How To Make Buffalo Sauce Without Hot Sauce

Buffalo sauce has long been a staple in American cuisine, typically combining the powerful flavors of hot sauce, butter and vinegar. 

But what if your pantry is fresh out of hot sauce or you’re craving a tamer take on this zesty condiment? 

We’ll, we’ve got you covered with some easy swaps.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through creating buffalo sauce without relying on hot sauce. 

Plus, we’ll share some advice for fine-tuning the spiciness to suit your taste buds perfectly.

What Does Hot Sauce Do In Buffalo Sauce?

It’s no surprise, and we all know, that at the heart of buffalo sauce lies its fiery component – hot sauce.

But what role does this key ingredient play in creating the distinctive flavor and sensation of buffalo sauce? 

A lot! A lot of roles!

The iconic taste of buffalo sauce can be largely credited to its blend of simple ingredients, which include hot sauce, melted butter, vinegar and other seasoning. 

But while each ingredient brings something special to this delicious mixture, it’s undoubtedly the hot sauce that takes center stage.

Here’s why!

It Adds Heat

Hot sauce imparts the much-loved spiciness to buffalo sauce due to its capsaicin content – an organic compound found in chili peppers that triggers the heat receptors on our taste buds.

The level of spiciness depends on your choice of hot sauce; some are mild while others pack a fiery punch, and how much of it or spice-based ingredients you add.


A good hot sauce like Frank’s adds depth and complexity to buffalo sauce with its blend of flavorful ingredients like fermented or aged chili peppers, spices like paprika and distilled vinegar.


Hot sauces typically have a thin yet robust consistency that mixes seamlessly with other components in buffalo sauce. This results in a smooth texture perfect for drizzling over wings or dipping your favorite snacks into.


With a vast variety of hot sauces available on the market today – ranging from classic cayenne pepper-based sauces to exotic ghost pepper creations – you can easily personalize your buffalo sauce’s heat intensity and flavor profile according to your preferences.

How To Make Buffalo Sauce Without Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Any Hot Sauce)

If you can’t find your favorite bottle of hot sauce or simply want to make buffalo sauce from scratch, without the popular ingredient, no worries, we’ve got you covered. 

Substitute ketchup for hot sauce and add some heat with cayenne pepper or your preferred spicy option. 

Amp up the flavor with paprika, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and butter for that signature buffalo taste.

Here’s the recipe:


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup salted butter


1. Begin by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Once the butter is melted, add ketchup, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and garlic powder to the pan.

3. Bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring continuously.

4. Cook until the sauce reaches a smooth consistency.

5. Remove from heat and allow it to cool before using, or store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for future use.

While this homemade buffalo sauce may not have that classic Frank’s Hot Sauce flavor you’re accustomed to, it still delivers on heat and tanginess which is perfect for wings or dipping buffalo cauliflower bites into.

You can increase or decrease the overall heat of the sauce by adding or reducing the overall cayenne pepper content of the recipe. 

What Is A Good Substitute For Buffalo Sauce

When you run out of Buffalo sauce or simply want to experiment with something new, feel free to use the following alternatives, bearing in mind that they may affect dishes in different ways that buffalo sauce does. 

Craft Your Own Homemade Buffalo Sauce

With just a few kitchen staples – hot sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot), melted butter and paprika – you can concoct your very own lip-smacking blend that rivals any commercial variety. Scroll down for the recipe.

Turn Up the Heat with Tabasco

Allow the legendary Tabasco sauce to inject an invigorating twist into your mealtime favorites. 

With its distinct capsaicin-laden flavor and moderate heat level, Tabasco makes for a versatile substitute in recipes calling for Buffalo sauce – just be prepared for a slightly different taste.

Spice It Up with Sriracha

Another versatile option comes in the form of Sriracha – that unmistakable red bottle with a rooster logo adorning many kitchens and restaurant tables worldwide. 

Its enticing blend of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt imparts an exotic touch to any dish or creation that craves a hint of spice (i.e spicy mayonnaise) – and that’s why it’s the ideal stand-in for Buffalo sauce. 

Just be mindful of its heat; adjust the quantity according to your personal spice tolerance, so you don’t end up overwhelming your buds. 

Honey Mustard Sauce

Looking for something sweet yet tangy? Honey mustard sauce whether made with Dijon or without it, is the perfect blend of both worlds, creating a finger-licking good flavor that pairs well with chicken wings, sandwiches and salads.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Another versatile option is sweet and sour sauce, which has a delightful balance between sweetness and acidity. This popular sauce compliments various dishes such as spring rolls, fried shrimp or chicken nuggets.

Mumbo Sauce

Mumbo sauce originated from the Washington D.C. area, and it’s now quite iconic. This tangy sauce fuses flavors from BBQ and sweet-and-sour sauces, adding an extra zing to fried foods or grilled options alike.

BBQ Sauce

A classic alternative when you’re missing Buffalo sauce is good old-fashioned BBQ sauce. With its smoky-sweet flavor profile, BBQ sauce works wonders on chicken wings or as a dipping companion for many appetizers.

Is Buffalo Sauce Hot Or Not?

Most traditional buffalo sauces combine hot sauce (typically made from cayenne peppers), melted butter, vinegar and sometimes additional spices like garlic powder. 

Because they contain cayenne peppers, most hot sauces are typically moderately hot, and sometimes less so, since the ratio of hot sauce to butter plays a crucial role in determining how spicy the final product will be.

Just like you can have buffalo sauce with low heat, it’s possible to have a buffalo sauce that is extra spicy from the addition of extra cayenne pepper too.

And one more thing, because the way that we perceive spiciness differ from person to person, what is moderately hot  for someone might end up being overpowering for another and vice versa.

How To Make Buffalo Sauce With Hot Sauce


  •  ⅔ cup Frank’s RedHot
  • 1 ¼ tablespoons white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or lower, if you prefer less heat)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (or lower)


1. Begin by combining all of your ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.

2. With your trusty whisk at the ready, stir the mixture continuously as it heats up, ensuring everything melds together nicely.

3. Once the buffalo sauce reaches a gentle simmer and starts bubbling, you’re almost done! Remove the pan from the heat and give it another good whisk to make sure everything is smooth and well-blended.

4. Set your homemade buffalo sauce aside until you’re ready to use it – drizzle over chicken wings, mix into salads, or even use it as a dipping sauce for veggies!

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