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.
Before dipping it with a chicken nugget, I tried the jam but 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 a bit 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.
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.