Buffalo ranch chicken is a popular chicken dish that combines buffalo chicken with ranch dressing. The buffalo flavoring comes from hot sauce, so buffalo ranch chicken has some spiciness to it, but the amount of heat can vary greatly depending on the specific recipe. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at whether buffalo ranch chicken is spicy and examine the different factors that impact the spiciness level.
What is Buffalo Ranch Chicken?
Buffalo ranch chicken is made by cooking chicken pieces (tenders, wings, breasts, etc.) and tossing them in Buffalo wing sauce. Traditional Buffalo sauce contains hot sauce (usually Frank’s RedHot) and butter. The chicken gets coated in the spicy, buttery Buffalo sauce.
Then ranch dressing is added to the Buffalo chicken to create the full buffalo ranch flavor. The creamy, cooling ranch balances out the heat from the Buffalo sauce.
So buffalo ranch chicken combines the spicy, tangy flavors of Buffalo wings with the rich creaminess of ranch dressing. It’s a popular appetizer and main dish option at restaurants and bars. Buffalo ranch chicken tenders, wings, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more can all be found on menus. It’s also easy to make at home.
Is Buffalo Sauce Spicy?
The spiciness of traditional Buffalo sauce comes from hot pepper sauce, especially cayenne pepper hot sauce. Frank’s RedHot is the most popular brand used for making Buffalo wings and it contains aged cayenne red peppers.
The Scoville heat unit (SHU) scale measures the pungency or spiciness of chili peppers and sauces. The higher the SHU, the more heat and spice. Original Frank’s RedHot has a rating of 450 SHU, which is on the milder end for hot sauces but still provides a decent kick.
For comparison, a jalapeño pepper registers around 5,000 SHU. So while Frank’s won’t set your mouth on fire, it does have a noticeable spicy flavor.
The amount of hot sauce used in the Buffalo sauce recipe impacts the overall spiciness level. More hot sauce means more heat. The butter helps temper the spice a bit, but the Buffalo sauce made with Frank’s RedHot will always have mild to moderate spiciness.
Spiciness Level Varies in Buffalo Ranch Chicken
With traditional Buffalo chicken wings and other dishes, the spiciness level can vary quite a bit depending on the specific recipe. Some versions will be mouth-burning hot, while others have just a small hint of heat.
A few factors impact the spiciness:
- Type of hot sauce – Using a hotter pepper sauce like habanero will make it spicier than Frank’s RedHot.
- Amount of hot sauce – More hot sauce means more spice.
- Butter amount – Extra butter will tone down the heat.
- Ranch amount – Ranch balances the spice, so more ranch makes it milder.
- Cooking method – Deep-frying can intensify the spicy flavor.
Since there are many ways to adjust the ingredients, the spiciness of buffalo ranch chicken can range from no heat to very hot. Milder versions use less hot sauce and more ranch, while spicier versions add extra hot sauce or hotter varieties like sriracha.
Spiciness Level Examples
To demonstrate how much the spiciness can vary in buffalo ranch chicken, here are some examples from restaurants with a mild to extra spicy heat scale:
Mild Buffalo Ranch Chicken
- Chick-fil-A Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich
- McDonald’s Mighty Wings Ranch & Buffalo Sauce
Major chain restaurants tend to make their Buffalo ranch chicken on the milder side to appeal to more customers. Chick-fil-A’s sandwich and McDonald’s wings have just a slight buffalo kick blended with cool ranch.
Mild to Medium Buffalo Ranch Chicken
- Applebee’s Boneless Wings Ranch & Buffalo Sauce
- KFC Nashville Hot Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Popular casual dining restaurants add a bit more spice to liven up the flavor while still keeping it comfortable for most patrons. Applebee’s and KFC both use bolder Buffalo ranch flavors.
Medium Buffalo Ranch Chicken
- Wingstop Original Hot Buffalo Ranch Wings
- Popeyes Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich
Chains known for chicken wings and sandwiches generally make them medium spicy. Wingstop’s classic wings and Popeyes spicy sandwich have an elevated Buffalo ranch flavor that’s still not overly hot.
Medium to Hot Buffalo Ranch Chicken
- Buffalo Wild Wings Buffalo Ranch Wings
- Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich with Ranch
To meet customer demand, major wing joints and burger places will ratchet up the heat. B-Dubs and Wendy’s dip into the hotter Buffalo ranch territory.
Hot Buffalo Ranch Chicken
- Blazin’ Buffalo Ranch Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings
- Atomic Buffalo Ranch Sauce at Wingstop
The extra spicy versions at B-Dubs and Wingstop use their hottest sauces combined with ranch. These are only for extreme spice lovers.
How to Control Spiciness
You can control the spiciness level of homemade buffalo ranch chicken. Here are some tips:
– For mild, use a basic hot sauce like Frank’s RedHot or tabasco. Go for habanero, sriracha, or cayenne hot sauce for medium heat. Use extra hot ghost pepper or scorpion pepper sauce for extremely spicy.
Hot Sauce Amount
– To make it milder, use less hot sauce in the Buffalo sauce mix. For hotter, increase the amount of hot sauce.
– More ranch helps counteract the heat. For mild buffalo ranch, use a higher ratio of ranch dressing to Buffalo sauce.
– Extra butter helps smooth out spicy edges. Add more butter to the Buffalo sauce for a milder result.
– Hot foods activate more spice receptors on your tongue. Serving buffalo ranch chicken cold or room temp makes it less spicy.
– Ranch dressing, celery, and blue cheese dip help cool the heat. Provide more of these cooling ingredients to help temper the spices.
The spiciness of buffalo ranch chicken can range quite a bit based on the specific recipe. But in general, it falls into the mild to medium-hot range. Popular restaurant versions are mild to medium heat to appeal to the masses. Hot wing places kick up the spice for Buffalo ranch dishes.
At home, you can control the heat by the type and amount of hot sauce, Ranch dressing, and other ingredients used. Adjust to your personal spice preferences for the perfect buffalo ranch chicken.