When it comes to having a top-quality hamburger we all know the beef patty is the most important factor. But it’s not what hungry friends and family will remember when they try your masterpiece, and it’s not what most grill house chefs will proudly shout about. The sauce you apply to burgers is what gives it the wow factor and is what people will judge your burger on. We’ll run through a list of the best sauce for burgers so you can give your burgers that extra taste explosion.
This list will start with what is the “Power Three” of burger sauces. These sauces are great on there own but are also the building blocks of many other great sauces. Ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard are very often mixed with other sauces or herbs and spices for people’s secrete sauce. So if you’re looking to make your own signature sauce, using one of a combination of these sauces is a good place to start.
The world’s most popular sauce – ketchup. It’s said that 97% of US homes have a bottle of ketchup sitting in their fridge. I couldn’t find the source for this often cited stat but it doesn’t shock me at all. It’s a sauce that goes great with lots of different foods, burgers being one of them, and it’s also a long-lasting sauce – it can sit in the fridge for a year.
I know the chef in you would like to make your own ketchup, looking to improve on store-bought bottles. But this is one sauce I recommend buying from the store. It’s a long and boring process to make your own ketchup and it’s unlikely you’ll make anything better than what you can buy. And for me, there is one go-to brand, Heinz ketchup.
Buying ketchup doesn’t mean you can’t put your own custom spin on it. As I previously mentioned it is one of the building blocks of many people’s custom sauce. Try it mixed with some of the other sauces on this list, or do that I like to do and add a bit of heat to ketchup by mixing in some spices or one of your favorite dry rubs.
Mayonnaise is a sauce that more traditionally found on a chicken sandwich/burger but it’s also great with beef. I often use it to spread on my buns before toasting. And if used as a sauce I’ll often mix in a bit of ketchup with it and a few of my favorite herbs. If you like a spicy sauce you can also mix it with a hot sauce and have something like a Sriracha mayonnaise.
American mustard, English mustard, and French Dijon mustard are all great mustards with completely different tastes. So be careful with recipes as these mustards aren’t interchangeable. As with all the “Power Three” sauces, mustard is a good stand-alone sauce. But if you want to add your own chef flare to a sauce you can make something like Dijonnaise. As the name suggests, it’s Dijon mustard mixed with mayonnaise.
Classic burger sauce is made with two of the “Power Three” sauces, ketchup and mayonnaise, although I have seen people also adding mustard. Pickle is also added to most classic burger sauce recipes which gives this sauces it a beautiful tangy flavor. As the name suggests, this is an amazing sauce for burgers, as it was specially made just to be put on a hamburger.
The classic hot sauces like Sriracha, a chili sauce like the North African Harissa sauce or curry sauces made famous in Asian cuisine will all fall into the category of hot sauce. And all of them taste great on a burger with the right selection of toppings. Spicy sauces are what I normally veer towards when making a burger, but remember, you don’t want the heat to override all the other flavors – particularly the beef.
BBQ sauce is so varied it deserves its own article, so we have done a separate article just on BBQ sauce. These sauces are best when you cook your burgers on a charcoal grill. As BBQ sauce is made to complement the smokey flavor you get from food off the grill.
A great all American sauce/dressing to add to a burger. Ranch is by far the most popular dressing in America and Happy Valley have mad over 70 different variations of this sauce. Are sauces and dressings the same thing? No, but they have lots of overlap and most dressings can be used as a sauce (but not the other way around).
Aioli is a sauce often confused with mayonnaise, they are both made with raw egg and oil, but this Mediterranian sauce has a completely different taste. Its name means garlic and oil, so as you’d imaging, it has a garlic taste to it. It’s one of the more unusual burger sauces on this list, but give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.
Tartar sauce is a topping you’d expect on a fish sandwich/burger – probably most famous for being on McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. Surprisingly this sauce hasn’t really crossed over to beef patty burgers in the fast-food world, because it also works wonders with beef. Don’t take my word for it, get out on your grill and give it a go.
The classic cheese sauce for burgers is normally the same as you’d use for mac’n’cheese, and people often put macaroni and cheese on their burgers, not just the cheese sauce. In fact, it is now quite popular to see a macaroni and cheese breaded patty added to a burger.
The beautiful thing with cheese sauce is you can add whatever your favorite cheese is to it to change the flavor. One popular option is to make a blue cheese sauce that people like with their steaks.
Teriyaki sauce has kicked off in a big way in the burger world over the last few years. This is because it’s a sauce that is great with beef. The only surprise is it took so long for the burger world to work this out. When I use teriyaki sauce on a burger I throw what most people think is a curveball and add a little bit of pineapple.
Another popular burger sauce with Asian origins is Thai sweet chili sauce. It works well as a side dipping sauce or poured over the burger. Sweet chili hits two of the five taste receptors in your mouth (sweet and sour) in one great sauce. And it also brings a little heat with the chilies.
Sour cream might seem like a strange choice for a burger sauce but you know how amazing it is with chili and that is often made with ground beef just like a burger is. So this is a great sauce along with guacamole, salsa and a hot sauce on a burger.