It’s about damn time I power rank condiments. These additives make or break meals every day, yet they never get the respect of sauces or dips. So, ignoring your salsas, quesos, marinaras, Nutellas, and remoulades, this is the definitive ranking of things that come in a can or a bottle and are intended for mass consumption as the perfect wingmen for food worldwide. Think you can read this whole thing without ravenously craving food afterward? Try me.
Everyone has his or her own favorite type of mustard. I like the classics, so I stick with pure yellow gold, but Dijon, honey, brown, and other varieties pepper the grocery isle. Mustard is prevalent enough to make the rankings, but the problem is its perception. Condiments already get enough of a bum deal, always serving as the bridesmaid to food, never the bride. Mustard unfortunately is more of a wingman to ketchup, which is already a wingman to food. Mustard is like the bridesmaid’s date who sits at a table with people he doesn’t know while the bridesmaid sits up front. Mustard was invited to the wedding, but it won’t dance.
Best On: Burgers and Hot Dogs
Is there a condiment more overrated than Sriracha? Well, maybe, because Sriracha is actually pretty damn good, but it also doesn’t deserve the press it’s gotten lately. While websites out there post “50 Sriracha Recipies You’re Dying To Try,” you wouldn’t actually eat anything past the top five. No one wants a Sriracha muffin. Sriracha falls into the mustard-trap of being more of an additional condiment, never the top pick. You add Sraracha to get a bit of flavor or a heavy kick of spice, and many of the higher-ranking options are fantastic with some Sriracha mixed in, but as a stand-alone condiment, Sriracha doesn’t live up to the hype.
Best On: Hot Breakfast Food and Asian Food
7. Buffalo Sauce
“Wait, how does this not get disqualified by being a sauce?” Frankly, because it comes in the same bottle as salad dressing and ketchup and you can use it as both. Buffalo sauce is the staple of wings, chicken fingers, buff-chick sandwiches, and anything else you want to have that specific kick that only washes away well with a cold beer. Better options come later, but it undoubtedly deserves its spot on the list.
Best On: Wings and Fried Chicken
6. Olive Oil
My family is the most stereotypically Italian family that doesn’t have any Italian ancestry. We would win the “Who is the most Italian?” consolation bracket. I could drink good sauce out of a glass. Perhaps best known as an ingredient, I was introduced to dipping bread into olive oil at a young age and I’ve never looked back. Well-made olive oil with the perfect ingredients is a delicacy on par with wine and chocolate. Throw it on a sandwich or chips with some vinegar and you have one of the most distinct tastes possible.
Best On: Bread and Sandwiches, Because Bread
5. Green El Yucateco Hot Sauce
If your local Mexican restaurant has something other than El Yucateco on the table, that place is trash. If you pick the red El Yucateco and not the green, well, you’re just being a contrarian. This stuff dominates about half of the local and chain Mexican restaurant scenes, but it deserves a rapid expansion. The heat index is high, the taste is immaculate, and it doesn’t ruin your insides in the process. It is hands down the best hot sauce you can buy and can only be defeated by someone’s abuela’s home recipe. Red Hot might deserve an honorable mention, but Tabasco and Cholula don’t come close.
Best On: Anything Mexican or Hispanic in Origin and Eggs
Mayonnaise claims the next spot in a surprise upset. Whether you’re downing Duke’s, Hellmann’s, Best Foods, or making your own (it’s really simple), mayo is fantastic on almost every sandwich imaginable. I’m not really into “picnic salads,” but it’s a key ingredient in all of those, as well as in Alabama’s white barbeque sauce. People in other countries even eat this stuff as a dip for fries and chips. Spice it up and you can serve it with sushi. Enough said.
Best On: Turkey Sandwiches, Meatloaf Sandwiches, Roast Beef Sandwiches, and Any Other Meat-Related Sandwich
3. Heinz Ketchup
We’re into the MVP candidates now, but this comes with a brand restriction. If you’re eating “catsup,” you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re not eating Heinz, you don’t even belong here. Heinz ketchup has the versatility of a middle infielder and is the go-to type that everyone thinks of. Still, the brand specification, and the slight limits, make it fall just short of the belt. Too many imposters out there ruin the image for everyone. I’ve been told Whataburger produces a spicy variety that’s on the level. A solid prospect for team ketchup, perhaps, but Heinz isn’t giving up its roster spot anytime soon.
Best On: Burgers, Hot Dogs, Sausage, Eggs, Fries, and Potatoes
2. Barbecue Sauce
Barbecue sauce is a franchise player and is the only condiment to have entire restaurants devoted to its consumption. You can’t even think of ribs or pulled pork without its inclusion, and chicken and burgers get an immediate and distinct elevation after being slathered in its warm embrace. You can bicker about brands, regions, or restaurants, but the truth is, barbecue sauce is the number one contender. Unfortunately, it falls just short of the title.
Best On: Ribs, Pulled Pork, Chicken, Burgers, and Beans
1. Ranch Dressing
Best On: Everything. All meats, pizza, salads, fries, potatoes, etc. There isn’t a food group out there unable to be upgraded by the king..