In Maryland, there are just a few truly acceptable sauces to serve with seafood — cocktail sauce and tartar are typically the way to go. While I enjoy those from time to time, this slightly spicy Bang Bang sauce is one of my favorites to make.
If you’re going for a spicy sauce with your shrimp, you could easily just toss in a big dash of Old Bay in a bowl of mayo. I’m not above that — I do adore some Old Bay.
However, if you want something a bit more nuanced, Bang Bang sauce is the way to go. There’s heat, there’s sweet, and then there’s that amazing umami from other ingredients like vinegar and garlic.
The best part of this recipe is that you can get all of those layers of flavor by using just 3 ingredients. Since they have those umami-laden ingredients in them already, all you have to do is sprinkle them into the mayo base and – voila – you have a flavor-laden sauce.
The next time you’re looking for an interesting alternative to the standard seafood sauces, try making this delicious and easy sauce.
What is Bang Bang Sauce?
You may have seen this sauce at restaurants like Bonefish Grill with a Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer, or at some hibachi steakhouses. It’s a creamy sauce with a slightly pink hue and a bit of bite.
Essentially Bang Bang Sauce is a spicy aioli with a slight kick of flavor from the inclusion of vinegar. Mayonnaise is the creamy base that lays the foundation for all of the other simple ingredients to shine.
While the name itself is likely originated from the popular Szechuan street food Bang Bang chicken which incorporates Thai sweet chili sauce, the popular Americanized version has undergone some adaptations.
- Mayonnaise – Use your favorite brand, but steer away from any of the sweeter varieties.
- Thai sweet chili sauce – There are tons of bottle brands, or you can make your own. Make sure you love it, though — this ingredient is the star of the show, bringing all of the umami as well as sweet and heat to the sauce.
- Sriracha sauce – While the Thai sauce brings some heat, this one rounds it out with plenty of heat and garlic plus acid from the vinegar.
How to Use Bang Bang Sauce
While this makes for a great dipping sauce, there are lots of ways to make this a regular rotation in your kitchen sauciness.
- Burgers – Instead of your typical burger sauce, spread this over a traditional burger to kick up your cookout game.
- Shrimp salad – Instead of just mayo, spices, and celery, slather this over your cooked and diced shrimp for a new take on shrimp salad.
- Lobster rolls – Forget butter, mayo, or aiolis — this is the perfect sauce to spice up your lobster roll.
- Crab cakes – Sure, traditionalists might frown, but you could use this instead of just mayo to add some kick to standard crab cakes.
- Pasta salad – Try a unique twist on traditional pasta salad by tossing your ingredients with this sauce.
- Potatoes – Drizzle this over a baked potato, mix it into mashed potatoes, or dip crispy french fries into it
- Chicken wings – Switch out your typical dressings and dip your wings in this instead.
- Roasted vegetables – Toss the veggies in the sauce, or serve it in a small bowl on the side for dipping.
- Chicken nuggets – Elevate those nuggets with this spicy dipping sauce.
- Breakfast – Change up your breakfast by using this instead of hollandaise for a fun twist on eggs Benedict.
This is a pretty standard Bang Bang Sauce recipe, but you can add your own flavors to it.
- Spice – Give this simple sauce a spicy kick with cayenne, crushed red pepper, or your other favorite hot sauce or spices.
- Other heat – Dice up some jalapenos or other spice chiles to add flavor and texture.
- Garlic – Chop up some cloves or add some garlic powder. Or try adding some chili garlic sauce.
- Mayo – Grab (or make) a vegan mayo to change it up for your diet preferences.
- Plain Greek yogurt – Instead of making a mayo-based sauce, use Greek yogurt which will add tangy flavor, too.
- Cilantro – Finely slice cilantro and sprinkle it in for some fresh flavor.
- Vinegar – Add a touch of rice vinegar for even more umami.
- Maple syrup – Drizzle a small amount of syrup to make it a sweet sauce.
- Tomato – Add a little bit of tomato paste to make this sauce a little more like a Yum Yum sauce.
- Green onions – Sprinkle some finely chopped green onions on top for garnish or mix them into the sauce for added flavor and color.
- Gochujang – You can substitute this ingredient for the sriracha, or make it an addition.
Storage and Freezing
You can serve this homemade version of bang bang sauce immediately but it’s way better made at least 24 hours ahead so that it has time for the flavors to mingle.
Storage: Store leftover sauce for up to 7 days in an airtight container or wrap the serving bowl with plastic wrap.
Freezing: This sauce is best served fresh. Freezing is not recommended for mayonnaise based dishes.
More Homemade Sauces
Bang Bang Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- 2-4 teaspoons Sriracha
- In a large mixing bowl stir together the mayonnaise, Thai sweet chili sauce and Sriracha. Use less or more Sriracha depending on how spicy you like your shrimp. This will also impact how dark the sauce color is.
- Cover and chill for 30 minutes before re-stirring and serving.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!