Homemade buffalo sauce that delivers bold flavors and a kick of heat! A combination of hot sauce, vinegar, butter, and Worcestershire provides just the right balance of spice and tanginess.
We go to a certain sports bar now and again, and our family shares a plate of fried chicken wings doused with flaming hot buffalo sauce. I don’t order spicy foods, but anything topped or tossed in this chili pepper seasoning is my exception. Pungent vinegar combined with spicy chilis immediately wakes up the taste buds.
It’s shocking how easy it is to make this sauce at home, and it’s perfect for baked buffalo wings. Choose your favorite hot sauce, a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, plus some butter, and you’re ready to take any dish to the next level. Making sure the right ratios of heat-to-fat is essential to control the capsaicin.
Now bottle this up and ditch that store-bought stuff! Use this recipe as a quick dipping sauce, coating, or marinade for meats and vegetables. If you’re a fan of this recipe, you might also what to give my buffalo chicken dip a try!
Why do they call it buffalo sauce?
No, there are no actual buffalos used in the sauce. According to Time, it’s just the location of where Teressa Bellissimo brought this popular appetizer to fruition. Buffalo wings originated in 1964 at the Anchor Bar, a family-owned restaurant in Buffalo, New York. In fact, die-hard fans can celebrate Chicken Wing Day on July 29th.
What’s it made out of?
The base is a mixture of hot sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, butter, and seasonings. Frank’s RedHot sauce is typically used because it was the secret ingredient in the original recipe. However, Crystal from Louisiana is also a comparable substitute that I’ve tested.
How the ingredients work together
Acids naturally occurring in vinegar like red wine vinegar help to brighten flavors and give them an extra pop that you’ll definitely notice in this sauce. To add depth and savory notes, a bit of Worcestershire sauce is used.
Butter helps to tame the spice level slightly, so the bite is not so sharp and helps with the thickening. Otherwise, a thin hot sauce would seep in. If you want to add more heat, gradually add some cayenne pepper. This provides a strong spice load, but be careful. A little goes a long way.
How do you make buffalo sauce?
- Whisk together hot sauce, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Bring the hot sauce mixture to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
- Gradually whisk in cold butter pieces into the hot sauce mixture.
- The buffalo sauce should be smooth and thickened.
Is it just hot sauce?
Nope! Buffalo sauce uses hot sauce as its base plus other ingredients to add more flavor and thickness. A hot sauce like Frank’s RedHot is a blend of cayenne red peppers, distilled vinegar, water, salt, and garlic powder. Buffalo sauce adds in butter for richness and texture, plus additional vinegar and seasonings to make the sauce more pungent, savory, and spicy.
Ways to use it
- Toss with baked chicken wings, shredded chicken or pork
- Drizzle on top of cauliflower steaks
- Use as a marinade for chicken and shrimp
- Use as a dipping sauce for chicken tenders, wings, baked tofu
- Drizzle on a pizza
To make it healthier
Use starch as a thickening agent to reduce the amount of butter needed in the recipe. For a healthier buffalo sauce version, I found that using 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon of butter provided a luscious texture but significantly cutting the fat by 88%.
Adding just a small amount of fat helps to mellow the spiciness. Alternatively, coconut oil or olive oil would also work. You can also use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch for those on a Whole30 or Paleo diet.
How do you thicken buffalo sauce?
The main thickening agent in buffalo sauce is butter. The milk fat and solids help to create an emulsion that clings to foods. You just need to gradually whisk in the butter piece by piece after simmering the hot sauce mixture. This ensures that the fat is properly incorporated into the liquid so the oil doesn’t separate leaving a greasy unappealing sauce.
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- In a medium boalw, whisk together hot sauce, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).
- Add the hot sauce mixture to a small pan or pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Then turn off heat.
- Whisk in 1 piece of butter at a time until a smooth and thickened sauce forms. Taste and adjust vinegar and seasonings as desired.
- Serve as a dipping sauce or toss with chicken wings or other foods.
- Recipe Yield: about 1 cup.
- Ghee can be substituted for butter.
- White wine vinegar or distilled vinegar can be substituted for red wine vinegar.
- As the buffalo sauce cools it will become thicker.
- Store in an airtight container or jar for up to 1 week.
- Reheat sauce over low heat until warm.
- MAKE IT WHOLE30: Substitute Worcestershire sauce with coconut aminos, ghee for butter, red wine vinegar for distilled vinegar, and sea salt for kosher salt.
- MAKE IT VEGAN: Substitute butter with vegan butter or margarine and Worcestershire sauce with coconut aminos.
- MAKE IT VEGETARIAN: Substitute Worcestershire sauce with coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari.
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