The Sweet Ingredient Ree Drummond Adds To Chicken Dipping Sauce

Crispy popcorn, tenders, or wings make the ultimate snack — whether it's game day, movie night, or just a casual get-together. All the golden, deep-fried delights need is a tasty dip to really get the taste buds going. And dips don't necessarily need to be complicated; you can make a wildly flavorful dip with just two ingredients.

A honey-mustard dip is a classic, the sweet and vinegary flavors pairing perfectly with chicken. If you love the classic combo but want to switch things up a little, then Ree Drummond has the perfect solution. Rather than using honey for her dipping sauce, she switches to another ingredient — maple syrup – to make a flavorful maple-mustard dip.

While both honey and maple add a similar level of sweetness, the two ingredients also bring a different range of flavors to dishes, with maple more about a butterscotch or caramel taste than the sweet floral notes often found in honey. But swapping honey for maple isn't just about the taste. It also adds a different texture and viscosity to a dipping sauce, too.

Swap honey for maple syrup for a sweet glossy dip

While there are different grades of maple syrup, which are collected from maple trees during different points of the season, the sweet treat has a consistency that works well in dishes such as dipping sauces. As well as often being thinner and more pourable than honey, so the finished dip isn't overly thick, the syrup also adds a glossy quality, which looks especially appetizing. But, just like sticky honey, it also clings well to the item you're dipping, such as fried chicken bites.

For her maple-mustard dipping sauce, Ree Drummond simply mixes maple syrup and punchy mustard (dijon works well with the syrup) with mayonnaise, for a smooth, creamy base, adding paprika for a little sweet warmth and a richer color. If you find the dip too sweet, adding a little apple cider vinegar can bring more acidity.

Just like honey, sweet maple syrup also matches well with the sharp, tangy flavors in mustard, as well as being a natural partner for chicken. And beyond its role as a dip for popcorn chicken or tenders, the rich-tasting syrup can be used as an ingredient in a variety of other chicken dishes, too.

More ways to pair chicken with maple for a top taste combo

Maple syrup pairs beautifully with chicken, delivering a satisfying sweet-savory contrast of flavor. And they go together in so many different ways — from a marinade to start a dish to a dressing or sauce to finish it. Try whisking syrup with soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and seasonings for a simple marinade for chicken breasts; the leftover marinade can be reduced in a pan to make a delicious sauce for the cooked chicken, too — just be sure the sauce reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

With its sweet taste and sticky consistency, maple syrup is a great ingredient for making a glaze for chicken, too. Try gently heating a mixture of syrup, soy sauce, garlic, and white wine vinegar, and whisking in a little cold butter for a glossy, syrupy glaze to spoon over roasted chicken thighs. Or mix the syrup with soy, mustard, and the zest of an orange for a bright, fruity marinade that can also be brushed as a glaze over chicken breasts as they cook on the grill or barbecue.

Alternatively, try tossing chicken legs, baby potatoes, and vegetables with a mixture of maple syrup, mustard, garlic, and olive oil before roasting in the oven for a sweet, sticky, and easy sheet-pan dinner. Or take the classic chicken and waffles combo to the next level by coating chicken pieces with waffle batter before frying, and serving it with bourbon-spiked maple syrup to drizzle.