Over the summer, Wendy’s will be introducing some new, yet-to-be-announced items. And while we’re not sure what their gand plans are just yet, we have a feeling everything is going to lean on the spicy side. That starts today with the first drop in the bunch — a new dipping sauce named “Ghost Pepper Ranch.”
While the sauce won’t arrive at your local Wendy’s until July 12th, they sent us a box along with some nuggets and fries so we could have an early taste and give you the full rundown of what to expect. My hope was that the sauce would take Wendy’s already spicy nuggets and bring them to a tear-inducing state. You’d think after eating 15 Flamin’ Hot chips and ranking them, I’d have had my fill of spicy foods, but nope — I’m always here for more heat.
Let’s get into the sauce!
Ghost Pepper Ranch
After sampling a dab of Ghost Pepper Ranch straight up, I went ahead and dipped some of Wendy’s fries in the sauce to see how intense the flavor was when paired with actual food. The sauce imparted a highly savory, almost butter-like creaminess to the french fries. I expected a burn given the use of Ghost Pepper but the heat was really subtle here, compounding onto itself the more you have. Still, for something made with Ghost Peppers — which range between 800,000 – 1,001,300 Scoville Heat Units, making them hotter than habanero peppers and, according to Wikipedia, 400 times hotter than Tabasco — I expected a more pronounced kick.
The heat does eventually build up in the back of the throat, but not in a way that is going to have you reaching for water or soda in an attempt to ease the burning sensation. I would describe it to friends as: “present but nonintrusive.”
The sauce is good on fries, but it really comes alive with Wendy’s spicy nuggets. The pairing of flavors is so perfect that I’m willing to guess Wendy’s tested this sauce with these nuggets specifically in mind. When the creamy buttermilk ranch combines with the craggy coating of the nuggets, with its black pepper and cayenne-forward flavors, the fruity sweet notes of the ghost pepper start to emerge, offering a sweet-then-savory finish that helps to elevate the nuggets in both flavor and heat.
The real strength of this sauce is that Wendy’s doesn’t use it as a spicy gimmick for us nugget fans. This isn’t a sauce that you have to eat as a dare, it’s not going to inspire any social media content showing over-spiced freakouts. It’s accessible and makes an already great menu item, the spicy nuggets, even better.
The Bottom Line:
Wendy’s new Ghost Pepper Ranch isn’t as spicy as you’d think and certainly not as spicy as I personally wanted it to be, but with the way it adds subtle sweetness and heat to Wendy’s spicy chicken batter — it’s easily one of Wendy’s best sauces. I love it as a dip, but I’m hoping Wendy’s gets brave and puts it on one of their chicken sandwiches. My pick would be the Asiago Ranch Chicken Club, as it already uses ranch as its sauce of choice.
A Ghost Pepper Asiago Ranch Chicken Club spicy style would be one of the best chicken sandwich experiences in the fast food universe and the Wendy’s spicy nuggs paired with this sauce is already a classic combo.