The BEST Buffalo Wings EVER – Recipe

I haven’t made my Buffalo wings in nearly two years.  I usually make them for an annual cook-out, but I didn’t have one last year due to various circumstances related to time and money.  So finally being able to taste my delicious wings again was a real treat.  For the benefit of all, here is my "recipe" (its all kind of touchy-feely):


  • 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • Half of a jar of sliced pepperocini peppers rings
  • Half of a jar of roasted red peppers in oil, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup of chopped scallions
  • 1 bottle of Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a large fry pan over medium heat.  Add the scallions, garlic and the half-jars of peppers to the oil.  Cook for about 10 minutes, allowing the peppers, garlic and scallions to pick up some color and start to cook through.

Add the balsamic vinegar and toss with the peppers.

Add an entire bottle of Frank’s Red Hot sauce and the stick of butter.  Lower heat to low and allow to simmer until butter melts and sauce is combined.


I use a turkey fryer for doing large quantities of wings.  You can do about 2 lbs of wings at a time.  Most recently, I used peanut oil for frying, and it made for very crispy and flavorful wings.  Regardless of what you’re using, heat the oil to 400 degrees, and cook the wings for about 10-12 minutes, until they are cooked through, golden brown and crispy.  This is important – though it is possible, it is tough to over cook the wings.

Remove the wings and drain well, then toss with the sauce and serve immediately.

If you let the wings sit in the sauce for a while (in a chafing dish perhaps), they will lose their crispiness, but the sauce will penetrate the meat more.  As long as you have thoroughly cooked the wings, they will not get too soggy and fatty.

NOTE: For hotter (spicier) wings, you can do a variety of things, including adding different hotter hot sauces or some red pepper flakes or some cayenne pepper.  However, an easy way to add heat is to simply make the sauce the night before you serve the wings.  Letting the peppers steep in the sauce overnight releases more of their potent oil and the whole sauce comes out considerably spicier than when fresh.  Just reheat the sauce thoroughly and toss the wings as stated before.

Sunset Grill & Tap – Boston, MA

When you’re a wing lover, some wings stay in your memory for a while as being exceptional.  A few years ago I went to the Sunset Grill & Tap and I still remembered those wings.  They had a particularly sweet taste that was reminiscent of fresh peppers and other flavors.

So I was anxious to try them again while in Boston last Saturday for a little day trip to the New England Aquarium.  The Sunset is best known for its formidable beer selection – 112 on tap and 100’s more in bottles.  A beer lover’s dream come true. But the food is pretty impressive too.  Especially the wings…

These are great wings.  A little nontraditional in their recipe, but hot, saucy, spicy, and perfectly cooked.  The wings are average size and cooked to an ideal doneness and crispiness.  There’s also a good serving of them as well.

However, its the sauce that makes the difference here.  The sauce is thick and flavorful.  There’s a lot more going on in here than margarine and Red Hot.  There’s flecks of peppers visible in the sauce and it has a flavor that is somewhat similar to that of Manwich, but I mean that in the best way possible.  The heat provides a nice steady burn that some might find a bit too hot (I got their original "Subatomic" style.  I would imagine that "Atomic" is only for the masochistic), but I found perfect.  I was soaking up the sauce with anything I could use to soak it up with.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars!!

The Charlie Horse – West Bridgewater, MA

During an impromptu lunch date with Meghan at the Charlie Horse, I decided to have an appetizer of their buffalo wings for lunch.  The waitress assured me that there were plenty of wings in there, and she wasn’t kidding – as an appetizer, there were definitely enough wings for two people, possibly three. 

The wings are pretty traditional – fried and tossed in sauce.  However, they are executed perfectly – a big mound of well-cooked wings arrived, coated in sauce, but not so much that it turned the crispy skin soggy.  The wings were thoroughly cooked, making it easy to pull the meat off the bone and insuring all the skin fat was cooked out. 

The sauce itself is pleasantly hot – if you like it really spicy, their "hot" won’t be hot enough for you, but it still gives a comfortable spiciness that makes them very edible.  They were served with a nice complement of excellent blue cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks. 

The wings are a little small, but I don’t downgrade them for it, since there were plenty of them and resulted in some perfectly cooked wings.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Bison County – Waltham, MA

A recent trip to Bison County BBQ naturally involved trying an order of their Spicy South Carolina Jumbo Chicken Wings.  I went with just the spicy rather than the "crazily hot" since the waitress said that that version was made with nearly straight habanero chile.  I love spicy food, but I like to be able to taste the meat and enjoy the food too.

The wings are indeed "jumbo" – not only are they large and meaty, but they are full wing sections, with the wing and drummets still connected, unusual for restaurant wings.  There aren’t many in a platter, but there’s plenty of meat to go around.  The wings are smoked and grilled with a spicy rub on them – a deceptively spicy rub.  I was the first to dig into the wings and realized rather quickly that these were pretty spicy.  Others didn’t believe me for the first half-minute or so after biting into them, but then quickly agreed.  The "South Carolina" part of the wings is simply that it comes with a vinegar-y mustard-y dipping sauce, a combination of the vinegar and mustard-based BBQ sauces found in the Carolinas.

It made for a great accompaniment to the wings, which did taste great, with a nice char-grilled and smokey flavor.  However, while they were definitely fully cooked, they weren’t cooked to the point where the fat of the skin and wings had completely rendered out, so they were a little greasy.  The sauce and the spices made up for it though. 

As a quick aside, the main course barbecue itself was good, but not great.  The first sparerib I had was fantastic. The others had clearly been sitting around for a little bit waiting for a customer to order them.  The brisket was OK, but sliced very very thin, meaning it was a little dried out and not that tender.  But this is about wings, not BBQ, so I’ll give these:

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Gritty McDuff’s – Portland, ME

Following the disappointing attempt at wings in Lowell the day before, I was determined to get some good wings during a quick overnight trip to Portland, Maine.  Once we got into Portland, we stopped at Gritty McDuff’s for a beer and a snack, which of course turned out to be wings.

Specifically, we tried their "Gritty Wings" which, in retrospect, isn’t the most appetizing name.  I was really just hoping for a well-executed batch of traditional buffalo wings, but was pleasantly surprised.  Rather than your straightforward Frank’s Red Hot and margarine sauce, Gritty McDuff’s sauce has a bounty of flavors which makes the wings delicious AND spicy. 

As Meghan and I ate them, we picked apart some of the flavors – what we believed was either honey or molasses and what I believe is definitely some cumin.  With the addition of some unusual flavors, the sauce tasted fresh, not bottled or manufactured.

The wings themselves were perfectly cooked and served with some great blue cheese dressing.  These wings are real winners and I would love to get my hands on the sauce recipe, since it is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars!!!!

The Brewery Exchange – Lowell, MA

I recently took my parents out to a concert in Lowell, MA and had dinner before at The Brewery Exchange.  Their menu had hot wings, advertised as being with their "own spicy honey glaze."  Intrigued, we tried some.

The wings themselves were somewhat mediocre – obviously a pre-made breaded frozen style wing, the breading was soggy from the sauce by the time they got to us.  They should put the sauce on the size if the wings are going to be breaded.  In addition, the chicken was cooked perfectly white, but the bone itself felt a little cold still, so they must have gone from freezer to fryer.

The sauce was good – definitely some underlying sweetness from honey, but overall, nothign special, and a little dissapointed with the wings themselves.

RATING: 2 out 5 stars

See, I’m Not the Only One

Even though it goes off into a discussion about how all sorts of ethnic foods are becoming more and more popular and common throughout the United States, this article in the San Francisco Chronicle starts off by saying "After decades of being satisfied with mild foods, it’s now craving bold flavors that pack a punch — hot and spicy, sweet and heat, and interesting combinations that add new meaning to kicking it up a notch" to which I say "god bless America!"

According to the article, 1,463 products with the word "spicy" were introduced in the last two years, as well as a 4.5 percent increase in "hot" and "spicy" items found on fast-food menus and a 2 percent increase at fine-dining restaurants during 2005.

So clearly this blog is right on track!


I was hesitant to put this under the category of "Restaurant Wings" since it barely qualifies for either, but for lack of a better description, I’ll put it there for now.  I am thinking of putting a "take out" category however.

Anyway… on the way back from Baltimore, we stopped at a highway rest stop for an upscale dining experience at Chez McDonald’s.  I got the Chicken Selects with their buffalo wing sauce.  I have to admit that these things are surprisingly good. 

The chicken strips are crispy and not greasy at all and the chicken inside is actually white chicken meat, not the processed chicken meal that goes into chicken nuggets.  They have a pleasantly salty and peppery bite by themselves, but when dipped in the buffalo wing sauce, they are quite good! 

The sauce is of the creamy variety, with a thick viscosity that clings nicely to the chicken.  We are probably better off not knowing how they get it to be like that. The heat is good, with a vinegary pepper sauce after bite.

RATING: A surprising 3.5 out of 5

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods markets are known for having healthy organic and all-natural foods.  However, not all foods are necessarily "healthy" – they may be organic and all-natural, but even if you make it with organic chocolate, organic eggs, and organic cream, a chocolate torte is still not good for your cholesterol.  It does have antioxidants at least.

Which brings us to their teriyaki style wings that they often have as part of their hot food take-out buffet.  They are baked with a sticky dark glaze and while the skin doesn’t get crispy thanks to the glaze, baking and the fact that they are sitting in a steam table, they aren’t fatty and have a nice taste to them.  I have found them to be a safe bet for a quick soy-flavored wing hit, though far from the best I’ve ever had.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars