The Type Of Vinegar You Need For Copycat Zaxby's Zax Sauce

There are endless fast food fried chicken options out there, but Zaxby's is among the chains that truly stand out. Devoted fans come back again and again not just for the chain's deliciously juicy and crunchy chicken, but also to enjoy the creamy, tangy, slightly peppery condiment known as Zax Sauce. If you're trying to mimic the beloved dressing at home using Mashed recipe developer Erin Johnson's copycat Zax Sauce recipe, you should first make sure you're using the right variety of a crucial ingredient.

That ingredient is vinegar, specifically the apple cider kind. Johnson mixes it with Worcestershire sauce and adds it to the sauce's mayo-and-ketchup base to loosen up the consistency while adding a savory flavor and distinctive tang.

While there are many different kinds of vinegar to choose from, there are a few reasons why apple cider vinegar is ideally suited for fried chicken sauce. It contributes a subtle fruitiness to the mix, along with a perfect combination of tart and sweet flavors. In addition, it has a milder acidity than alternatives like white vinegar, ensuring it doesn't overpower the delicate balance of flavors that makes Zax Sauce so enticing.

Apple cider vinegar is integral to a proper Zax Sauce

Apple cider vinegar obtains its unique flavor from a two-step process. The first step crushes and ferments fresh apples into apple cider. Then, the cider undergoes a second fermentation that converts the ethanol alcohol into acetic acid, providing the vinegar's characteristic bite.

This bite is among the most critical factors in replicating a sauce that tastes like it came straight from Zaxby's. Without it, the recipe is little more than a typical "fry sauce," a term many use to refer to any ketchup- or mayo-based sauces. The subtle addition is one of the reasons Zax Sauce scores highly among other fast food signature sauces. However, if you find yourself needing to whip up some Zax Sauce without any apple cider vinegar on hand, you can achieve the closest possible results using white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar, which can be substituted in the same amounts.

Still, those looking for true, authentic-tasting Zax Sauce should take the time to pick up some apple cider vinegar — it's affordable and commonly available at most grocery stores and supermarkets. Your fried chicken (and taste buds) will thank you.