Buffalo Sauce

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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.

homemade buffalo sauce in a clear jar with chicken wings in the back

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!

top down photo of pre portioned ingredients to make buffalo sauce

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.

whisk simmering red sauce in a pan

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.

butter melting and being whisked in a hot pan of sauce

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.

spoon lifting buffalo sauce from a pan

Ways to use it

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.

person dipping a chicken wing into a small bowl of buffalo sauce

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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Buffalo Sauce

Homemade buffalo sauce with a kick of heat! Combing hot sauce, vinegar, butter, and Worcestershire for just the right balance of spice and tang.
Pin Print Review
3.74 from 19 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Servings 16 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • cup hot sauce, Crystal or Frank's RedHot recommended
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper , optional
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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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Nutrition Facts
Buffalo Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 52 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 15mg5%
Sodium 341mg14%
Potassium 17mg0%
Vitamin A 195IU4%
Vitamin C 7.5mg9%
Calcium 3mg0%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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2 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Nelle says

    Having worked at a friends bar for years on wing night right outside of Buffalo, many people would probably be surprised to learn that wing sauce in a large quantity (restaurant) is probably not made with butter nor is it cooked. The cost would be prohibitive and time consuming as dozens of different flavors are offered. Most “butter based” sauces are made with the commercial product Phase or similar. The reason recipes online don’t call for it is because it’s not a grocery store item and usually purchased through a wholesaler, sometimes a warehouse store will carry it. Also, butter tends to get *funky* in texture once it cools. Phase doesn’t do that because yikes i know! it’s not actually butter. 1 part Phase + 1 part Franks red hot = mild. 1 part Phase + 2 parts franks red hot = medium. 1 part Phase + 2.5-3 parts Franks red hot = hot.

    We served thousands of wings on a typical wing night in just a few short hours. I can assure you, this recipe is not unique to where Buffalo wings originated or how they’re sauced.

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