The Unexpected Sauce Swap For Chicken Wings When You Don't Want Buffalo

Once upon a time, Buffalo sauce reigned supreme when it came to wings in the U.S. As our wing game evolved, we established restaurants whose sole focus is wings, and we realized there is a galaxy of flavors they can come in, from gochujang-glazed to garlic parmesan. Still, Buffalo sauce seems like the default, especially if you're making wings at home. But there are plenty of options when it comes to swapping out that spicy, buttery sauce with something that can easily be found around home kitchens. One tangy alternative that many have on hand is Caesar dressing.

Packed with a variety of bright and rich flavors, Caesar is piquant enough to stand up to crispy wings and creamy enough to coat them with a thick glaze. The technique is fairly simple here. If you're one who likes things as authentic as possible and plan on frying your wings, simply season them with salt and pepper a few hours before frying. Let them sit uncovered in the fridge so that the skin can dry out while the seasoning penetrates the meat. Once the wings have been fried, toss them in store-bought or homemade Caesar dressing and serve. If you're baking or air-frying your wings, you can go a step further to really drive home the flavor by marinating them in the dressing for a few hours or, preferably, overnight.

How to make Caesar wings

What is it about Caesar dressing that makes it a great alternative to Buffalo sauce when it comes to wings? First, the two sauces have much in common. Buffalo sauce is a combination of hot sauce whisked into a saucepan of melted butter, creating a spicy, creamy emulsification. Caesar dressing is also an emulsification, one of egg yolks whisked together with a bevy of ingredients that can include garlic, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, lemon juice, and cracked black pepper. While it doesn't have the heat of Buffalo sauce, Caesar dressing certainly matches it in the bold flavor department.

If you're looking to make your own Caesar dressing for wings, we recommend following the same recipe as you would if making the dressing for a salad. Our version actually uses a hard boiled egg rather than egg yolks, which results in a fuller texture that will go great on wings. The anchovies are optional, but we encourage you to take the plunge as they don't make things fishy, but rather make the dressing burst with umami.

Now, if Buffalo wings are generally served with celery, carrots, and a side of blue cheese dressing, then what do you serve with Caesar wings? Plating them on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce is a nice nod to the classic salad, and if you really want to make them pop, add a few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano right on top.