The Best Thick Buffalo Sauce

This super thick Buffalo sauce recipe made with cashews adds a creamy, spicy kick to pretty much anything. Just blend and enjoy it as-is, or thin with water to get your perfect consistency.

I think we can all agree there are few things better than a meal dipped, bathed, or slathered in sauce. 

They’re one of my secret weapons for simplifying mealtime since you can literally transform any plain protein or bowl of pasta into something magical. 

Take, for example, these crispy, goldenly delicious, baked chicken tenders. Delicious on their own, or dipped in ketchup as my kids prefer them, but bathe them in this thick and creamy homemade Buffalo sauce and tuck them into a warm tortilla with some crunchy lettuce, cucumbers, and a drizzle of Bleu cheese, and Oh. Ma. Gosh. Best adult dinner on the planet! 

I started making this sauce shortly after we moved to Spain because Buffalo sauce doesn’t exist here. I was all, SAY WHAT? 

Want to know what they do have in Spain, though? Amazon Prime. 🙌🏻

Naturally, I ordered the most giant bottle of Frank’s RedHot that I could get my hands on (like a gallon) and got to work replicating my two favorite store-bought brands: Mitch’s Best Buffalo Sauce and Primal Kitchen’s No Dairy Buffalo Sauce

Just blend and enjoy it as is, or thin with water to get your perfect consistency.

I’ll be honest. The first few versions were utterly butterly disappointing. They were thin and drippy — not at all like my favorite bottled brands. To make matters worse, they were made with butter, which meant they separated and solidified over time. 

This thick Buffalo sauce is made with cashews (not butter) which means it’s basically health food and won’t get all weird in the fridge. It’s also super thick and creamy, not sad and drippy like so many other sauces out there. 

Keep reading for everything you’ll ever want to know about Buffalo sauce, including the history and how to adjust the consistency, or jump straight to the recipe card to get right to it!

A glass jar of thick Buffalo sauce with a spoon and wings with celery in the background

What is Buffalo sauce? 

Buffalo sauce is a spicy sauce most famously known for slathering over chicken wings, though it’s used for adding spice to many other recipes as well. Many Buffalo sauce recipes contain Frank’s hot sauce, butter, vinegar, Worcestershire, and spices. 

In this recipe, creamy cashews replace the butter yielding a healthier, thicker, authentic-tasting Buffalo sauce that won’t separate or solidify in the fridge.

Where did Buffalo sauce come from? 

According to Frank’s RedHot, Buffalo sauce was born Buffalo, New York back in 1964. As the story goes, Teressa Bellissimo, co-owner Anchor Bar & Grill in Buffalo, fried up some chicken wings and tossed them in a new, secret hot sauce one night —which we now know was made with Frank’s RedHot. Not surprisingly, they were an instant hit with customers, and today Buffalo sauce is loved by millions all over the world. 

Ingredients for thick and creamy Buffalo sauce

Cashews are the secret ingredient for making a super thick, authentic Buffalo sauce. To make this thick Buffalo sauce recipe, you’ll need

  • Frank’s Original RedHot Sauce
  • Plain cashews
  • Vinegar: Rice or white vinegar both work great
  • Worcestershire sauce: For a vegan Buffalo sauce, use soy sauce instead.
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Water for thinning if desired

How to store Buffalo sauce

Transfer Buffalo sauce to a mason jar or other airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Because this sauce contains blended cashews and not butter, it won’t solidify in the fridge. Before serving, shake well and warm in the microwave or over low heat on the stove, if desired. 

How to freeze Buffalo sauce

This Buffalo sauce freezes well. To freeze, transfer the leftover sauce into a freezer bag, pressing out any air from the bag as you seal it. Lay the bag flat to freeze as this will save significant freezer space and make sauces easier to grab once frozen.

How to thicken Buffalo sauce

You can thicken Buffalo sauce in a couple of ways, by using a starch-based thickener or with cashews. 

Starch-based thickeners: When added to liquid and heated, starches expand, absorbing some of the liquid, which thickens the sauce. Some popular starch-based thickeners include all-purpose flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, and arrowroot powder.

 Cashews: When ground in the blender, cashews transform into a thick and creamy paste that adds body and richness to Buffalo sauce.

How to thicken Buffalo sauce with cashews 

You can thicken buffalo sauce with cashews by blending them directly into a premade Buffalo sauce. Alternatively, you can easily make your own homemade buffalo sauce with cashews, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, onion powder, and garlic powder. 

The key to making a thick and creamy buffalo sauce with cashews is grinding the cashews incredibly fine. Using soaked cashews and a powerful blender will yield the best results. In this recipe, I recommend soaking the cashews in the hot sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, and spices for at least 30 minutes and blending everything in a high-power blender. 

How to thin overly thick Buffalo sauce 

The easiest way to thin Buffalo sauce is with water. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir well until you get your desired consistency.

If the sauce is made with butter and has solidified, heat the sauce and stir well to reincorporate the ingredients. If it’s still too thick, add a little water and stir well. 

A chicken wing being dipped into a glass jar of thick Buffalo sauce

What to make with this thick Buffalo sauce recipe

Buffalo sauce is super versatile and can add a tangy kick to whatever you love to eat. Here are a few of our favorite recipes that work great with this easy Buffalo sauce recipe:

  • Homemade Buffalo chicken tenders: Sauce up some homemade baked chicken tenders for a healthy meal or party appetizer
  • Buffalo chicken sandwich: Whip up some crispy air fryer chicken cutlets, add a bun and bite in! 
  • Buffalo cauliflower bites: Just roast some florets, toss, and enjoy!
  • Buffalo mac and cheese: Just stir some Buffalo sauce into this delicious Instant Pot Mac and Cheese for a grown-up twist on this childhood favorite
  • Buffalo chicken meatballs: These baked chicken meatballs coated in Buffalo sauce are SO good!
  • Buffalo-Bleu cheese salad dressing: Mix the two and drizzle over salad with grilled chicken breast, chicken cutlets, or tenders 
  • Buffalo chicken wings: Just slather crispy chicken wings in this delicious sauce and serve with Bleu cheese or Ranch dressing, carrots, and celery sticks for a party-perfect appetizer 
  • Buffalo French fries: Drizzle on top or serve as a dipping sauce alongside a plate of French fries!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute Tabasco Sauce for Frank’s Hot Sauce? 

Tabasco doesn’t make a great substitute for Frank’s Hot Sauce because it’s made from different peppers, and thus has a different flavor and spice profile. Tabasco is made with tabasco peppers and is significantly spicier than Frank’s RedHot, which is made with cayenne chili peppers. If you’re looking for a substitute, Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce is a better option than Tabasco, but it will not taste the same as a Buffalo sauce made with Frank’s.

What is a good substitute for Worcestershire sauce?

Soy sauce is a good substitute for Worcestershire in Buffalo sauce because of its salt and umami flavor. Soy sauce is also a good substitute for Worcestershire sauce if you want to make this recipe vegan. 

Is this Buffalo sauce authentic?

Yes, authentic Buffalo Sauce is made with Frank’s RedHot, and this is one of the main ingredients used in this recipe. Cashews add a rich and creamy texture without changing the flavor a bit.

Is Buffalo sauce healthy?

Buffalo sauce is healthy when consumed in moderation. It contains capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat and also packs antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and metabolic benefits. Because it is fat-soluble, capsaicin is most effective when combined with dietary fat. While many Buffalo sauce recipes contain butter, Buffalo sauce made with cashews contains healthy fats that can also enhance the absorption of capsaicin.

That said, Buffalo sauce is high in sodium, so it’s best to use Buffalo sauce sparingly if you need to limit your salt intake.

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Recipe

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets

These crispy air fryer chicken cutlets are a weeknight winner. They cook up in minutes and can be served in so many ways.

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    25 minutes
  • Makes:
    8 large cutlets 1x
  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    25 minutes
  • Makes:
    8 large cutlets 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 2 pounds of chicken breast (whole or pre-sliced fillets) 
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
    • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • Olive oil cooking spray

    Instructions

    1. Prepare and season the fillets. Slice whole chicken breasts in half horizontally and pound to ¼- to ⅙-inch thick. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl and season the chicken cutlets on both sides; set aside.
    2. Make the egg mixture. Add the eggs and mayonnaise to a shallow bowl and whisk to combine. 
    3. Prepare the Panko mixture. In a separate, medium-sized shallow bowl, combine the Panko, Parmesan, paprika, and garlic powder and mix until well incorporated. 
    4. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. If you will be freezing some or all of the chicken fillets, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
    5. Bread the cutlets. Using a fork, transfer 1-2 chicken fillets to the egg mixture and turn to coat evenly on both sides. With the same fork, transfer the chicken to the Panko bowl. Use a spoon to sprinkle the top of the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture and gently press down on the chicken to help the breadcrumb-mixture stick. Using tongs, transfer the breaded chicken to a clean plate or prepared baking sheet if freezing. (See freezing instructions in the notes section below.) Repeat until all fillets are breaded. Lightly spray both sides of the cutlets with olive oil or cooking spray just before cooking.
    6. Cook cutlets in the preheated air fryer. To cook, air fry the fillets in a single layer at 375°F for about 8 minutes (10 minutes if frozen), or until golden brown on the outside and cooked through. Remove them from the air fryer and allow them to cool slightly. Repeat with the remaining chicken until all cutlets have been cooked.

    Notes

    Favorite Equipment

    Freezing Instructions

    Place uncooked, breaded cutlets onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Put the baking sheet into the freezer for 1-2 hours. Once the chicken is firm, transfer the uncooked cutlets to a freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible when sealing, and return to the freezer.

    Ingredient Prep

    • Chicken: Slice and pound the chicken up to 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.
    • Panko mixture: Mix the Panko mixture ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

    Little Helpers

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help:

    • Toddlers: Let them help prepare the egg and Panko mixture and have fun breading the chicken.
    • Little Kids: All of the above, plus let them preheat and transfer the cutlets into the air fryer —supervised, of course. 😉
    • Big Kids: Give them the recipe and see how they do!

    Nutrition Notes

    Nutrition information calculated is based on using regular mayonnaise and a half-second spray of olive oil on each side of the cutlet. 

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 1, 4-ounce cutlet
    • Calories: 355
    • Sugar: 0 g
    • Sodium: 818 mg
    • Fat: 15 g
    • Saturated Fat: 4 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 11 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 11 g
    • Fiber: 0 g
    • Protein: 42 g
    • Cholesterol: 168 mg

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    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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    • Yum! Finally, a homemade Buffalo sauce that has some body to it. I am definitely going to give this a try. Thanks!!