Buffalo Wing Sauce
If you’re looking for the best Buffalo wing sauce for coating fried or baked chicken wings, this has the perfect balance of flavors and a smooth consistency. While Frank’s hot sauce is the base for this recipe, a true and proper Buffalo sauce balances the Frank’s with butter, cayenne, and Worcestershire. This easy recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make!
When you grow up eating Buffalo Chicken Wings every Sunday for your entire childhood, you really get to know what the perfect sauce tastes like, and this is it.
And no, I’m not talking about me (I’m from California), but rather about my husband Pete, who is an Upstate New York native. He really knows his stuff when it comes to wings.
There is more of an art than people realize to a good buffalo wing sauce. It should have a lusciously smooth consistency, with the right balance of butter to vinegar so it’s not too rich and not too tangy, with added heat from cayenne and worcestershire to round it out. Here’s why this is the best buffalo sauce.
Why This Recipe Is The Best
Authentic – This recipe comes from my husband, who is quite a snob about wings and grew up an hour from where Buffalo wings were invented in Upstate New York. His dad made wings 3 to 4 times a week, and this is how they assert it should be made.
Proper balance – Even though buffalo sauce only has four ingredients, the balance is essential. Pete taught me that you don’t want to add more Frank’s when you want spicier wings, but rather, you want to add ground cayenne pepper.
Perfect consistency – This Buffalo Wing Sauce has a luscious, smooth mouthfeel that coats the wings really nicely. It is truly a buttery hot sauce, and that’s part of what makes it finger-licking good.
Heat is easily customizable – Frank’s Hot Sauce is spicy and cayenne-based, but it also has a ton of vinegar in it that’ll make the end result too tangy if you try to add more to increase the heat. It can easily throw off the balance and the spicy kick you want. The solution is to add cayenne pepper to your liking, to increase the heat level without messing up the acid balance.
You can see in the photo above, that a good buffalo sauce will coat a spoon and have a slight thickness to it. That way you know that it’ll coat the chicken wings beautifully too.
Tips for the Best Results
Don’t add salt – There is a substantial amount of salt in the Frank’s, so I recommend using unsalted butter and not adding any salt. If by the end you think it doesn’t have enough salt, you can always add some, but I find I never do.
Get the right sauce – Be careful not to buy a prepared wing sauce here. I recommend Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce here for authentic flavor, though any cayenne based brand will work in theory. The only ingredients in the purchased sauce should be cayenne peppers, vinegar, salt, and garlic powder. If it has added fat to it (many have olive oil), don’t get it.
Taste at the end – The good news about this recipe is you can truly adjust it to your tastes. The exact proportions I share in the recipe box below is what my family considers the perfect balance, but if you find you want extra heat, salt, etc., this can easily be adjusted at the end, before serving.
Step by Step Overview:
This homemade buffalo sauce recipe is made with only 4 main ingredients: butter, Frank’s hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, and ground cayenne pepper.
To get started, melt a half stick of unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat:
Make Sure to Buy The Right Frank’s
Next add Frank’s Hot Sauce, and the exact one you want is “Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.” They sell quite a few varieties, but it’s this original one that you want to use. It is commonly available at any grocery store.
This is the default choice I use for all of my Buffalo recipes, whether it’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Buffalo Chicken Fettuccine, or Buffalo Chicken Dip (or the slow cooker version, my Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Dip).
After you’ve added the Frank’s, next add worcestershire. Only a little bit is needed, as it’s very strong:
Then add ground cayenne pepper to the pan:
Add More Cayenne, Not Frank’s, for More Heat
When you want more heat, always add more ground cayenne pepper instead of extra Frank’s. If you add more Frank’s, you’ll throw off the balance of acidity because the Frank’s is very vinegar heavy. You typically cannot get the spice levels right with the Frank’s alone.
You are welcome to add the cayenne incrementally, tasting as you go until it has the amount of heat you prefer.
Whisk everything together until the homemade wing sauce is emulsified:
The butter is doing a lot of that emulsification work, as there is no xanthan gum or other emulsifiers in the Frank’s.
Don’t let it cool too much
Buffalo sauce will change in consistency as it cools off, because butter tends to firm up as it chills. For that reason, you should prepare this while the wings are cooking, and toss it all together while warm. If your chicken isn’t ready yet, you can keep the pan over low heat, or feel free to reheat as needed.
Recipes That Pair Well
I tend to think of anything involving Buffalo Sauce as game day type food, and I like to make it with other fun finger food recipes like Homemade Mozzarella Sticks, Homemade Pierogies, or Potato Croquettes.
Yield: One batch of this chicken wing sauce will coat about 18 wing pieces, or about 1.5lbs of chicken wings, depending on size. Feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as needed.
Yes, just reheat on the stove or in the microwave and whisk together to combine.
Yes, store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
I recommend reheating on the stovetop until warm. The microwave will work too, but you have to be very careful not to overdo it because butter-based sauces explode very easily in the microwave.
Store in the fridge for up to 10 days in an airtight container.
Buffalo Wing Sauce
For the Buffalo Wing Sauce:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons Frank’s hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or more to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the Frank’s, worcestershire, and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Taste the sauce and add more cayenne pepper if you want it spicier. Use while warm, and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in August 2018 with more writing and tips. Originally published January 2017.