posted in 4th of July

Best Burger Sauce Recipe

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! There is a how-to video showing you how to make this recipe toward the end of this post. Scroll to the end of this post to print the complete recipe.

Best Burger Sauce

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.

This Best Burger Sauce Recipe is one of them.  There’s a big story behind it…

Penguin Drive In - Carson City, Nevada

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.  But the burgers were what kept people coming back.

Penguin Burger

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.

Best Burger Sauce Recipe

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 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!

Click below to watch a short video showing you how to make this recipe, then print out the recipe and make it at home!

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

Best Burger Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 202 kcal

This burger sauce is the absolute best addition to your grilled hamburgers!



  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. Refrigerate the sauce until your burgers are ready to assemble. This may be may up to 1 day ahead.
Nutrition Facts
Best Burger Sauce Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 202 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 31%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 338mg 14%
Potassium 23mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%
Sugars 2g
Vitamin A 1.7%
Vitamin C 0.4%
Iron 0.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Disclosure:  This post contains an Amazon affiliate link to my cookbook.  If you purchase my cookbook through that link, I get a few pennies of commission.  Thank you 🙂


  1. postedMar 15, 2018 8:34 AM

    I could not find any sweet pickle relish in my country. Do you have an alternative for sweet pickle relish that i can use ?

    • postedMar 27, 2018 5:15 PM

      Chopped pickles is a perfectly fine substitute.

  2. postedFeb 20, 2018 4:46 PM

    I was looking just to looking for an onion sauce when I came across your recipe. I moved to Carson City in 1976 and The Penguin was the first place I ate. Thanks for the memories and the recipe!

    • postedFeb 21, 2018 6:32 AM

      how fun! Thanks for commenting!

  3. postedMay 1, 2017 10:44 PM

    I’m on a low carb diet. Do you know what the nutritional values are ???

    • postedMay 4, 2017 8:54 AM

      I’m not sure, but you can use an online recipe calculator to figure it out 🙂

  4. postedMar 12, 2017 11:19 PM
    Peggy Walsh Komadina

    Sounds like this could be similar to Artic Circles fry sauce. I’m not a fan of pickle relish, sweet or dill, so I’m going to leave out the relish. I think it would make a great topping on baked potatoes.

  5. postedMar 6, 2017 8:05 AM

    That is a homemade thousand island recipe!

    • postedMar 9, 2017 9:48 AM

      Very similar- yes.

  6. postedMar 5, 2017 8:15 AM
    Barbara Pace

    I got super excited when I first started reading this. I too worked at a little mom and pop ice cream and burger joint named the Penguin when I was younger. But it was in Turlock CA. They owner maid all the ice cream himself and we had a special burger sauce as well, the recipe is different than this one. When I was a small child we would drive. 45 min. just to get the ice cream and burgers. It was a very popular place to all the local towns around it. Some of my best memories is working there.

    • postedMar 9, 2017 9:50 AM

      How fun!!!!

  7. postedFeb 24, 2017 6:45 PM

    Really good, and so effortless. We had it on burgers, and there was still a lot left and l used it on corned beef leftovers from a New England boiled dinner.

    • postedMar 1, 2017 9:21 AM

      Great idea, thanks for the tip!

  8. postedFeb 7, 2017 5:38 AM

    Sweet pickle relish?.. is that sweet mustard pickle?

    • postedFeb 13, 2017 6:15 PM

      I’m not sure. In the US, you can buy jars of “sweet pickle relish.”

  9. postedFeb 6, 2017 4:36 PM

    Only change I would make is diil relish not sweet. Sounds yummy.

  10. postedJan 23, 2017 6:17 AM

    BEST HAMBURGER SAUCE EVER RECIPE: When you remove the sauce from the refrigerator, do you heat it before putting on the hamburger? Thank you.

    • postedJan 26, 2017 6:52 AM

      No, keep it refrigerated- it does not get heated!

  11. postedJan 16, 2017 8:26 AM
    Kathleen Doman

    As a burger lover, I love your story!! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe, I can’t wait to try it!!!

  12. postedOct 28, 2016 8:02 AM

    Hi Lori,

    I remember The Penguin quite well….it was THE hangout in Carson City for burgers! I loved their tacos too! I am going to make this sauce for a bunch of sliders that I’m doing for a party I’m catering tomorrow! I had usually just used ketchup, caramelized onions and cheese on my sliders, so this will be a game changer for me and I’m sure my party guests will love it

    • postedOct 28, 2016 9:06 AM

      omg, I hope you love it!!!

  13. postedOct 25, 2016 3:34 AM
    Connie Sansom

    I would have to use dill relish instead of sweet as I do not like sweet relish but this sounds great, will give it a try.

  14. postedOct 15, 2016 12:06 PM

    I don’t like “real” mayo and prefer “salad dressing” instead. Can I do that?

    • postedOct 23, 2016 7:59 AM

      I’m not familiar with “salad dressing,” but if it has added sugar and other things that mayo does not have then I can’t imagine it would turn out the same…

  15. postedSep 20, 2016 3:51 PM

    How long can it be stored?  Does it have to be refrigerated?  Was thinking about making it up for a gift basket.

    • postedSep 26, 2016 7:43 AM

      I probably wouldn’t keep it longer than a week. Yes, on the refrigeration- for sure!

  16. postedSep 5, 2016 11:30 AM

    Was very tasty with my toasted burger sandwich. It will go excellent with fish fingers too. Thanks a ton for sharing

    • postedSep 11, 2016 7:26 AM

      Happy to hear!

  17. postedSep 4, 2016 8:11 AM

    I remember The Penguin! We loved going there. Sad to hear that it’s gone. We moved away from Carson City in 1996 and were last back there probably in 1999/2000. I’m sure the whole town is so different now. Now that we live in the land of Fry Sauce — which often finds it’s way on to our burgers! — I’ll definitely give your sauce recipe a try. It’s sure to become a favorite!

    • postedSep 4, 2016 1:36 PM

      How fun that you remember The Penguin! The town is different for sure. People used to ask for sides of this sauce for French Fry dipping. I think I replicated it pretty well. We all miss The Penguin though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *