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What is the best hot sauce for buffalo wings?

Buffalo wings are a delicious appetizer that can be found on menus across America. The spicy hot chicken wings are traditionally served with a tangy buffalo sauce for dipping. While the origins of buffalo wings are disputed, most agree they were invented in Buffalo, New York in the 1960s. The exact recipe for traditional buffalo wing sauce is also debated, but it typically contains some combination of hot sauce, butter, and spices.

When eating buffalo wings, the buffalo sauce is just as important as the fried chicken itself. The right buffalo wing sauce should balance flavors of spicy, buttery, tangy, and sweet. It should cling to the chicken wings and enhance the flavor instead of overpowering it. With so many buffalo wing sauce options on the market today, it can be tricky to determine the best choice.

What Makes a Good Buffalo Wing Sauce?

The optimal buffalo wing sauce has just the right consistency and flavor balance. Here are some factors to look for when selecting a buffalo wing sauce:

– Spiciness – A good buffalo sauce should pack some heat but not be painfully hot. Look for sauces made with hot peppers like cayenne, habanero, or chili peppers. The Scoville scale measures a pepper’s pungency and can help determine spiciness level.

– Tanginess – Buffalo wing sauce gets tanginess from vinegar and buttermilk. This helps counterbalance the heat and adds moisture.

– Sweetness – A small amount of sugar or molasses brings sweetness to balance the other flavors. Too much sweetness overwhelms the other flavors though.

– Saltiness – The right salt level enhances other flavors in the sauce without making it taste salty.

– Texture – Look for a sauce with a smooth, thick consistency that will cling to the chicken wings.

– Butter – Butter provides richness, moisture, and binding for the sauce ingredients. Traditional recipes call for at least a few tablespoons.

– Other flavors – Onions, garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and paprika can provide depth.

Ultimately the ideal wing sauce comes down to personal taste preferences. Keep these factors in mind as you consider which store-bought or homemade sauce to pair with those crispy fried drumettes and flats.

Popular Buffalo Wing Sauce Brands

When you don’t have time to whip up homemade buffalo sauce, there are many store-bought brands to choose from. Here are some of the most popular prepared buffalo wing sauces on the market:

Frank’s RedHot

Frank’s RedHot claims to be the original buffalo wing sauce. It was supposedly one of the ingredients in the first buffalo wings created in Buffalo, NY. It has a bright red color and transparent consistency. Frank’s is made from aged cayenne peppers and has a tangy, moderately spicy flavor.

Buffalo Wild Wings Sauces

The restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings offers several signature wing sauces:

– Mild – Buttery with a very slight heat
– Medium – Buttery blend of spicy and sweet
– Hot – Cayenne pepper flavor with moderate heat
– Wild – Tangy and extremely spicy
– Mango Habanero – Sweet and fruity with habanero heat

Louisiana Hot Sauce

Louisiana Hot Sauce has a thin, vinegar-forward tangy flavor. It uses aged Cayenne peppers. The consistency is thin compared to traditional buffalo sauces. It brings consistent spicy heat to wings.

Texas Pete

Texas Pete has a thinner sauce consistency compared to traditional buffalo sauce recipes. It has a punch of heat from cayenne pepper and a strong vinegar tang. Texas Pete is shelf-stable before opening.


Cholula hot sauce uses a blend of peppers including piquin, arbol, and pequin peppers. It has a thin viscosity and orange color. Cholula has a distinctive earthy flavor with a slow building heat.


The iconic Tabasco sauce uses tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt. It has a thin consistency and bright red color. Tabasco is extremely spicy upfront with tangy vinegar notes. It works well as a buffalo wing dipping sauce.


Crystal hot sauce uses aged cayenne peppers with some garlic powder. It has a thin consistency and red-orange color. Crystal has a smooth, mildly spicy flavor that builds slowly.

Franks Redhot Thick

Franks Redhot Thick is a thicker version of the original sauce. It clings to chicken wings better than regular Frank’s. The thick texture comes from xanthan gum. The flavor strikes a balance between spicy, sweet, and tangy.

Butteriest Yum Yum

As the name suggests, Yum Yum sauce has an extra buttery flavor. It achieves an ultra-smooth texture with ingredients like soybean oil and butter. Yum Yum is on the sweeter side with moderate spice from cayenne and chili flakes.

Brand Key Flavor Notes Heat Level
Frank’s RedHot Tangy, aged cayenne Moderate
Buffalo Wild Wings Sauces Buttery with varying heat Mild to Wild
Louisiana Hot Sauce Vinegar tang Moderate
Texas Pete Vinegar tang, cayenne heat Mild to Moderate
Cholula Earthy, slow building Mild
Tabasco Vinegar tang, upfront heat Hot
Crystal Smooth, aged cayenne Mild to Moderate
Franks Redhot Thick Well-balanced Moderate
Butteriest Yum Yum Sweet, buttery Mild

Homemade Buffalo Sauce Recipes

For the freshest, most customizable wing sauce, make it at home. Here are some top-rated buffalo wing sauce recipes to try:

Classic Buffalo Wing Sauce

The classic recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients:

– 1⁄2 cup butter
– 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup hot sauce (Franks RedHot is traditional)
– 1-2 tbsp white vinegar
– 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Mix in the remaining ingredients and let simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Adjust hot sauce amount to reach desired spice level.

Baked Buffalo Wing Sauce

This healthier buffalo sauce recipe is baked instead of fried. Bake 12 oz chicken wings tossed in:

– 2 tbsp hot sauce
– 2 tbsp butter, melted
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1⁄4 tsp garlic powder
– Pinch of salt and pepper

After baking, toss the wings in an additional 2-4 tbsp hot sauce.Bake at 400F for 40-50 minutes until crispy.

Creamy Buffalo Sauce

For extra richness, add some creamy ingredients:

– 4 tbsp butter
– 1⁄3 cup Frank’s RedHot
– 2 tbsp white vinegar
– 2 tbsp brown sugar
– 2-3 tbsp hot sauce
– 2 tbsp ranch dressing
– 1⁄8 tsp garlic powder
– Pinch of salt

Simmer over low heat 5 minutes until thickened. The ranch dressing and brown sugar gives this buffalo sauce a creamy, balanced flavor.

Vegan Buffalo Sauce

To make a dairy-free, vegan buffalo sauce:

– 1⁄2 cup hot sauce
– 3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
– 1 tbsp white vinegar
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1⁄2 tsp onion powder
– 1⁄2 tsp paprika
– 1⁄4 tsp dried dill

Whisk together all ingredients over low heat until combined. Let cool and thicken slightly before tossing with cauliflower wings or chickpeas.

Spicy Sriracha Buffalo Wings

For an Asian twist, use sriracha instead of traditional hot sauce:

– 1⁄4 cup sriracha sauce
– 2 tbsp brown sugar
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp cornstarch
– 2 garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring frequently until thickened. Cool before tossing with wings. Garnish with sliced green onions.

The possibilities are endless when making homemade buffalo sauce. Experiment with different hot sauces, peppers, vinegars, sweeteners, and spice blends to find your perfect wing sauce.

How to Choose the Right Buffalo Wing Sauce

With so many options for buffalo wing sauce, how do you determine the best one for your tastes? Here are some tips for choosing the ideal buffalo wing sauce:

Consider your heat preference – If you like milder heat, opt for a sauce made with jalapeno or Cayenne peppers. For extra spicy, go for one with habanero or ghost peppers. You can also control spiciness by how much hot sauce you use.

Read ingredient lists – Look for sauces with real butter for extra richness. Check the type of vinegar used, as this impacts tanginess. Look for added spices beyond just pepper flakes.

Pay attention to texture – Thicker sauces like Frank’s RedHot Thick will adhere to wings better than thin, vinegar-based sauces. But thin sauces can be great for dipping.

Think about flavor balance – Sweeter sauces pair well with chicken. More tangy vinegary sauces stand up to beef like wings made from brisket. Garlic and onion create depth.

Try before you buy – If available, sample wing sauces in the store first. Or buy a few small bottles to experiment with flavors before buying a large bottle.

Read reviews – Check reviews on sites like Amazon or specialty hot sauce sites to see what other wing lovers have to say.

Consider allergies – Check labels for ingredients like soy, dairy, and common allergens if needed.

Make it yourself – Whip up a custom sauce using your favorite ingredients and adjust until you get the perfect wing sauce for your preferences.

With the right buffalo wing sauce, your wings will get kicked up to the next delicious level. The best sauce balances the ideal spice level, tang, richness, and texture to suit your personal tastes. So grab some napkins and get ready to get your fingers saucy finding the ideal heat level and flavor mix.


Buffalo wings would be naked without the essential spicy, buttery buffalo sauce for dipping. When choosing a sauce, consider the right balance of heat, tang, sweetness, and texture to suit your preferences. Popular prepared brands like Frank’s RedHot provide a convenient option, or make your own custom creation. Just remember – the sauce should complement the crispy fried wings without overpowering their flavor. With the perfect buffalo wing sauce pairing, this bar food classic achieves maximum tastiness and carbs be damned, you’ll want to eat the whole platter. So cool those fingers, stock up on wet naps, and get ready to get deliciously messy finding your new favorite wing sauce.