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The 14 Best McDonald’s Sauces, Ranked

The McDonald’s menu has a lot to offer, and its expansive selection of sauces adds a ton of fun ways to customize each meal. From the standard options to seasonal and promotional specials, McDonald’s sauces have made a name for themselves.

There are seven standard McDonald’s sauces that most restaurants always carry, in addition to their special Big Mac sauce and the tartar sauce.

They often also carry two types of hot sauce and mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.

In addition, there are many limited-time sauces as well as international specials.

We’ve chosen the 14 best McDonald’s sauces and ranked them based on flavor, texture, and how they can be used.

While we didn’t include the three condiments most people are familiar with (ketchup, mustard, and mayo), we did include several limited-time specials that we hope will return soon!

14. Honey

Honey is one of McDonald’s sauces for those who want to add sweetness to their meal.

We prefer it on a biscuit or breakfast sandwiches and will stick to other dipping sauces when it comes to our nuggets.

Although honey is commonly included in many dipping sauces, it’s usually a component of a sauce rather than the sauce itself.

After all, honey tends to be quite viscous and sweet, and it isn’t commonly used with savory food.  

The good thing about McDonald’s honey is that it is a pure Grade A product, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

McDonald’s honey has 50 calories per 1 oz. serving.

13. Mild Picante

McDonald’s mild picante sauce is the mellow version of their signature hot sauce.

It comes in a packet rather than a sauce cup and is known to pair great with a breakfast burrito.

The mild picante sauce is made with concentrated tomatoes, onions, and green bell peppers.

It has 5 calories per packet and contains no common allergens.

12. Tartar Sauce

With the Filet-O-Fish being one of McDonald’s signature sandwiches, there’s no wonder why they’d have a delicious tartar sauce to match.

It’s creamy and tangy with pickle relish, onion, and parsley flavors.

McDonald’s tartar sauce is tasty, but it’s pretty on par with other tartar sauces.

Furthermore, it only pairs well with the Filet-O-Fish, making this a yummy but very limited option.

McDonald’s tartar sauce has 140 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains eggs and soy.

11. Hot Picante

McDonald’s hot picante sauce is the spicy version of their mild picante because of the added jalapeno peppers.

It pairs great with a breakfast burrito or any other wrap for those who like some heat.

The McDonald’s hot picante sauce is made with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, green bell peppers, salt, and vinegar.  

It has 5 calories per packet and has no common allergens.

10. Creamy Ranch

You can’t really go wrong with Ranch. It pairs great with chicken nuggets, burgers, salad, and even fries.

However, McDonald’s creamy ranch sauce is not superior to other ranch recipes, and unless you’re a die-hard fan, you may want to try something else.

This creamy ranch sauce has a watery consistency and is lacking in that “ranch” flavor.

While the notes of garlic and onion keep it interesting, and the creaminess lets it pair well with just about anything, the sauce overall is rather plain.

McDonald’s creamy ranch sauce has 110 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains eggs and milk.

9. Sweet and Sour

The sweet and sour sauce comes in many varieties, and it can be hard to tell what you’ll be getting with each recipe.

They’re often made with various fruits and may even have some spiciness to them.

McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce is apricot and peach-flavored sauce with just a bit of heat.

This sauce is more sweet than sour, but the thick and gooey texture gives the chicken nuggets or tenders a nice coat.

McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce has 50 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains wheat and soy.

8. Tangy Barbecue

The barbecue sauce goes perfectly with chicken or on burgers, and this rendition is no exception.

However, the name could be a bit deceiving.

While McDonald’s tangy barbecue sauce contains the base ingredients that make up a good barbecue sauce– tomato paste, hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, and savory spices – the tangy flavor is not what you’d expect.

This sauce is mostly sweet with a smoky kick, and you won’t find much of the vinegar tang that the name implies.

It’s tasty overall, but it may not be quite what you’d expect.

McDonald’s tangy barbecue sauce has 45 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains wheat and soy.

7. Habanero Ranch

McDonald’s habanero ranch sauce was a limited-time option, but it’s a fan favorite hinted to make a return.

It’s a spicy take on their creamy ranch sauce, and the habanero pepper with tangy vinegar adds the needed flavor to the otherwise bland and creamy buttermilk-based sauce.

Although there hasn’t been any solid news about when habanero ranch could make a return, people have taken to social media to demand the sauce back.

In 2021, the official McDonald’s Twitter account told fans to keep an eye out, so we’re hoping to see a return soon!

McDonald’s habanero ranch sauce has 80 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains milk and eggs.

6. Spicy Buffalo

Buffalo sauce is a must-have dipping option for chicken, and the McDonald’s version will give you that classic accent.

McDonald’s spicy buffalo sauce is a creamy, buttery sauce flavored with salt, vinegar, and spicy pepper.

Although it is not as hot as other buffalo sauce recipes, McDonald’s claims it has a developing heat, making this a great sauce for those who like a little spice.

McDonald’s spicy buffalo sauce has 30 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains milk.

5. Big Mac Sauce (a.k.a. Special Sauce)

McDonald’s signature Big Mac sauce has undergone several evolutions and name changes.

Originally called the Big Mac Special sauce, it was first released in 1968 to complement the Big Mac when launched internationally. 

After its initial release, the ingredients of the sauce continued to be tweaked.

In addition, two different sauces were used for a while until a new recipe, known as the Big Mac sauce recipe “72”, was released as a compromise to former versions.

The recipe was further tweaked in 1991 and again in 2004.

However, this last change was made by someone who had worked with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, and it restored the recipe to the original McDonald’s special sauce.

Today, McDonald’s Big Mac sauce, still commonly referred to as their “special sauce,” is made with cucumbers, vinegar, chili pepper, sugar, egg yolks, and garlic.

It is creamy and tangy and has a unique spice, making it a crowd favorite.

McDonald’s Big Mac sauce has 70 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains eggs.

4. Szechuan Sauce

McDonald’s Szechuan sauce is a signature flavor that debuted years ago and had multiple returns.

This sauce has enough of a following that we hope to see more of it in the future!

The Szechuan sauce made its first appearance as a promotional item for Disney’s animated movie Mulan.

Although the sauce was a hit, it wasn’t seen again until the adult cartoon show Rick and Morty mentioned it nearly 20 years later in 2017.

Supplies ran out in a single day, but only a year later, it returned once again.

McDonald’s Szechuan sauce is a lot savory and a little sweet.

It includes soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and vinegar notes and has a bit of spice to give it some heat.

McDonald’s Szechuan sauce has 35 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains wheat and soy.

3. Hot Mustard Sauce

McDonald’s hot mustard is not officially one of their standard dipping sauces.

However, we felt it was worth mentioning following an article from The Takeout, which revealed that it could still be found at select locations.

Availability seems to vary regionally, so keep your eyes peeled and don’t hesitate to ask about it the next time you dine at a McDonald’s location.

This dipping sauce was largely discontinued in 2014, but it was once a fierce competitor to the honey mustard sauce.

Although honey mustard is undeniably tasty, the hot mustard sauce brought an element of spice that is hard to come by in McDonald’s dipping sauces.

On top of having some heat, this sauce wasn’t bound to just chicken.

With sweetness and creamy texture accompanying its spice, it also pairs well with burgers, snack wraps, and even fries.

McDonald’s hot mustard sauce has 50 calories per 1 oz serving and contains eggs.

2. Sweet Chili

The Sweet Chili sauce was a new addition to the McDonald’s menu in 2021, but it was sadly only around for a limited time.

It made its debut as part of the BTS fan meal, and it was enough of a hit that we hope it will make a return.

The sweet chili sauce can be compared to the McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce, but it has a unique tang that makes the sauce pop.

With tomato, chilis, and garlic notes, this sweet yet subtly spicy sauce pairs well with any chicken item at McDonald’s.

McDonald’s sweet chili sauce has 35 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains wheat and soy.

1. Honey Mustard

Chicken tastes great with something sweet like honey and even better when it’s offset by the tangy flavor of mustard.

For this reason, we think the honey mustard is the best sauce to pair with chicken nuggets, tenders, or sandwiches.

McDonald’s honey mustard sauce combines Dijon mustard with honey to create a mellow yet full-bodied flavor that lends notes of honey, vinegar, salt, and spice.

While it does lean towards the sweet side, this sauce offers all the elements you could want in a honey mustard sauce.

It also adds an excellent accent to McDonald’s chicken, and we even enjoy it with fries or on a burger.

McDonald’s honey mustard sauce has 60 calories per 1 oz. serving and contains eggs.

Conclusion

From standard condiments to unique fusions, there’s a McDonald’s sauce to go with every meal.

While we think the options like honey and tartar sauce have a particular place and time, other sauces like their honey mustard or Big Mac sauce pair well with nearly any item.

For more information about McDonald’s, check out the articles below.

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Last Updated: June 12, 2022

About the Author

Lana Kisner is a writer on the Shopfood.com team. She has a B.A. in European Literary Studies and over two years of experience as a content and copywriter. She loves food and people and has spent more than 15 years in the foodservice industry.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling and exploring new places, live music, and hiking with her dog.

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