The Secret Ingredient You Should Be Adding To Your Buffalo Sauce

Whether you like it tossed with your chicken wings or find yourself craving it drizzled on pizza, tangy-spicy Buffalo sauce adds a big boost of flavor to your meals. But if you've ever wished you could add just a little bit of complexity to it, there's one secret ingredient you should try adding to your Buffalo sauce. 

Buffalo sauce is very simple. Just mix Frank's RedHot hot sauce with melted butter, and you're good to go. It's got a rich flavor thanks to the fat from the butter, and the acidity of the vinegar and punch of salt in the hot sauce can liven up all manner of fried foods, especially chicken wings. But if you've ever felt that this sauce is too one-note to work with ingredients like veggies and tofu, which don't pack the same umami punch as crispy chicken wings and can't always stand up to stronger flavors, then this secret Buffalo sauce ingredient is going to blow your mind.  

The history of Buffalo sauce

Buffalo sauce is inextricably entwined with the history of Buffalo wings. 

The first Buffalo sauce was allegedly served at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, in 1964, the invention of one Teressa Bellissimo. Apparently she whipped up the sauce with ingredients on hand and tossed it with chicken wings, which the restaurant has a surplus of. She served the spicy, tangy wings with the iconic blue cheese and celery that's so often found served with Buffalo-sauced items to this day (via Time)

One of the most typical (and most iconic) ingredients in Buffalo sauce is Frank's RedHot. This cayenne pepper hot sauce is even older than the original Buffalo wings — it's been in production since 1920 (via Frank's RedHot). Frank's and Buffalo sauce became so synonymous with one another that the company released their own Frank's RedHot Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce in 2009.

While the tangy blend of Frank's and butter is still a favorite coating for crispy fried chicken wings, there's a clever way you can alter it so it can be used with all sorts of foods without overwhelming them with the punchy, spicy flavor.

Why you should add roasted garlic to your Buffalo sauce

The secret ingredient you should be adding to your Buffalo sauce is roasted garlic, or garlic confit if you're feeling fancy (via Food52). When garlic is cooked low and slow it loses its pungent flavor, instead becoming sweet, earthy, and savory as it caramelizes and softens.

Roasted garlic gives an added dimension of flavor to your Buffalo sauce, so even if you're using it with something meatless, you still get a powerful punch of umami. It's part of the recipe they use at the famous Italian restaurant Parm in New York City (via Lucky Peach). Even better? This added flavor enables you to swap the melted butter with olive oil if you so choose, so your Buffalo sauce stays liquid when chilled (butter, which is a saturated fat, is solid when refrigerated, and your Buffalo sauce will be too if you use it). 

At Parm, they make a vinaigrette out of the Frank's RedHot sauce. It's made by blending a full cup of the hot sauce with three heads of roasted garlic, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and a 1/4 cup of minced shallot. The dressing is then tossed with crispy cucumbers, salted roasted peanuts, and crumbled blue cheese. It may sound a little strange, but the combination of spicy, tangy, cool, crisp, salty, crunchy, creamy, and funky really works.

How to roast garlic

Luckily, roasting garlic is easy. All it takes is a little planning ahead. 

According to Simply Recipes, you'll take three heads of garlic, and remove the outermost layer of papery skin. Slice the very tops off of the heads of garlic, so you can see the cloves within their paper skins, but keep the head of garlic together. Add the garlic to a baking dish with the cut side facing up, and drizzle with olive oil. Cover the garlic with foil to prevent burning, then bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

When the garlic is done roasting it should be soft to the touch and lightly golden brown in color. Let the heads of garlic cool so you can touch them without burning your fingers, then squeeze the garlic out of its papery skins. 

Mix this soft roasted garlic into your Buffalo sauce, and you have an all-purpose condiment that can be used with chicken wings, cucumber salads, sandwiches, and any other food that needs an extra kick.