Guy Fieri's New Chicken Finger Joint Has 22 Dipping Sauces. We Tried Them All.
Guy Fieri. Mayor of Flavortown. A dude who once signed a Lean Pocket and threw it into a crowd. A man who completed an episode of Hot Ones without even one sip of water or milk. For a while, it seemed like the world loved to gang up on Fieri. Now we’ve finally reached a point where we’ve realized how hacky that is. He’s just a fella who loves to eat and makes a living out of helping small businesses. Oh, and a man who wants to change the chicken-finger game.
Last year, the host of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (Triple D) and Guy’s Grocery Games (Triple G) opened up Chicken Guy, a non-triple-alliterative fast-casual spot in Orlando focused on chicken tenders. Now, His Guyness plans to go full Raising Cain's with a full-on chain.
All this is great news of course, but the best part of the whole situation is that Chicken Guy, in addition to slinging sandwiches, tenders, and fries, features a lineup of 22 different dipping sauces, only one of which contains the word "donkey." If that ain’t pure Fieri majesty, we don’t know what is. But which sauces are the best? To get ahead of the expansion, we got our hands on all 22 and ranked them based on their compatibility with chicken and fries. When Guy starts chicken hawking in your town, here's the sauce you should load up on.
Note: Since we don’t have a Chicken Guy, we shipped the sauces from Orlando and used fries and tenders from Popeyes. It’s the best we had.
22. Honey Mustard
It’s important to note that the bottom-most sauce, ol' Honey Mustard, is just fine, and when the lowest-ranking of 22 items is pretty good, that's cause for excitement. The issue is that it’s more like Mustard Honey. You barely get that delicious honey sweetness that you normally want out of a good honey mustard, which sort of just turns this sauce into plain yellow mustard. It's moderately good. But we want ridonkulous.
21. Avocado Crema
Don’t be fooled by Avocado Crema’s low ranking: it’s tasty. However, it’s not, as far as I would consider, a dip. It's essentially a guacamole spread. It’s limey and oniony, like any good guac, but it’s very thick. As a sandwich spread, it's great. As a fried chicken complement, it's odd in both texture and flavor.
20. Lemon Pepper
If you’ve ever had a proper Atlanta-style lemon pepper wings -- we’re talking buttery, oily, piquant, lemon pepper -- you know that this sauce is nothing like that. Chicken Guy’s Lemon Pepper has the flavor and consistency of mayo with lemon and pepper in it, and while that makes for a tasty mayo, it just kind of bums me out that it’s the not the real thing.
19. Curry Mayonnaise
What we’ve got here is a sort of currywurst-style sauce. Though it’s mayo instead of ketchup, dipping fries into it really simulates the Berlin-style street-food experience. That said, it works much better with fries than it does with chicken, because dipping fried chicken into mayo is an experience that really upsets you to the core. It’s hard not to feel like a grubby little lunatic when you do something like that.
18. Sweet ‘N’ Sour
This Sweet ‘N’ Sour sauce is heavy on the sweet -- you can taste orange, pineapple, and honey right off the bat. The finish is vinegary, but overall when you combine this with chicken it doesn’t feel too far off from Panda Express’ orange chicken. That is never a bad thing.
17. Bleu Cheese
Quite possibly the most divisive of the cheeses, blue can really turn people off. I’m more ambivalent about it -- it’s an overly strong taste, but sometimes it can really complement another flavor. Atop spicy hot wings is probably where blue cheese dressing shines the brightest. Fries have no business being dipped in such a dressing, but a nice, hot piece of fried chicken certainly does. The only thing holding this sauce back is the fact that in order to really announce itself as a great flavor, it needs that other spicy element. You’ll need to double dip or combine this sauce with something hot to unlock its full potential.
16. Creamy Buffalo
This is a perfectly solid Buffalo sauce. It’s not creamy in texture, though -- at least, not any creamier than a normal Buffalo sauce. The consistency isn’t far off from Frank’s RedHot. The “creamy” part comes in the flavor, sort of like they dumped some ranch dressing flavor in, which is weird. I’m not sure just leaving it as a regular Buffalo sauce would have been a mistake.
Tangy, sweet, and garlicky, Chicken Guy’s Teriyaki has everything you crave in a teriyaki sauce. Does it suit fried chicken, though? When I think of teriyaki sauce I think of stir-fried or grilled chicken, not deep-fried. This sauce would go great on a bed of rice, and maybe doesn’t really work with fries. Yet it’s still the type of sauce tasty enough to lick off your fingers if you miss a spot.
14. Garlic Parmesan
If you don’t think too hard about what you’re actually ingesting here, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the Garlic Parmesan sauce. It’s very thick and very parmy, which sort of made me want to dip some garlic knots in there. This sauce is probably the most decadent sauce of the bunch (still shocked that Donkey Sauce didn’t take home that trophy), so just don’t think about your arteries clogging while you eat it and you’ll be fine.
13. Spicy Mayonnaise
If you’re craving the Japanese-style spicy mayo you’ve come to know and love, this is exactly what you want. Dipping tenders into this guy almost simulates a chicken karaage situation, and that that right there is a beautiful thing.
12. Ranchero Salsa
Ranchero Salsa is tasty as hell. It’s truly very good. You can taste roasted tomatoes, and bell peppers, and cilantro, and even some cumin. I just don’t know what it’s doing hanging out with chicken and fries. Give me some potato chips or some tacos for this bad boy! Better yet, give me some Cheeseburger Tacos, or Dynamite Shrimp, or Trash Can Nachos (which are 100% real things found on Guy Fieri’s other menus) for this bad boy. If it wasn’t so impractical as a dip, it would rank much higher.
11. Brown Sugar BBQ
This is the kind of weapon you’d expect to be in Fieri’s arsenal, and I’m frankly very surprised it didn’t crack the Top 10. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with Brown Sugar BBQ; it’s a good, classic BBQ sauce. I guess I just expected more -- it’s definitely sweet, but the pure deliciousness of brown sugar doesn’t quite come through as much as I’d hope. But when all is said and done, there aren’t many sauces better suited for chicken tenders than BBQ. This one is good.
10. Buttermilk Ranch
The only thing I like dipping tenders into more than BBQ sauce is ranch. It’s embarrassing to be a white boy and love ranch dressing, but that’s just the way it is (worse yet, I’m a huge fan of Hidden Valley Ranch, which is the white boy-iest ranch there is). This Buttermilk Ranch is much more like the ranch you might find in a pizza shop that makes their own, as it’s thick and full of chives and dill. I’m not a huge ketchup guy, so ranch is generally my go-to for dipping with fries as well. This is solid.
9. Cumin Lime Mojo
This might be the most original sauce of them all. There’s a whole lot of flavor going down, the strongest of which is unsurprisingly cumin. If you’re not a cumin fan, this sauce ain’t for you. The cumin is powerful, but the sauce is also oily, limey, and roasty. There’s a lot going on by itself, but when you introduce it to some hot, steamy, fried food the two make a great team. I bet Cumin Lime Mojo would go great on a fish taco, too. Maybe we'll live to see the day that Grouper Guy takes the nation by storm.
8. Chipotle Ranch
Take everything tasty about the Buttermilk Ranch, throw some chipotle flavor in, add some extra smokiness, and you’ve got Chipotle Ranch. It’s the type of sauce that gives you exactly what you expect without any surprises. This is a very good thing.
7. Donkey Sauce
If you’ve followed Fieri’s culinary endeavors, you’ve been dreaming of Donkey Sauce for a long time now. It’s his signature sauce; a sauce that has become one-and-the-same with Fieri’s menus. It’s perfectly named -- only Guy Fieri would call his signature dip “Donkey Sauce.”
So, would you believe that Donkey Sauce is actually the most subtle and understated sauce in the Chicken Guy lineup? The flavor is simple and easy. It reminds me of a classic garlic aioli. There’s no doubt it makes for a good sandwich spread, but if you’re one of those freakazoids who likes to dip fries in mayo, you’ll love it as a dip. It's disappointing in that it’s not a gigantic punch of flavor, but what's not disappointing is that it’s actually very tasty.
6. Habanero Hot Sauce
Far too often a chain restaurant will announce a “spicy” sauce, and far too often the sauce is barely spicy because they’re still trying to appeal to the average consumer. I very much appreciate that every Chicken Guy sauce that claims to have some heat actually does. Though it might be a bit too thin to be a perfect dip (think Louisiana-style hot sauce), the flavor is spicy and tangy, and if they sold this in condiment bottles I would certainly buy it. Hint, hint.
5. Wasabi Honey
Wasabi Honey is extremely creative. While I’m sure this exists in other places, I’ve certainly never had it before and hot damn, it’s delicious. Each taste provides that oh-so-slight nostril tingle that real wasabi brings without ever being too hot or unpleasant -- just a subtle reminder that the wasabi is there. Then, before your startled tastebuds can keep up, you’re left with the sweetness of the honey as the wasabi flavor fades away. I love this sauce.
4. Sweet Sriracha BBQ
If you want a masterclass in how beautiful the harmony between spicy and sweet can be, look no further than Sweet Sriracha BBQ. Though the Brown Sugar BBQ sauce is tasty, it left me feeling like something was missing; turns out that missing piece was the kick you get from roasted chilies. Though the sauce doesn’t quite taste like name-brand Sriracha, it still has the heat of a spicy red chili and it helps the BBQ flavor immeasurably. This sauce is a blessing upon fried chicken.
3. Nashville Hot Honey
Truly, there’s nothing not to like about this champ right here. Honey is wonderful on its own, but when you add some heat to it, it’s in a whole different realm. You get that special kind of sweetness that only honey can provide, followed by the flavor of tasty red chilies, and even a little bit of onion and garlic. This is begging to be spread all over a roll or biscuit. The inherent stickiness of the honey helps it cling to your fries or tenders, providing a thin but flavorful coating that most of the sauces can’t match up to. Nashville Hot Honey is a grand slam.
2. Peri Peri
If you’ve ever been to Nando’s, a South African-style chicken chain, you’re familiar with peri peri sauce. If you’re not, think of it as a Portuguese-by-way-of-South African chili sauce made from African bird’s eye (or piri piri) chilies. I, for one, love Nando’s. Probably more than any other chain restaurant (for real). Their peri peri sauce is spicy and garlicky and absolutely incredible. Naturally, I was excited as hell for this sauce.
Surprise! This peri peri tastes nothing like Nando’s peri peri. Because I am not South African, and these are the only two peri peri sauces I’ve had, it’s hard for me to say which one is correct, though I’m more inclined to go with Nando’s. Fieri’s Peri Peri (which definitely should be called “Fieri Peri”) tastes a lot more like a spicy roasted red pepper sauce. It’s got hints of lemon and onion and garlic, and I gotta say, it’s absolutely delicious. Under no circumstances should you leave Chicken Guy without it.
1. Special Sauce
Life takes us to all kinds of unexpected places, doesn’t it? Here I am, a California boy through and through; more specifically, an In-N-Out boy through and through. I wave the In-N-Out flag high and proud. Never in my life did I expect another special sauce to give In-N-Out a run for its money, but here we are.
The Chicken Guy Special Sauce is truly outstanding. It’s like a more tart Russian dressing. Special Sauce is a total utility player -- it’s thin enough to make a great burger or sandwich spread, but also sticky enough to work as a dip. Rather than throwing chunks of pickles in, Fieri has elected to flavor the whole thing with pickle juice, causing the briny goodness to cut through all the richness and help keep the sauce at a unified consistency. As far as special sauces go, this one is as special as it gets.
Guess you don’t get elected Mayor of Flavortown for nothing.
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