KFC may be best known for the secret eleven herbs and spices that make its chicken so delicious, but few diners get out of the drive-thru without a few packets of dipping sauce stashed in their bag. It's the best way to add flavor to strips, fries, wings, and thighs, even if the famous coating is already packed with spicy flavor. Even if you don't ask for sauce at all, sometimes you'll find a few tucked beneath your order, gifts from the fast-food fairy godclerks who just want you to be happy.
No matter what you think of as the best order from the KFC menu, there's a special blend of sauce that can take your experience to flavorful heights. Each has its merits to be sure, and while chicken dipping is absolutely a matter of taste, not all of these little packets rate at the same level of saucy enjoyment. We gave all the options behind the counter a fair shake and we're ready to weigh in on which are worth dipping and which are worth skipping.
It stands to reason that if you name a sauce after your restaurant, it should provide peak performance no matter what you dip into it. Which is why KFC Sauce comes was such a disappointment. We tasted a fair amount of Thousand Island dressing in the mix, but it was such an overly sweet version of that flavor that we couldn't taste the food we were dressing with it. It's a relatively new addition to the KFC sauce family, which boosted the novelty factor into the stratosphere, as well as our anticipation to see what magical spread the Colonel and his crew had come up with. Turns out it's a way-too-sweet take on McDonald's special sauce, which is such a familiar flavor that hijacking the ingredients this late in the game is a lame move.
Maybe toning down the sugar a bit would help matters. If the magic mix behind the label is ketchup and mayonnaise, then tinkering with the levels couldn't hurt. Even adding a little more tang from pickle relish would be an improvement. As it stands, this sad sauce is something we hope to see on the KFC discontinued items list in the near future.
What can we say about KFC Honey BBQ sauce that hasn't already been said about the same glaze used on chicken by grillers and smokers everywhere? Yes, it's a pleasant mash-up of smoky and sweet notes with a tingly, rich molasses-and-vinegar taste that zaps the sides of your tongue. Yes, it's a perfect partner for chicken fried or grilled, in nuggets or not. Yes, it can even make your mac and cheese into a sophisticated celebration of creamy pasta madness that makes you wonder why you haven't tried it before.
But in the end, it's just ... honey BBQ sauce, the same as you'd find in almost any bottled sauce section of your local grocer. There's nothing particularly gourmet about it, not that there has to be. It's there to fulfill a need, which it does admirably. But the familiarity of chicken with any kind of BBQ sauce is sort of like tuning into white noise on an old-time radio when really what you're looking for is a song (or in this case, a sauce) that makes you dance on the table. KFC Honey BBQ is definitely a stay-in-your-seat option.
Heinz ketchup, which can't be discounted as a sauce since KFC includes it on its sauce menu, is a tangy treat for anyone who enjoys ketchup on their chicken. Though this may be contentious among die-hard chicken fans, there are plenty of folks who love dipping their nuggets in this zingy tomato condiment. And the battered fries at KFC are an essential side dish, which means ketchup is coming with your meal whether you want it or not. You might as well give it a shot as a chicken sauce while you're ripping into the foil pouch.
And the ketchup you'll get at KFC is exactly the ketchup you expect. It's not at all strange that this age-old concoction makes itself at home at a world-famous chicken chain. The reason this selection is midway through the list is for the mixability it provides for anyone looking to concoct their own dipping sauce combinations. Add a dash to some of the other sauces in the collection and practice the fine art of crafting fry dipping sauces.
A serviceable version of a familiar favorite, KFC Classic Ranch is a prime example of how a dipping sauce can be done exactly right and still not merit a campfire sing-along celebration. It has all the elements you know and love in what has become a favorite sauce that rivals ketchup among Millennials. Being so inundated by ranch for the past few decades has likely dulled our palates to a once-exciting dressing. And there's no question, KFC makes a great ranch sauce.
Ranch seasoning on chicken is such a popular option that omitting it from the menu would be a mistake on KFC's part. But providing something people like and offering something people can't live without are two different things. Ramping up one of the herbs and creating a dynamite dill or cool basil ranch might have made us feel differently. But while we're not knocked out by KFC Classic Ranch, its commitment to the bit earns it a middle spot on the list.
Sure, gravy comes standard on KFC's mashed potatoes, which is great if that is the only place you want it. But you can also opt for a side order to drizzle over your chicken or dip your fries in to make a sort of deconstructed poutine minus the cheese curds. It's an admirable version of the gravy you've seen on Thanksgiving tables since childhood, but now that you're an adult it takes on a delicious new significance.
Consider this, too: Gravy is the only sauce that comes heated, which means there's no change in temperature when dousing your dippables. This might seem like a minor detail, but having a warm sauce to enrobe your meal in is bound to stir memories of homestyle cooking and happy holidays with friends and family. Imagine the joyful spark created every time you include a tub of gravy with your KFC order.
Unlike the other sauces, gravy is an add-on and comes with an extra charge of around $2.00 if it isn't part of your mashed potato side dish, a small price to pay for food this comforting.
KFC Buffalo Ranch transforms any chicken dish on the menu into hot wing-style party food. There's just enough heat from the buffalo sauce to start a little fire on your tongue and just enough coolness from the ranch to put it out. As long as the combo doesn't start a tornado in your esophagus, you'll have an exciting ride waiting. We can even see it as a viable dressing for a KFC chicken salad. It's a relatively recent addition to the sauce lineup, but it's destined to become a classic.
The fact that you aren't dipping actual buffalo wings into ranch when eating this blend calls to mind another mash-up of hot and cool culinary elements: buffalo chicken dip. If you have the option of asking for extra, don't sleep on the chance to load up on this one. Even if ranch on its own isn't necessarily your thing, this formulation is destined to go from sleeper to keeper in your fast food routine.
You'll find a nice balance of floral sweetness and vibrant earthiness waiting when you peel back the foil on a packet of KFC Honey Mustard sauce. This blend doesn't reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, which is exactly why it works so well. Even if you don't know the difference between honey mustard and Dijon, you'll recognize the sensation of your tastebuds smiling in satisfaction. It's easy to imagine a more deli-style KFC sandwich featuring this sauce, a layer of Swiss cheese, a few tomato slices, and a leaf of romaine.
Out of all the possibilities awaiting you behind the KFC counter to add a little something to your usual order, for us, KFC Honey Mustard is the superior sauce. It's the sauce we're most likely to request every time we cruise through for our chicken fix, whether we need something different to spruce up an order of fries or we're jonesing for a more elegant way to enjoy a family-size bucket.
Read the original article on Mashed.