Skip to content

25 Most Iconic Fast-Food Dipping Sauces of All Time

These condiments are the unsung heroes that elevate sandwiches and sides to fan-favorite status.
The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

In the fast-food world, sauces are the supporting stars that make the menu shine. Burgers, nuggets, tacos, and fries owe a debt of gratitude to these unsung heroes—condiments that elevate sandwiches and sides to fan-favorite fixtures.

Over the years, a certain echelon of dipping sauces has been calcified as icons in their own right, with devoted followings that include even the most seasoned chefs. In some cases, be it a molten cheese sauce or a pitch-perfect ranch, they may even surpass the entrée itself as the star ingredient. These are the sauces that go down in the drive-thru history books (and spur impassioned discussions online), both as enduringly beloved or—for those that have been discontinued—dearly missed.

From spicy to sweet, and everything in between, these are the 25 most iconic fast-food dipping sauces of all time.

Animal Style Sauce at In-N-Out

animal style fries and burgers from in n out
Drea S. / Yelp

The worst-kept secret in fast-food lore, Animal Style is a rite of passage at In-N-Out that's gone from relative obscurity to the ultimate condiment with a cult following. Available as a burger topping or dip with fries, Animal Style is less a sauce and more a way of life, a Thousand Island-style variant that ranks as one of the most adored, well-known, and the best quality, to boot.

 11 Delicious Burgers You Can Only Order Off 'Secret Menus'

Sweet 'N Sour Sauce at McDonald's

mcdonalds sweet n sour
Courtesy of McDonald's

The kingpin of the fast-food world is also the kingpin of dips. Of the vast pantheon of sauces McDonald's has blessed us with over the years, Sweet 'N Sour sauce commands particular acclaim. It's a sauce that seamlessly harmonizes both sides of the flavor spectrum and works wonders with nuggets and fries. According to Brian Pancir, corporate culinary director of Thompson Hospitality Group, it's the perfect condiment as a dip. "McDonald's sweet and sour sauce has been a go-to for my french fries for years," he says. "I can't get enough of the sweet and tangy sauce for my perfectly thin-cut salted french fries."

Nacho Cheese Sauce at Taco Bell

taco bell nacho fries
Courtesy of Taco Bell

Nacho fries get a lot of attention at Taco Bell, but this wildly popular, limited-edition item would be nothing without its nacho cheese sauce. Silky smooth and mildly spiced, it shows up on things like the chain's Mexican pizza, but it's at its peak when used as a dip with those fries, lending just the right amount of richness and heat.

Chick-fil-A Sauce

chick fil a dipping sauce
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

This is a sauce so popular that it rivals the top-billed chicken. While it can now be found in bottles on store shelves, there's no fast-food sauce quite like Chick-fil-A Sauce. Among the best-quality sauces on the market, the creamy concoction is infused with honey mustard and a wisp of smokiness. It's an irresistible pairing with the brand's iconic sandwiches. Describing it as one of his favorite fast-food sauces, Nathaniel Lee, chef at Meal Prepify, says it "has the perfect balance of smokiness, tanginess, and a touch of sweetness that complements the brand's signature chicken sandwich."

Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Sauce at Culver's

culvers Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Sauce!
Courtesy of Culver's

The cheese stands alone at Culver's, the Wisconsin-based chain known for its curds and cheesy ButterBurgers. True to its ethos, the company's most popular dipping sauce is the Wisconsin cheddar cheese sauce, a quality creation that online fans hail for its "real ingredients" and media outlets like Thrillist and Tasting Table rank among the very best.

 Here's When Every Popular Seasonal Fast-Food Item Will Be Back in 2024

Baja Sauce at Taco Bell

taco bell baja sauce
Courtesy of Amazon

A sauce so sorely missed that it inspired an online petition to bring it back, the discontinued Baja Sauce at Taco Bell has gone down as legend. Loaded with flavor and complexity, especially by fast-food standards, the condiment was a cheesy medley packed with a wallop of dried onions, vinegar, garlic, and peppers, creating what many diehards considered to be the end all-be all dip for various tortilla creations.

BBQ Sauce at Sonic Drive-In

Sonic popcorn chicken

Revered for its tater tots, hot dogs, and milkshakes, Sonic Drive-In has Americana down pat. The same is true of its sauces, especially its BBQ sauce. While barbecue sauce can be infamously finicky, and result in heated debates about nuance and authenticity, Sonic pulls it off perfectly with a sauce that's at once salty, sweet, and smoky, with a bit of garlic and tang to make it pop.

Cane Sauce at Raising Cane's

raising canes sauce
Raising Cane's / Facebook

The Cane Sauce is practically as famous at Raising Cane's as the chain's chicken tenders. The high-quality condiment is a comforting blend of mayo, ketchup, and Worcestershire, and it's an ideal dip with the company's crispy tenders. It's beloved far and wide by chefs. One food reporter called it so good that it "puts Chick-fil-A's sauce to shame."

Blackened Ranch Sauce at Popeyes

popeyes blackened ranch
@Em_TeeGee / X

Ranch goes with chicken like peanut butter goes with jelly, so it's only natural that one of the nation's foremost chicken chains would have a ranch that's chef's kiss-worthy. Occasionally available in select stores, and paired perfectly with chicken nuggets, this mayo-based sauce from Popeyes is so beloved that discontinuation leads to broken hearts online.

Horsey Sauce at Arby's

arby's horsey sauce
Tony Savino / Shutterstock

One of the most famous sauces in fast-food history, the Horsey Sauce at Arby's is a zesty condiment that's earned as much fandom as the brand's signature roast beef sandwiches. Designed to match with said sandwiches (or its curly fries), the mayo-based condiment gets its name from the horseradish kick. That singular taste distinguishes it from the competition, and customers who spot it on store shelves have been known to go into a frenzy.

 11 Restaurant Chains With the Most Outrageous Sandwiches

Ranch at Wingstop

wingstop wings
Wingstop / Facebook

If ever there was a perfect fast-food dip situation, it's chicken wings with ranch—an all-American combo of the highest order. It's not hard to make a good ranch dip, but what's more challenging is making a dip that's as good as the wings. But Wingstop nails it with one of the highest-quality ranch sauces out there, with one online commenter saying it's the only ranch they put on wings or pizza.

Zesty Sauce at Burger King

Burger King dipping sauces
Zoe Strozewski / Eat This, Not That!

Of all the dipping sauces at Burger King, it's hard to beat the Zesty Sauce, a favorite on the menu. In a taste test of various fast-food sauces, Eat This, Not That! declared it the most unique of all the offerings—a "creamy, rich, and flavorful standout that left a really pleasant horseradish-style burn in its wake." Pair it with chicken or fries and see for yourself.

Finger Lickin' Good Sauce at KFC

KFC finger lickin sauce
KFC / Facebook

When compared to its more modern compatriots, KFC is often overlooked in the quality department. But, according to one Reddit commenter, the chain's Finger Lickin' Good Sauce lives up to its moniker, even outdoing Chick-fil-A. The poster called it "criminally underrated," saying, "it's basically a 10x more flavorful CFA sauce." Although discontinued, the unique mayo-based sauce earned comparisons to both honey mustard and Thousand Island and was a worthy companion to potato wedges and tenders.

Mayo Onion Sauce at Jack in the Box

jack in the box curly fries
Jack in the Box / Facebook

It may not have the most appetizing name, but Mayo Onion Sauce was one condiment that exceeded modest expectations. Bold in its simplicity, the onion-infused mayo at Jack in the Box is a retired sauce that lent a nice amount of creamy zing to sandwiches and fries.

Chicken Fry Sauce at Burger King

Burger King chicken fry sauce
Burger King / Facebook

Another dipping sauce tragically lost to time, Chicken Fry Sauce at Burger King earned its place as one of the most famous fast-food condiments of all time. Debuted around the time of Chicken Fries in 2005, the sauce was a kind of hybrid between mayo, barbecue, and mustard. It's no longer available but that hasn't stopped loyalists from replicating the recipe online.

 7 Unhealthiest Burger King Breakfast Orders, According to a Nutritionist

Heinz Mayo at Five Guys

five guys heinz mayo
@EveryIndependance184 / Reddit

It may not sound like much, but Heinz Mayo is far better than its simplistic name implies. The mayo is specifically prepared for Five Guys, and online commenters love the extra thickness and creaminess of the condiment. Asim Choudhry, co-founder of The Halal Butchery, praises it as "a delectable blend of rich, creamy goodness that elevates any dish it accompanies, adding a lovely tang to their burgers and fries that makes them even more addictive."

Hot Mustard at McDonald's

mcdonald's hot mustard sauce

If the idea of a spicier-than-usual mustard sounds intriguing, then McDonald's is the Holy Land. Hot Mustard is a straightforward-sounding sauce with a huge following—so huge that copycat recipes have popped up online, and Reddit users revere it as one of their favorite fast-food sauces of all time. It's also a favorite among chefs, like Billy Kramer from NFA Burger, who says, "Growing up, I loved McDonald's hot mustard sauce as a dipping sauce for my McNuggets. It's no longer widely available, but when I see it in another market, I grab some."

Ghost Pepper Ranch at Wendy's

wendy's ghost pepper ranch
@ENgLiSh-illiTeRAtE / Reddit

For some sauces, the hotter the better. Such is the case with one of Wendy's most exemplary sauces of all time, the smoldering Ghost Pepper Ranch. A more recent addition to the chain's spicier offerings, the sauce played a key role in some of ETNT's favorite fast-food items of 2023, and it's tested and approved by the likes of Emerio Viramontes Jr., executive chef of Chef's Palette in Dallas. "My favorite dipping sauce is Wendy's Ghost Pepper Ranch," he proclaims. "Some sauces say spicy, but do not have any spice for me. However, this one has a nice amount of heat and spice. It holds true to its name of Ghost Pepper."

Szechaun Sauce at McDonald's

McDonald's Szechuan Sauce
McDonald's (Kapolei, HI) / Facebook

McDonald's likes to toy with fans by periodically bringing back its Szechuan Sauce, a spicy dipper—infused with hints of soy, garlic, ginger, and vinegar—that first emerged in conjunction with Disney's animated "Mulan" in 1998. Turns out, the sauce was more than a fleeting fad, earning such acclaim that the chain revived it some 20 years later for a limited run. It still makes occasional returns, so keep your eyes peeled for this singular sauce.

Spicy Ketchup at Whataburger

Whataburger Spicy Ketchup
Courtesy of Whataburger

Ketchup will always reign as a perfect condiment and a fast-food requisite. But, when you kick it up a notch, with a bit of heat, the most famous Americana sauce becomes something else entirely. Case in point: Spicy Ketchup at Whataburger, which seamlessly fuses sweet and heat to become one of the most chef-approved sauces on the market.

 8 Fast-Food Chains With the Most Food Quality Complaints

Mardi Gras Mustard at Popeyes

popeyes mardi gras mustard
@wewantextralce/ Reddit

Based in Louisiana, Popeyes pays homage to its home turf with Mardi Gras mustard. Although mostly discontinued, and only ever available at select storefronts, the catchy condiment boasted a bit of spice from horseradish, making it the perfect foil for the chain's chicken. According to Thrillist, it's one of the greats, while copycat recipes have emerged to scratch the itch.

White Sauce at Halal Guys

halal guys
The Halal Guys / Facebook

It may not sound like much, but the White Sauce at Halal Guys is a dipping sauce for the ages. Ideally served with chicken platters or falafel (some of the best fast-food falafel in the country, no less), the cult-favorite condiment inspired the chain to launch home delivery for the White Sauce—a singular blend of mayo, lemon, black pepper, and Middle Eastern spices including caraway, turmeric, ground cardamom, and sumac. Pro tip: Order extra, and then consult this dedicated Reddit thread to discover new ways to maximize it.

Shack Sauce at Shake Shack

shake shack chick n bites with condiments
Shake Shack

At once creamy, tangy, and pungent, Shack Sauce has a lot is going on beneath the surface. Available at Shake Shack, and famously served atop burgers or as a dip, the surprisingly complex arrangement contains mayo, ketchup, yellow mustard, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and—the kicker—pickle juice. It earns points for sheer originality, but it pays off with a sauce that's as distinct as it is delicious.

Gravy at Jollibee

Jollibee chicken and gravy

In the wide world of dipping sauces, gravy isn't typically something seen at most fast-food joints. But it's the sleeper hit at Jollibee, a Filipino chain known for its fried chicken and spaghetti. The gravy, among the highest-quality sauces in all of fast food, is hailed as the best of its kind by Reddit users. it's also enough to make it one of the most prized dipping sauces in America, and the key ingredient that takes mashed potatoes to the next level

Big Mac Sauce at McDonald's

Big Mac Sauce

One of the most iconic dipping sauces in fast-food history is one that—until recently—was largely confined to sandwich filler. Big Mac Sauce, at none other than McDonald's, has long been an essential component of its namesake sandwich, made with mayo, pickle relish, mustard, vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder. But the condiment earned its place on this list when the chain decided to release it in dip cups. It was only available at select locations for a limited time last year.

Matt Kirouac
Matt Kirouac is a travel and food writer and culinary school graduate, with a passion for national parks, all things Disney, and road trip restaurants. Read more about Matt