All Of Arby's Sides, Ranked

The best and worst sides on the Arby's menu, all fried to a golden-brown crisp.

Arby's has done some questionable things over the years, from the ill-advised Meat Mountain to the Curly Fry Vodka. The sandwiches, aside from the classic Beef 'N Cheddar, are often erratic misses. Still, Arby's does consistently excel at one thing: sides. In fact, the menu has recently expanded, going far beyond curly fries and stretching the very limits of what can be considered a side in the first place.

Many of Arby's sides would, under normal restaurant circumstances, fall under some sort of appetizers category. Instead, the "Sides & Snacks," section features conventional fast food offerings like crinkle-cut and curly fries, but also mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers. Would you order a sandwich with a side of mozzarella sticks anywhere else? Does a mound of compressed meat scraps actually beg to be paired with some mac & cheese bites? Only Arby's prompts this kind of decision-making.

Sides can save a meal, and they also have the ability to steal the show. Which of Arby's sides can boast this kind of power? Recently, I ate my way through all six options and ranked them from worst to best. Here's how it all shook out.

6. Jalapeño Bites

Many of Arby's sides fall under the umbrella of greasy, TGI Fridays-esque fare. Take the Jalapeño Bites, which come in standard form: filled with cream cheese and a little slice of jalapeño pepper. The quality, though, is strikingly low. The cream cheese is a little coarse, almost grainy. It doesn't taste like cheese, and only barely feels like it texturally. The jalapeño is fine, but doesn't mask the fact that the cream cheese is subpar. Jalapeño poppers should taste indulgently creamy, and this is more breading than anything else.

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Also, the Bronco Berry sauce it comes with is utterly useless. Arby's was probably going for the whole mozzarella-and-melba thing, but the sweet and spicy jelly tastes deeply unsettling when paired with the grainy, un-cheese-like jalapeño bite.

5. Crinkle Fries

Arby's "other fry" falls leagues below the iconic curly iteration. These crinkle cuts are exceptionally greasy and well-salted, but somehow still pretty bland. There's a decent crisp on the outside, but overall they come across pretty limp. If you're going to Arby's for fries, be smart. Order all of them fried fresh.

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Crinkle fries make sense with a sandwich, but order them at Arby's and you'll just be left wanting their curly brethren. They're not very good, but they're a much more viable side than the jalapeño bites.

4. Mozzarella Sticks

Are all mozzarella sticks inherently good? Even the cheapest ones made with low-moisture cheese will satisfy. The mozz sticks at Arby's are far from spectacular, but they still do what they're supposed to: hit you with salty, melty cheese and fried breading. The cheese has almost a provolone flavor to it, and this side is definitely fried fresh. That's one great thing about all the appetizer-adjacent sides at Arby's—they're always fried as soon as you order them. They have to be.

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The mozzarella sticks come with marinara sauce, which you should immediately throw in the trash. Arby's has the worst marinara I have ever encountered, and I'm too fascinated by this product to be mad at it. The first ingredient on the label is water, and it shows. It's also made with high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, and soybean oil. Jesus Christ. Don't dip your mozzarella sticks into this unholy, thinned-out red sauce. I had better luck dipping my fried cheese into Horsey Sauce, whose horseradish kick actually helped the mozzarella stick greatly. Arby's has two great sauces: Horsey Sauce and Arby's Sauce. Stick to those and run from the rest.

3. Fried Mac ‘N Cheese Bites

I was stunned to have liked these as much as I did. There's a real crab cake vibe to Arby's Fried Mac 'N Cheese Bites that's confounding but delightful. The inside of these croquettes (I'll give Arby's its flowers here) are cheesy and starchy with a wonderfully soft texture. They almost feel like cheesy hushpuppies. I detected only a small amount of actual macaroni in each bite, which honestly is a great idea. Too much macaroni would just weigh these down. Structurally, these rule. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and full of great cheese flavor.

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Is this a side or an appetizer? Feels like an appetizer, but hey, you're dining at Arby's. All the rules are out the window. You'll want to write these off, but you shouldn't. Make a point of ordering them.

2. Chicken Nuggets

These nuggets don't have the same thick, bready coating as the Fried Mac 'N Cheese Bites, Mozzarella Sticks, and Jalapeño Bites, so they feel more like a side and less like a chain restaurant appetizer. Are these the best fast food nuggets out there? A lot of people seem to think so. They're so damn light and tasty that I can actually see them pairing perfectly with a Beef 'N Cheddar; the breading is crispy and craggy while somehow staying airy, and the bites of poultry are plump and juicy. Plus, the nuggets present an opportunity to explore more of Arby's condiments, and the chain lives and dies by its sauce. The Honey Mustard and Ranch are standard, but in a good way. The Chicken Nuggets at Arby's have been slept on for far too long. They deserve more love.

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1. Curly Fries

Duh. Curly Fries are the reason everybody goes to Arby's. Expertly seasoned, crunchy, creamy, oily, and downright delicious, this is the only fast food fry that doesn't really need any condiment—but boy are they fun to dip in a mix-and-match lineup of Horsey Sauce, Arby's Sauce, and ketchup.

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Notably, Arby's blanches and parcooks its fries. Hooray! Suck on that, In-N-Out. The reason Arby's fries taste so damn good, though, is the batter. Curly fries start with a batter of garlic, onion, salt, and other spices, and the results speak for themselves.

Bottom line: There is no better side to one of Arby's sandwiches than a batch of Curly Fries. They're too iconic to be beat, warranting a trip to the drive-thru all by themselves. There aren't many fast food fries out there that can claim that. This is Arby's number-one side by a mile, and maybe the best thing on the menu.

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