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Do Store-Bought McDonald’s Sauces Actually Taste Like the Real Thing?

Do Store-Bought McDonald’s Sauces Actually Taste Like the Real Thing?

By Simon Hung

We love groundbreaking products here at RedFlagDeals, so when McDonald’s announced that they were bringing their Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and McChicken sauces to grocery stores, many McDonald’s fans were abuzz with excitement, especially since a company rep claimed that they taste very identical to the restaurant recipe.

They’re starting to trickle into stores now, so we bought all three varieties and set out to answer to the question on everyone’s mind -- do store-bought McDonald’s sauces actually taste like the real thing?

We asked 12 staff members from our office to participate in a fun and completely unscientific taste-test to see how the store-bought sauces compare to their restaurant counterpart. The participants, which included both casual and frequent McDonald’s patrons, were given two samples -- one sample from an unaltered sandwich and one sample from a sandwich ordered without sauce (we substituted the store-bought sauce in this sample).

Taste-testers were given two samples -- one unaltered and one that used store-bought sauce.

The goal was to find out if our volunteers noticed any distinguishable difference in taste and if they could correctly pick which sample used store-bought sauce. We also asked them to rate the taste similarity on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being completely different and 10 being identical). Here were the results.

Big Mac

  • 1 out of 4 thought the store-bought sauce tasted better
  • 2 out of 4 correctly picked the sample with store-bought sauce
  • The average rating of taste similarity was 7/10

Most participants who sampled the Big Mac cited a lack of sauce as the primary flavour difference between the two samples. The samples were otherwise very similar, with one person noting that the store-bought sauce was not as tangy as the restaurant version.

Filet-O-Fish

  • 2 out of 4 thought the store-bought sauce tasted better
  • 0 out of 4 correctly picked the sample with store-bought sauce
  • The average rating of taste similarity was 7/10

The Filet-O-Fish was the only sandwich where none of the participants could correctly identify the store-bought sauce. Like the Big Mac, sauce amount was a flavour differentiator, with one person noting that the store-bought sauce tasted lighter and less tangy than the restaurant recipe.

McChicken

  • 2 out of 4 thought the store-bought sauce tasted better
  • 1 out of 4 correctly picked the sample with store-bought sauce
  • The average rating of taste similarity was 7.5/10

McChicken taste-testers were the most divided. Two participants noted that the store-bought sauce tasted stronger than usual, while the other two mentioned that the store-bought sauce was less flavourful -- or as one participant put it, “less McChicken-y”.

Overall

  • 5 out of 12 thought the store-bought sauce tasted better
  • 3 out of 12 correctly picked the sample with store-bought sauce
  • The average rating of taste similarity was 7.2/10

Overall, 5 of 12 people thought the store-bought sauce tasted better, which suggests that the sauces did taste alike, since the results weren't heavily skewed towards either option. Sample preparation may have also been a factor -- samples with store-bought sauce were inadvertently prepared using a more sensible amount of sauce, whereas the unaltered samples contained a more generous amount of sauce. As a result, many participants noted the difference in sauce amount contributed to the flavour variance. More sauce equalled more flavour.

Despite this, only 3 of 12 people were able to correctly pick which sample used store-bought sauce. Even though most participants preferred the restaurant sauce, the difference in taste was small enough to make it difficult to reliably identify which sample used what sauce, implying the sauces were indistinguishable, since there was no consistent trend between taste preference and which sauce was used. This notion is supported by the taste similarity ratings, which scored 7/10 or higher with all three sauces.

None of our volunteers were able to identify the store-bought Filet-O-Fish tartar sauce.

The final verdict? Yes, the sauces do taste like the real thing, but they’re not quite identical. They’re similar enough where you likely won’t notice a difference and they’re the best option available for those who want to replicate the McDonald’s experience.

Plus, the ingredient list for each store-bought sauce is not quite the same as the recipes found on the McDonald’s website (Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, McChicken). The recipes are mostly similar with a few minor variations, so it isn’t a surprise that they taste very similar but not exact.

Don’t just take our word for it -- a number of users in our Food and Drink forum have tried the sauces and many find them to be almost indistinguishable from the restaurant recipe. We suggest using generous amounts of sauce if you want the taste to be closer to the restaurant version.

Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and McChicken sauces are available now and through the summer at most major grocery stores, so taste-test them yourself in your kitchen! Add them to your burgers, use them with your fries or serve them in your cocktails -- whatever your use, you’ll be glad to know these sauces are the real deal.

13 Comments

    • The tartar sauce fooled me!
      McD's has done a nice job selling the real deal.
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    • Now THIS is real news. I'm going to be all over that big mac sauce. Huge oversight from Mcdonalds to not sell the BBQ sauce though - hopefully they rectify this ASAP
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    • Because that’s, that's what this is all about Morty! Th-that’s my one arm man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family Morty, that was FAKE! I-I’m driven by finding that, McNugget Sauce.
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    • thanks for doing this! I will definitely pick up some Big Mac sauce
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    • Which grocery store can we buy this?
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    • Which grocery store can we buy this?
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    • bonita! wrote:
      May 14th, 2017 9:13 am
      Which grocery store can we buy this?
      They've been spotted in Loblaws, Sobeys, Food Basics and Walmart, so they should be available at most major grocery stores in the condiment aisle. The Big Mac Sauce is by far the most popular one and very elusive - we had to search four different stores before finally stumbling upon stock in an Independent CityMarket
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    • Why would you do a taste test without using equivalent amounts of sauce?
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    • I tried the McChicken sauce so far and it tasted exactly like the restaurant one. It was delicious with skinless flame grilled chicken breasts. So so so good!
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    • rodenti wrote:
      May 16th, 2017 5:48 pm
      Why would you do a taste test without using equivalent amounts of sauce?
      A. Because we aren't experts in McDonald's sandwich preparation
      B. 75% of the testers incorrectly guessed that the unaltered samples used store sauce, so even though it may have affected the taste, it was negligible since most of them couldn't tell the difference anyways
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    • Where is my Mulan Terryaki szechuan sauce?
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    • Sobeys mentions the sauces in the current flyer as available for a limited time. Why sell sauces if not to make them available year round? Don't understand that logic for the products.
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    • The Filet-O-Fish tartar sauce has won me over! I've found all the regular super market stuff way too acetic & gross tasting, so I normally make my own. Filet-O-Fish sauce is a McWin!
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