Don't just dip your fries in ketchup—try this instead
Ketchup is the GOAT, but one other dip is nipping at its heels
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National French Fry Day is July 13, but we can all agree that every day is and should be french fry day.
At Reviewed, we’ve tested different foods before, but with french fries, everyone has a differing opinion. That argument will rage on forever, so we went into the battle inside the war: What do you dip your french fries in besides ketchup? Which is the immortal champion?
It started a rather contentious debate in our office that was aided by the help of an expert in Blake Lingle, author of "Fries!: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Favorite Food" and co-owner of the award-winning Boise Fry Company. The top answer was kind of shocking: Mayonnaise.
People like mayo or some sort of variance of it on their french fries. As I’ve been told by co-workers and also by Lingle, mayo as a french fry dip is more popular in Europe than it is in the United States, though after polling just the Reviewed office, it’s more prevalent than you’d think.
Lingle, who replied via email, said, "Next to ketchup, I prefer fry sauce (ketchup mixed with mayonnaise, aioli, thousand island dressing, some seasonings, and/or all of the above). The spicier the fry sauce, the better, in my opinion at least."
After fry sauce, which Lingle said is more popular in the Western U.S., comes plain mayo, then aioli—which comes in many variations, as illustrated by the blueberry aioli at Boise Fry Company.
And while Lingle said he will always search for a bottle of ketchup, even while in Europe, he noted that those across the pond know best when it comes to mayo on fries.
“France or Belgium likely invented the fry [though] it remains a mystery of food science,” Lingle said. As far as dipping sauce, he adds, “It’s certainly cultural. However, the creamy and tangy flavor of mayonnaise does augment the greasy and earthy flavor of fries quite well.”
So now that we’ve had a french fry expert weigh in, we asked our staffers at Reviewed their thoughts to add a few more non-plain ketchup options to the mix, starting with the author of this article. There are plenty of options for those (like me) who get sick just thinking of a glob of mayo on my fries.
Our favorite dipping sauces for fries
“I tend to use fries as a mop-up device to join the clean-plate club. If I'm having buffalo wings with fries, I'll dip it in the buffalo sauce and ranch or blue cheese. If it's honey mustard chicken tenders, it's honey mustard sauce. If I'm having barbecue, then it's barbecue sauce. Another favorite is when you get a dinner meal from a take-out place and mop up the salad dressing from the salad corner of the styrofoam container. Other than that, chili and nacho cheese fries.” - Connor Whooley
“In Europe, I've had fries with some sort of a mayonnaise. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, though. You need a beer to get the greasy taste out of your mouth.” - Cindy Bailen
“I use Currywurst ketchup (technically different). I have to drive to a German butcher shop in Hartford to stock up. My one IFA trip to Berlin made a lasting impression on my fries game.” - Chris Lloyd
“In moderate amounts, malt vinegar adds the perfect amount of tangy zest to french fries. Be careful, though, too much malt vinegar, and you can make your crisp french fries a soggy mess.” - Julia MacDougall
“I will DROWN my fries in malt vinegar, and then use a fork.” - Andrew Winson
“Malt vinegar is my be-all, end-all french fry condiment. There's nothing better, in my opinion.” - Michael Desjardins
“When I am feeling adventurous, I do curry powder, coconut shavings, cayenne, and a splash of lime juice.” - Jon Chan
“For me it's all about having variety. Fries are like salad. They are a vessel for dips. Dips are the best. Sriracha aioli, honey mustard, sriracha ketchup, ranch, and UK-style curry sauce. I add a few drops of sesame oil to my sriracha ketchup too. Next level stuff.” - Samantha Gordon
“When I was in college, I have to admit I was addicted to putting blue cheese dressing on my fries. But unless I was prepared to be much heavier than I want to be, or to work out a LOT more, that had to come to an end sooner or later.” - Andrew Winson
“It's all about Ranch Dressing! Growing up in Southern California, we used to seek out "Irish Nachos" which were french fries topped with cheese and bacon (sometimes scallions, too) and came with Ranch dipping sauce. Ever since, I've preferred Ranch to ketchup. The creaminess mixed with the salt on the fries is just heaven!” - Alicia Cypress
“Chick-fil-a sauce. After living in North Carolina for four years I've decided it's the best dipping sauce. I've tried to recreate it by combining honey mustard and barbecue sauce but it's never the same. So whenever I go, I make sure to grab a few extra packets.” - Courtney Campbell
And for those with a sweet tooth
“Dunk french fries in a vanilla milkshake for the perfect combo of salty and sweet. Also, watch your friends' faces as they change from shock to utter jealousy at your genius.” - Julia MacDougall
“Specifically, a chocolate Frosty from Wendy's. That is the ultimate. After that chili cheese fries, and after that ketchup.” - Cassidy Olsen