Drive through any hamburger joint in Idaho or Utah, and you’ll discover a surprising condiment packed in your bag. Known as “fry sauce,” this simple condiment is a regional staple and can usually be found where burgers and fries are offered. What’s so interesting about fry sauce is that you can’t get it outside of the Pacific Northwest, as we recently discovered on a family road trip vacation along Route 66.
In the Midwest, where we visited lots of cafes and drive-in hamburger restaurants, my husband’s requests for fry sauce were often met with a puzzled stare and double ketchup packets. On a lark, he decided that no matter where we were or what we were eating, he would keep asking everyone for fry sauce just to see how far west we’d have to travel until it appeared on the menu. And did we have to travel far.
Through Illinois, down to Oklahoma, Texas and throughout the southwest, none of the restaurants we visited had any clue what fry sauce was, although we did meet several short-order cooks who gamely tried making their own out of mayonnaise. To our surprise, it wasn’t until reaching Northern California that we first started seeing commercially prepared fry sauce just like what we eat back home.
Fry sauce supposedly was invented in Utah by the Arctic Circle food chain back in 1948. This franchise is popular here in Idaho too which may explain that I’ve been enjoying fry sauce myself every since moving here in the 1970s. The fry sauce made by this company is a carefully guarded secret, though lots of other companies have jumped on the bandwagon with their own versions of this simple condiment.
So how do you make fry sauce at home? All this condiment requires is two ingredients: ketchup and mayonnaise. The typical proportions are two part mayo to one part ketchup, though I have also seen it made in a 1:1 ratio for a more ketchup-y flavor.
If you are really feeling flush, you can toss in spices that you probably already have in your pantry. Some restaurants include a pinch of garlic in their mayo-ketchup mix, others stir in a bit of pickle relish. We’ve also tasted fry sauce with a hint of red pepper or curry, and have sampled fry sauce made with a mix of barbecue sauce and mayo. As for our family, I like to keep it simple and just add a dash of paprika and onion salt.
For a simple condiment to serve at a party, it’s hard to beat fry sauce. This yummy two-ingredient dish also tastes delicious on roasted potatoes, burgers, sandwiches, and as a dipping sauce for grilled vegetables.
More by this contributor:
How to make barbecue sauce from fresh tomatoes
How to make and freeze homemade spaghetti sauce
Uses for mushy apples