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Every Wendy's Dipping Sauce, Ranked

Which of the tangy, spicy, and sweet options will be crowned the most dippable? We sampled them all in a quest to find out.

Picture this: You roll through the fast food drive-thru after a long day to grab a bite. After waiting in a frustratingly long and slow line, you order your meal and receive that paper bag full of goodies. You race home and sit down to your feast, only to discover the restaurant forgot your dipping sauce—an utter catastrophe.

Sauce can seem like a trivial part of the meal or an afterthought during the ordering process, but it can also change your meal experience. No one knows this better than Wendy's. The chain offers a curated collection of dips because, in its own words, "everything is better slathered in something." It's hard to disagree.

There are five different sauce options at Wendy's to pair with your nuggets—or "nuggs," as Wendy's affectionately calls them. This is one less sauce option than McDonald's and Burger King offers. Wendy's covers its bases by offering familiar favorites such as ranch, barbecue, honey mustard, and sweet and sour. It also kicks things up a few notches with its latest addition, ghost pepper ranch.

Historically, all of Wendy's dipping sauces have been well-received. Which one stands out from the crowd as the sauciest and tastiest? With an order of nuggs at the ready, I tried all five options to find out. Let's get dunking.

BBQ Sauce

wendys bbq dipping sauce with nuggets spilled out on a table.
Photo: Megan Hageman/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Packet):
Calories: 80
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 260 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 18 g)
Protein: 2 g

Most barbecue sauce recipes start with some combination of vinegar, tomato paste or sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and often molasses. With the same core makeup, you may wonder how every sauce tastes wildly different from the last. With barbecue sauce, the magic is in the spices and other secret ingredients. If you visit an authentic barbecue joint, you'll taste different flavor profiles at work, ranging from sweet to smokey to spicy. At a fast food chain like Wendy's, there is one option and one chance to impress.

The look: Not as dark as other barbecue sauces I've seen. I would say it's more medium copper than brown. It's sufficiently thick and gloopy.

The taste: The smell is strong and smoky. The taste is reminiscent of a honey barbecue, even though honey is not a listed ingredient, just sugar and molasses. I kept going back for more, waiting for a bolder taste to materialize, but it never came. Barbecue sauce is not typically my top pick, so I may be slightly biased. But there isn't anything spectacular going on, and the flavor pales in comparison to many other sharp and flavorsome barbecue sauces I've tried.

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Ghost Pepper Ranch

wendy's ghost pepper sauce with nuggets spilled out on a table.
Photo: Megan Hageman/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Packet):
Calories: 200
Fat: 21 g (Saturated Fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 350 mg
Carbs: 3 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 1 g

Wendy's introduced ghost pepper ranch sauce in 2021, edging out the chain's former red-hot sauce, the creamy Sriracha. This swap caused controversy at the time. As someone who is somewhat averse to foods that burn my mouth, I steered clear of the debates.

Fast-forward to me being wary of trying this sauce for the first time. Ghost peppers sit around 1 million Scoville heat units and were once known as the world's hottest peppers. Wendy's warning that it's a sauce "so good—and hot—it'll make you cry" did not boost my confidence.

The look: Like a spicy mayo but with a thicker, stickier consistency. Tiny black and orange flecks dance around the small plastic container, taunting me with the promise of spice.

The taste: Sneakily fiery. At first, it tastes like your average, everyday ranch. I thought I was in the clear. The heat caught up to me when I was about to go in for another dunk. It's more of a slow burn and nothing I couldn't handle–comparable to the spice level of medium or maybe hot Buffalo wings. My issue with the sauce is that it needs more character. It's just ranch with a zing. No pepper taste or complementary spices are at work to give it a much-needed flavor boost.

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Honey Mustard

wendy's honey mustard dipping sauce with nuggets spilled out on a table.
Photo: Megan Hageman/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Packet):
Calories: 150
Fat: 11 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 310 mg
Carbs: 11 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 1 g

Wendy's describes its honey mustard sauce as "sweet honey and lightly tangy mustard with a subtle but rich, smoky flavor."  The chain then throws in the humble brag that it "tastes as good as gold looks." I'll certainly be the judge of that. As for the rest of the description, it sounds on par for a standard honey mustard, except for the "smoky flavor." I have sampled rich, hickory-flavored honey mustards, but none have come from a drive-thru. I was curious to try this sauce.

The look: Smooth and pale yellow. It's not overly spotted with seeds like other honey mustards, but it is about as thick as they come.

The taste: Getting a substantial scoop of the sauce onto your nugget or other dipping apparatus is nearly impossible. While the substance is thick, it comes out of its vessel very diluted and watery. I found myself double and even triple-dunking. Once I got enough for a taste, I noted that it leans more pungent and tangy than sweet, delivering a swift kick at the end of each bite that reminded me of horseradish. I confirmed what I already suspected: Smoky notes are not part of the equation.

In full transparency, this has always been my dip of choice when I swing through the burger joint. But, next to some of Wendy's other saucy options, it doesn't seem so shiny and bright.

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Buttermilk Ranch

wendy's buttermilk ranch dipping sauce with nuggets spilled out on a table.
Photo: Megan Hageman/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Packet):
Calories: 170
Fat: 18 g (Saturated Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 350 mg
Carbs: 4 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 0 g

If you're a true ranch-aholic, you know the condiment goes well with just about anything. Drizzled on top of a pizza or salad? Yes, please. Served with a vegetable platter for some extra razzle-dazzle? Don't mind if I do. Squirted onto a sandwich? That's a no-brainer. One of the best and most traditional uses for the creamy sauce is to pair it with a batch of fresh chicken nuggets and French fries. I guess that's why so many chain restaurants have it stocked, and Wendy's is no exception. The chain's version happens to be a buttermilk variety, and it has been described as "The GOAT of go-to's for all your dipping needs," as well as "extra creamy" and "extra rich."

The look: Ivory and speckled with green bits of parsley. It looked oh-so glossy as I peeled back the blue foil. So much so that I hesitated to dunk my chicken nugget into it for fear of ruining the satisfying aesthetic. Eventually, hunger got the best of me.

The taste: A ranch I can get behind. It's not quite as creamy as the chain would lead you to believe, but the richness and welcome hints of garlic and herbs are there. In terms of both taste and texture, somewhere in between a bottled Hidden Valley and a runnier restaurant-style ranch is where I would place it—the best of both worlds. For those consumers who prefer a little more body, this may not be the nugg sauce for you.

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Sweet & Sour

wendy's sweet and sour dipping sauce with nuggets spilled out on a table.
Photo: Megan Hageman/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition: (Per Packet):
Calories: 80
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 18 g)
Protein: 2 g

"Asian-inspired with a delicate balance of sweet, fruity, and tangy"—that is how Wendy's markets its sweet and sour dipping sauce. Although hard to read atop its purple packaging, the sauce's ingredient list reveals that much of its flavor and coloring comes from pineapple juice, dried green and red bell peppers, plus spices and extractives of paprika. Once again, I paired the sauce with classic, non-spicy nuggets and the occasional salty fry.

The look: Highlighter orange and translucent. With an almost gelatin-like thickness, it reminded me of duck sauce, which is fairly similar.

The taste: Tangy and zesty at first, but not to the point of puckering. Then, it settles into more of a citrusy sweetness. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I didn't foresee this one being at the top of my list. It's a sauce I wouldn't be mad to receive at a Chinese restaurant or anywhere, for that matter. I'm not sure that pairing it with chicken nuggets does it enough justice. Egg rolls or crab rangoons would be more fitting, in my opinion. Even so, it's still an A-plus sauce, no matter how you dip it.

Megan Hageman
Megan is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Megan