11 Sticky, Spicy, Sometimes-Sweet Wing Sauce Recipes


January 12, 2022
Photo by James Ransom

Even if you don’t know the difference between a touchdown or a field goal, or offense vs. defense, you can appreciate a good batch of chicken wings at a Super Bowl party. After all, you came here for the snacks, right? To kick off your game day festivities, we’re sharing our favorite wing sauce recipes, from the sticky sweet to the fiery.

Buffalo Sauce

When you think of chicken wings, buffalo sauce is probably the first thing that comes to mind, right? A generous coating of Frank’s RedHot with a cool ranch dipping sauce on the side is obviously what the Super Bowl is really about. Pro tip: Food52’s Creative Director Kristen Miglore (and resident Genius) thinks that garlic confit enhances the flavor of buffalo sauce even more, so try incorporating a few cloves puréed roasted garlic.

Mark Bittman’s go-to recipe for Buffalo Chicken Wings starts with wings broiled in the oven until crispy. While the wings cook, he makes the sauce using hot sauce, melted butter, sherry vinegar, and minced garlic. As soon as the wings are browned and crispy, toss them with sauce and broil for a few minutes more.


If you’re not into super spicy wings, the game isn’t over. You can whip up a finger-licking sauce that won’t have you running to the fridge for a glass of milk. Stick to ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, and citrus juice for a complex sauce that has none of the heat. Why is this an all-star wing treatment? “The sweetness of the orange is perfectly offset by umami-packed soy sauce, zippy Chinese black vinegar, toasty sesame oil, and a touch of heat from cayenne powder,” says Asha Loupy.

Or follow Sohla El-Waylly’s recipe for chicken wings glazed with sticky pomegranate molasses, warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and cracked black pepper. Her secret to the best chicken wings is dry-brining them overnight. Because why skimp on the opportunity to deliver flavor and moistness?

Hoisin Sauce

I’m sure you were planning on using your slow cooker during the Super Bowl. You were probably thinking of it for pulled pork or layered nachos…but why not use it to make chicken wings and keep them warm throughout all four quarters? For this recipe, we’re calling on a combination of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Sriracha to make the wing sauce, but you can follow the same cooking method for buffalo sauce or barbecue sauce too.

Barbecue Sauce

You know and love barbecue sauce for smearing on burnt ends, brisket, pulled pork, and baked beans, but don’t underestimate its ability to make delicious chicken wings for game day. Here, we’re talking about a Kansas City-style sauce (aka the thickened sweet sauce with just a hint of heat and tang), but go all out and try this recipe with Carolina gold or Alabama white sauce instead.

Fish Sauce

“Want the tenderest chicken wings with a sticky glaze and glassy skin?” Why yes, Sohla, yes I do. How does she do it? She starts with a dry brine before roasting the wings. While they cook, make the fish sauce glaze, which is nothing short of a miracle: It’s made with fish sauce, finely grated garlic (but please do not use the pre-minced stuff in a jar), Thai green chiles, and the zest and juice of four limes.

Spicy Ginger-Soy Glaze

Craving both the sweet nature of some of the aforementioned wing sauce recipes with the heat of classic buffalo? These Korean Fried Chicken Wings (affectionately nicknamed KFC) are the best of both worlds (cue Hannah Montana). They achieve their remarkable duality of flavors with honey and brown sugar (the sweet stuff), soy sauce and rice vinegar (that savory edge), fresh ginger (a little heat), and chile flakes, or better yet, Korean fermented chile (a lot of heat).

Honey Mustard

This wing sauce is so much more than bottled honey mustard. It’s butter and honey and mustard, yes. But it’s also bourbon and soy sauce and Sriracha. The result is a balanced blend of tangy, sweet, and sticky flavors that is sure to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy (you know, if they’re awarding chicken wing winners).

Lime Glaze

I’m certainly not opposed to lime-glazed chicken wings, but I have to admit it wasn’t my go-to wing sauce. But these two recipes changed that for me—and I bet they will do the same for you. Why does this work so well? For Maki Yazawa’s recipe, she says that the “lime enhances the crisp flavor of the tequila in the recipe, while the spicy Thai chilies and agave add balancing heat and sweetness.” You could also skip the tequila and keep it simple with just freshly squeezed lime juice, water, garlic, and chile peppers.

What do you like to serve with wings for the Super Bowl? Let us know in the comments below!
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Former Food52 Staff Editor