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If you watch the Superbowl without buffalo wings, are you even really watching the Superbowl? Although it's hard to imagine bar food without buffalo wings, these spicy, saucy morsels didn't hit the scene until 1964, when they were invented by a bar owner in Buffalo, New York, which is how they got their name. Fast-forward sixty years, and it's hard to imagine a time when they didn't grace sports bars around the country with their fatty, vinegary taste. We're glad for that.
Enter Buffalo Wild Wings. This franchise got its start in the early '80s, and the number of restaurants had grown to over a thousand in the United States. One of the most prominent buffalo wing chains in the country, Buffalo Wild Wings stakes its reputation on perfectly crispy skin and, of course, its roster of over 20 sauces. From classic buffalo wing sauce to wilder flavors like Thai curry and mango habanero, there is no shortage of flavors to choose from at Buffalo Wild Wings.
But which sauces live up to the hype, and which ones fall short? We ordered a massive plate of plain, boneless wings and one of each of the sauces on the menu at Buffalo Wild Wings. Then, we got to dipping to come up with these rankings.
21. Lemon Pepper
After tasting some of the spicier sauces on the list, we were excited for a cool reprieve with this lemon pepper sauce, but the flavor missed the mark. The lemon was way too sweet, almost candy-like, which did not complement the taste of the salty, crispy wing.
Also, the taste of pepper, which we think would've been more in line with what we expected from buffalo wings, was lost behind the strong notes of sugar and lemon, and the oily texture let the taste linger unpleasantly on the tongue. The flavors in this sauce had potential, but it ended up being a sad disappointment.
20. Orange Chicken
The reaction to this sauce was visceral in a bad way. Even before we put it in our mouths, we noted a cloying sweet smell, an unappealing speckled brown color, and a chunky, viscous, inconsistent texture with mysterious globs that were hard to spread. The sugar content was through the roof, and the faint orange flavor tasted artificial and reminded us more of some citrus-scented cleaning agent than of orange chicken.
A sweet, sticky corruption of Chinese cuisine shouldn't have been hard to pull off, but this sauce fell far below our expectations. Of the Asian-inspired sauces on this list, this one ranked the lowest.
19. Thai Curry
We imagined it would be hard to distill the flavor of Thai curry into a single sauce, so we were not surprised that this one ended up near the bottom of our list. Unlike a zingy panang or a hearty massaman, this sauce tasted like generic curry powder suspended in sauce with a slightly gritty texture that we found unpleasant.
That said, we appreciated the use of coconut cream, which was the only part of the sauce that tasted vaguely Thai. This sauce also had an intense, spicy kick to it, so we wouldn't recommend it to anybody who likes their wings mild. Or, for that matter, anybody who likes a sauce with a cohesive flavor profile.
18. Parmesan Garlic
If this sauce were offered as the side to a cheap Caesar salad at a gas station, we would've let its shortcomings slide, but on a wing, the concoction of textures and flavors was poor. The strongest taste was that of watered-down mayonnaise, followed by the taste of parmesan, which we appreciated, although there was a detectable addition of sugar that we felt did not match the sauce's savory tone.
Although this Buffalo Wild Wings sauce was visually appealing, with an off-white base and speckles of pepper and spices that looked like they'd deliver a gourmet-tasting product, the other spices did not deliver a strong enough flavor to be noticeable. If you're hankering for a creamy sauce, we'd recommend sticking with plain wings and blue cheese.
17. Jammin' Jalapeño
There was nothing jammin' about this jalapeño sauce, which was sweet enough to use on a stack of pancakes if you were so inclined. (Please don't.) We weren't surprised when we looked at the ingredients list and found that the first four included sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Beyond the sugar rush that practically left us bouncing off the walls, we did appreciate the chunks of jalapeño, the flavor of which was this sauce's only redeeming quality. That said, if you're a sugar addict and you like a good dose of heat on your wings, maybe this is the sauce for you.
If this sauce is teriyaki, then we've long been mistaken about what teriyaki should taste like. Teriyaki should have the flavor of a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and a hint of sugar. This "teriyaki" just tasted like soy sauce that was thickened up with starch until it was dense enough to coat a wing.
Not only is the flavor profile far from true teriyaki, but the sauce is way too sweet. The combined sugar and salt are enough to knock you off your chair, and beyond that, there is little else that it can offer other than some subtle notes of garlic and onion. If this sauce weren't branded as teriyaki, we'd be more forgiving in the rating, but as it stands, we can't reward something that feels false.
Buffalo sauce was meant to be a little spicy, and when it isn't, something feels like it's missing. Without the kick, this sauce falls flat. The taste of chile peppers, which is a key aspect of buffalo wing flavor, is obscured by the overwhelming taste of vinegar.
In this mild sauce, the color was an unnaturally bright orange-yellow that we found suspiciously artificial-looking, and the texture was gooey, sticky, and almost gelatinous. The silver lining of this sauce is that it wasn't overly sweet like many of the other sauces on the list, but if you're going for a buffalo taste, we'd recommend another option that has a bit more heat and flavor.
14. Mango Habanero
One of the more controversial sauces on the list, mango habanero is not for the faint of heart (or tongue). This super spicy sauce set off alarm bells that had us guzzling glasses of water. But while the taste of habanero was loud and clear, the mango was, as they say, "lost in the sauce."
Instead of the tropical fruity undertones that we were expecting, this sauce was loaded to the brim with the sweet taste of corn syrup, which gave it a syrupy texture that we did not find attractive. Still, some of us were glad to have a sauce with a balance of sweetness and spice; others thought the flavor wasn't enough to make it worth the intense heat. Overall, it was solidly middle of the pack.
13. Asian Zing
This Buffalo Wild Wings sauce certainly had a zing! The result is an upside, with notes of garlic, chile peppers, soy sauce, and ginger that give it a complex, cohesive flavor profile. Asian Zing had just the right amount of heat: enough to create a pleasant tingle but not so much that it eclipsed the other flavors.
But Asian Zing was cloyingly sweet, and although that was fine for a sample, we can't imagine eating a whole plate of wings covered in this saccharine stuff. The sugar content was so high that the sauce had a sticky, syrupy consistency that we found off-putting.
12. Sweet BBQ
Sweet BBQ was perhaps the least impressive of the BBQ sauces on the list. The tomato flavor in this Buffalo Wild Wings sauce was too pronounced, which was just the first problem. It was also too sugary. This not only gave the sauce a sticky, syrupy texture but combined with the tomato flavor awkwardly, making it taste a little too much like sweet ketchup instead of BBQ sauce.
We would've liked to have tasted more earthy elements like smokiness and spices that give BBQ sauce its signature flavor. Overall, we did not find this sauce inedible, but if given the choice, we would opt for one of the other BBQ sauces on the list.
11. Blazin' Knockout
Some like it hot. And those people should opt for Blazin' Knockout sauce when they get an order of wings. This sauce is diabolically spicy — even the smell feels like it's burning your nostrils. And it's no wonder because Blazin' Knockout sauce contains nine of the hottest peppers you can find: Carolina Reaper, Devil's Breath, Scorpion, Ghost, habanero, chile de arbol, cayenne, and red and green jalapeños.
We're no strangers to a little heat, but we found the flavors in the sauce to be mostly lost behind the searing wall of spiciness that hits when your tongue touches a wing of Blazin' Knockout sauce. If you need to prove something to yourself or your friends, then this is a great sauce for you. Otherwise, you've been warned.
10. Bulleit Bourbon BBQ
A lot of interesting flavors have been added to BBQ sauce, some more successfully than others, and we found Bulleit Bourbon to be a moderately successful partner to the classic flavors of BBQ. This tomato-based sauce was too heavy on the brown sugar, though, which drowned out the flavor of the bourbon. We could taste it in the background, but definitely wanted more.
The bold, smoky, mesquite flavor we were hoping for fell short, and we didn't feel like this sauce had enough unique flavor to distinguish itself from a standard BBQ sauce. Also, the texture was strangely grainy, which we found unattractive. This sauce is a limited edition, and whether it will last long remains to be seen.
9. Caribbean Jerk
After some sauces that we found tasted artificial, we were pleased to come upon Caribbean Jerk. The spices in this sauce (and there are many) are discernible and very pronounced, and you can sense the texture of the different ingredients in the slight grittiness, which was not unwelcome in this context. The heat level was near perfect, delivering enough spice to keep things interesting without burning anybody's tongue off.
The sugar was a bit much, but we were more forgiving with this sauce than some others because Caribbean Jerk is supposed to have a sweetness. We found this to be one of the most successful sauces on the list, considering that it's not traditionally associated with wings.
Like the other classic buffalo sauces on this list, the medium flavor showcased a respectable balance between creamy and sour. This was the Goldilocks buffalo sauce on the list; it's not too spicy, but it's not too mild. It's perfect for wing fans who want a taste of the famous buffalo sauce flavor without having their mouths go up in flames.
We found that the super creamy texture of this sauce was better complemented by more heat. If you can handle it, we recommend trying the hot version of classic buffalo sauce, which is its spicier stepsister. But if you're into a medium hot sauce with a medium-quality flavor, then this might be your best bet.
7. Hot BBQ
While this spicy BBQ sauce tasted not unlike its sweet sister, we found that the addition of a little heat made the sauce more enjoyable. Both of these sauces were tomato-forward, but where the sweet sauce was a little too ketchupy, the kick delivered by the dash of cayenne pepper balanced out the sugar content. The result was a sauce that satisfied those in the market for the flavor of BBQ and the heat of buffalo sauce.
Texture-wise, we found the hot BBQ flavor to be acceptably thick and smooth with just a touch of grit lent by the spices suspended in it. The flavors at the heart of this sauce reminded us of Sweet Baby Ray's, but with a distinctly spicy flavor that lingered on the palate.
On the spiciest end of the classic buffalo sauce spectrum, we have Wild sauce, which counts itself among the hottest sauces at Buffalo Wild Wings. We liked that the creamy texture of Wild sauce had a bit more grit than the other buffalo sauces because of the added spice and that the taste of vinegar was able to break through the wall of heat that hits when you're eating wings covered in Wild sauce.
While we preferred the hot version of this sauce, which was a bit more subdued, lovers of buffalo sauce flavor and satisfyingly painful spicy foods will find this the perfect sauce. But beware: The heat from this sauce builds slowly. You might be a few wings in before you realize your mouth is on fire.
5. Honey BBQ
There's no denying that BBQ sauce and chicken belong together. And if you're looking to make the union even more perfect, try adding a touch of honey, which is what Buffalo Wild Wings did with this Honey BBQ sauce. Of the BBQ sauces available to coat your wings, this was the winner.
It's a tomato-based sauce, and the tangy acidity of the nightshade is a perfect counterpoint to the sweet honey that we detected — especially in the lingering aftertaste. Although it's quite sweet, there's also a notable smoky quality that prevents the sauce from tasting sickly. The texture is smooth enough to dip a nugget and thick enough to cling to a wing. The flavors meld together to deliver a classic BBQ flavor with a unique twist.
4. Spicy Garlic
There's no doubt that you get what you ask for if you order spicy garlic sauce: it's spicy, and it's garlicky. The core flavor of this sauce is not unlike the other buffalo sauces on the list, with an acidic vinegar component and a blast of cayenne pepper. However, this one had the added bonus of a mouthful of pungent allium. Although it may sound like a lot going on (isn't buffalo sauce already perfect?), we found that the strong flavors complemented one another more than they competed.
This bright orange concoction was creamier than the other buffalo sauces. We didn't feel the need to balance it out with a dip in blue cheese like we did with some of the spicier, more astringent sauces. If you're looking to ward off a vampire, or if you just like the strong, unmistakable aroma of garlic alongside a healthy kick of spice, this sauce is for you.
A welcome reprieve from the Buffalo Wild Wings sauces that were spiking our blood sugar, hot buffalo is one of four classic sauces made by the chain. It's the second hottest of the bunch, and although it won't burn your mouth off on your first bite, you're certain to feel the heat after a few wings.
The sauce is creamier than we expected, but we were pleased by the way the heat cut through the richness. And the vinegar component gave it just enough sourness to keep your mouth watering for more. We recommend keeping some carrots and celery on hand for this sauce, as you might want a cool crunch to counter the creamy heat.
2. Nashville Hot
After tasting too many sweet sauces, we were relieved to munch on a wing covered in a spicy, peppery sauce that was presumably created to taste like famous Nashville hot chicken. Salty notes with pepper and paprika created a slightly smoky, umami flavor and aroma that we felt was true to this sauce's namesake.
Cayenne pepper lent just enough heat to make things interesting; after a few wings, you'll be asking for a refill of your water glass. The sauce was just thick enough to coat the chicken, and not a drop was wasted because we were licking our fingers when we finished eating these wings.
1. Original Buffalo
As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It wasn't a surprise that the original buffalo wing sauce was our favorite on the list. This is the signature flavor of sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings, and the chain knows how to execute it.
The sauce is perfectly spicy with an acidic, vinegary undertone that delivers the zingy flavor you're looking for when you bite into a chicken wing. The texture is just thick and creamy enough to coat a wing without being too viscous. We loved the heat from this sauce, and it paired perfectly with blue cheese dressing. If you've got to choose one sauce, this is it.
We started out by ordering a plate of plain chicken wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, and then we ordered a side of each of the 21 sauces available on the menu. In no particular order, we smelled each sauce to get a sense of the aroma, carefully dipped our wings, paying careful attention to the texture of the sauce, and then tasted the wings and made copious notes about the spice level, sweetness, and general flavor profile.
Although this isn't an exercise we would recommend (we're still recovering from a sugar and sodium overload), it allowed us to compare different sauces to get a fair sense of which one reigned supreme. While some sauces tasted as expected, others had flavors that were totally out of left field.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.