Every Zaxby's Wing Flavor Ranked Worst To Best

Zaxby's is a Southern fast food chain that specializes in chicken; however, the menu isn't limited to just one type of preparation. Sure, Zaxby's offers chicken sandwiches, but the menu also lists other items like salads, chicken fingers, and chicken wings. 

The impressive thing about the chain is that the menu isn't limited to boneless "wings" that are basically just big chicken nuggets; the menu also offers traditional bone-in wings that are made from genuine poultry parts. Still, Zaxby's is fast food, not fast-casual, so it doesn't quite offer the selection of wing sauces you might get at Buffalo Wild Wings or Wingstop.

Selections may vary by location, but the Zaxby's menu presently offers 8 different wing sauces (BBQ, Buffalo Garlic Blaze, hot honey mustard, Nuclear, sweet & spicy, teriyaki, Tongue Torch, and Wimpy) plus an additional 5 that are available as dips (blue cheese, honey mustard, ranch, Zax Sauce, and Spicy Zax Sauce). 

There is, however, a certain amount of overlap between the sauces and dips, as each one of the former is also available as the latter. The honey mustard, though, is a bit of a strange case: The plain version is a dipping sauce only but the kicked-up hot honey mustard is both a sauce and a dip. Whichever sauce or dip flavor you opt for, it's essential to pick the perfect condiment to go with your chicken wings. 

13. Ranch

While statistics may indicate that ranch dressing is America's favorite, this doesn't mean that we're all obligated to love the stuff. As a matter of fact, we're more inclined to view it as seriously overrated and consider all the ways in which it resembles a flavored mayonnaise more than anything we'd want on a salad or a chicken wing, for that matter. Still, there are those who do insist on dunking their hot buffalo wings in ranch can do so, as long as they don't try it at the Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo wing. 

Dipping a plain, un-sauced chicken wing in ranch dressing isn't something we'd recommend, even if you love ranch. There isn't anything overly terrible about Zaxby's ranch, it's just your basic ranch dressing, and some fans of this condiment even think it's pretty tasty. However, ranch is just a bland sauce that does very little to offset an unadorned wing as the slight hint of tanginess from the buttermilk doesn't quite overcome the mayonnaisey goopiness that is inherent to ranch dressing. What's more, we're always a little wary of any foodstuff that shares an ingredient with sunscreen.

12. Honey mustard

Honey mustard is a sauce we tend to associate with chicken nuggets, so if you're going with boneless wings, this might not be a weird combo. It's not a sauce that you often see paired with bone-in wings, though, and for good reason: Honey mustard tends to be pretty bland, and it can also be overwhelmingly sweet. Zaxby's version of honey mustard is, well, not terrible. It's pretty much the type of sauce you'd expect from a fast food chicken nugget dunk.

However, honey mustard is a big nope as a wing sauce as it's just not something that works too well with traditional wings. You might think that honey mustard makes for a lighter, lower-calorie sauce than some other wing toppings, but a small cup of the stuff has 180 calories, which is just 10 calories less than the high-fat ranch dressing. Zaxby's itself describes that sauce as "a lotta sweet and a little tang," but we'd just as soon not have our wings drenched in anything quite so syrupy, thanks all the same.

11. Hot honey mustard

If you're going to dip your wings in honey mustard, it might as well be hot honey mustard. Hot honey mustard is a 2010 trend that seems to be sticking around, and Zaxby's, to its credit, jumped on that train pretty early. As per a Facebook post, Zaxby's was offering the stuff as early as 2014. According to Zaxby's, the hot honey mustard sauce is made from mustard mixed with "honey from bees. Really. Angry. Bees." Well. Isn't. That. Cute. 

The restaurant chain still only gives this sauce a single flame emoji, so it's about as hot as the Wimpy sauce or the sweet and spicy sauce. It also has a similar calorie count as the plain honey mustard, although the flavor is slightly less sweet due to the strong, almost bitter taste of the strong mustard. While the somewhat spicy flavor makes the hot honey mustard a little bit better than the honey mustard, but it still would not be our wing sauce (or dip) of choice.

10. Zax Sauce

Ever since Mickey D's dropped its "special sauce" alongside the Big Mac, it seems like every fast food chain has to have its own signature condimentAt Zaxby's it's the Zax Sauce, which is basically fry sauce, meaning it's ketchup mixed with mayo plus a little bit of extra seasoning. Zaxby's seems to offer the stuff with everything, so of course, you can get it with the wings. Should you, though? We think not.

Ketchup is a condiment that occupies a rather specific niche. It goes perfectly with hamburgers (though maybe not on hot dogs!), and it's pretty great with fries. Mayonnaise is best on sandwiches or in creamy salads such as tuna, egg, or chicken. Mayonnaise is also great as a fry sauce all on its own, which is the way it's typically served in Belgium

Mix the plain mayonnaise with ketchup, though, and they make something that goes fairly well with fries but is way too bland for chicken. While Zaxby's claims its Zax Sauce was "custom-made" for the "Chicken Fingerz," we'd prefer a different dip for those as well.

9. Blue cheese

Blue cheese is a great dip for spicy Buffalo wings; in fact, many will insist it's the only acceptable dip. As a sauce or a dressing for the unadorned wing, though, it just doesn't measure up. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with Zaxby's blue cheese dressing, other than it's a bit bland, as fast-food salad dressings tend to be.

We've had blue cheese dressings that are much, much better, but we've also had worse: Overall, Zaxby's is pretty middle-of-the-road stuff. If you dip your plain wings in this sauce, then you're bound to be disappointed since blue cheese really needs another flavor to play off against, which is why the peppery vinegar tang of Buffalo wings makes for the perfect contrast.

What you can do, though, is make a DIY hybrid "blue Buffalo" sauce by mixing a blue cheese dip with Zaxby's Tongue Torch, Nuclear, Wimpy, or Buffalo Garlic Blaze sauces.  Or, better yet, you can ask for your wings to be sauced with any of the spicier saucers and then order the blue cheese dip on the side. Now that is chicken wings as they are meant to be.

8. Spicy Zax Sauce

Zax Sauce on its own is a big "nope" for us, not just for wings but pretty much everything. As we said, it's basically fry sauce, which is a condiment that is often described as being a cult favorite; however, we prefer to keep our ketchup and mayonnaise separate: Is that so wrong? Add in a little jalapeno pepper puree, though, enough to kick things up to a "two flame emoji" level, and, well, that's a pretty decent condiment right there. Spicy Zax Sauce is still not great, but it's definitely a significant improvement on Zax sauce. 

For us, Spicy Zax Sauce is a kind of "close your eyes, hold your nose, and pretend" stand-in for Buffalo sauce, which, in our long-held opinion, is still the best wing sauce of all time. If the only other sauces available were ranch sauce and honey mustard sauce, we'd still reluctantly accept the stuff. Still, we remain unconvinced that either ketchup or mayonnaise belongs in a wing dip, with the exception of the latter condiment as a necessary (but boring) component of blue cheese dressing.

7. BBQ

While some of Zaxby's sauces are offered as dips that are served on the side of a wing order, others are offered as sauces as well as dips. While Zaxby's BBQ Sauce is not noticeably better or worse than any other fast-food barbecue sauce, it's still too sweet to make for a decent wing dressing. However, if barbecue sauced chicken if your thing, you may feel otherwise.

To give Zaxby's barbecue sauce its due credit, it's definitely not the most sugary sauce on the menu: That (dis)honor goes to the Sweet & Spicy Sauce. Still, it's pretty darn sweet, as commercial barbecue sauces often can be. In addition to the sweetness, this sauce also has a healthy dose of liquid smoke, plus a little bit of a vinegary tang. For the most part, though, the overwhelming flavor of this sauce is that of corn syrup, which isn't surprising seeing as how that's one of the key ingredients in the sauce. 

6. Teriyaki

We had hopes that the teriyaki sauce might offer more than a one-note flavor, and, in fact, it does. It's got two major notes: Too salty and too sweet. This teriyaki sauce tastes as if someone has taken a thick sugar syrup and mixed it with extra-salty soy sauce, which may very well be what Zaxby's did with this condiment.

According to Zaxby's menu, the teriyaki sauce is meant to have some garlic and ginger: "Tongue-tantalizing" garlic and ginger, no less. Well, not only was our tongue not tantalized, but we couldn't detect either of these flavors. On its own, this teriyaki sauce is practically inedible, but on top of Zaxby's chicken wings, it's actually not that bad as the chicken helps absorb some of the salty sweetness. All in all, it's not a great option as far as wing sauces go, but it is, at the very least, a small step up from ketchup, mayo, and basic barbecue sauce.

5. Sweet & spicy

Zaxby's sweet & spicy Sauce definitely leans way more towards the former flavor than the latter, and it has way more sugar than any other wing sauce on Zaxby's menu. While it is high in sugar, this sauce is surprisingly low in fat: As a result, it comes in at 140 calories per sauce cup, which is lower than creamy dips like Zax Sauce or Honey Mustard. 

While we're not fans of syrupy-sweet sauces like this one, Zaxby's sweet & spicy does have a little bit more to offer than just sugar plus some fairly mild (one flame emoji) heat. It seems to have been inspired by Asian-style sweet chili sauces, as it has just a hint of ginger flavoring as well as a little bit of citrus. If they could just take the sweetness down a notch (or three), then Zaxby's might have a real winner in this sauce.

4. Buffalo Garlic Blaze

Buffalo Garlic Blaze is one of the newer sauces on Zaxby's menu: It was introduced in early 2022. As the Zaxby's menu says, it's meant to be a classic Buffalo-style sauce, but with the addition of garlic, as per the name. That's nice if you're a real garlic fan, in which case this is the perfect sauce for you. Call us purists, but we prefer our Buffalo sauce garlic-free, and we also feel that someone should hold the line against the insidious inclusion of garlic into absolutely everything, making it the most over-used spice, possible ever.  

There are a few other issues with the Buffalo Garlic Blaze sauce, though, even if you are trying to keep the vampires away. While Zaxby's gives this sauce a two-flame rating, it's really not as hot as all that. In fact, it's far more garlicky than blazing. Plus, this sauce has 120 calories, while all of the other Buffalo-style sauces (Wimpy, Tongue Torch, and Nuclear) have a fraction of that amount. As garlic itself is practically calorie-free, what did they add to this sauce?? Seems kind of shady to us. Honestly, you'd be better off opting for one of the higher-calorie options. 

3. Wimpy Sauce

Zaxby's Wimpy Sauce is clearly modeled after a classic Buffalo-style sauce, which is something that we heartily endorse. Buffalo wings made the traditional way aren't exactly known for their blazing hot spice levels: Frank's RedHot (the OG sauce for Buffalo wings) belongs to the more vinegary-than-peppery class of Louisiana-style sauces. Still, the Wimpy Sauce seems to be even milder than usual, perhaps due to some extra butter (or margarine, or whatever they're using here). 

Wimpy Sauce does lose points due to its name. Yes, we know Zaxby's is trying to be cute here, but we're not fans of chains using even mildly insulting terminology. If you like your food super-hot, that's fine, but if you prefer it less fiery, that doesn't make you a wimp. Implied insult apart, we also feel that this sauce's silly name has earned it a spot on the Too Embarrassing to Order Wall of Shame right alongside the Rooty Tooty Fresh'n'Frooty, Moons Over My Hammy, and Sex on the Beach.

2. Tongue Torch

Zaxby's Tongue Torch has a somewhat misleading name. It's not going to set your tongue on fire, not unless you have an especially low tolerance for heat. The sauce seems to be based on a standard Buffalo sauce recipe. Given the hints of sweet, fruity flavor in this sauce, it may contain a tiny amount of habanero-based hot sauce. While the habanero (if those peppers are even present in this sauce) does take the heat level up just a bit, for the most part, this condiment resembles the far milder Louisiana-style hot sauce.

The Zaxby's Tongue Torch isn't insanely hot: Even Zaxby's only gives Tongue Torch two flames and describes it as having a "little kick." However, Tongue Torch does have its fanatic adherents. One recent Reddit thread devoted to discovering a copycat recipe (spoiler: they did not succeed) was started by someone who claimed to be "absolutely obsessed with tongue torch." 

While "obsessed" may not mean anything more than mildly interested, one of the people commenting may, in fact, be exhibiting signs of true obsession with the sauce: As they said, "I need that recipe I wish I could f***ing find it! I lie awake at night wondering if I'll ever be gifted the only thing I seek from life." While we wish them luck in their quest for fulfillment, for us, while Zaxby's Tongue Torch is a good wing sauce, it's definitely not life-changing. 

1. Nuclear

Nuclear Sauce, at three flame emojis, is the hottest sauce that Zaxby's has to offer. Zaxby's describes this sauce as a "mouth-detonating mix of atom-splitting heat and serious flavor fallout." An amusing, but inaccurate, description, as the heat level doesn't even exceed what we'd describe as "mildly radioactive" levels. 

What we mean by this is that is, yes, this sauce is hot enough to get your attention, but not so hot that you'll feel like you could go up against Adam Richman to see who can eat the hottest wings. Richman, at least the circa 2010s version, would laugh at these wings. He'd still eat them, but he wouldn't be the slightest bit fazed by the spice level.

Still, the fact that Zaxby's Nuclear sauce isn't as incendiary as advertised is actually a positive as far as we're concerned. Fast food condiments aren't meant to confer bragging rights, after all. Instead, they're simply there to enhance the food, and this sauce has a nice heat level that can do just that without completely overwhelming the chicken or causing gratuitous mouth pain. 

While none of Zaxby's wing sauces is going to give B-Dubs a run for their money, still, it's still one of the few fast food chains that is attempting to offer several wing sauce options and the Nuclear Sauce is the best of the bunch as long as you like fairly spicy food.