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McDonald’s drops two new dipping sauces: Here’s my honest review

One of the new releases is the chain’s first-ever “breakfast-inspired” dipping sauce to be served at U.S. restaurants.
McDonald's new Sweet & Spicy Jam and Mambo Sauce.
McDonald's new Sweet & Spicy Jam and Mambo Sauce.McDonald's

The Golden Arches have entered their flaming-hot era.

On Sept. 26, McDonald’s announced it’s bringing McDonald’s Sweet & Spicy Jam and McDonald’s Mambo Sauce to stores, and both pack a swicy kick. The sauces will be added to the chain’s lineup at participating locations nationwide starting Oct. 9, for a limited time.

The Sweet & Spicy Jam is a red pepper jam-like sauce that’s made up of cayenne pepper, red bell pepper, apple cider vinegar and the star of the show: tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorn. Although it can really be used on anything, it’s the first-ever “breakfast-inspired” dipping sauce to be served at its stateside restaurants.

McDonald’s is releasing two new spicy sauces
McDonald's Sweet & Spicy Jam and Mambo Sauce.Courtesy Joe Lamour

Next up is McDonald’s Mambo Sauce, which is a sweet, spicy, vinegary, tomato-based sauce. This spicy concoction, which also features both cayenne and chili peppers, was developed by McDonald’s culinary team and expert advisory council that includes D.C.-area chef Jerome Grant.

For context, the original mambo sauce (also called mumbo sauce, depending on where you are) is a hotly-debated (and hotly-flavored) sauce that typically contains ketchup, tomato, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, sugar and sometimes other ingredients.

“We get inspiration for the food our fans love by exploring the incredible tastes and flavors found in communities across the country,” said Tariq Hassan, chief marketing and customer experience officer at McDonald’s USA, in a press release. “Sweet & Spicy Jam and Mambo sauce live at the intersection of flavor and culture — pulling from decades of rich food history and tradition in local restaurants and home kitchens, and bringing the delicious spice, sweetness and kick of heat we know today’s customers are craving.” 

To celebrate the sauce’s arrival, McDonald’s teamed up with food-centric content creators — mostly on TikTok — who will be appearing in the brand’s campaign to try both sauces and share their real-time reactions.

Although I may not be a food influencer, I was lucky enough to try the Sweet and Spicy Jam and Mambo Sauce early at a tasting event held at a McDonald’s near Times Square — and, well, I have opinions.

McDonald’s Sweet & Spicy Jam review

McDonald’s is releasing two new spicy sauces
Sweet & Spicy Jam: a class act.Courtesy Joe Lamour

At this event, McDonald’s chefs presented attendees with a smorgasbord of food and both new sauces, starting with breakfast: Hash Browns and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit — on which we were encouraged to pour a heaping helping of Sweet & Spicy Jam.

The jam looked tantalizing as soon as I placed it on my biscuit, its appealing golden orange red color paired well with the usual fluorescence of the yellow egg and orange cheese and biscuit of a Mickey D’s breakfast sandwich. A rainbow of flavor, if you will.

McDonald’s is releasing two new spicy sauces
A Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit with Sweet & Spicy Jam.Courtesy Joe Lamour

As for what it tastes like: I give this sauce high marks. The sweetness of the jam and its slight citrus and vinegar notes mesh very well with the sauce’s spice level, which is present but not too overwhelming for a spice wimp like me.

I will say, however, the numbling effect of the Sichuan peppercorn was disappointingly negligible. Still, I would slather this jam on toast, eggs and maybe even pancakes, and that’s the God’s honest truth. A+, Ronald.

McDonald’s Mambo Sauce review

McDonald’s is releasing two new spicy sauces
McDonald’s Mambo Sauce.Courtesy Joe Lamour

The very first thing I would say about McDonald’s version of Mambo Sauce is that it is actually spicy. It’s also thicker than actual mambo sauce, which tends to be more vinegary and therefore a bit thinner.

Regardless, the first flavor note you get is sweetness, followed by vinegar and then you notice the heat. It sneaks up on you.

Although I may not be able to set foot in D.C. after stating this, the Mambo Sauce wasn’t my favorite of the two.

Heat seekers, however, will love this sauce. It’s like if McDonald’s original Barbecue Sauce went to college, if that makes any sense. It’s essentially a more mature, vinegary, sweet and flavorful version of a barbecue sauce.

Will this give Taco Bell’s Fire Sauce a run for its money? I don’t know, but paired with McDonald’s other new spicy menu addition, Spicy Chicken McNuggets, it will certainly make few tongues wag.

Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go grab a glass of milk.