McDonald's Black Garlic Sauce Is Worth The Hype

In February of 2024, McDonald's channeled the spirit of anime and whipped up a new sauce to honor it — Savory Chili WcDonald's Sauce. It turned out to be one of the better products I tasted that completely hit the swicy spot. For an encore of sorts, McDonald's is borrowing the flavors of Black Garlic Sauce from McDonald's Japan for a limited time offering of Special Grade Garlic Sauce. And in a return to the world of Japanese manga, the Golden Arches is partnering with the hit series "Jujutsu Kaisen" and decking out the labels of this dipping sauce with eight of its characters.

Just before launch, the fine folks over at McDonald's invited me for a preview to see and taste what perhaps makes it so special. The chain teamed up with foodie filmmaker Alvin Zhou to create a tasting experience where the sauce was employed in a variety of food hacks. These hacks can be recreated by any customer and show the sauce's strengths, as well as how it plays with other McDonald's menu items and ingredients. The real question is: Is the sauce any good on its own? This chew and review is based on flavor, specialness, and overall lovability.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer.

What does McDonald's Special Grade Garlic Sauce taste like?

While there are eight different "Jujutsu Kaisen" character lid covers to collect, they all contained the same exact thing: McDonald's Special Grade Garlic Sauce. As I peeled back the lid off the first one, I saw a darkened blob tucked within a black plastic container. When I released the sauce from its holder, its personality started to take shape; it was a blood-red sticky sauce that looked like a pool of maple syrup trapping some barbecue sauce. A quick whiff brought confusion to my nose, as I smelled maybe hints of vinegar or perhaps some honeyed sweetness, but nothing definitive.

For a first taste, I licked the back of the sauce's lid. It didn't fully register its flavor profile until I stuck a fork in for a bigger taste. There were notes of soy and sesame, with a small trace of sweetness. It reminded me of McDonald's top flight Sweet 'N Sour sauce, but with a bit of a heavier tone. Soon, the Special Grade Garlic Sauce chimed in with the promised first three words of its name. The garlic provides a real zing, but isn't overly pungent, nor bitter. It has a nice lean and approachable taste that even detractors of garlic may warm up to. Its the kind of sauce that keeps the mouth guessing, and therefore makes one want to return to it for more curious and happy tastings.

McDonald's Special Grade Garlic Sauce nutritional information

McDonald's Special Grade Garlic Sauce consists of water, com syrup, sugar, soy sauce, distilled vinegar, food starch-modilled, and contains 2% or less of salt, black garlic puree, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, spices, yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), natural flavors, soybean, rice, alcohol, wheat starch, pear puree concentrate, caramel color, glutamic acid, koji, corn starch, paprika, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. It contains the common allergens wheat, soybean, and sesame.

One packet of Special Grade Garlic Sauce nets 45 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 360 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of protein, and 4 milligrams of calcium. 

How to buy McDonald's Special Grade Garlic Sauce

Starting July 9, Special Grade Garlic Sauce is available at participating McDonald's in the United States, for a very limited time only, while supplies last. The sauce can only be ordered through the McDonald's app, and you can select in-store pickup, curbside, table service, or go through the drive-thru where available.

If one orders McNuggets, which turned 41 this year, Special Grade Garlic Sauce can be chosen as a dipping condiment at no extra charge. Larger orders of McNuggets result in extra free helpings of dipping sauces. The sauce can also be ordered a la carte for an additional cost. At my local Manhattan McDonald's, a sauce costs $.25, although the price may vary by store. 

The app only allows a customer to purchase five Special Grade Garlic Sauces at a time, per transaction. An order of the sauce unlocks a 30-day free trial of the anime streamer Crunchyroll, where full episodes of "Jujutsu Kaisen" can be watched.

My final thoughts on McDonald's Special Grade Garlic Sauce

I usually eat things as the food makers design them. However, thanks to the Special Grade Tasting Experience, my eyes, mind, and mouth are now open to new flavorful ideas utilizing existing McDonald's elements.

I was guided to build my own McCrispy that featured Special Grade Garlic Sauce on the bottom, and lettuce and mayo on top. The zip of the Garlic Sauce mellowed out a bit, and combining with the other elements it took on more of a tangy barbecue sauce. Saucy nuggets are all the flavorful rage these days at KFC and Wendy's, and I made my own with McNuggets. I vigorously shook the Special Grade Garlic Sauce and a packet of honey, and the result bordered on a swicy taste sensation. My favorite hack was creating loaded fries with a Garlic Sauce-mayo mixed aioli. With diced onions and chopped pickles on top, it fooled me into thinking I was eating a Big Mac.

All this playing with my food showed that the Special Grade Garlic Sauce was truly a versatile new condiment that's worthy of its "special" name. However, the sauce is so darn good on its own, its pure essence is best enjoyed by dipping it with the blank canvas that is McDonald's french fries. I may have to return for breakfast to see what magic is unleashed when applied to the only thing that's more simplistically perfect than its fries: McDonald's hash browns.