The best Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

Whether it's game time or not, you can't go wrong with a visit to Buffalo Wild Wings. They have an astounding number of sauce options, really making it possible for everyone to get the basket of wings they want. Choose from traditional spicy buffalo flavors or melt-your-face-off Blazin' hot sauce, or do something different with their zesty Asian Zing sauce or savory garlic Parmesan. No matter how you flavor them, they turn out piping hot, crispy, and coated with the perfect amount of sauce.

But what if you want your hot wings fix without having to go to a bar and spend a ton of money on appetizers and drinks? Is it really possible to make your favorite Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe at home? You bet you can! Although you can buy their sauce online or at their locations (we've also spied it at Costo from time to time), it's just as easy to make their signature Medium Sauce at home. You can even customize it for your spice level if you're one of those crazy people who can handle the ghost peppers.

Gather your ingredients for this Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

The first step to making a Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe was to investigate the ingredients the restaurant uses in the real-deal dish. Luckily, that was pretty easy for this recipe because the company sells their wing sauce on Amazon and we were able to take a peek at the ingredients list on the label. All we had to do was play around with the quantities until it tasted just right.

The ingredients list started with vinegar, red cayenne peppers, oil, xanthan gum, spices, garlic, and natural and artificial flavors. That's almost all the ingredients in a bottle of Franks Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce, so we used that as the base of our Buffalo Wild Wings sauce. From there, we added extra garlic powder, granulated sugar, and cayenne to make it taste just like the Medium Sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings. Add in cornstarch and an egg to thicken it up, and finish it up with a splash of Worcestershire sauce to add the remaining ingredients on the list (onion, molasses, and tamarind).

For the full list of ingredients and the step-by-step instructions, check out the directions at the end of this article.

Does Buffalo Wild Wings bread their chicken wings?

We found ourselves questioning whether to make our copycat Buffalo Wild Wings with or without batter. Normally, we don't bread chicken wings — it's one of those mistakes everyone makes when making Buffalo wings. The skin crisps up perfectly on its own, so it's not strictly necessary, but we were going for authenticity here. We dug in and did some investigation. It didn't take us long to settle on our method: No batter. We found several threads on Reddit from former employees who confirmed the bone-in wings don't have any coating on them. The wings come in raw and frozen. After they're thawed, all the employees do is toss them into the fryer as-is.

The boneless wings, on the other hand, do have a battered coating. They come in prepackaged and frozen, so we're not 100 percent sure what goes into the batter. The only thing we know for certain is that it contains gluten and wheat (according to the allergen guide on Buffalo Wild Wings website), while the bone-in wings do not.

Are Buffalo Wild Wings baked or fried?

Over the years, we've heard from both sides of the baked vs. fried buffalo wing debate. Proponents of deep-frying say it's the only way to guarantee crispy skin, a crucial component of a good hot wing. Those who fight on the side of baking argue that wings can crisp up just fine when they're roasted in a high-temperature oven. Using the oven saves a ton of oil and makes the wings that much healthier.

We're not here to change your mind if you land on one side or the other, but we did want to create the most authentic Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe. It turns out that the restaurant does fry their wings. The allergen guide on their website confirms that both the traditional (bone-in) and boneless wings are fried in beef shortening, also known as tallow. We had trouble finding tallow for our home kitchens, so we settled on a high-temperature neutral cooking oil (like canola or avocado oil).

Yes, there's an egg in our Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

So this might seem like a weird ingredient to include in wing sauce, but it's actually the secret ingredient in our Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe. This isn't one of those ingredients that we're guessing at, either. We know for a fact that eggs are in Buffalo Wild Wings sauce because they're listed both on the ingredients list of their bottled product and their restaurant allergen guide.

What makes the egg so critical? It thickens the sauce until it creates the perfect coating for each wing. Not only that, but the egg gives the sauce a glossy sheen and a rich flavor, too. When we look at it from a food science perspective, it totally makes sense. Eggs are a crucial ingredient in condiments like salad dressings and mayonnaise because of the yolk's ability to create an emulsion. You see, oil and vinegar don't naturally mix, but an egg adds stability that holds each substance in suspension. Add in a little bit of cornstarch to reinforce the structure you created with the egg, and you'll create a perfectly thick wing-coating sauce.

Separate the wings to make this Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

Okay, now that we've reviewed all the essential ingredients, it's time to get cooking. We'll start with the chicken wings themselves. You'll find several different ways to buy wings at the grocery store because whole chicken wings have three components: the wing tip, the middle part (called the flat), and the meatiest part (called the drumette). Sometimes, the wings are sold as what's known as "party wings," where the sections are already separated. Other times, they're sold as an entire wing unit.

If you bought separated wings, you can simply move on to the next step. Otherwise, start by removing the wing tip from the flat with a set of kitchen shears or a sharp knife. There's almost no meat on this section, so you can discard the tips or save them a bag in the freezer for making chicken stock or bone broth later. Then, slice between the flat and the drumette to create two pieces. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper and set them aside while you make the wing sauce.

Make the sauce for this Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

It's time to make the magic happen! Grab a small saucepan and get ready to create your new favorite chicken wing sauce. We start by adding almost all the sauce ingredients to the pot — the Frank's Red Hot, cooking oil, granulated sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture up to a gentle bubble before reducing the heat to a simmer.

Then, whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl to create what's called a slurry. You could try adding the cornstarch directly to the sauce, but whisking it with water first prevents any undesirable clumps. After you pour the cornstarch slurry into the pan, simmer the mixture for about five minutes, until it becomes nice and thick. Remove it from the heat and let it cool for about ten minutes.

Finally, it's time to add the egg. Instead of adding the egg directly to the sauce, add the sauce to the egg — very, very slowly — to emulsify those oils into the egg yolk. In the end, you'll have a beautiful, thick sauce that tastes pretty fantastic.

Prepare the fryer for your Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

When the sauce is finished, it's time to fry the wings. Although we know the most authentic way to fry Buffalo Wild Wings is with beef tallow, we also had a hard time finding that product at the grocery store. Instead, we used canola oil for our tests, and we thought our wings turned out just fine. If you have beef tallow on hand, go for it! Otherwise, you could also use any other high-temperature neutral cooking oil, like avocado oil or vegetable oil.

Heat about three inches of oil in a large Dutch oven or wok. You can also use an electric tabletop fryer if you're lucky enough to own one. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit using a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature. When the oil reaches the target temperature, reduce the heat to medium-low so it doesn't get too much hotter. We don't want the chicken wings to burn on the outside before cooking all the way through.

Fry the wings to make the perfect Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe

When the oil is nice and hot, carefully drop the wings in the oil. If you're worried about splatter, you can gently lower them into the pan using a tool called a spider strainer. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven or electric fryer, you may be able to fit all 24 wings in at once. Our pot maxed out at about 12, so we fried them in two batches to prevent overcrowding the pan and overflowing the oil.

Cook the wings for about 10 to 12 minutes, until they become golden brown and are cooked all the way through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When the wings are finished, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off the excess oil. If you have more wings to fry, allow the oil to recover to 350 degrees before adding extra wings. You can eat the fried wings as a snack while you're waiting, or you can hold them warm in a 200-degree oven. Just don't toss them in the sauce until you're ready to eat, or they will become soggy.

Toss the copycat Buffalo Wild Wings in your copycat wing sauce

Get ready, because this step can be a little bit messy: Things are about to get saucy. The saucing part isn't exactly scientific. Redditors tell us that the sauce comes to Buffalo Wild Wings in gallon-sized bags that come with a pump. Every six boneless wings and eight bone-in wings gets a pump of sauce. Since we don't have a pump at home, we had to guesstimate the right amount of sauce. Some of the people in our tasting group preferred a dryer 1/3 cup of sauce, while others went crazy over a saucy 1/2 cup.

After you add the sauce to the wings, immediately toss them using a pair of tongs until they're well coated. If you find this method to be too messy, try placing the wings and sauce in a large, air-tight container with a lid. Shake it vigorously until the contents are sufficiently coated. Remove the wings to a plate and serve immediately. You may have leftover sauce, which is good in the refrigerator for about a week.

How close did we get to the real Buffalo Wild Wings recipe?

If loud crowds and expensive beers aren't your thing, this is the recipe for you. We honestly couldn't tell the difference between our copycat Buffalo Wild Wings recipe and the original. The sauce had a great level of garlic and spice, capturing the restaurant's medium sauce perfectly. The wings were also flawlessly cooked — crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside — and the sauce was the ideal level of thickness for creating a nice coating.

If the medium sauce isn't your favorite, never fear: You can adapt this recipe to make some of the other Buffalo Wild Wings sauces. It's as easy as adding extra cayenne pepper to turn medium sauce into hot sauce, or amping up the garlic and cayenne pepper for spicy garlic sauce. If you really want to go crazy, toss in a few freshly sliced habaneros, jalapenos, and maybe a ghost pepper to create Blazin' sauce. Just be ready, because that stuff doesn't mess around!

Buffalo Wild Wings copycat recipe directions

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes

Servings: Makes 24 wings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce
  • 1/3 cup neutral cooking oil (like avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 dozen chicken wings
  • Neutral oil for frying, like avocado oil or canola oil

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the Frank's Red Hot, cooking oil, granulated sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the pan to a simmer over medium heat until it's bubbling, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  2. Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add the contents to the saucepan and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, until it becomes thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
  4. When the sauce is cooled, add the egg yolk to a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add the cooled sauce to the yolk in a steady stream, whisking constantly as you add to create an emulsion that prevents the oil from separating. When all the sauce is added to the bowl, cover the bowl.
  5. If you're cooking the wings immediately, store the sauce at room temperature until you're ready to use it. For storing the sauce longer than an hour, keep the sauce in the refrigerator. Remove it to the counter before you begin frying the wings.
  6. To prepare the wings, use a set of kitchen shears or a sharp knife to remove the wing tip. Discard the wing tip and slice between the flat and drumette to create two pieces.
  7. Season the wings with a sprinkle of salt to taste.
  8. Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven. If you're using an electric tabletop fryer, fill the unit to its MAX line.
  9. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit over medium-high heat, using a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  10. Gently drop the wings into the oil and fry until they become golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes and are cooked all the way through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. Depending on the size of your fryer, you may not be able to fry all the wings at once. When the wings are finished cooking, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess grease and allow the oil to recover to 350 degrees before adding additional wings.
  12. When all the wings are fried, place the wings in a large bowl. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the sauce and toss the wings with a pair of tongs until they're well coated. If you have leftover sauce, store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a week.
  13. Serve the wings immediately, as the sauce will make the coating soggy.