The Whataburger patty melt is a popular item on the Whataburger menu. It features a beef patty covered in melted cheese and grilled onions, served on Texas toast with a unique creamy sauce. But what exactly is in the delicious patty melt sauce that makes it so craveworthy? In this article, we’ll take a look at the ingredients that go into this signature Whataburger condiment.
According to Whataburger, the main ingredients in the patty melt sauce are mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, and pimento. Here’s an overview of each key component:
Mayonnaise is the base of the patty melt sauce. It provides a creamy, rich foundation and smooth texture. Whataburger likely uses a high-quality mayo made with egg yolk, vinegar, and vegetable oil. The mayo binds the sauce together.
Adding mustard gives the patty melt sauce a bit of tangy zip. Whataburger probably uses a yellow mustard which has a milder flavor compared to spicy brown or Dijon mustards. The mustard cuts through the richness of the mayo.
Pickle relish incorporates sweet and sour pickled cucumber flavor. The relish includes chopped pickle and the vinegary brine solution. It adds tartness, crunch, and texture to balance out the creaminess of the mayo and mustard.
Pimento refers to pickled and diced red pimiento peppers. The pimento contributes a subtle roasted red pepper flavor. The red flecks of pimento also provide visual appeal. The pimento gives the sauce an extra flavor dimension.
Potential Other Ingredients
In addition to the core ingredients, Whataburger may add other components to achieve the perfect patty melt sauce flavor and consistency:
A bit of sugar could be used to take the edge off the tartness of the mustard, relish, and vinegar. Some sugar would also enhance the sauce’s creaminess.
Spices and seasonings
Spices like garlic and onion powder, paprika, salt, or pepper could flavor and round out the sauce. Some cayenne pepper would also contribute a touch of heat.
Starches like flour or cornstarch might be used in small amounts to give the sauce a thicker, stickier texture so it adheres well to the patty melt.
Extra vinegar, lemon juice, or other acid could balance and brighten the sauce. Acid would also help cut the richness.
Onion and garlic
Minced onions and garlic would provide crunchy, savory bits and reinforce the patty melt’s onion flavors. However, these are not always included in the actual sauce.
A small amount of vegetable oil may be incorporated for added richness and moisture.
Sauce Preparation Methods
To achieve the perfect creamy, tangy sauce consistency, Whataburger likely uses specific preparation methods:
Vigorously whisking the mayo, mustard, and other liquids together would emulsify them into a cohesive, homogeneous sauce. Emulsifying creates a stable blend of the water and oil-based ingredients.
Salt affects the way proteins in the egg yolks and mustard interact and bind. Adding salt at the right time while mixing also helps build a smooth, creamy emulsion.
The sauce ingredients are probably mixed together at cool room temperature. This prevents the emulsion from breaking down too quickly. Warming the sauce later heats and melds the flavors.
Acid ingredients like relish, vinegar, or lemon juice are added after initial emulsification. This prevents the acid from curdling the mixture.
Once prepared, the sauce may rest to allow flavors to fully develop before serving on patty melts. Resting also allows the emulsion to stabilize over several hours.
The patty melt sauce likely provides the following set of nutritional values per typical 2-3 tablespoon serving:
As you can see, the sauce is high in fat from the mayonnaise and relatively low in carbs and protein. The sodium content is also quite high, coming mostly from the mustard, pickle relish, and any added salt.
The Whataburger patty melt sauce contains ingredients that could cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals:
- Eggs – from mayonnaise
- Soybean oil – often used in mayonnaise
- Mustard – source of allergenic protein
- Pickle relish – may contain mustard
- Onion and garlic – raw forms can be a trigger
Those with egg, soy, mustard, or onion/garlic allergies should exercise caution consuming the patty melt sauce. Whataburger cooks should take care to prevent cross-contact during preparation.
The patty melt sauce itself is likely gluten-free. Mayonnaise, mustard, relish, pimento, and other core ingredients do not intrinsically contain gluten. However, Whataburger’s kitchen procedures and equipment may allow for gluten cross-contact. Customers with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should confirm the gluten-free status of the sauce by contacting Whataburger. Those adhering to a strict gluten-free diet may wish to avoid the sauce or request special accommodations to reduce cross-contact risk.
Cost Savings Version
To save on costs, Whataburger might tweak the patty melt sauce recipe in the following ways while attempting to maintain flavor:
- Reduce amount of mayonnaise and replace with less expensive salad dressing or vegetable oil
- Replace some pickle relish with plain diced pickles
- Use a lower cost prepared yellow mustard
- Eliminate pimento for cost and simplify recipe
- Use more onion and garlic powder instead of fresh
- Reduce additions like sugar, spices, thickeners, and acids
However, too many changes could degrade the flavor and consistency that customers expect. Whataburger likely carefully balances ingredient costs with providing the patented taste patrons love.
Copycat Homemade Version
To recreate the Whataburger patty melt sauce at home, try mixing together the following basic ingredients:
- 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
- 1⁄2 tsp onion powder
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
Whisk everything together in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. For a spicier sauce, increase the cayenne or add a diced jalapeño. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week. Use on burgers, sandwiches, fries, chicken tenders, and more.
To produce the patty melt sauce on a large commercial scale for over 830 Whataburger locations, precise formulas and processes are vital. Here are some considerations:
- Calculated percentages of ingredients for massive batch sizes
- Computerized mixing equipment to efficiently emulsify huge quantities
- pH testing strips to check sauce acidity
- Pasteurization for food safety and shelf stability
- Strict quality control and sampling procedures
- Custom industrial packaging to maintain consistency
- Climate-controlled distribution centers and refrigerated delivery trucks
Through stringent manufacturing methods, Whataburger provides consistent patty melt sauce to its loyal customers across 10 states.
The origins of the Whataburger patty melt sauce are uncertain, but this sandwich has been on the menu for decades:
- patty melt introduced pre-1970s after original patty melt sauces
- recipe tweaked over the years by R&D chefs
- designed to complement flavors of patty, onions, cheese
- uniquely Texan profile compared to other patty melts
- key component of brand identity and consumer loyalty
The exact formula remains a proprietary trade secret. But the sauce’s tangy creaminess has delivered signature flavor for 50+ years of patty melt fans.
The Whataburger patty melt sauce has a special flavor that customers can’t seem to get enough of. With a creamy base of mayonnaise and mustard punctuated by pickle relish and pimento, it offers the perfect balance of rich, tangy, and savory. While the exact recipe is confidential, using high quality ingredients, proper mixing techniques, and consistent production controls likely allows Whataburger to achieve that craveable taste. The patty melt sauce has clearly become an iconic part of Whataburger’s brand over the decades. Other restaurants have tried to imitate it, but true enthusiasts know nothing compares to the original Whataburger version. So next time you’re at Whataburger, savor the special sauce that makes the patty melt a classic.