New McNugget Sauces from McDonald's

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

McDonald's recently expanded its line of McNugget sauces beyond the basic Sweet & Sour, Tangy Barbecue, and Hot Mustard to include Chipotle Barbecue, Sweet Chili, Spicy Buffalo, Creamy Ranch, and Honey Mustard. I haven't eaten nuggets since I was a kid, so I enlisted the help of certified Nugget-head Robyn in an eight-way nugget sauce taste-off. (We also injected some nuggets with sauce.) Here's what we thought.

By the way, if you want to dip without getting your fingers greasy, you can play the McNugget Saucy Challenge on the McDonald's site. It's basically a game of Simon. What's truly frightening is that someone by the name of Nathan S. Managed to score 2415 in that challenge (his sauce of choice: Tangy Barbecue). That's over an hour of solid dunking. Whoah.

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Sweet Chili

Kenji: This tastes like the chili sauce that you'd get at a really bad Thai restaurant. Super-sweet and gloppy. At least it's made with real sugar so doesn't have quite the cloying thickness of a HFCS-sweetened sauce.

Robyn: It's really sweet, kinda like Chinese takeout sauce, but spicier. It fulfills its name.

Spicy Buffalo

Kenji: Classic buffalo flavor is surprisingly good, though there's something disconcerting about creamy-textured buffalo sauces.

Robyn: Pretty spicy. I don't like Buffalo sauce that much, so my opinion doesn't really matter.

Sweet n' Sour

Kenji: The nose starts out strong with aromas of garlic and caramel, while the body has the distinct roundness and unctuousness of the finest high-fructose corn syrup with just a faint soupçon of apricot on the finish.

Who'm I kidding? This was my least favorite sauce by far. Icky and too sweet.

Robyn: This is sweet and sour? I can't even tell that it's sour. Not as sweet as the Sweet Chili either.

Creamy Ranch

Kenji: A fine example of ranch. Essentially tangy mayonnaise with a bit of black pepper. This reminds me a lot of the white sauce they squirt onto the chicken at the Hallal carts.

Robyn: It doesn't have much flavor. Tastes like creamy stuff. Uhhhhh... It's inoffensive. Tangy and creamy.

Hot Mustard

Kenji: For "Hot" mustard, this is extremely sweet stuff. Figures that HFCS is the second ingredient here.

Robyn: For something called Hot Mustard, really not that hot. A little tangy. It's a little hot compared to the Honey Mustard, but not as hot as the Sweet Chili or Spicy Buffalo.

Honey Mustard

Kenji: Strange tropical-ish flavors to me. It tastes a bit like sunblock: coconutty and sweet. According to its ingredients, it's really more of a mustard-flavored mayo than real mustard.

Robyn: I wouldn't say this tastes like honey. It's sweet. The label says that there is honey in it though.

Chipotle BBQ

Kenji: This probably would have come in at the bottom of our barbecue sauce tasting, though it does have a hint of smoke and a nice level of heat. It's just way too gloppy for me though.

Robyn: My tongue is messed up. Can we just write that for the rest of these? It's all vinegared and stuff and I can't taste. Does this one taste fruity? Is that possible? *hack cough*

Tangy Barbeque

Kenji: Scratch my previous comment: this is the one for the bottom of the bbq sauce heap. Super sweet, slightly vinegary, not very well balanced.

Robyn: In a world where I had only two sauce choices, I'd pick the Chipotle over the Tangy. I mean, there's not really much to say about these sauces. They're McDonald's sauces. I don't have many expectations. They're not bad, and it's nice that you get a lot of choices. Unghhhh... [at this point Robyn trailed off into unintelligible groan-y noises]

In the end I guess they were just about exactly what we expected: sweet, salty, tangy, and very middle-of-the-road inoffensive, just like fast food should be. If we had to pick our favorite, Robyn would go with the Honey Mustard and Ranch, while I'd take the Sweet Chili or Spicy Buffalo. What about you guys? Which is your favorite McNugget sauce flavor?

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