Monday, February 19, 2007

Fry Sauce Recipe

Green Jell-O may be listed as Utah's official snack food but, if you think it's the only Utah food culture export, you’ve really missed the mark. Another Utah food culture claim to fame is the ever popular "fry sauce," a regional condiment served with, you guessed it, French fries.

The Arctic Circle fast food chain claims to have invented it back in 1948. They keep their secret recipe locked away in a safe.

Some people claim that fry sauce is really just Thousand Island dressing, renamed. Hey, it's got catsup and mayo in it, right? Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Thousand Island dressing has pickles and stuff in it. It’s chunky and weird. Fry sauce is smooth and yummy. Most of the time, anyway.

At one point Utah was the "fry sauce" state. You just couldn’t get it anywhere else. If you asked for fry sauce at most cafés and fast food joints outside Utah, the server would look quizzically at you and say, "Isn't that what catsup's for?" That's not the case, anymore. Years ago Arctic Circle expanded its fast food chain outside of Utah and now claims that they go through more of the stuff in Washington and Oregon than they do in Utah.

Arctic Circle isn't the only company to get in on the fry sauce craze, though. Carl's Jr., Hires Big H, Apollo Burger and The Training Table all offer their own variation on the popular pink stuff. Up until 1999 Utah’s McDonald's franchises offered it. They quit carrying it though, citing high spoilage rates because of the mayonnaise. If they couldn't keep it from spoiling, they must not have used much. It must have been pretty crappy fry sauce

Fry sauce has hit the grocery stores, too. One Utah entrepreneur decided to make his own version and sell it. Sure enough, "Some Dude's Fry Sauce" can be found on most grocery store shelves in Utah. I’m not kidding. That’s what he calls himself – "Some Dude." He even markets a few variations. You can get "zesty" or a "bbq" versions, if you want them. Not wanting to be left out of the profit loop, Arctic Circle and Hires Big H have started bottling their own concoctions and selling them on store shelves, as well.

The Basic Recipe

This is so simple it hurts: 1 part catsup to 2 parts mayonnaise. Some say it's half and half, but it's not quite the same that way.

As a foodie, I'm just not satisfied with the basics, though. I've gotta play with it a bit. I wanted to find the best fry sauce I could, while still maintaining the spirit of the original. To that end, I enlisted the help of my three daughters as victims ... erm ... taste testers! We grabbed a bunch of ingredients from the grocery store (if we didn't already have it in the refrigerator), and started experimenting.

We didn't use everything we could think of, and avoided most of the variations I'd heard of before. We didn't try barbeque sauce, for example. Mostly that's because we didn't have any in the fridge and I forgot to pick it up at the store. We also creating a data sheet. This was going to be a scientific study, so we needed to track the data for each round of experiments.

Next, we cooked up some French fries. I'm basically lazy so we just got some frozen ones at the store and cooked 'em up in the oven. Yes, I know. All of you French fry purists out there are whining, ”You should have deep fried them!” I don't care. This was about finding the best sauce, not the best fries. I wasn’t going to peel, cut up, and deep fry a bunch of potatoes just for this bit of nonsense.

We started experimenting with the basic recipe, in a couple of different ratios. We also swapped the catsup out for chili sauce in a few of them. (Yum!) I mixed them all up on old yoghurt cups (don't worry, they got washed first) and labeled the cups with letters - A through D. We ran out of clean cups and had to start using mugs. Some of our samples were labeled "Blue rimmed mug," "Snoopy mug,” “red cup” and “pink cup” and the winning "square bowl."

Once we settled on the best ratios, we started playing around with other ingredients. We added garlic powered (which everyone loved), Worcestershire sauce (which everyone hated), in various combinations and tried them out. I think we went through nearly the entire bag of frozen French fries testing each combination.

Our winning experiment, created after hours (okay, it was really about 45 minutes) of endless (four) trials, is as follows:

Super Newman (not Paul's) Fry Sauce recipe

1/4 cup Ranch dressing
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Dash of liquid smoke

Mix completely and serve with hot French fries.

It's probably good on hamburgers, too.

Now It’s Your Turn

There are a few variations you could try with your own fry sauce experiments. Try using barbeque sauce instead of catsup, add buttermilk to thin the mixture, add various seasoning salts, try adding some horseradish mustard, or whatever else you can think of.

It's not all been fun, though. After a long morning of eating fries and tasting fry sauce with my daughters (the fun part), I've sworn off French fries and fry sauce for the next month or so. I'm so sick of fry sauce I could scream.


Anonymous said...

I tried 1/4 ranch with 3/4 ketchup and thought I was getting close to Arctics taste. My family loves it!

pate said...

For some reason, I find fry sauce revolting. What makes this really strange is that I love my fries with german ketchup (a bit spicier than the stuff here), mayo, and a nice layer of grated (mozzerella) cheese melted on top.

Oh well.

John Newman said...

Hey Pat!

I'd love to find try German or British ketchup. I keep hearing it's wonderful, but I've never found any in the grocery stores I frequent. You don't happen to know of a local (Utah) source, do you?

Anonymous said...

I have no recipe to leave. I just want to say as an SLC native now living just outside of Boston... I miss Fry Sauce... I miss people who know what fry sauce is... I miss green jello (and funeral potatoes to boot). I so appreciate this website! Well done! Utah Rocks!

John Newman said...

Thank you so much! I've had a lot of fun with this site. I hope you'll keep having fun, too.

TROY said...

I live in Lincoln, Nebraska but grew up in a down called Beatrice. We had a Arctic Circle, and grew addicted to fry sauce. They called it burger sauce or AC sauce which they also put on some of their burgers. Only when I became an adult did I realize this was a chain from somewhere out west. I think its fascinating Arctic Circle found its way to NE. Sadly it closed down just 3 yrs ago. When ever I went home to visit or on business I would stop and eat and have lots of fry sauce. I miss it every time I eat a french fry. I will try your recipe.

Anonymous said...

This is easy.

1 part Mayo
1 part whole milk/buttermilk (you decide)

Mix together, and you get White Sauce

2 parts white sauce
1 part ketchup


I actually like a little mustard and fresh black pepper.

Anonymous said...

german ketchup is curry ketchup, if you have a eurpoean store or somewhere that would carry such things go there.

Anonymous said...

Interesting recipe. It surprised me but sounds good. I've always just used 1 part ketsup and 1 part mayonnaise. Will have to try your recipe though. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Whats funny is I grew up in Idaho and one of the places that I always ate at as a child was called Sharp's burger ranch. They of course carry fry sauce and I have a hard time eating fries without it. I always thought that every state knew what fry sauce was but I guess I was wrong. Our burger king and Mc'donalds also used to carry fry sauce but then they just decided to stop! So so dumb what the fate of fry sauce has come to :( As to this day I still am in search of the perfect fry sauce!

Anonymous said...

I know this a rather old post.....but thank you for educating me on "fry sauce", had no idea what I was missing.

Born and raised in England..... grew up with Malt Vinager on our chips(fries). Sounds funny I know, but don't knock it until you try it!haha Going to give "fry sauce" a go!

CL Beck, author said...

Fun post. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, this is the second time I've read it. Have to say that the best fry sauce comes from Red Robin. It's great!

Also, for anonymous, who mentioned malt vinegar on french fries ... that's another great option. Used to be able to get fries at Ocean City, MD in the 70s with malt vinegar.

Cami Checketts said...

We add a little bit of pickle juice to the mayo and ketchup. It's fabulous!

Bart said...

just found your recipe -- looks great. I've been using, like you, many variations over the years and have come to the same conclusion that Taco Sauce is better than ketchup (catsup?) for fry sauce use. I also like to mix half mayo and half sour cream (basically the same as using Ranch dressing without the buttermilk) and thin with pickle juice. Thanks for your insight on one of my greatest weaknesses!

Anonymous said...

i found that Utah's fry sauce kept coming up in my searches for a recipe for a salad dressing ive only ever had in Florence South Carolina! then onto your recipe i came. sounds interesting and from all i can tell, fry sauce is the same thing as "that yummy pink salad dressing!"

Joanna said...

You don't happen to have a recipe specifically for Training Table's cheese fry sauce, do you? I think they call it hickory dipping sauce.

John Newman said...

Hey Joanna! Thanks for stopping by. I don't know the Training table recipe, but it tastes like a BBQ and may variant, with a little cooked minced onion for flavor and texture. Give it a try. The important part is to have fun. :-)

Anonymous said...

The training tape recipe is brown sugar bbq and mayo. Very simple.

Kat said...

you can probably find German ketchup at Siegfried's in Salt Lake...20 West 200 South Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 355-3891
All kinds of German foods there

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know AB's Fry sauce recipe. It has got to be the best! It's kind of sweet. I think maybe they use honey?

Anonymous said...

I use ketchup, mayo, dill pickle juice to thin it a little, garlic powder and onion powder for taste.

Anonymous said...

As a born and bred Texan, I can say that I had never heard of "fry sauce" until I lived in southeast Idaho for a few months. As a foodie, I can attest to the fact that "fry sauce" is disgusting, and I am not shocked at all that Arctic Circle claims to have invented it. Arctic Circle= worst food ever. Fry sauce= worst condiment ever. Sorry for the negativity, but I was underwhelmed by the regional food. For a real burger, come to the south and try a Whataburger. Peace

Slick Jimmy said...

To Anonymous Texan Elitist Foodie,

All negativity aside, and with the knowledge that Texas, and the South in general has great food... Give it a rest. A lot of folks LOVE plain ol' fry sauce, and more power to them. So if you don't like fry sauce dip your fries in something else, keep your Lone Star trap shut, and go barbecue something. Peace.

KoryO said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe! Hope you don't mind that I put it on my FB page, 57 States and Cookin', for our "virtual trip" to Utah.

I never heard of the stuff until recently. Will have to try it on burgers!

Anonymous said...

Although I lived in Utah for a number of years I never did acquire a taste for fry sauce. I even have some sympathy for Anonymous' rather uncharitable description of it as "disgusting" though I am more than happy to know that it remains available for those who enjoy it. Anon's real contribution to the discussion, however, is the endorsement of the Whataburger. Yes, hands down, better than any burger I've had west of the Mississippi!

musicmomto4 said...

We added a bit of season salt (to taste) to our mayo/ketchup mixture! So good!

Tanya Seamons said...

I used to manage an Iceberg Restaurant in Utah and their fry sauce was 1 part ketchup 2 parts mayo and honey to taste. It is pretty adictive stuff.

Anonymous said...

When I moved to Idaho, all I heard about was "Fry Sauce, Fry Sauce, Fry Sauce" from my buddy. After trying it, I told him that I hated to bust his bubble, but some guy mixing 2 ingredients together and giving is a name ... does not make it a "sauce".

We were at the new Chick-fil-A in Twin Falls, ID and he was upset that they didn't have his "magical" fry sauce. I also had to inform him that Chick-fil-A, being from Georgia, had no idea what fry-sauce was ... like the vast majority of the country that didn't grow up immediately around Utah, an Arctic Circle, or had actually developed taste-buds somewhere in their family geneology.

I told him I could make a much better sauce for his french fries. I went to the condiment bar & front counter, collected 3 pre-packaged sauces and mixed them together, in a little "mini-sundae" cup they so kindly gave me, with a wooden coffee stir stick (Chick-fil-A's customer service NEVER ceases to amaze, nor let me down!).

My friend said he blown away by the taste ... I said, "Awww, my buddy's taste buds just grew up!"
I give you my unofficial Chick-Fil-A fry sauce:
- (1) "Chick-fil-A Sauce" packet
- (1) Chick-fil-A "Mayonnaise" packet
- (1) Chick-fil-A "Jalapeno Salsa" packet ... ask for it behind the counter, as it usually comes with the Chicken-Burrito on their awesome breakfast menu.
- Mix, Dunk, Enjoy!

-You're Welcome.

leadfootsally said...

I am looking for a recipe for "white fry sauce" that I have had a Glades Drive Inn and Barry's Drive Inn in Spanish Fork Utah...Any ideas??


Anonymous said...

We tried honey in ours at home once. It's quite close to abs I must say.

Anonymous said...

Try 3 parts mayo to 1 part ketchup seasoned with garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce. Sub out the garlic salt for onion salt for a slight variation.

Anonymous said...

So I grew up in southeastern Washington and my parents have owned a franchise hotel here for the past 38 years which just happens to be next to Sharps Burger Ranch which was formerly an Arctic Circle in the 1970's. There was an older lady that worked for my parents as a night clerk in the hotel for a couple of decades, she just recently passed away and was in her 90s. She told me on more than one occasion that she had worked for Sharps or Arctic Circle back in the 1960s and that she used to make what they called "secret sauce" by the 50 gallon drum. I do believe if my memory serves me correct that she said she mixed 2 parts ketchup to 2 parts mayonnaise to 1 part buttermilk. She believed that the buttermilk was the "secret" if you will. She commented that everybody would mix the ketchup and mayonnaise but not many seemed to be aware of the buttermilk. She did say she enjoyed divulging the recipe now and then because she and the "boss" weren't always the best of buddies!