Fry Sauce Is the Utah Cuisine You Gotta-Have

French Fries / Getty Images

The huge majority of Americans dip their french fries in ketchup and look askance at anyone who goes off that path. Dipping fries in mayo is mostly a European delight, but it's a growing trend on this side of the Atlantic. Some people dip fries in ranch or blue cheese dressing. Some want them drenched in melted cheese. But anyone who's a Utah native would doubtless have a really hard time eating french fries without fry sauce. Anyone who's never lived or traveled in the West almost certainly has no idea what this beloved stuff is.

What's Fry Sauce?

Utah fry sauce, not to be confused with Asian stir-fry sauce, is a simple combination of ketchup and mayonnaise popular in Utah restaurants and across the Mountain West as a simple dipping sauce for french fries and sometimes spread on burgers and sandwiches.

Utah-based burger chain Arctic Circle claims to have invented fry sauce in the 1940s. Of course, combining ketchup and mayonnaise isn't a unique idea, and the condiment is known by various names and has various uses around the world. For example, in Argentina, it's called "golf sauce" and is used on french fries, burgers, and sandwiches. In Germany, it's called "rott weiss" or "red white." In various types of cuisine, ketchup and mayo are combined with small amounts of mustard, garlic, lemon juice and/or hot sauce for use as a condiment.

Fry Sauce Recipe

Making your own fry sauce is about as simple as anything gets in the kitchen. Kasey Christensen, the chief operating officer for Arctic Circle Restaurants, says the chain stays with the original recipe, which is equal parts mayonnaise and ketchup. But there are many variations. Some like it with 1 part ketchup and 2 parts mayonnaise or other adjustments to the ratio of ketchup to mayo. For non-purists, additions include Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, pepper and just about any spice that strikes your fancy if you like it spicy or hot. And then there's a variation based on subbing barbecue sauce for the ketchup, sort of the lazy man's way of turning up the heat in one easy step.

Where You Find It on the Menu

Fry sauce may have originated in Utah, but it's expanded its horizons significantly. Of course, it's a required menu choice basically everywhere in Utah. You can now find it at national burger joint chains like McDonald's and Five Guys not only in Utah but also in Western states on its borders. It's gotten a big boost in Denver since it's on the menu at the Mile-High City's Smashburger, a smashing success story in its own right. Smashburger has varied the recipe, mixing ketchup with ranch dressing rather than the original mayo. 

How to Buy It

Are you intrigued and dying to try this stuff? Are you a Utah native far away with a huge longing for the taste of home? These days, you can buy it in the bottle. You can order the genuine article from Arctic Circle, as well as buy it in the restaurants. You have another choice if you'd like to compare tastes or want a little adventure from the original: Stephen's Gourmet Dipping Sauce gets raves and is sold bottled in grocery stores in Utah and online.

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