The Best Sauces To Dip Chicken In, Ranked

Who doesn't love a culinary slam dunk? No, we're not talking about basketball here. When we say "dunk," we mean that epic plunge into a delicious condiment. It's about taking your food and treating it to a rich, creamy jacuzzi of tasty goodness. Yeah, dunking is awesome. There are so many different kinds of foods deserving of one. If you consider yourself a boss of all things sauce, then you know exactly how vital a properly paired condiment is when it comes to crafting the best meal possible. And, few foods are as dunkable as chicken.

Chicken comes in so many different forms, which makes it one of the best proteins out there. It takes on flavor really well, so when chicken's on the menu, you'd be remiss not to figure out a delectable sauce to ride shotgun while it steers the meal wheel. But, just because you can dunk chicken in just about any sauce doesn't mean you should. Not every rich, creamy condiment takes your chicken to the wonderful places it deserves. So, the next time you're whipping up some chicken and are seeking out a sauce to slam dunk it in, this list is here to help you pick the one that's gonna leave your appetite with the biggest smile slapped across it.

10. Mustard

Mustard fiends love the vinegary bite this condiment gives whatever food you slather it on. It has a sharpness to it that really strikes your palate like a bolt of lightning, and it can help slice through any dense richness a dish might have. But have you ever plunged a piece of chicken into a pool of the stuff? Well, if you're thinking about doing it the next time you have a batch of chicken tenders on hand, you might want to second guess that method. We think you'll find opting for a different sauce is the right avenue to travel.

Mustard might join forces with a hot dog for a darn tasty time, but it really doesn't do the same when it comes to chicken. Chicken isn't an overly rich protein, so you really don't need a blast of spicy vinegar to help alleviate any oiliness. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't cook chicken in a way that results in a rich, coat-your-mouth experience, but even so, mustard just isn't the condiment that's gonna leave you with that wow factor we all want. Leave the mustard to hot dogs.

9. Ketchup

There are several kinds of food that pair exquisitely with ketchup. A batch of french fries just wouldn't be the same without a little paper ramekin of the red stuff for some epic dunking action. A hot dog blasted with a thick line of ketchup travels down the gullet a little happier. Putting a hefty smear of ketchup on a bacon cheeseburger makes it a meal worth dabbling in. But, one food that just doesn't quite seem to get off the ground when you use ketchup as an accompaniment is chicken.

Now, it might seem natural to grab yourself a basket of chicken nuggets and plunge those little suckers into a heaping dollop of 'chup. But, you quickly find that the sweetness of the sauce is a little too overwhelming. The tomatoes in the condiment lend a very sweet flavor profile, which can definitely pair great with some cuisine, but with others it can taste so powerful that it overshadows the star of the show, which is the chicken. Go with a sauce that isn't so sweet-forward to make the most out of that tasty little clucker in front of you.

8. Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise can be quite a polarizing condiment. There are some who shudder just thinking about a pile of the thick, glistening white substance. But there are others who put that stuff on everything. There's simply no amount of mayonnaise that will satisfy their hunger. For these mayo-lovin' folks, it might seem like an obvious decision to order up a side of the stuff with chicken so they can send those strips of lean protein in for a mayo-drenched dunking extravaganza. However, as delicious as mayonnaise can be, it's not always the best sauce for chicken.

Mayo is super rich, and it gives whatever food you slather it with a calorically heavy sensation. This can be a rocky road to navigate down when it comes to chicken. Chicken is great because it doesn't have those oily striations of fat that steak and pork do, so adding mayonnaise to it makes you feel like you're unnecessarily creating a fatty chaos. Mayo also isn't packed with strong flavor. Unless you're eating some kind of aioli that combines mayo and some other tasty ingredient, all you're really doing to your chicken is tacking on a layer of heavy texture that tends to sit in your stomach like a cinder block. Our advice is to put your obsession for mayo on a shelf when it comes time to enjoy chicken.

7. Cheese

A slice of high-quality cheese always hits the right spot. When you're able to dunk something in a cup of warm, gooey cheese, your happiness levels are cranked up quite a bit. The salty, slightly sweet coat-your-mouth texture pairs perfectly with so many dunkable foods, especially chicken. The great thing about chicken is that it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you pair it with really well, and cheese is no exception.

It really doesn't matter what kind of cheese you use. It likely will work well with a piece of chicken. A chicken cutlet sandwich is definitely tastier when there are a few slices of the American stuff draped on top. If you're opting for some Buffalo chicken, look no further than the almighty blue cheese to give you that great tanginess that slices through the heat of the Buffalo sauce. And, of course, sending a couple nuggets on a mission into a ramekin full of melted cheese rarely lets you down. So, if you're one to embrace chicken, make sure you also embrace a cheesy addition to the meal.

6. Ranch

Of all the condiments available to consumers, ranch definitely stands out as one of the most popular. Not only is a delicious salad dressing that gives a boatload of creamy herbiness to a bowl of greens, but it's fantastic for dunking all kinds of stuff in, from pizza to french fries. The texture is super silky and gives anything you put it on a great level of moisture. This is exactly why ranch is a solid choice when you're looking for something to pair your chicken with.

There's a reason why chicken bacon ranch sandwiches are so awesome. The richness of the bacon and the white-meat chicken really soak up all the herbs and spices the condiment offers. Ranch also plays a big role in Buffalo wings if someone doesn't enjoy the strong tang of blue cheese. A hefty dunk into a cup of ranch gives a freshly fried wing a wonderful creaminess to offset the crispy skin.

5. Barbecue

Barbecue isn't just a way to eat great tasting food. It's almost a religion to some people. If you visit certain areas of the country where barbecue reigns supreme, you realize how deep the culture runs. Pitmasters have their own super-secret spice rubs and sauces that keep customers hooked. A huge barbecue feast throws the carnivore inside of us into a chokehold and doesn't let go until our bellies are about to burst from all the rich cuts of meat stuffed inside. And, chicken is certainly one protein that takes to the flavor of barbecue really well.

There are a ton of different kinds of barbecue sauces, from sweet to smoky to spicy. But, it really doesn't matter which one you choose when pairing it with chicken because the meat soaks up all that amazing barbecue taste and showers it over your taste buds with each bite. Also, depending on how you cook your chicken, you can choose the right flavored sauce for it. If you're deep-frying your meal, you might want to use a sweeter sauce to cut through the richness of the fried skin. If you're baking your chicken meal, something smoky and spicy will hit the mark.

4. Buffalo

Buffalo sauce has a unique heat to it that immediately lets you know what you're eating. It's spicy, but there's a particular kind of tanginess in it that really sets it apart from your standard hot sauce. If you know your way around chicken dishes, then you've likely had Buffalo chicken at some point. And, that means you know just how well Buffalo sauce works with the protein.

Now, there are certain ways to cook chicken that work especially well with the sauce. Buffalo wings are one of them. Heck, the word "Buffalo" is in the name of the food, so it makes sense that this sauce plays a key role in the enjoyment level. Tossing a batch of wings in a healthy layer of this Tabasco-based sauce makes for a lovely meal for a big sports game or just to snack because an urge to dive into Buffalo wings hits you like a cement truck. Either way, Buffalo sauce is a trusty friend of chicken.

3. Sweet and spicy

When you pair two opposing flavor profiles together, the result can taste magical. You have to find the correct balance between the two tastes, of course, but when you do, all you want is to slather that concoction on everything. A sweet and spicy combination is always a winner, especially when neither flavor completely overpowers the other one. Since chicken is a pretty mellow protein, either drizzling a sweet and spicy sauce over a freshly baked chicken breast or plunging a crispy nugget into a sweet-and-spicy bath is a guaranteed way to make your appetite smile.

If you're tossing back a bunch of crispy tenders or nuggets, a sweet and spicy sauce plays two key roles. First, the sweet flavor in the sauce helps offset any richness from the fried chicken skin. Letting a nugget bathe in hot oil for a few minutes gives it an oily texture and a rich taste, so the sweetness from the sauce cuts through the richness, and you're not left feeling like the inside of your mouth is coated with grease. Then, the spice is there to ensure the sweetness never gets out of control while also giving your chicken a little kick of heat to wake up those taste buds.

2. Blue cheese

If the culinary landscape had best friends, you'd find chicken wings and blue cheese hanging out every moment of the day. The two go so well together that it almost feels wrong to eat one without the other anywhere in sight. Some people who don't even enjoy blue cheese on its own make an exception when wings enter the picture. That's how effective the partnership is. Of course, you don't have to confine blue cheese to wings only, but that's really where this sauce shines like gold.

Blue cheese offers your palate a blast of strong, tangy flavor. It's definitely not a cheese that everyone enjoys because of this potent taste, but cheese enthusiasts can appreciate the funky aroma and unique look of the dark blue veins that run rampant through it. The reason this sauce works so well with Buffalo wings is because that strong tangy flavor helps cut through the oily richness of the deep-fried chicken skin. When wings emerge from the deep fryer, they're super rich, so having a flavor that's the complete opposite allows the crispy wings to never overwhelm your taste buds. The sauce is creamy and tangy and the perfect accompaniment for chicken.

1. Honey mustard

Even if you're not a fan of the vinegary bite that mustard lends to food, honey mustard is in a class of its own. This sauce doesn't pack that sharp taste. Instead, the honey in it helps balance out the vinegar to create a creamy, sweet condiment that pairs wonderfully with anything rich. Even though chicken is a lean protein, it can take on a rich flavor depending on how you cook it (deep frying it, for example). But, a slathering in honey mustard helps bring a welcome sweetness to the meat.

The name of this sauce basically tells you what's in it. Of course, if you buy a bottle of it, there will be other ingredients added in to ensure it stays fresh on shelves. But if you want to whip up a batch of honey mustard at home, you can literally just take your favorite mustard and toss in some honey. The result is a thick accompaniment to chicken that makes for a delicious meal you'll definitely want to eat over and over again. Don't let the vinegary kick of regular mustard have you questioning whether or not this sauce works. It certainly does.