Which french fries are best? Who has the most delicious burger? These are discussions that we’ve all probably had when talking about fast food restaurants. And while these are, in fact, important conversations, we think it’s time to start focusing on a different area of fast food cuisine — the condiments.

Don’t laugh, we’re serious.

And because it just happens to be National Barbecue Month, we figured there’s no better time to decide once and for all which glorious, greasy establishment has the best sauce. To take on this challenge, we asked The Condiment Connection Founder and condiment expert Eric Murphy to be our official judge. He happily accepted.

eric taste test

Preparing the Test

We picked 11 barbecue sauces from nearby fast food restaurants for Eric to taste using Wendy’s french fries. Interestingly enough, we found that there seems to be no set standard when referring to the condiment. As you will see from our list, titles range from “BBQ sauce” to “Barbeque Dipping Sauce.” We also noticed that each sauce comes in variable ounces, with some restaurants charging money for condiments, and others providing the sauce for free. But back to the rankings.

Without further ado, here are the official barbecue sauce rankings of 11 popular fast food establishments, ranked by Eric:

fast-food barbecue saucesbbq taste test

11. Church’s Honey BBQ Sauce

With the word “honey” in the barbecue sauce’s name, and with honey listed in the ingredients list, expectations were high. Unfortunately, Church’s Honey BBQ Sauce failed to rise to the occasion. In fact, we found this sauce to be the worst sauce of the day. And it cost us 27 cents.

  • Cost: 27 cents.
  • Size: 0.85 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Runny.
  • Packaging: Difficult to open. Poor. Flimsy.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Ew. It tastes like celery. Celery and cat fish with no honey. Gross. Bad. Is this expired?”

10. Hardee’s BBQ Sauce

While Hardee’s BBQ sauce was not as bad as Church’s Chicken’s sauce, it was also definitely not good. With a pungent vinegar taste, we’re going to pass on ever eating this sauce again.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 0.88 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Normal.
  • Packaging: Average.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Vinegary. Pungent. Bitter. Not a fan. Stings a little in the sinuses.”

9. McDonald’s Tangy Barbeque Sauce

Honestly, we were surprised to see the golden arches finish so low. While the sauce isn’t terrible, it’s just not great. We will say that it lives up to its name, and is indeed tangy. Ultimately, we were expecting more from the largest restaurant chain on our list.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 1.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Normal.
  • Packaging: Sturdy.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Pretty tangy. Tastes like a pinecone. If you were to lick your fingers after holding a pinecone, I imagine it would taste similar to this. It’s good, not great.”

8. Dairy Queen BBQ Dipping Sauce

It makes sense that they charge you 53 cents for this 2 oz, vat of barbecue sauce, as it was double the size of all the other sauces. With a hint of tequila, we’re not the biggest fans of this unorthodox barbecue sauce. Save the tequila for margaritas, please.

  • Cost: 53 cents.
  • Size: 2.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Normal.
  • Packaging: “Comes in a vat large enough to hide a small body.” Eric’s words, not ours.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Peppery, tequila-like. Tastes like a peppery tequila sunrise on a french fry. Not sure if I want my french fry to taste like that.”

7. Chick-fil-A Barbeque Sauce

Expectations were high for this sauce, which includes ingredients such as sugar and brown sugar, as opposed to the usual high fructose corn syrup. While the barbecue sauce was good, there was no case to be made that it was an extraordinary condiment.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 1.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Very runny. Gentle and watery, like a small creek in the spring.
  • Packaging: Average.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Peculiar… tastes like a beehive. Sweet and tangy, like a watery honeycomb. It’s decent, but I’m not crazy about it.”

6. Burger King BBQ

When scanning the ingredients list, we were immediately interested to try this sauce once we saw a somewhat creative ingredient: pineapple. And while we could definitely appreciate the creativity and taste the pineapple, it ultimately was not our favorite sauce. Well done, but we want something a little more traditional.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 1.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Normal.
  • Packaging: Average.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Wow. Definitely fruity… pineapple-y actually. Pineapple-y, peppery, and a little salty. Unusual. I imagine this is what Spongebob’s house would taste like.”

5. White Castle Barbecue Sauce

We can honestly say that we were not expecting White Castle to finish so high. We’re not saying this sauce is anything special, but this sharper barbecue sauce is decent.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 1.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: A little runny.
  • Packaging: Average.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Smells like vinegar. Lighter. Sharper. Hints of citrus, ever so subtle.”

4. KFC Summertime BBQ Sauce

Is there a “Wintertime BBQ Sauce?” Are their barbecue sauces seasonal? I guess we’ll just have to wait until fall to find out. Regardless, we’re a fan of this tangy, peppery sauce.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 0.875 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Great. Doesn’t feel cheap or runny.
  • Packaging: Average.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Tangy. Peppery. I quite like it.”

3. Arby’s Tangy BBQ Sauce

We started out on a rough foot with this sauce. The packaging was not ideal, and the top foil was the cheapest we encountered all day. Despite some mess, this grainy-textured barbecue sauce cracked our top 3, flaunting a tangy spin on a traditional sauce.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 0.88 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Normal.
  • Packaging: Poor.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Wow, this is a pleasant surprise. It’s quite nice. Reminds me of a traditional Kansas tomato barbecue sauce, but tangier and lighter. Hints of smoke.”

2. Wendy’s Barbecue Dipping Sauce

We were very impressed with this rich, thick barbecue sauce. Although it didn’t have quite enough to claim the top prize, it’s a respectable runner-up.

  • Cost: Free.
  • Size: 1.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Thick.
  • Packaging: Average.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Pretty good… actually, very good. Smokey and rich. Spectacular.”

1. Rally’s BBQ

While we hate paying extra money for condiments (Rally’s charges 30 cents for their sauce), I guess it’s understandable when you have a condiment this good. With solid packaging, a thick consistency, and a touch of maple and smoke, Rally’s BBQ is our favorite fast food barbecue sauce. Well done Rally’s… well done.

  • Cost: 30 cents
  • Size: 1.00 oz.
  • Texture and consistency: Thick.
  • Packaging: Sturdy.
  • Eric’s analysis: “Maple-y. Thick. Has a certain staying-power that lingers on the palette. Natural smoke flavor. This is a damn good barbecue sauce.”

rally's bbq sauce

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