Best Burger Sauce Recipe

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This Best Burger Sauce Recipe is truly the best sauce to add to your burgers.  It’s very much like a Thousand Island dressing, and it’s the perfect pairing for hamburgers! 

Best Burger Sauce Recipe in a Jar

It has been 3 years since my cookbook- The Recipe Girl Cookbook– was published, and I’m still picking it up and making the recipes.  Since I packed the book full of 195 of my favorites, my family has things that they request again and again.

Watch the video showing you how to make the Best Burger Sauce Recipe, then scroll to the bottom of this post and print out the recipe so you can make it at home.

Penguin Drive In - Carson City, Nevada

The Best Burger Sauce:

This Best Burger Sauce Recipe is one of the recipes in my cookbook that my family asks me to make again and again.  There’s a big story behind it…

When I was 15, I talked my way into a job at a little mom and pop ice cream and fast food shack called The Penguin. It was one of those places where you stop when you’re driving through a small town on a long road trip, flashing frostie sign luring you in.  It was also a place that was very popular with the locals.  

The malts, dipped cones, and finger-sized French fries were among the favorite menu items.  Even the Penguin tacos were a big hit!  But the burgers were what kept people coming back.

Burger with Best Burger Sauce Recipe on it

The Penguin Burger was by far the best burger the town of Carson City, Nevada has ever seen.  I grilled up my share of Penguin Burgers working there as a young high school student, and I topped them all with a secret, special sauce that made them so delicious. The sauce was so good that people often asked for a side of the sauce to dip their French fries in it!

Is this Best Burger Sauce Recipe the same thing as Thousand Island Dressing?

Pretty much!  That’s something McDonald’s did right back in the day with the creation of their “special sauce.”  That special sauce turned out to be very similar to Thousand Island Salad Dressing, and it turns out to be a delicious addition to hamburgers!  I don’t keep Thousand Island Salad Dressing in my refrigerator, so it’s nice to have this recipe to whip it up for burgers when I’m grilling.

Best Burger Sauce Recipe in a jar

The Penguin was torn down several years ago to make room for a gas station conglomerate, but my Penguin Burgers’ special sauce recipe is a nod to what those burgers were all about.

The full recipe for the actual Penguin “Burgers” is in my cookbook, but I’m sharing the special sauce with you today so you can add it to your own burgers!

Jar of Best Burger Sauce Recipe

You may want to add the Best Burger Sauce to my Turkey Garden Burgers or these Blue Cheese Burgers. It’s such a great addition to a burger!  And be sure to serve your burgers with either my Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad or my favorite All American Potato Salad.

Here are a few more burger-themed recipes you might enjoy:

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5 from 9 votes

Best Burger Sauce Recipe

This burger sauce is the absolute best addition to your grilled hamburgers!
Prep Time 6 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 136kcal
Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Keyword best burger sauce recipe, burger sauce recipe, hamburger sauce recipe


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • dash of ground cayenne pepper


  • In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. If you tend to like a sweeter sauce, add 1 full teaspoon of sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon to cut the sweetness.
  • Refrigerate the sauce until your burgers are ready to assemble. This may be may up to 1 day ahead.



Serving: 1serving | Calories: 136kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 225mg | Potassium: 15mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Iron: 0mg
Filed In:
Burger Love...
Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

Meet The Author: Lori Lange

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  • Kathy G. wrote:

    This is the best! The cayenne pepper makes it spicy. .put 2 dashes because we like it hot!!
    Love it!!

  • Adrienne S Wedel wrote:

    Nice n tangy! Just mixed it up, planning in serving it with smashed burgers this eve.

  • Sarah wrote:

    Its basically fry sauce.. which has been a thing all over utah and idaho since the 50s

  • Stephanie Beasley wrote:

    The Big Mac (secret) is actually Russian dressing; it has a slight different taste

  • Shannon wrote:


  • mary windisch wrote:

    can this sauce be canned and if so how and how longs it good for

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      No, this is not a canning recipe…

  • Suzy wrote:

    This is so good! It’s easy to make and taste great!

  • Alli wrote:

    So my kids have decided that they will not eat burgers anymore without this sauce! Thank you so much for the great recipe!

  • Billy wrote:

    This is seriously the most delicious sauce ever for burgers! In fact we’ve been putting it on everything.

  • Aimee Shugarman wrote:

    Served this with our burgers last night and we all LOVED it!