8 McDonald's Dipping Sauces Ranked

Nothing goes better with a McDonald's McNugget than... what was it again, Sweet 'N sour? Or was it the tangy BBQ? Or maybe honey mustard. No, not that one. 

The truth of the matter is that the chain offers many dipping sauces and all of them (well almost all of them) have their own extremely vocal defenders and critics. So we figured it was time to truly determine which McDonald's sauce reigns supreme in terms of flavor. 

We tried all the dipping sauces — including the limited-time only Big Mac dipping sauce — with both regular and spicy nuggets and fries and took all pairings into consideration. While we'll admit that nothing pairs quite as nicely with McDonald's fries as McDonald's ketchup (just a little truth bomb up front to let you know we are staying honest), we did find some great — and not so great — flavors. Stay tuned, because we are ranking all of the available McDonald's dipping sauces. Now, get to dipping.

8. Ranch

Since a majority of sauces at McDonald's aren't original creations, there are already established standards to compare them to. When it comes to these sauces at the bottom of the ranking, they simply can't compete with the most popular counterparts. In this instance, we recommend you smuggle a bottle of Hidden Valley into your local McDonald's instead of opting for McDonald's brand of ranch.

For starters, McDonald's creamy ranch dipping sauce is anything but creamy. The texture is watery, and the flavor is salty when combined with a nugget or salted french fry. The McDonald's ranch doesn't add the creamy herbaceous quality that a ranch dressing is supposed to and instead just makes everything saltier.

When combined with a spicy nugget, the ranch did at least temper the heat a little bit. But given how mild the spice is in the first place this isn't really necessary. Plus, we found a better companion for the spicy McNugget later in our trials.

7. Honey Mustard

Another McDonald's sauce that falls below average on the bell curve is its honey mustard. This dipping sauce is not unpopular among McDonald's regulars, but in this taste test we found it simply was not a very good honey mustard.

In terms of the sauce itself, the sweet and mustard never come together. One bite was overwhelmingly sweet, while the next would just taste like straight-up yellow mustard. And when they do mix, it is not very harmonious. Some people have bemoaned the loss of the chain's old honey mustard saying the current version is just sad, and we can't say we disagree.

If you only ever get the honey mustard with your nuggets, here's what we recommend: Next time you go to McDonald's, instead try the hot mustard if you can. It's right there and 100 times better.

6. Spicy Buffalo

As it turns out, this dipping sauce has a name that is another bit of a misnomer. McDonald's spicy buffalo dip is not especially spicy, nor does the true buffalo flavor shine through. Instead, it is a totally muted buffalo sauce with an off-putting color. If you love McDonald's buffalo sauce, more power to you, but we weren't very impressed with it.

At first, there was the color, which is a bright orange. Also, based on appearance alone, it's easy to tell the consistency would be creamier than most buffalo sauces like Frank's. However, upon tasting it this creaminess only acted to dull what little spice was there in the first place. Simply put, McDonald's Spicy Buffalo dipping sauce is lacking in the flavor department. It definitely goes better with the fries than the nuggets, but overall it wasn't one we kept going back to.

We appreciate the attempt to thicken up the traditionally thin and hard-to-dip buffalo sauce, but the result winds up being pretty mild.

5. Honey

How does honey, a dipping sauce that most people are completely unaware that McDonald's even offers, outrank multiple "real" dipping sauces? We have two words for you: spicy nuggets. That sinfully delicious combination is enough to save this honey from the last place spot.

When it comes to dipping fries, this sauce is terrible. We don't recommend it. We also wouldn't voluntarily choose to dunk regular nuggets in honey. For this taste test, we tried it and it was simply too sweet — like a more extreme and less flavorful version of the Sweet 'N Sour sauce.  But when combined with a little bit of heat from the spicy nuggets? Well, it actually kind of works. Of all the dipping sauces available for the 10-piece spicy nuggets we ordered, we found ourselves going back to the honey most often.

At the end of the day, this is just honey. It's not the best we've ever had, but it's pretty good. That's more than we can say for the ranch or honey mustard.

4. Big Mac Sauce

You've always been able to pay for a side of Big Mac sauce if you asked. Growing up this was a staple of the McDonald's secret menu and an easy way to turn two McDoubles into a make-shift Big Mac. Now, for a limited time, the Big Mac sauce is officially here in the form of dipping sauce cups. The packaging itself is shiny and makes the sauce feel special and better than its competitors. It's certainly better than some of them, but the Big Mac sauce isn't one-size-fits-all.

While this might work on McDonald's iconic sandwich, it turns out this sauce is pretty middling for nugget dunking. The mayonnaise base makes this dip unique texturally, but flavor-wise it essentially takes like a mixture of relish and mayo. There is certainly less flavor to the sauce than we expected for the chain's signature creation. When it comes to dipping your fries, though, these characteristics make Big Mac sauce a pretty satisfying option. However, mixed with the nuggets it's too heavy to really work as well as we hoped.

3. Sweet 'N Sour

This might just be the fan favorite when it comes to dunking McNuggets. McDonald's has made its Sweet 'N Sour sauce out to be a big deal, but how good is it really? For us, it was one of the tastier options but it was a far cry from what an actual sweet and sour sauce should taste like. Still, we can't help but rank it highly.

It's funny to try and describe what sweet and sour sauce should taste like because it's right there in the name. When it comes to living up to this, McDonald's almost gets there but delivers a sauce that is overwhelmingly sweet. It may be slightly less sweet than the tangy BBQ, but it was a pretty tight race. It is vaguely more fruity as it contains pineapple juice, but in no world would we describe that taste as sour. However, when it comes to having a reliable dipping sauce for the nuggets, Sweet 'N Sour finally delivers the goods.

2. Tangy BBQ

Hot take alert: McDonald's BBQ is better than its Sweet n' Sour sauce. Hotter take — both sauces suffer from the same fault: They are too sweet. While the best BBQ sauces in the country have different pronounced flavors that range from vinegar-y to smokey and everything in between, many sauces at the supermarket are primarily sweet. And as such, McDonald's appeals to the general American palette's familiarity with a sweet barbeque sauce that is honestly one of the chain's best options.

Seriously, McNuggets and tangy BBQ are a match made in heaven. For largely the same reason the Sweet 'N Sour is good, the BBQ shines as a sweet contrast to the savory, crispy nugget. 

Before this taste test, the BBQ sauce was our go-to sauce for McNuggets and fries. After trying them all out in one comprehensive trial, that didn't change at all. At least, until we tried the hot mustard.

1. Hot Mustard

By and large, the failings of McDonald's dipping sauces compared to the many better sauces sold in most grocery stores come down to each being one-dimensional. From bottom to top, this is an issue. The Sweet 'n  Sour and BBQ sauces are just sweet. The spicy buffalo doesn't deliver on the spice at all. The ranch is all salt. 

Enter the true winner of the McDonald's sauce stand-off — hot mustard. This stuff is the real deal.

McDonald's hot mustard sauce pulls off exactly what it promises by delivering a mustard that is both hot and sweet... and a little tangy too. It only took one nugget to determine that dipping sauce is the bomb. And while it melded well with all three items we tried, it was clear that this is the perfect compliment to the regular McNuggets. The hot mustard finds a balance of flavors that leaves you wanting more with each bite. In our estimation, this was the clear winner and the best McDonald's dipping sauce you can get with your nuggets and fries.