6 Best And 5 Worst Restaurant Sauces You Can Find At The Grocery Store

A truly epic condiment can take an otherwise ordinary restaurant item and transform it into something you'll make a return trip for. Even if whatever you're eating is delicious on its own, a sauce imbued with the right balance of ingredients puts that food on a culinary shuttle to the flavor-drenched stratosphere and punches the launch sequence. Some dishes just aren't the same without a sauce accompaniment, such as buffalo wings (gotta get that blue cheese dunk) or tortilla chips (a plunge into some creamy queso, anyone?), but other foods that taste perfectly fine on their own can reach a level of taste that explodes on your palate and leaves your mind in a dreamy daze all thanks to a well-placed sauce.

What happens when you're craving a specific sauce from your favorite spot and don't have the resources to go grab some? It's quite a condiment conundrum, but it's not one you need to fret about all that much. A bunch of restaurants offer their delicious sauces at supermarkets, so you can use them to add to your favorite home-cooked meals. However, not every option is worthy of a spot in your fridge. So, the next time you venture out to the grocery store to snag some of your favorite sauces, keep in mind the ones that are winners.

Best: Whataburger Spicy Jalapeño Ranch

There are many spots to grab a quick burger when the mood strikes. One of them that serves up a pretty solid variety of those handheld beef patties is Whataburger. The burgers come with the option to add your standard condiments—ketchup, mustard, and mayo—but there's also an absolutely delicious sauce that lends a wonderful heat to whatever it's put on. It's the Spicy Jalapeño Ranch sauce. If you don't live near a Whataburger, don't worry, because the sauce is available for purchase in stores.

Burgers are far from the only food that pairs so well with this sauce, although it does take a burger to a whole new level of awesome. People who don't have a high heat tolerance might cower at the fact the name has the word "jalapeño," but the spice level here isn't going to send your mouth to the burn ward. Your palate gets a nice kick of the pepper, but then the ranch barges its way in like a creamy extinguisher and subdues everything before it ever gets too intense. The texture is super creamy and coats your mouth really well, and overall the sauce offers exactly what you want in a condiment.

Worst: Nando's Perinaise

If you're a fan of mayonnaise and also like some heat on your sandwiches, there are many renditions of spicy mayo out there for your dining convenience. When you finally find a mayo that really strikes the perfect balance of spice along with that creamy richness mayo offers, it becomes a staple in your pantry. One of the options available at grocery stores is Nando's Perinaise. The restaurant is known for serving up some pretty great chicken dishes. However, don't let your love of the chicken lull you into purchasing the Perinaise.

The bottle of the mayonnaise describes the condiment as "tangy and spicy mayo." That sounds pretty appealing to anyone in search of both those characteristics in a creamy sauce. However, the heat in this is barely noticeable, which is a huge issue for heat-seekers. That's not even the biggest issue. The tangy quality that's supposedly right alongside the mayonnaise just tastes odd. Something tangy should tingle your palate with a zesty bite of flavor, but this flavor reminds you that you're eating something overly processed and full of preservatives. It leaves a weird aftertaste, which makes this something to absolutely avoid.

Best: Taco Bell Creamy Chipotle

Taco Bell is no stranger when it comes to serving up some pretty great sauces to pair with its Mexican cuisine. Not only does it have your basic hot, medium, and mild sauces but it also offers some additional, less familiar options, like its Creamy Chipotle sauce. If you're looking for a sauce that isn't as runny as a hot salsa but still delivers a great punch of heat with a nice texture, this sauce has your name written all over it. The best part is that you don't have to venture out to the nearest Taco Bell to get your hands on some.

Anyone who loves spice is likely familiar with chipotle peppers. Chipotle offers more of a kick than jalapeños, but it still isn't hot enough to ruin the rest of your day. If you're not a huge spice fan, it's probably best not to dump this stuff on food, but if you mix a small bit in, it won't overpower the rest of the flavors while still scratching that hot itch you have. The texture is what really makes this a fantastic sauce to use on tacos, burgers, and whatever else you use your hands to eat. It's super silky, so it puts a nice coating on your palate and lives there for a bit, ensuring the chipotle flavor lasts. 

Worst: Buffalo Wild Wings Spicy Garlic Sauce

Buffalo Wild Wings is a great spot to visit for anyone who wants to make an afternoon of eating boatloads of wings and kicking back a few brews while watching the game. Ordering plate after plate of crispy chicken wings is always a great time, but the fact that there are so many different sauces to toss the wings in really makes this place a wing enthusiast's Shangri-La. Anyone who loves Buffalo Wild Wings but doesn't live close to one can rest easy that some of the signature wing sauces are available at grocery stores. Sadly, not every one of the sauces is going to slap a smile across that appetite.

Let's look at the Spicy Garlic Sauce. "Spicy" and "garlic" are two great words to include when it comes to a wing sauce—or really any kind of sauce, for that matter. Let's be clear that when you dine at Buffalo Wild Wings and order up some wings with this sauce, you do get a really nice glaze with a kick of heat and a zesty punch of garlic. However, when it comes to the bottled stuff in stores, it doesn't even come close to hitting the same way. The garlic flavor isn't nearly as potent, and although there is some heat, it tastes almost like an afterthought. If you love this sauce, stick to eating it when you're at the actual restaurant.

Best: Stubb's Barbecue Sauce

People get real serious about barbecue. You enter a world of meat enthusiasm that rivals the intensity of sports. If you've ever been anywhere in the country where barbecue is hugely popular, you know exactly how passionate pit masters are about their grilled meats. Everyone has their own secret blend of spices for dry rubs and intricately crafted sauces to help give every rich, juicy cut of meat a celestial boost of flavor. Now, if you're not too familiar with the barbecue landscape but still want to experience the incredible flavor of a top-notch barbecue sauce, look no further than Stubb's.

Stubb's—which hails from a Texan barbecue restaurant—has a whole array of barbecue sauces to pick from, from sticky sweet to hickory bourbon, but if you're not looking for any bells and whistles, snag yourself a jar of the regular old barbecue sauce. Dump it on any piece of grilled protein and let the flavors sing in your mouth. A website called The MeatWave described the vinegar-based sauce perfectly, saying, "You get the bite of vinegar followed by a wallop of heat, tasting mostly of sharp black pepper and smoky chipotle." The sauce alone is good enough to sip right out of the bottle, but when you pair it with a decadent cut of brisket or any other barbecued meat, this thing will give you culinary goosebumps.

Worst: Olive Garden Parmesan Ranch

Olive Garden is one of those Italian restaurants that a lot of people like to throw shade at, saying it's not real Italian food and just cheap imitations of authentic dishes. Whether you love the place or detest it, one thing's certainly true: It's doing something right, because lots of people keep going back. Chat with any Olive Garden enthusiast and they'll probably talk about how much they love the never-ending salad and breadsticks. The restaurant also has a slew of sauces and dressings meant to add pizzazz to dishes, with one of them being Parmesan Ranch. If you see a bottle of it at your local supermarket, we implore you not to add it to your shopping cart.

Parmesan cheese has such a great flavor, which is why it's so disappointing that this sauce is a huge letdown. Yes, you do get a bit of Parmesan flavor in this, but there is such an overwhelming punch of saltiness that it makes it nearly impossible to enjoy. You feel like you're dumping liquid sodium onto your meal, and that's a taste sensation no one deserves. You might think that using just a small bit would make up for it, but nope. Whatever part of your food touches the stuff immediately takes on a salty eruption of uncomfortable taste. Do your wallet and blood pressure a huge favor and avoid buying this at all costs.

Best: Buffalo Wild Wings Mango Habanero

When two opposing flavor profiles come together correctly, it creates a sensation that's hard to resist. This is why chocolate-covered pretzels are so delicious. You get hit with the sweetness of the chocolate coating and then the sugar is immediately hit with the salt of the pretzel and the culinary stars align to create one heck of an amazing flavor. Sweet and spicy also pair really well together, which is exactly why the Mango Habanero wing sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings is a pantry must-have for anyone who loves a great sauce.

The spice of a habanero is nothing to scoff at, so anyone who really can't take a hit of heat should steer clear, but for those who do like a fire alarm going off in their mouth, this sauce is armed and ready to hit hard. But, the great part is that it never gets overwhelming thanks to a wonderful blast of mango flavoring that helps balance everything out. There's a sweetness that never overpowers the heat, and both find a great balance on your palate. This is a sweet heat sensation that works with so many different foods.

Worst: P.F. Chang's Kung Pao Sauce

Chinese food can fill you up quickly, but not long after you take that last bite you're going back for more. It's just too tasty to completely give up on. Many of the dishes carry that great umami sensation (thanks to the boatloads of MSG used), with sauces and glazes that coat your mouth in rich, deep flavors. P.F. Chang's is one Chinese restaurant chain that knows its way around a tasty dish. It also knows not everyone has the means to visit often, but Chang-heads can snag themselves a number of the restaurant's sauces to use at home. One of these sauces is the Kung Pao Sauce, but this stuff will lead to anything but a tasty meal.

A really tasty Kung Pao sauce should have a few layers of flavor. You should get a bit of sweetness, a bit of spice, and a whole lotta savory notes. However, one bite of this stuff and one word springs into the forefront of your mind: "sodium." This sauce is astoundingly salty, and it makes for a rather unpleasant eating experience. Now, it's no secret that American-Chinese dishes tend to contain a lot of salt, but this is just plain overkill. It completely turns you off to whatever you add it to, and you waste a perfectly good plate of ingredients. Venture down another direction if you're looking to whip up a Kung Pao dish in your kitchen at home.

Best: Chick-fil-A Signature Sauce

Chick-fil-A is one of those restaurants that has the ability to lure people in with the sauce selection. Of course, the chicken sandwiches and nuggets it serves are clearly tasty considering it's one of the most popular chicken spots around, but the dipping sauces offered take it to a whole new level. Who doesn't love a large variety of condiments to plunge nuggets into or dump on a sandwich? Chick-fil-A is aware of the love people have for the sauces, and it sells several of them in stores. One will always reign supreme: the iconic Chick-fil-A Sauce.

The sauce has many components of flavor, which is what gets people so jazzed about it. It's rich and creamy, has a little bit of spice (but nothing even remotely intense), and there's a wonderful sweetness that lingers at the end to complement the rich, golden Chick-fil-A chicken. If you want to make it yourself, most copycat recipes require mixing mayo, Dijon mustard, barbecue sauce, and honey together. But, there's something about that store-bought brand-name stuff that just tastes better. If you love dipping, dunking, and slathering, definitely add this to your grocery list.

Worst: Panda Express Mandarin Teriyaki Sauce

One hugely popular chain that serves up Chinese cuisine is Panda Express. People love the remarkably MSG-free cuisine almost as much as they love the restaurant's humble mom-and-pop origins and happy employees. If you're someone who loves to hop aboard this one-way train to Flavorville you should know the chain sells its sauces in stores. A word to the wise: Don't pencil the Mandarin Teriyaki sauce into your next supermarket excursion.

When you first taste the sauce, you can tell what it's trying to accomplish. It wants to smack you with the awesome umami-loaded salty-and-savory sensation that a great teriyaki sauce always does. Then, that mandarin orange flavor is supposed to join forces with the teriyaki and help offset the saltiness with a burst of bright, orange sweetness. None of that happens. Instead, your palate experiences an overload of salty and sweet flavors that it doesn't deserve, and it's left asking you, "Why would you do this to me?" The sauce strays way too far in both the mandarin and teriyaki direction, which leads to an ingredient that doesn't belong near your food.

Best: Arby's Horsey Sauce

Arby's is known for its roast beef sandwiches, which isn't a meat that finds its way onto too many fast food menus. When you do roast beef right, it's a great experience. Obviously, you have to pair the protein with a sauce that's going to complement it well if you want people scheduling that return trip, and Arby's did just that. The Horsey Sauce that comes with the roast beef sandwiches is the perfect addition, and fans of the chain can conveniently purchase it at grocery stores so they can enjoy it in the comfort of their own home.

Anyone who dabbles in roast beef knows just how well horseradish pairs with it, and that's exactly the main component of the Horsey Sauce. The sauce lends a creamy tanginess of horseradish that tantalizes your tongue with a sharp, bright spiciness. But, there's also a hint of sweetness, as well. The flavors are loud and proud here, and even though this is fantastic on roast beef, it works with any protein because that zesty hit of the horseradish cuts through the fatty richness with ease.