Oct 26, 2023

Review: McDonald's - Sweet & Spicy Jam and Mambo Sauce

McDonald's Mambo Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Jam.

McDonald's Sweet & Spicy Jam and Mambo Sauce are two new, limited-time, dipping cup sauces from the chain.

Dipping cup sauces costs $0.20 per container if purchased alone at my local McDonald's. You can also get the new sauces for free with an order of Chicken McNuggets so I went that route and bought two 6-piece Chicken McNuggets for $3.29 (they had a BOGO deal in the app). These were the items that were chosen by BrandEating's first-ever Patreon reader's choice review poll. Thanks to everyone who voted.

Sweet & Spicy Jam is the McDonald's first breakfast-oriented dipping sauce in the US and features a jam-like red pepper sauce with a numbing Szechuan peppercorn kick, additional spicy heat from cayenne pepper, and an apple cider vinegar finish. 

McDonald's Mambo Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Jam up close.

Before dipping it with a chicken nugget, I tried the jam by itself. It had a thickened, jam-like consistency but not so much that you had to spread it with a knife. Like a fruit jam, it was quite sweet and might actually work in a peanut butter and jam sandwich. The sugar content lent it a bit of a dessert quality but there was also a fruity bell pepper base that was mildly spicy with a bit of tanginess. I didn't really pick up on any of the numbing qualities of Szechuan peppercorns. If there were any other seasonings, they were largely covered up by the sweetness. I didn't enjoy eating it with my Chicken McNuggets as the broad sweetness was somewhat overpowering.

McDonald’s Mambo Sauce offers a tomato-based, sweet, spicy, and vinegary sauce. Interestingly, it was roughly as sweet as the Sweet & Spicy Jam but seemed to have a lot more going on in terms of complexity and layered flavors. It was also smoother and more runny. Mambo Sauce was also the spicier of the two with a moderate heat that built up fairly quickly but didn't linger too long. It actually had a ketchup base so I got that familiar sweet and tangy tomato-y quality along with some novelty with various seasonings that weren't distinct but made the sauce more interesting. As such, this was my preferred dipping sauce for the nuggets.

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets dipped in Mambo Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Jam.

Overall, I really enjoyed McDonald's Mambo Sauce as it managed to balance a good deal of contrasting flavors while providing a considerable spicy kick. As for Sweet & Spicy Jam, it might be your jam (pun intended) if you sometimes just eat your chicken nuggets or other savory McDonald's dishes with honey. As for me, it felt like a plainer version of Sweet Chili with a jam-like consistency and a bell pepper base. It's a little ironic that the spicier sauce is the one without "spicy" in its name.

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