This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Classic Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce

Seattleites have historically been fair weather sports fans. The Volland household falls squarely into that fickle camp. We LOVE to watch our teams when they are winning, but would rather do something else when they aren’t. Needless to say, we have rarely missed a Seahawks broadcast in three years.Seattle_Seahawks_Vector_Logo.svg

Part of the fun of being a newbie sports fan is game day meals. Fiddling with fresh ingredients during commercial breaks assuages a little of the guilt that comes with spending a weekend afternoon in front of the TV. I cook lots of simmered food in pots – chili, soups, and frijoles with nuggets of smoked pork. These are served with hot, black skillet cornbread, oatmeal biscuits, or corn tortillas. Occasionally I’ll do a Sunday ragu.  Japanese oden with hot mustard really hit the spot one particularly cold game day. Our equivalent of a baked potato or nacho bar tends to start with the rice cooker. Sometimes rice bowls are topped with spicy mabo tofu and stir-fried vegetables, other days it is donburi, or Korean bibimbap-ish tidbits and kimchee.  Now and then I will make more classic game day fare: I’ve done Chicago Style hotdogs “dragged through the garden”, soft pretzels from Andrea Slonecker’s book Pretzel Making at home (Chronicle, 2013). Last weekend it was Smoked Chicken Wings with Frank’s Hot Sauce.

Is a wing sauce made with two ingredients a cop out for a sauce specialist? Maybe. But it is also the very definition of a spontaneous sauce, invented on the fly by a creative cook  who made the most with the ingredients she had on hand. (The creation of the original Buffalo wing is usually credited to Teresa Bellisimo at Buffalo’s Anchor Bar. Read more here.) Someday I may be inspired to create my own “perfect” wing sauce, but for now I’m content with the classic mix of Frank’s and melted butter. I love the acidity, zing, saltiness, and that it is a light glaze rather than a thick, sticky coating. I would never have thought to add butter, but it totally works. I used to bake my wings, but now I’m devoted to brining them overnight and grilling them in a smoky kamado pot. It adds complexity and makes them more appropriate for a special event. Of course Blue Cheese Dip (Mastering Sauces page 266) and celery sticks are mandatory accompaniments.

Frank’s Original Buffalo Wing Sauce

My friends usually make this sauce with equal quantities of Frank’s and butter. I don’t think it needs that much butter. And even though Frank’s is tart, I often add extra vinegar because I love how it can cut through the fat, salt, and heat and light up my mouth. The final balance is the blue cheese dip alongside. This volume will coat about 36 wing segments.


Yield: 1 cup


3/4 cup Frank’s RedHot Sauce

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes (or more if you prefer.)

1-2 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar (optional)


Combine the hot sauce and butter in a saucepan. Heat until the butter is melted. Taste. Stir well and toss fully cooked wings in the sauce just before serving. If you light extra acidity, add more vinegar to taste.


Serve hot.