When it comes to spicy foods, I prefer the spiciness to be flavorful spice, not just heat. That is where numerous products fall short. Too much effort is put into making spicy foods, like buffalo wing sauce, super hot with little actual flavor.
Let me start by saying I am not any type of connoisseur, especially buffalo wing sauce, but I know what I enjoy.
For all of the tests, I prepared the chicken the same way. I do not have any added spices or basting; the chicken is baked straight-up until a few degrees (f) shy of proper temperature. I then coat the chicken with the sauce and return to baking until the chicken is fully cooked.
I typically cut the heat with dairy products which help bring out the flavors. Some people use ranch dressing, but ranch dressing adds too many other spices – garlic, black pepper, dill, onion and salt. Those spices change the buffalo sauce too much and the intended flavor is lost. For buffalo wings, I believe chunky blue cheese dressing is best. It has a simpler mix of ingredients that complement the buffalo sauce.
Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
Sweet Baby Ray’s is one of the de facto standards of BBQ sauce. They have ventured into other condiment sauces, including buffalo wing sauce.
A thick, red-orange colored sauce, SBR Buffalo Wing Sauce is poured from a bottle, coats well and packs a lot of flavor. It also has just a little too much heat, but not bad. I had to use a little more blue cheese dressing to bring the heat down enough to truly enjoy the flavor of the buffalo wing sauce.
Hooters Wing Sauce
Hooters buffalo wing sauce is a bright orange color. I used to joke about it being almost fluorescent whenever I went into their restaurants. But color aside, this is a great sauce.
I think what sets Hooters Wing Sauce apart from the others is that they don’t use cayenne peppers. Instead Hooters puts aged red peppers in their buffalo wing sauce. Red peppers are not as hot as cayenne peppers and they are more flavorful. On top of that, Hooters uses butter in their recipe. Real butter enhances the spices in the sauce and the fat of butter cuts the heat.
Yes, I realize cayenne peppers are part of the red pepper family, however the red peppers used by Hooters is a blend of different red peppers, including cayenne. Most recipes concentrate purely on cayenne and many add paprika, but they lack the flavor complexity of including other red pepper varieties.
Frank’s Red Hot
I’ve had people use Frank’s Red Hot for buffalo wings. As tasty as Frank’s Red Hot is, it is not a suitable buffalo wing sauce. Frank’s Red Hot expanded on their brand to create a Wings variety.
Red in color and fluid for the pour, Frank’s Red Hot Wings is tasty, like their namesake, but it has too much cayenne and it lacks the smoothness of the best buffalo wing sauces. I suspect it is because they use canola oil and butter flavor, rather than real butter or margarine.
Jake’s Grillin Buffalo Wing Sauce
In a league of its own is Jake’s Grillin. There Buffalo Wing Sauce is unlock the others I have tried. Dark amber in color with black specs, Jake’s doesn’t even look like your typical wing sauce.
The main difference with them is the additional spices and sugar used in their sauce. Who uses sugar in their sauce? Well, it evens out the other flavors and allows for a delightful buffalo sauce. They also use butter in the recipe, just like many of the best sauces.
Several minutes after adding the sauce to my chicken and putting it back in the oven, I could smell the sweet tanginess of the sauce as it warmed the kitchen air. The scent was enjoyable, but confusing because it has notes of sweet and sour sauce, barbecue sauce and buffalo sauce. With my favorite chunky blue cheese dressing on the chicken, this sauce stands out from the others.
Yuengling Light Mild Wing Sauce
When I saw Yuengling’s buffalo sauce, I had to give it a shot. Their hot version is called Yuengling Traditional Wing Sauce, while the mild version has “Light” in the title. That’s what I got, since I prefer flavor over heat.
I prepared the chicken my usual way, applying the buffalo wing sauce half way through cooking. By the time it was done, my kitchen was filled with a wondrous garlic and spice smell. Nothing like the usual over-powering cayenne pepper. This gave me high hopes for this sauce being deliciously different.
Yuengling has definitely made a delicious sauce and it took about a dozen wings before the heat built up too much for my taste. I’m glad I didn’t go with the hotter version.
Wing-Time Garlic Buffalo Wing Sauce
Using my normal routine of preparing my buffalo wings, I added Wing-Time’s garlic with parmesan buffalo wing sauce half-way through the baking process. Within a few minutes I could smell the garlic from the sauce. With the scent of the cayenne peppers wafting about a couple minutes after that.
The garlic in this sauce made for a delightful change in commercial buffalo sauces. The garlic complements the palate well, before the heat of the peppers kick in. This is a building heat that many spicy food lovers will enjoy. After about 10 wings, I had enough, but I enjoyed the ride to there.
Steve’s & Ed’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
When I saw the bright orange color of this buffalo wing sauce, I had hopes it would live up to Hooter’s buffalo sauce. I bought a jar of Steve’s and Ed’s. The initial taste test of just the sauce right out of the bottle, it was a medium heat spicy, perhaps too much cayenne.
I sat down with my newly acquired sauce slathered on my chicken. My first taste was very salty, followed by a heated bitter after-taste likely from the use of “butter flavor” instead of actual butter. As I worked through the batch, this continued and the heat was building. Well – Steve’s & Ed’s Buffalo Wing Sauce fell short of my expectations. It is not making the top five of my favorites.
I had some Sweet Baby Ray’s and some Yuengling buffalo sauce left over, so I tried mixing them together. With some play I found the best mix is equal parts of each – stir them together and coat the meat. It made for a delicious sauce with loads of flavor and not too much heat.
I did try blending Frank’s and Wing-time with the others, but I was disappointed in the results. As soon as I find the Hooter’s sauce again, I will try mixing that up.
My Favorite Buffalo Wing Sauce
This is an evolving list, but as of the last modification to this document, the following are my favorite Buffalo Wing Sauces.
- Jakes Grillin Buffalo Wing Sauce – Well balance heat and flavor.
- Hooters Wing Sauce – Rich flavor with perfect heat.
- Blend of Yuengling and Baby Ray’s.
- Yuengling Light Mild Wing Sauce – Delicious and different.
- Wing-Time Garlic with Parmesan – Rich flavor, just a little too much heat.
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Originally created 14 February 2017. Published date is modified to reflect the latest update.