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Buffalo Sauce Vs. Hot Sauce: What’s The Difference?

Quick Answer

Buffalo sauce is just a type of hot sauce, they are the same, and they are not. They are the same in how buffalo sauce is a form of hot sauce, and in how they can be substituted for one another. However, every hot sauce is different, Buffalo sauce uses more cayenne pepper than other hot sauces. Some hot sauces will use jalapeños, or habanero, and other chilies, but buffalo sauce uses cayenne peppers. Buffalo sauce is hot sauce, what a sponge cake is to cake.

Some people do not like any spice, some of us like loads of spice. Those of us who adore spice might know everything about hot sauce and buffalo sauce

These two sauces are well known and are favorites for many spice lovers who want to add an extra kick to their dish. 

While these two spicy sauces have a lot in common, including taste, they are not technically the same. 

How? Well, let’s find out shall we? 

Buffalo Sauce Vs. Hot Sauce What’s The Difference

Let’s quickly go over the reasons why they are not the same. 

The primary way these two differ is because buffalo sauce is itself, a form of hot sauce. 

Hot sauce is a generalized term for any type of hot sauce. These are in different varieties, with a range of brands and names. Buffalo sauce is a variety of these sauces. 

It is a lot like how sponge cake and general cake are not the same, because sponge cake is a type of cake. 

Buffalo sauce is a sauce which is also often known as red hot wings sauce, wings sauce and so on. 

Thinking About The Differences

So, while these two sauces are the same but different, there are more differences. 

The way buffalo sauce is made is one of these, it is made using even more cayenne pepper, which is the primary ingredient and makes up a larger portion of the taste. 

In contrast, hot sauce will differ depending on which pepper is used to make it. And so, which pepper a specific product will use will be the taste that defines the specific sauce. 

Another way in which these two sauces differ is that buffalo sauce is actually in existence for a very specific reason.

Any hot sauce can be an ‘all round’ sauce, it can be for anything, and you can just choose what sauce you want for whatever meal is in front of you. 

However, buffalo sauce was actually made to cover baked/ fried wings before they are served to give them a spicy kick. 

It is the main ingredient that is in buffalo chicken wings, which are also often called hot wings. Which… could make it all the more confusing, actually. 

Why Does Buffalo Sauce Have Its Name?

Why Does Buffalo Sauce Have Its Name

When you are growing up, you hear about buffalo wings, and buffalo sauce, and conjure up images of a spicy sauce being placed on… a buffalo?

Buffalo wings are not called so because those large herbivores have secret wings. 

Buffalo wings are named so after the sauce, which was made in Buffalo, in New York back in 1964 at an establishment called Anchor Bar, by Teressa Bellissimo.

It was at this location that the first ever chicken wings were unbreaded, and instead served coated in a vinegar-based hot sauce with cayenne pepper with a gorgeous buttery glaze. 

And… Well, that is what is in Buffalo sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper and butter. 

The heat range for buffalo sauce also varies from mild to hot, or medium is if you like in between.

And, depending on who is making it, there may be some extra ingredients in it, such as garlic powder or even Worcestershire sauce! 

Aside from the coating, the wings are also usually served with a blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, as a ‘cool down’ side to the dish. Ranch is also popular, and for many a preferred pairing for buffalo wings. 

Our vote is for the ranch. It just pairs so well! 

Buffalo is now funnily known as a term for any hot and spicy dishes or foods which have this sauce in it. You can even get buffalo fries, or a buffalo pizza now! 

Considering Other Hot Sauces

Aside from the typical buffalo sauce we know best, there are so many other hot sauces you can find for sale in stores. 

All hot sauce is made of just peppers that are simmered, and cooked until they go soft, add in some salt and some vinegar. Done. 

The hot sauce will be whatever color the peppers that are used to make it are. 

So, a habanero pepper can be yellow, green, orange or red, and you can therefore buy the sauce in these colors too. 

Then there are jalapeños which can be red or green, and so the hot sauce comes in these colors. 

Let us not forget one of the oldest hot sauces ever made, which is Tabasco pepper sauce/ This was made in Avery Island in Louisiana, by a man named Edmund Mcilhenney. 

Mcilhenny actually made this sauce with peppers that he got from his own garden. 

The name of the sauce: Tabasco, is actually the brand name which was exclusive to his own company. 

Now, there are many manufacturers that made a copy of this, or even a modified version of the original sauce he made.

Nowadays, it is possible to taste other hot sauces that are much like Tabasco. These are a bit more salty. The peppers which are used to make this are often fermented to make a very rich-in-flavor sauce. 

Then, there is also Sriracha sauce, which is also known by some as rooster sauce, simply because of the rooster on the logo.

Sriracha sauce is sold in many locations around the world and so many make their own version of Sriracha. 

However, the first ever version of Sriracha came from Thailand, made with chilies, salt, vinegar, sugar, and garlic. 

The flair and spiciness it brings is a powerful addition to any cuisine, you can add them to noodles or rice, perhaps on some wings, or add some into basic mayonnaise for dipping your fries in.

These wonderful sauces have a wide array of uses, no matter if it is as a condiment, or as an ingredient in a tasteful dish. 

You can even use a hot sauce for a marinade for your meats. And, they also make for an amazing something extra on meat based sandwiches. 

They mix very well with things such as mayonnaise for a dip with a kick, or you could add some to a rice bowl, burger, stir fry, tacos, etc. 

But, never forget, you can always use it to make a buffalo sauce! 

Taste: Buffalo Vs Hot Sauce

Buffalo sauce and hot sauce taste very alike, mainly because buffalo sauce is actually made using hot sauce. But, it just has more cayenne peppers in its ingredients.

Can Hot Sauce Be Substituted By Buffalo Sauce In Cooking?

You can actually substitute Buffalo sauce and hot sauce in recipes. 

You can occasionally use buffalo sauce in place of hot sauce depending on your own tastes and your recipe. It may not always be suitable, but you can indeed do it. 

Similarly, you can also use hot sauce in the place of buffalo sauce in some situations, although it will not taste the same.

If you intend on making wings, and you want that buffalo sauce flavor, then you will need that specific sauce. 

However, if you are just after the heat of a spicy sauce on your wings, then a hot sauce substitute will work fine. 

It is totally dependent on your own tastes if this will work or not. 

How We Feel About It

We love hot sauce, but it is not for everybody. Neither is buffalo sauce.

If you are sensitive to heat, then buffalo wings are not something to be ordering at the restaurant, even if you are okay with some milder hot sauces, as it does have quite the kick. 

Do remember that hot sauce is just a term that covers all types of sauces that are hot, spicy, and made from chili peppers. Out of these, Buffalo sauce is just one very specific variety of hot sauce. 

Hot sauces are all-purpose, and while buffalo sauce does have a specific purpose in its job to coat your yummy baked or fried chicken wings, it can be used in other dishes and cuisines as well. 

This specific sauce has its name simply due to where it was made and nothing more. 

Its ingredient makeup is not all that different from Tabasco, which was the oldest hot sauce humanity has made. The ingredients in this are salt, vinegar, and aged peppers. Buffalo sauce is not all that different. 

Also note that hot sauces will vary in their taste depending on which chili peppers are used to make them.

Jess Smith
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