Guy Fieri's Flavortown Sauces, Ranked Worst To Best

As he does with the locations he maps out for culinary adventures on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," Guy Fieri goes ground level with his line of Flavortown sauces. Rather than being snooty creations for a high-end audience, the spike-haired celebrity chef fires up an array of fancy mayonnaise and hopped-up barbecue sauces, offered at more affordable prices than many varieties of upscale aioli and glamourous gourmet glazes. It's a sharp set, adorned with a heavy metal tattoo font as the Flavortown logo and a photo of smiley Guy gracing every bottle, just like on his cooking shows. But any home chef worth their sauce will know it's not about the packaging. Instead, it's what's inside the squeeze-top that counts.

We had to find out for ourselves how Flavortown's nine-bottle selection stands up against itself, flavor-to-flavor. So we revved up our taste testing apparatus (that is, our taste buds) and set to work sorting out the sweet from the savory and the spicy from the sublime. 

None of these sauces is a total miss; anyone looking for a more flavorful spread for sandwiches and salads or a unique yet familiar brush-on for barbeque and burgers is bound to find something to love among the collection. But some stand out as frontrunners while others show up as also-rans, all distinguished by our preferences for taste, texture, and quality of ingredients. Here's how the tasty task shook out.

9. Money Honey BBQ

Maybe we're being too picky, but we expect more finesse from a honey-based barbecue sauce. Money Honey BBQ contains way too much honey to strike the desired balance between enticingly sweet and intriguing (yet often misunderstood) umami, like a more skillfully executed sauce might. In fact, we could taste nothing but honey in this mix — overwhelming, cloyingly sweet and masking the flavor of the food it dressed. It's almost like using syrup instead of sauce, a misstep only the most novice of barbecue fans would willingly make.

While it may be called Money Honey, this sauce makes us feels like we've been shortchanged. Emphasizing honey is the big mistake here, if you couldn't tell already. While we dig a sweet sauce working its magic on our grilled goodies, we prefer it to be applied with a finer touch, as an accent to the other elements rather than a sugary distraction that drowns out everything else. 

If it was the only option on the table, we probably wouldn't say no. But since there are so many better possibilities in the Flavortown catalog, this one starts off the ranking in last place.

8. Mop Sauce BBQ

Why name a barbecue glaze Mop Sauce BBQ? Flavortown says it's because it's so tasty, you'll want to mop it all over your choice cuts before cooking them. But the name instantly calls to mind sludgy water sloshing around in a bucket after you mop the floor, an image we don't associate with delicious dining, no matter how sloppily we may eat. By simple association, we started off with a bad feeling about this one.

The good news is that it tastes much better than bucket water. It turned out to be a very middle-of-the-road barbecue sauce, with layers of tang merging with sweet and robust flavor notes for a highly average squeeze. It's absolutely serviceable for your burgers and brisket, and it won't be the least bit embarrassing if you show up with burnt ends or pulled pork slathered in this sauce. But it also doesn't rise above the level of run-of-the-mill flavor, even if it is a tasty take on the classic barbecue formula. Flavortown has far more enticing selections to indulge in.

7. Honey Mustard

The deli counter doesn't have a more delicious denizen than Honey Mustard, and when it's swirled about in a creamy mayonnaise base, it covers two spreads in a single one bottle. This is a definite perk when trying to keep the contents of your fridge right and tight, though it's a bit of a let-down when you're expecting a sauce bearing the name Flavortown to live up to its potential. And yes, it's honey mustard, but it's an all-too-familiar version of spreads that are already on the scene. We were hoping for razzle-dazzle and got been there, done that instead. 

There's practically no difference between this mega-mix and a honey mustard mayonnaise you'd make on your own at home. We would have hoped for a fiery spice sprinkled in there somewhere to give the sauce distinction and drive home the need to pick up a bottle rather than tossing together a DIY blend. If you need a prepped mustard-mayo mix to add star power to your famous deviled eggs or give your potato salad extra perk, this sauce will do the trick. But there's nothing in the recipe you haven't likely tasted before.

6. Famous Donkey

This is another name that put us on our back foot before we gave it a go, because we've never tasted anything even remotely close to donkey and we hope it stays that way. Thankfully, Flavortown's Famous Donkey sauce contains no trace of actual donkey. A wisp of Worcestershire sauce among a buttermilk-like base creates complexity in what would otherwise be a ho-hum bottled take on aioli. What it reminded us of most is ranch with a kick (ah, donkey ... we get it now!) thanks to the smoky steak sauce included.

Bringing together the garlic zing with the earthy umami thing turns this creamy slather into a steakhouse style pleaser that would be at home on filets, baked potatoes, and even tossed into green salads in place of ranch dressing. We can see it as a stand-in for horseradish, for anyone who isn't particularly stoked about that overly sharp root mash but still likes giving their filets and rib eyes a little schmear for good measure. Being as similar to ranch as it is, it's a bit below average in our ranking, though now that we get the name, it probably deserves a few bonus points, at least.

5. Top Secret

We're not sure if we're allowed to attempt solving the mystery of Top Secret sauce, but we like living on the edge, so here it is: ketchup. Yep, the secret of this silken squeeze is that it's a fanciful take on fry sauce, with mayo and ketchup sharing the bottle. Actually, we read it from the ingredients listing on the label, so maybe it's not such a secret after all. Maybe it's a hidden fact in the untold truth of Guy Fieri and his surprising restaurant dining habits. Knowing that others have created the same sauce on their own is a sure sign that Fieri won't be able to keep the saucy Flavortown rumors from spreading like wildfire once word gets out.

Aside from a fry-dipper, Top Secret sauce is also what you'd reach for when your burger needs both mayonnaise and ketchup to keep from having to open two different bottles. It's also a prime candidate for shredded beef on a bun or a plate of sliders that could use a little flavorful accoutrement to rise higher on the flavor scale. All in all, it's nice to have a bottled possibility for a concoction that's been floating around the fast food world for what seems like forever, even if it's not much of a true secret.

4. Carolina BBQ

Southern barbecue is a movement as much as a cuisine, and having Carolina-Style BBQ among the Flavortown sauces is potentially like stepping up to the grill in an old-fashioned cookoff. This concoction captures the elegant yet exciting balance of sweet and savory that Money Honey can't pull off and mops the floor with Mop Sauce. With such a jubilant blend of brown sugar, molasses, honey, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire throws a party on the plate, this could be the only sweet-leaning barbecue sauce Flavortown needs in its product line. It may do the heavy lifting for the other sauces, but it does it without breaking a sweat.

The list of uses for Carolina BBQ is seemingly as long as the history of barbecue itself. Add it to baked beans and brighten the flavor, draw a squiggle on franks to turn them into Southern dogs, or use it to beef up the flavor on burgers of any style, from angus to turkey to Impossible. It's also tangy enough to join in on rice and beans to bring South and Southwest together for a cookout that could be generations in the making. That said, some barbecue purists may be disappointed that you didn't put it together yourself.

3. Kickin' Chipotle

A slap of Southwestern spice puts Flavortown's Kickin' Chipotle sauce in the top three of this collection. It's an exciting teeter-totter of warm, smoky chipotle and tingly mayonnaise that reminds us of dressings sometimes used on restaurant taco salad. We weren't sure how we'd feel about having such a forceful flavor like chipotle weighed down by a heavy mash-up like mayonnaise. The layers were such a piquant surprise, we found ourselves giddy — yes, giddy! — at the idea that such a fun sauce was part of the collection. It feels like something we might have thought of ourselves in our home kitchen if we were just a little more adventurous with our culinary playtime.

For flavor fiends looking for spiced toppings that don't assault the tongue by being too extra, Kickin' Chipotle is the sauce that solves the problem, though some may wish it brought more heat. Give it a go over corn chips with a spoonful of salsa or write your name over your burrito fillings before wrapping up the tortilla and see how happy it makes you. And if you drizzle it generously over a bowl of mashed potatoes, you'll have a thoroughly satisfying Southwestern side that few will see coming.

2. Smokin' Hickory BBQ

If there's one way for Flavortown barbecue juice to outshine its Carolina-Style sauce, adding a heady blast of smoky flavor like the one we found in Smokin' Hickory BBQ will do it. It's the sort of sauce that reminds your hungry crew what proper barbecue is supposed to do: stick to your ribs while messing up your fingers with smoky spice and a touch of sweetness.

The smoky-sweet sensation that is Smokin' Hickory BBQ brings Flavortown into the cookout game with a sauce that summons your taste buds to head outdoors, no matter what you might be applying this concoction to. There's so much woodsy mesquite-leaning flavor in this blend, we expected to see plumes of smoke escaping from the nozzle. Sadly, that never happened. We'd be happy to try it again if the product team can figure out how to make it happen.

Though it's obviously a natural partner for chicken and ribs in whatever form you favor, Smokin' Hickory BBQ is also a perfect pick for potato skins or soft pretzels, as well as sub sandwiches that call out for something stronger than the same-old set of condiments. This is one bottle we'd want to see in extra numbers on table tops to make sure everyone gets enough, no matter what dish they choose to splash it on. It's the best of the Flavortown BBQ bunch, by far, though we'll admit that some may be put off by its smoky nature.

1. Poppin' Jalapeño

The chart-topper around the Flavortown collection turned out to be one of the mayonnaise-based sauces, one that adds a little heat to the situation. But there's no need to prep your tongue for a super-scorch with Flavortown Poppin' Jalapeño sauce. The sturdy mayonnaise presence is enough to douse the flames while leaving behind distinctive pepper notes in a perfect jalapeño pitch. It's the sort of dreamy, creamy, flavorful combination that fits in just about any cuisine. It's no mystery why this little popper hopped to the top of our ranking with almost no effort whatsoever. As soon as we put sauce to nugget and gave it the ol' college try, we knew we had our winner.

There's enough flavor here to serve Poppin' Jalapeño as a subtly spicy crema on tacos, tostadas, and nachos. In fact, go ahead and consider it a more mellow take on sour cream that provides alluring alternatives on your Tex-Mex table. But you can also include it on your ham and cheese sandwiches, in your pasta salad, and over chicken breasts as a tangy marinade. Whatever culinary madness it inspires, you'll have a hot time figuring out how to incorporate Poppin' Jalapeño into your favorite kitchen creations.

How we ranked these Flavortown sauces

With two distinctly different sets of sauces — creamy mayo-based and syrupy barbecue — we separated the bottles into their respective camps. That way, we could give them proper attention based on their core formulas rather than tasting them at random. We paid close attention to the seasonings listed on the bottle and did our best to discern how they stood up in the overall sauce. We also compared the name of the sauce to the flavor experience to determine whether the marketing represented the taste, which it did in most cases.

To make sure we experienced each sauce as intended, we started with a sample straight out of the squeeze top. Then, we applied it to our dipper of choice: plant-based nuggets, which helped us determine how the flavor would hold up in a real-world saucing situation. To clarify any confusion, we took second bottle tests to make sure our decisions were clear.

As scientific as we tried to be with this sampling, we should have been wearing lab coats. Maybe next time.