When you’re in the mood for chicken wings, the last question you need to ask yourself is: Do I want buffalo wings or hot wings? Though these designations for our favorite game day bite are commonly used interchangeably, According to Time, buffalo wings were first invented in Buffalo, New York, in 1964.
Traditionally deep-fried but not breaded, buffalo wings are then tossed in sauce and usually served with celery and blue cheese salad dressing as dip. Wings were originally considered an unsavory part of the chicken, as Smithsonian magazine details, but all that changed after Teressa Bellissimo served them for dinner at the Anchor Bar in downtown Buffalo.
Buffalo sauce is traditionally made of a cayenne pepper-based hot sauce, butter, vinegar, and seasonings to taste (like garlic powder, salt, sometimes a splash of Worcestershire sauce, etc). The key difference between buffalo wings and hot wings is often the spiciness factor: buffalo wings pack a zesty punch, but hot wings are the ones that will really set your mouth on fire. Hot wings often have chile peppers included in the sauce, and you can easily vary the level of heat by including more or less pepper. Buffalo wings are also rarely served without their traditional celery and blue cheese dip; hot wings can be served with a cooling sauce or dip but blue cheese isn’t always the flavor of choice.
Although buffalo wings and hot wings differ in spiciness, the designations are often used interchangeably on menus across America. But the buffalo chicken flavor has taken on a life of its own: buffalo flavored chips, buffalo chicken-topped pizza, and buffalo chicken flavored dip have become available options. But nobody’s ever ordered a hot wing chicken pizza; in that market, buffalo chicken pizza takes precedence. No matter what you call it, these wings are delicious. Check out these variations on buffalo and hot wings for the perfect afternoon snack or game day meal.
Slow Cooker Hot Wings
These hot wings are a great way to prep ahead of a group gathering—four full hours in the slow cooker makes them tender and moist, and you can finish them in the oven to crisp them up before serving. Get our Slow Cooker Hot Wings recipe.
Dry Rub Hot Wings
A dry rub with chili powder, sweet paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder, salt, and black pepper make these savory wings a spicy hit. Use less cayenne if you want to tone them down a little. Ge the recipe here.
Bobby Flay’s Hot Wings with Cheese-Yogurt Sauce
The homemade sauce for Bobby Flay’s hot wings is what makes them so special. A combination of ancho chili powder, red wine vinegar, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, mustard, honey, and New Mexico chili powder makes for the freshest and most flavorful sauce that you’ll ever come across (and one that sounds suspiciously inspired by the buffalo sauce flavors…). Get the recipe here.
Hot and Numbing Xi'an-Style Oven-Fried Chicken Wings
This recipe for hot wings (Xi-an-Style) are spicy beyond belief: cumin, fennel, dried red pepper flakes, Sichuan peppercorns, and fresh cilantro really kick it up a notch. Oven-fried in only two tablespoons of vegetable oil so you don’t even have to feel the least bit guilty. Get the recipe here.
Easy Grilled Buffalo Wings
Our simple recipe for grilled buffalo wings involves marinating the chicken in buttermilk so it stays tender on the grill. Use your favorite brand of hot sauce and make sure to put out some extra buffalo sauce for dipping. Get the recipe here.
Fried Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip
This is a classic recipe for buffalo wings, using Frank’s RedHot sauce as the base and a blue cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise-based dip. Two tablespoons of honey add a hint of sweetness. Get the recipe here.
BA’s Best Buffalo Wings
These deep-fried chicken wings are coated in cornstarch to help form a crunchy outer shell that absorbs the buffalo sauce beautifully. You can make the sauce up to a week ahead or double the batch to freeze for a later date. Get the recipe here.