What is Buffalo Sauce?

December 06, 2023

Flavorful marinade, craveworthy dipping sauce, and universally loved wingman for chicken drummies & tenders, Buffalo Sauce is in a class all its own. You probably think you know all you need about this finger-lickin’ orange-red condiment, but there’s a lot more to “Big Buff” than meets the eye—or rather, the mouth. In this article, we take a deep dive into the origins of Buffalo Sauce, ingredient options, heat levels, and why our creamy, fiery Primal Kitchen Buffalo Sauce stands out from other classic condiments.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Buffalo Sauce: A Brief History

So, why is it called Buffalo sauce? The namesake of this sassy sauce isn’t up for debate: Food historians agree that the peppery condiment originated in the city of Buffalo, a thriving town in upstate New York known for its severe winter weather, popular football franchise, and proximity to Niagara Falls. That’s why you’ll often see the “B” capitalized in Buffalo wings and Buffalo sauce, though many modern publications lowercase the first letter. 

There are several legends about the origin of Buffalo wings. One of the most widely circulated stories is that Teressa Bellissimo, who founded the city’s long-running Anchor Bar with her husband Frank, created the deep-fried snack in 1964. According to the restaurant’s website, she slathered chicken wings in her own “secret sauce” and served them to her son’s friends. The dish became so popular that the couple added Buffalo wings to the eatery’s menu and later trademarked their creation. 

John Young, a Black entrepreneur who ran several iterations of a chicken wing restaurant on Jefferson Avenue in the 1960s, has also been credited for the wing trend. Young was among the first restaurant owners in the area to sell chicken wings as a prepared dish, though he employed a peppery, tomato-based mumbo sauce (sometimes spelled as “mombo” or “mambo” sauce) instead of the classic Buffalo sauce recipe. Young was inducted into the Buffalo Sauce National Hall of Flame—yes, that’s a real thing!—for his contribution in 2013.

A hand holding a bottle of Primal Kitchen Mild Buffalo Sauce, with a drizzle of sauce coming out.

What is Buffalo Sauce Made Of? 

The original Buffalo sauce was created by combining a popular, commercially available hot sauce with melted butter. The resulting sauce retained some of the heat of the original sauce, but with a more mellow flavor, less heat, and a creamier texture. Today, there are a variety of Buffalo sauces on the market, including no-dairy versions like our flavorful Original Buffalo Sauce made with real ingredients like avocado oil and cayenne pepper sauce and without corn syrup, cane sugar, or artificial sweeteners. We skipped the butter and opted for other real ingredients that add creaminess and mitigate the heat of the peppers used to give this sauce its signature feisty flavor.

With a bold, creamy taste and a gentle cayenne kick, it’s no wonder our bestselling original formula is the #1 Buffalo Sauce in natural grocery.* Besides being a delicious wingman for chicken tenders and a perfect nugget dip, it’s also a savory, feisty addition to casseroles, dips, wraps, and even tacos. Learn more about our Buffalo Sauce and why it’s so crazy good

Beyond our original Buff, Primal Kitchen also offers a Mild Buffalo Sauce with real mango puree and Hot Buffalo Sauce with an extra kick of jalapeño flavor. These three heat levels allow you to choose exactly how spicy you like it: Mild, Medium or Hot.   

Three hot peppers: yellow, orange, and green.

How Hot is Buffalo Sauce?

If you’re looking for a hot sauce that practically melts your face off, keep moving. Because it combines traditional hot sauce ingredients with other rich and creamy elements, the heat levels of Buffalo Sauce tend to be milder than with a standard hot sauce. To give you an idea of where our Buffalo falls on the hot sauce heat index, let’s first take a look at some pepper benchmarks. 

The Scoville Scale is an index used to categorize the heat range of a pepper based on levels of capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives chili peppers their warmth. Scoville ratings range from 0 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) to 16 billion SHU and may be calculated using a panel of tasters, or technology that measures capsaicin levels. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the SHU of a cayenne pepper is about 30,000-50,000, while a bell pepper has 0 SHU, a pimiento rates 100-500 SHU, and jalapeños range between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU. 

Tests performed on Primal Kitchen Original Buffalo Sauce in 2023 found an average of about 330 SHU, while our Mild Buffalo Sauce averaged around 160 SHU. Even our hottest Buffalo Sauce made with cayenne pepper sauce and organic red jalapeño pepper puree averaged just slightly over 410 SHUs. In short, Buffalo Sauce is more about big, bold, delicious flavor than pure heat. Our Hot Buff might make your tongue tingle a little from the peppery kick, but it’s significantly less hot than your average jalapeño.   

How to Use Buffalo Sauce

Combining the best elements of a hot sauce and a cool, creamy dressing, Buffalo Sauce delivers a creamy, fiery flavor without leaving your taste buds battered by heat. That’s what makes this savory sauce so versatile. While there are countless ways to integrate Buffalo into your weekly meal plan, here are a few of our favorite options—with delicious recipe suggestions!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Wings & Things

Since its inception, Buffalo Sauce has been paired with chicken. From traditional wings to stuffed chicken breasts and creamy Buffalo Chicken dip made with mayo or cream cheese, Buffalo sauce brings big, bold flavor to this otherwise humble (and often bland) bird. 

Try these recipes:

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Mild Buffalo Wings

Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Salads, Sandwiches & Tacos

Because it has a similar consistency to a creamy salad dressing, Buffalo Sauce is a natural fit for salads and sandwiches as well as Mexican faves in a soft shell (like tacos and burritos). Tuck it between layers of turkey and cheese, spread it on a beef burrito for a fiery kick of flavor, or slather it on fried cauliflower steaks and stack them on a bun. 

Try these recipes:

Chicken Cobb Salad with Buffalo Ranch

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

The Buffalo Sandwich: Three Ways

Buffalo Chickpea Tuna Salad

Buffalo Omelet

Family Classics

While you might think the feisty flavor of Buffalo Sauce belongs at lunch or dinner, Buffalo Sauce easily substitutes for hot sauce in morning pick-me-ups like scrambled egg whites and omelets. It also delights the taste buds on familiar family-friendly faves like Buffalo Chicken Pizza and rice bowls, or as a dip for crispy chicken tenders and plant-based nuggets. TIp: Opt for our gentler Mild & Sweet Buffalo Sauce if you’re serving the kiddos.

Try these recipes:

Southwest Omelet

Buffalo Chicken Pizza with Grain-Free Crust

Buffalo Cauliflower Rice

Breakfast Egg Cups

Three bottles of Primal Kitchen Buffalo Sauce in varying heat levels, lined up on a kitchen countertop.

How to Buff Up

Available in three heat levels from mild & sweet to subtly hot, Primal Kitchen Buffalo Sauce is made with real, honest, delicious ingredients you can trust and without xanthan gum, corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners. Far from just a wing sauce, this feisty no-dairy condiment adds a flavorful kick to tacos, omelets, chicken salad sandwiches, and so much more. So, choose your preferred heat option, shake up a bottle of mouthwatering Buff, and see where your culinary imagination takes you!           


  *Source: SPINS, Total US MULO, NPI, L52 W/E 7-16-23


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