Regarding the limited-time Mulan-themed Szechuan McNugget sauce from McDonald's in 1998, I do remember it being tasty, but I don't recall the exact flavor to properly judge recreating it. Some internet rumors have inferred that is it really just a simple blend of the pre-existing McNugget Barbecue and McNugget Sweet & Sour sauces in varying proportions.

Is this true, or is there more to it than that?

  • 8
    It might be time to break out the Mass Spectrometer and get out our Chromatography medium.
    – Sidney
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 18:15
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    That being said, I've mixed Sweet and Sour and BBQ before. I can't talk about the specific sauce from Mickey D's, but sweet and sour + BBQ in a 1/1 ratio is pretty dope.
    – Sidney
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 18:17
  • 3
    These are the important mysteries that keep the internet running @Sidney.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 18:17
  • 1
    I would expect it to be spicier than that; "Szechuan" in American Chinese foods connotes spiciness. (What relationship it bears to actual Szechuan cuisine, I can't say.) Commented May 24, 2017 at 20:16
  • 2
    Not when a moderator obsesses on your question, @PoloHoleSet.
    – JoshDM
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 0:31

2 Answers 2


Put simply (and based on the previous answer), no, it's not.

enter image description here

From Flickr

Recently, images have finally appeared of the real Szechwan Sauce packets on Flickr, as well as a video on YouTube, both of which clearly show the original ingredients list as:

Water, high fructose corn syrup, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), sucrose, modified food starch, distilled vinegar, corn vinegar, apple cider vinegar, ginger, soybean oil, roasted sesame seed oil, natural flavor (salt, hydrolized corn gluten, wheat gluten, soy protein, sugar, chicken fat, corn starch, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, tapioca, maltodextrin, dehydrated onion, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, turmeric, thiamine hydrochloride, lactic acid), xanthan gum, spices, salt, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), garlic, citric acid, natural flavor, onion powder, succinic acid, garlic powder, phosphoric acid

And following the "one day limited release," photos of the modern recipe have been posted online, showing the ingredients as:

Water, sugar, distilled vinegar, wheat, soybeans, corn starch, salt, contains 2% or less: corn vinegar, apple cider vinegar, ginger, soybean oil, sesame seed oil, xanthan gum, preservatives (sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate), spices, yeast extract, garlic, wheat starch, natural flavor, citric acid, sunflower oil, dextrose

Ignoring the ubiquitous water, salt, and HCFS, we're still left with a number of "missing ingredients" that are present in the BBQ (tomato paste, grape vinegar, dried chili peppers) and the S&S (apricot/peach puree, dried chili peppers). The first of each of these missing ingredients contributes the primary flavor of the sauce. Meanwhile, both the BBQ and S&S sauces are missing Szechwan's ginger and (roasted) sesame seed oil, as well as the larger amount of vinegar, the key flavor components for that sauce.

Based purely on the ingredient lists for all three sauces, even taking into account what may be a "modernized" recipe for any of the three, Szechwan sauce cannot be a blend of BBQ and Sweet and Sour sauces.


See related question on Skeptics, which is basically a continuation of the original of this answer: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/38472/was-a-package-of-mcdonalds-dipping-sauce-just-sold-for-almost-15k

EDIT: Was the 1998 Mulan sauce a mixture of McDonald’s sweet-and-sour sauce and barbecue sauce? The world may never know. But since Rick and Morty has endorsed this cooking video from Binging with Babish (the endorsement is here in the description), and I suspect the makers of Rick and Morty are pretty cozy with McDonalds, maybe Babish knows something the rest of us don’t.

In the video, Babish mixes two parts McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce with one part McDonald’s Tangy BarBeQue sauce. He declares it not bad, but not as good as the following:

He really likes the sauce he made from a recipe from a Reddit user, who created the recipe with his father in an attempt years ago to duplicate the Mulan sauce. The video doesn’t give measurements, but luckily I was able to track down the original Reddit post and the recipe.

• Mince 6 cloves of Garlic and sweat (heat them up in a skillet)

• add 4 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

• add soy sauce to taste (DO NOT USE LOW SODIUM SAUCE)

• add 2 tablespoon Plum Sake (Drink additional 3 oz Plum Sake)

• Reduce sauce slightly (Drink additional 1.5 oz Plum Sake)

• 3 1/2 tablespoons cock sauce (Sriracha)

• add 2 tablespoon brown sugar

• Red pepper flakes to taste

• Minced Ginger to taste

• Consume remaining Plum Sake

Simmer that shit for a solid 5 minutes, stirring pretty much constantly. The brown sugar helps it keep the proper consistency, so it's important to use. Play around with the recipe to your taste. Might want more or less balsamic vinegar. Might want more or more Plum Sake. I'd definitely recommend you make it several times to figure out your own flavor.

The rest of this answer is as it was before I knew for sure that the Mulan sauce package in the news recently was a hoax See https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/38472/was-a-package-of-mcdonalds-dipping-sauce-just-sold-for-almost-15k


According to the labels on the sauces, the answer to your question is no, McDonald's Mulan SzeChuan Teriyaki Dipping Sauce is not a mixture of McDonald's Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce and McDonald's Tangy BarBeQue Dipping Sauce. I say that because because the sweet and sour sauce lists "apricot purée concentrate and/or peach purée concentrate" as its third ingredient. The Mulan sauce does not list that as an ingredient at all, so the Mulan sauce doesn't contain the sweet and sour sauce.

That should be it, right? This is where it gets weird.

The first thing I looked for was a list of ingredients for the sauces. I couldn't find that as text anywhere, so I looked at images of the actual sauce containers. I quickly saw that I wasn't going to have any problem reading the ingredients from pictures of the packages. I choose the first two images randomly. Notice that they're from completely different sources. 1

From: TheEater.com



From: Mouthful of Sunshine

There are two very weird things here. These are supposed to be pictures of the Mulan sauce package and the BBQ sauce package, respectively.

The ingredients on both packages are identical:

High fructose corn syrup, water, tomato paste, grape vinegar, distilled vinegar, salt, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), food starch- modified, spices, dextrose, soybean oil, natural smoke flavor (plant source), xanthan gum, caramel color, garlic powder, cellulose gum, dried chili peppers, malic acid, natural flavors (fruit and vegetable source), onion powder, sodium benzoate (preservative), succinic acid

But that's not even the weirdest thing. Got your tin-foil hat?

Look closely at the two images:


They are the same photo of the same package, with different sauce names Photoshopped in and the color manipulated.

Now that my mind had been totally blown, I looked for other images of the packaging of the sauces that didn't seem to be manipulated. I figured one of the packages above listed the wrong ingredients. Well...


From Popsugar.com



From An Immovable Feast

Full-sized, you can read the ingredients on both. They are identical to the other two.

So, either (a) McDonald's had a massive labeling error that would have cost them millions if caught at the time, or (b) the Mulan sauce is actually made from the same ingredients as the BBQ sauce, in the same order of quantity (so, very likely identical sauces), or (c) something is afoot.

I am going to get to the bottom of this with McDonald's, I am starting an email campaign now.

For the sake of completeness, the sweet and sour sauce contains:

High fructose corn syrup, water, apricot purée concentrate and/or peach purée concentrate, distilled vinegar, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), salt, food starch - modified, dextrose, soybean oil, xanthan gum, spices, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural flavors (fruit, vegetable and plant source), garlic powder, cellulose gum, dried chili peppers, malic acid, onion powder, extractives of paprika, succinic acid


From Craveonline.com

This video gets into the lore of the new-found interest in McDonald's Mulan sauce. The video repeatedly refers to the Mulan sauce as only available for a limited time. Hmm. Scratch the surface of the "Mulan" name, the BBQ name might be underneath.

I suspect that the reason the photoshopped image exists is that it was used in a pitch, showing how easy it would be to fool people into thinking that McDonald's created a sauce, available for a limited time only, to tie into the Mulan movie.


I just noticed this!:


Now I'm really at a loss. Even Time missed that date. A new Mulan movie is scheduled for 2018. Is this whole thing a marketing gimmick? The Mulan sauce had been discontinued for a very long time by 2011.

I tried to read the copyright date on the picture of the container in the hand, but couldn't. The printing looks suspiciously like the photoshopped C2011 package, but it's either not the same package or it has been further Photoshopped since the lower left hand corner is clearly different.

I find this whole thing very mysterious, so I will continue the investigation. I think I'll ask the folks at Skeptics for some help with this.

  • Bonus related video: youtube.com/watch?v=wBhhlE92mIQ
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 7:35
  • I am writing an email to Mcdonald's, challenging them to answer this question in time to get the bounty!
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 7:43
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    @rumtscho Certainly, but there is currently a kind of revival of interest in the Mulan sauce. The video in the comment above reiterates the question of mixing sweet & sour with the BBQ to make the Mulan sauce, so I would find it very weird if the BBQ and the Mulan sauce turn out to be the same. I said weird, not nefarious. And the photoshop thing is very weird to me.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 9:09
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    Teriyaki is Japanese and Szechuan is a province in China with its own renowned cuisine, one of the four major Chinese cuisines. Szechuan Teriyaki? Catalan bolognese next?
    – user110084
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 10:56
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    It is perhaps unlikely that it was just a mix of two pre-existing ones although you can probably recreate that taste that way. A bit like bulldog sauce for Tonkatsu which can be recreated with worcester sauce and tomato ketchup
    – user110084
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 10:59

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