10 Best Dipping Sauces To Elevate Buffalo Wings

Buffalo wings are one of the world's great party foods. Ever since 1964, when they first appeared on the menu at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, Buffalo wings have been a smashing success. What began as a way to use up unused wing pieces and leftover hot sauce is now prized as a shareable, inexpensive, and addictive staple of Super Bowl parties, backyard barbecues, and summertime gatherings.

Nothing beats a big messy plate of fried wings slathered in fiery Buffalo sauce accompanied by a pitcher of beer. Some like their Buffalo wings with a slight kick, while others prefer atomic spice levels, but Buffalo wings are always some level of spicy. To cool down the burn, they're often served with celery sticks and a cream-based dipping sauce. The protein molecules in dairy are uniquely capable of relieving the pain caused by spicy foods because of how they interact with capsaicin — the compound that's responsible for the painful sensation we get from eating peppers. Creamy, high-fat dairy soothes that burn, which is why these dips make such delicious complements for wings. Any creamy dressing will take the edge off, but why stop there? Here are a few ideas on dipping sauces that take standard party fare to the next level.

Blue cheese dressing made to order

The original side of blue cheese dressing is still the classic (and many would argue best) dipping sauce for Buffalo wings. When creator Teressa Bellissimo first invented the dish, she served it with blue cheese because that's what she had available at the time. It began as a happy accident, but it has withstood decades of challenges to remain the standard Buffalo wing pairing to this day.

Blue cheese dressing and Buffalo sauce often contain garlic which gives the two sauces enough in common to meld together nicely. However, the dominant flavor in blue cheese comes from is its characteristic mold culture penicillium roqueforti. Cultured and aged blue cheeses have a distinctively mature, pungent, slightly funky flavor that offsets the acidic vinegar and sharp pepper notes from the Buffalo sauce. It makes for a winning combination that's second to none.

When making blue cheese dressing, you can mix it up chunky or smooth, and you can use chunks of any variety of blue cheese you choose. There are dozens of varieties of blue cheese ranging from strong Roquefort or Danish blue to subtle gorgonzola — great news for anyone who prefers a less funky, milder blue cheese flavor but still wants to dunk their wings according to tradition.

Homemade ranch is anything but basic

The question of which dip reigns supreme — ranch or blue cheese — is a hotly debated issue that may never be completely settled. Both have their die-hard fans, and both offer a splash of deliciously cooling relief from spicy wing sauce. Whichever side you're on, we can all agree that a fresh batch of homemade ranch dressing is superior to even the best store-bought varieties.

Like blue cheese, ranch dressing has strong garlic and pepper flavors, so it merges effortlessly with Buffalo sauce and a thick dairy base that offsets the heat. However, ranch uses buttermilk rather than aged cheese to achieve its tangy quality, and it also incorporates a complex mixture of onion, dill, parsley, and celery seed. It's a more herbal, zippy flavor that is even better when you make it at home using fresh herbs and adjust the ingredients to suit your specific taste. You can amp up the garlic, add flowery ingredients, or go heavy on the herbs to take it into green goddess territory. One of the strengths of ranch dressing is its versatility and adaptability, so you can create a version perfectly suited to accompany your wings.

Tangy sour cream and chives

Buffalo wings aren't exactly healthy food, but if you are looking to lighten the dish up with a lower-fat dip option, a simple sour cream and onion sauce may fit the bill. Sour cream and onion dip skips the mayonnaise found in most creamy salad dressing dips. Simply mix sour cream with a little lemon juice or vinegar to bring in some acidity, then add salt and finely minced onions for a savory flavor. For other variations, you can try using caramelized onions or substitute another member of the allium family: minced fresh chives, spring onions, or shallots all provide a flavor boost that will liven up the creamy neutral flavor of sour cream.

For an even lower fat and high-protein variation on this dip option, use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Greek yogurt has the same cooling creaminess and slightly tangy flavor of sour cream but with fewer calories, more protein, and beneficial probiotics to boot. This is an excellent option for health-conscious eaters that brings a nutritional advantage without sacrificing pleasure.

Add a kick of pepper to Southwest sauce

Add green chile or jalapeño peppers to take your standard ranch dressing on a journey to the southwest. First, a quick sidebar about red and green peppers: Peppers are the fruits of various plants, but the green and red peppers of a given type (jalapeño, bell, poblano, anaheim) come from the same plant. The only difference is that the green peppers are picked earlier, while red peppers are left to ripen on the plant longer. The extra ripening time gives red peppers more heat and a slightly sweeter flavor profile.

Buffalo sauce is made with the red fruits of a cayenne pepper plant, so it tastes slightly sweet and smoky. New Mexico green chile, jalapeño, or poblano peppers, on the other hand, have a more vegetal, grassy flavor that adds a layer of complexity to your ranch sauce. The red and green flavors enhance each other when combined, as when Buffalo wings are dipped in green pepper ranch. It's an easy upgrade to make for your ranch dressing; simply add finely minced fresh, canned, frozen, or even powdered green peppers into your favorite ranch dressing recipe. Adjust the amount of green chiles to your taste and heat tolerance.

Spice up the flavor with wasabi ranch

For another twist on ranch dressing, try adding wasabi. Wasabi gets its spiciness from allyl isothiocyanate rather than the capsaicin peppers rely on to generate heat. As a result, the wasabi burn hits you in the nose rather than the mouth. The combination of a mouth burn from the hot sauce and a nasal twinge from wasabi is perfect for those who can't get enough of that desirable Buffalo wing sting.

The flavor is similar to hot mustard or mild ginger, and the spicy-sweet combination of wasabi and the herbal garlic components in ranch is incredibly addictive. You could opt for a wasabi paste or powder, or get extravagant and use freshly grated real wasabi. Mix it into your homemade ranch dressing and adjust it to your taste. A small amount of grated ginger or a drizzle of sesame oil would also make a nice addition to wasabi ranch.

Decadent melty queso dip

If creamy dressing just isn't for you, you can get a similar cooling dairy effect with a cheese queso dip for your Buffalo wings. Queso dip starts with a base of melted cheese, which transforms into dipping consistency using milk and cornstarch. From there, the possibilities are infinite: You can switch up the type of cheese, add different herbs or spices, include meats, or add anything that strikes your fancy.

Considering that Buffalo wings are a party food often served with beer, a cheese dip featuring cheddar, beer, Worcestershire, and mustard would be a logical pairing choice as a wing dip. Go for something a little strong by adding a splash of tequila to your queso recipe. Or, you could opt for cottage cheese to create a high-protein cottage cheese queso. Queso is an easy and forgiving side that's flexible enough to be tailored to your unique tastes, and if served with chips, it can double as an appetizer on its own too!

Remoulade is tres bien

Although remoulade was initially conceived in 18th century France as an herb aioli, in the early 1900s, a unique variant of the sauce was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Louisiana-style remoulade sauce transcends the original with the addition of sinus-clearing horseradish via creole mustard, fresh green onion, celery, and parsley, plus ketchup and paprika for a grounding, smoky layer of sweetness.

Louisiana remoulade is often served with New Orleans' signature po' boy sandwiches or alongside other seafood, but it makes a wonderful accompaniment to many types of protein–particularly anything fried. Naturally, it makes an ideal dipping sauce for Buffalo wings. There's a lot of flavor commonality between the cayenne in the remoulade and the Buffalo hot sauce, as well as overlaps between the garlic and vinegary acidity. Remoulade brings its unique blend of creole-cajun-influenced flavors to the party, making it a worthy addition to your Buffalo wing dip repertoire.

Fresh and creamy tzatziki

For the ultimate cooling dip, take a page from Greek cuisine and try dunking your Buffalo wings in a classic tzatziki sauce. In Greece, tzatziki sauce is traditionally served with heavily spiced meats like souvlaki and gyros, so the compatibility with fiery meats is well established.

Like many other creamy sauces, this herbal dip draws its heat-soothing power from Greek yogurt but gets an additional refreshing boost from grated cucumber. Lemon juice brightens things up while garlic adds a little bite, and fresh chopped mint uplifts the sauce with its invigorating and coolness.

Despite having a creamy base, tzatziki always feels light and thick. Instead, it acts as a light, replenishing break from the jolting spice of Buffalo sauce. Although it's true that only dairy can actually unbind pepper captain and relieve the pain of hot sauce, mint and cucumber feel soothing and pleasant, and that's what really counts.

Garlicky Caesar dressing

Caesar dressing is best known as a topping for a green salad, often topped with chicken or seafood to make a Caesar salad. Caesar dressing is known as a fantastic partner for chicken, and interestingly the recipe for Caesar salad was also a result of using up leftover restaurant scraps — just like Buffalo wings! These two foods seem almost destined to get paired up.

Classic Caesar dressing begins with an emulsified egg yolk base to create a creamy dressing, then incorporates Worcestershire, parmesan cheese, and anchovies into the mix. The end result is an absolute umami bomb, with flavors pungent enough to stand up against the strength of a piquant Buffalo sauce. Since it contains less dairy fat than cream-based dressings, Caesar won't cool down your taste buds as effectively as blue cheese or ranch, but it will offer a rich, intense explosion of savory goodness to enhance your Buffalo wings with undiminished spice.

Avocado gives non-dairy relief

For a non-dairy option that will still cool things down significantly, opt for an avocado sauce for yourB wings. There are many variations on avocado sauce, but salsa de aguacate is a great option for Buffalo wings. Think of it as a thinner, smoother, and less spiced guacamole. It starts with a mild salsa verde, a Mexcian salsa made with tomatillos rather than tomatoes, which gives salsa verde its namesake green hue. Cilantro, lime, and salt go into the salsa, and then for salsa de aguacate, whole avocados are blended in for a smooth and creamy salsa that tops tacos and other highly spiced meats. 

Avocados are soothing against spice because of their creamy texture and high-fat content, so avocado salsa is an outstanding option for anyone who maintains a dairy-free diet. Or, for the dairy lovers out there, you can always add a scoop of sour cream or Greek yogurt to your salsa de aguacate and make it into a creamy avocado dip.