Buffalo Wings are at the top of my list of all-time favorite things to eat. Messy fingers, tangy-hot buttery sauce everywhere, and at the heart of it all a crispy, tender chicken wing. Served with cool blue cheese, an ice cold beer, and veggies for show, does it get much better? After a recent trip to Buffalo, New York, home of THE original Buffalo Wing, I was determined to make a recipe at home to satisfy my cravings. And we got pretty darn close.
Pass the wet naps.
South of Buffalo Wings (This girl's attempt at perfection.)
Yes, they opened the gate and let this Tennessee girl into New York. After receiving an invite from two old friends, a buddy and I hopped on a plane and headed upstate for a weekend of Titans vs Bills and catching up. I am a glutton for not only chicken wings, but also the punishment of being a Titans fan. Always the underdog, even against the underdog.
p.s. The Bills won. If you ever get a chance to witness Bills Mafia...GO. The fans are very welcoming, passionate about their town and their team, and we had a blast.
After a quick trip to Niagra falls (gorgeous, by the way), our bellies were ready. This gal was so ready to get down on real-deal, authentic Buffalo Wings. That's right, besides a football ass kicking, this is what I came for. Food knowledge.
The questions I needed answers to: What was so special about legit chicken wings from the home of chicken wings? What made them better? Was it the sauce? The cooking method? The New York magic? Where IS the best place in Buffalo to eat Buffalo Wings? Why does this Uber driver have a chicken wing map?
The Legend of the Buffalo Wing
Back in the day, chicken wings weren't popular. They were considered useful only for creating chicken stock or soups. Now they appear on virtually every pub menu in America.
The legend of the Buffalo Wing starts in Buffalo, New York. Although the stories vary based on who you talk to, the most common beginning of the humble chicken arm is at the Anchor Bar. The tale is told they were created as a late night snack using an inexpensive part of the chicken - the wing.
I've heard that the owner's wife made them for her son and some friends. I've also read that her husband mistakenly received chicken wings instead of chicken necks and he asked her to come up with a recipe to use up all the wings.
Either way, a little butter, a lot of cayenne, and some hot sauce later, and the Buffalo Wing was born. Hot and tangy perfection. The lady is a saint as far as I am concerned.
There are other theories of where the first Buffalo Wing was brought to life. Some say it was from a man from Alabama that moved to New York and perfected this crispy-vinegary delight.
It is a matter of Buffalo pride to claim that your wings are the best. After our hosts did a lot of research into the best wings in town, we decided to eat at Gabriel's Gate in Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood. Known for their Old School Buffalo Wings and atmosphere, Gabriel's wings are known for their crispiness and perfect sauce.
Gabriel's Gate nailed it. (Great call, Maggie!)
Served on simple platters and drenched in sauce, the wings were hot, crispy, and addictive. Above you'll see my friend Dave showing us his wing-cleaning technique. We INHALED our wings until we could not move. Little beads of meat sweat popped on our foreheads. (Wing Sweats?) Sauce was in Jon's beard. My pants were unbuttoned to make room for more.
I had to figure this out. I mean hot sauce and butter are totally in my wheelhouse. Me and wings go way back. I've got mad skills around the fryer. I can do this, right?
I came respectably close. You can call them "South of Buffalo Wings" if you'd like.
What You'll Need to Make This Recipe:
- Chicken Wings - Grab a pack or two of fresh chicken wings from the poultry section of your local grocer. For this recipe, we used 5 pounds, which makes about 36 individual wings.
- Flour - Many versions of Buffalo Wings are "unbreaded", but to get that classic crisp taste we use a light dusting of AP flour.
- Frank's Hot Sauce - To me, this isn't a preference of brand, this is a MUST when making signature Buffalo style wings. The vinegar base makes the recipe pop.
- Butter - A whole stick of butter will do nicely.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Wait, what? Yep. I added splash or so of apple cider vinegar brings on that wow that you expect from a classic Buffalo wing.
- Cayenne Pepper - Use a little or use a lot, this is how you can increase the heat level of your wings.
- Basic Spices - Sea salt, garlic powder, and onion powder help round out this wing recipe. Nothing fancy.
- Oil - Stick with vegetable oil or peanut oil for deep frying. The amount will depend on size and type of deep fryer you are using.
We are going to give instructions for deep frying Buffalo Wings. Not a fan of frying? No worries, we will share how to get crisp baked wings, too.
How to Make Buffalo Wings at Home:
Assemble all of your ingredients. Making any recipe is easier if you have everything you need right in front of you. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to make Buffalo Wings at home. Soon you will have them perfected!
- First, rinse the chicken wings and pat them completely dry. Cut the wings into "flats" and "drums" by cutting through at the joint with a sharp knife. Discard the tips.
- Next, place the wing parts in a large bowl and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil and ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Use your hands to get all of the wings coated.
- Toss the wings with ⅔ cup of flour. Again, use your hands to work the wings until every piece is coated in flour. Chill in the fridge until ready to cook.
- IF DEEP FRYING: Heat oil to 365 degrees in a deep fryer. Drop the prepared wings into the oil in small batches and cook until crisp, approximately 12 minutes per batch. Drain on newspaper or brown paper bags (not paper towels).
- IF BAKING: Heat oven to 450 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. Arrange the wings in a single layer with room between them and bake for 20 minutes. Turn, and bake an additional 20 minutes. If they are not crisp enough, turn on the broiler and broil and flip every few minutes until perfectly crisp.
- While the wings are cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small skillet. Stir in the hot sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Whisk and cook on medium heat until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and keep warm until serving.
- Finally, toss cooked wings in sauce and serve hot!
TIP: Pat the wings totally dry before starting. This helps get a super crisp texture while cooking.
Once you have tossed the wings in flour, you can pop them in the fridge for one to two hours before cooking if you'd like. This helps the flour coating stick to the wings and ensures a nice, crispy finish.
In my opinion, you will get the BEST Buffalo Wings by deep frying them. When you have the oil at a perfect temperature of 365 degrees, the wings will cook to tender perfection on the inside and have that classic, golden exterior that you want.
TIP: When deep frying, work in small batches. You don't want to crowd the fryer because that lowers the oil temperature and doesn't allow the wings to cook properly.
TIP: Drain your chicken wings on newspaper or brown paper bags. Never on paper towels. Why? Paper towels will make them soggy. Boo, soggy.
You can bake them if you'd like and get pretty close, but there's nothing like deep frying for a chicken wing recipe.
Now that we've explained how to get that fab crispy coating, it is all about the sauce. To me, the sauce is really what makes a Buffalo Wing a Buffalo Wing.
A great Buffalo wing sauce should make your nose hairs curl and your mouth water. This sauce does both. A simple combination of golden butter, Frank's Hot Sauce, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder will do the trick.
Our recipe has ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper for a moderate heat level. You can certainly add more based on your preference.
Love Chicken Wings? Me, too. Here are more wing recipes:
If you are a wing lover your mouth should be watering right about now. Look at this pile of Buffalo Wings. Bright in color, hot out of the fryer, tossed in that signature tangy hot sauce oozing with butter.
Heaven. If you are into this sort of religion.
More Tips on Making Great Chicken Wings:
- Don't skip the apple cider vinegar. It has a deep, sour flavor that really gives the sauce that perfect punch.
- Want more heat? Use more cayenne pepper, not more hot sauce.
- Serve with chilled, crunchy veggies to complement the tangy sauce.
- Make our Best Ever Blue Cheese Dressing to serve with. The ONLY way to go.
- If deep-frying, use a thermometer so you know the oil is at 365 degrees. You want the wings to be crisp, not greasy. If your oil is not hot enough, they will be greasy. If the oil is too hot, they won't be done on the inside but the outsides will be burnt.
- If baking, make sure your oven is pre-heated. Watch carefully during the broiling portion so they don't burn.
Click here to get our Best Ever Blue Cheese Dressing recipe. It will open up in a new window. p.s. We "borrowed" the recipe from our buddy Dave.
We hope you enjoyed your trip South of Buffalo, and can't wait to hear how much you love these Buffalo Wings.
My only question now is Drums or Flats?
Ultimate Buffalo Wings
- 5 pounds chicken wings cut into drums and flats, wing tips discarded
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅔ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup Frank's Hot Sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- If BAKING, preheat oven to 425. If DEEP FRYING, heat vegetable or peanut oil in a deep fryer to 365 degrees.
- While the oven or oil is heating, rinse the chicken and pat dry. Cut the wings into drums and flats by cutting at the joint. Remove the wing tip and discard.
- Place the prepared wings in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the salt. Add the flour and toss to coat every wing completely.
- If BAKING, arrange the wings in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake on the center rack for 20 minutes. Turn the wings, then bake for another 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler, and broil the wings for 2 minutes per side until the skin is crisp and brown. Watch the wings carefully!
- If DEEP FRYING, fry the chicken wings in small batches for about 12 minutes per batch. The wings will be golden brown and no longer pink at the bone. (Your cooking time may vary based on the oil used, cooker, and size of wing.)
- While the wings are cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet or sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the hot sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Cook and stir the sauce until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- When the wings are done cooking, toss in the sauce and serve hot with celery sticks and our Best Ever Blue Cheese Dressing.