Think beyond chicken: The world is your buffalo.

By Margaret Eby
Updated January 31, 2020
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“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a grammatically accurate, difficult to parse sentence developed in 1972 by professor William J. Rapaport to demonstrate the wackiness of the English language. It is also the mantra in my brain whenever chicken wing season begins, annually coinciding with the beginning of football season and ending with the sports- and advertising-appreciation night that is the Super Bowl. But despite this ritualistic celebration of buffalo wings, I have a theory. We have been needlessly limiting ourselves. You can buffalo more than wings. With a little bit of ingenuity and a lot of hot sauce, you can buffalo anything you want. 

Sarah Crowder

Buffalo sauce is named after the city where it originated, Buffalo, New York, where, in 1964, the Anchor Bar served up its first plate of buffalo wings. The sauce was put together by Teressa Bellissimmo, who served the wings with blue cheese and celery because that’s what she had on hand. Bellissimmo’s trick was combining hot sauce with melted butter, a combination that cut the peppery, vinegar-based sauce with fat and turned it into a condiment perfect for coating fried chicken wings. You can also use it in, say, a buffalo chicken calzone or buffalo chicken dip. But you don’t even need chicken to be a part of the set-up. Anything that takes well to a sauce could be buffaloed. Buffalo cauliflower has become a popular meatless option, but there’s no reason to stop there. Melt together two tablespoons of butter to about four tablespoons of hot sauce—the standard, thanks to Anchor Bar, is Frank’s Red Hot, but any cayenne pepper sauce will work. Then use it wherever you want. Toss roasted potatoes in it. Roast some brussels sprouts on a sheet pan and then serve them with a side of buffalo. Throw some into a batch of popcorn and toss it around—or better yet make buffalo and blue cheese popcorn. Swirl some into sour cream or Greek yogurt for instant dip. Try it as a salad dressing if you’re feeling spicy. There’s no limit to what you can buffalo.

Sarah Crowder

Of course, there are times when you’d rather have a spice mixture than a sauce. If you consider the hot sauce and melted butter to be, as our Associate Food Editor Kelsey Youngman does, a “Universal Wet Buffalo,” then the counterpoint is “Universal Dry Buffalo,” which is pretty much just a spice mixture but also could be the name of a mediocre funk cover band.

You can buy a pre-made buffalo spice mix online and at some supermarkets, but if you already have a well-stocked spice pantry, you probably also have what you need to throw one together. In ours, we used half a teaspoon of cayenne and a quarter teaspoon each of garlic powder, seasoning salt, paprika (sweet, not smoked), lemon pepper, and sumac. If you want things hotter, up the quantity of cayenne. If you want more of a bright, acidic hit, add a bit more sumac or lemon pepper.

Use the spice mix dusted on deviled eggs, or mixed into a bread crumb topping of baked macaroni and cheese. We just made our buffalo flavored chips by shaking some up in a bag of thick, crispy kettle chips. But if you wanted to dust it on ice cream or use it in your next pot of beans, it would work equally as well. Buffalo is a seasoning, not a season. The world is your buffalo. Embrace it.