin on Chinese sweet and sour sauce, which is thinner, redder in hue, and has a more pungent vinegar taste. The fast food chain's version is thicker for better dipping and sweetened to suit American tastes.

1. Papa John's Special Garlic Sauce

When it comes to fast food dipping sauces, Papa John's Special Garlic Sauce reigns supreme. And for so many reasons. First, it's a garlic and butter mixture which makes it fantastic right off the bat; but it's also creamy AND paired with one of Earth's greatest inventions: pizza.

Papa John's Special Garlic Sauce also changed the pizza game as we know it and created something the world had never seen. Pizza wasn't considered a dippable food until Papa John's came along and invented the pizza dipping sauce. Every original hand-tossed crust Papa John's pizza has come with a pepperoncini and liquid golden tub since the company was founded in 1984. It was specifically made for dipping pizza crust into.

Those garlicky cups of heaven were conceived from Papa John's founder John Schnatter's personal recipe, per Eater. But you'd probably be surprised to know that there are actually two different recipes. The recipe was slightly altered to exclude hydrogenated oil and artificial flavors and coloring. The old-school recipe is sometimes served when there aren't enough clean-label recipe sauces to go around. So, you could be receiving either formula, according to Papa John's. Both, however, are equally delicious.