Nothing says "game time" like a basket of spicy chicken wings. There's just something about a pile of messy, spicy wings that brings a group together! There are plenty of chain restaurants that do wings well, but Buffalo Wild Wings wins every time when it comes to sauces. Last time we checked, they had two dozen sauces and seasoning options to choose from. Everyone has a favorite, but I can't get enough of the sweet-and-spicy options, like Buffalo Wild Wings mango habanero wings.
The habanero doesn't mess around, bringing some serious heat to the table. But the addition of mango tames it down, giving it a sweet-and-spicy vibe that makes it possible to dig back in for wing after wing. While Buffalo Wild Wings sells some of their sauces online and at most grocery stores, we were up for a challenge. Could we recreate their famous wing sauce at home? Not only did we do it, but it only took a handful of ingredients, a blender, and about five minutes to pull it off.
What Is In Buffalo Wild Wings Mango Habanero Sauce?
The first step to making Buffalo Wild Wings at home is to tackle the mango habanero wing sauce. Most copycat recipes we found online use Frank's Red Hot as the base of this sauce, and they also include butter. However, Buffalo Wild Wings' allergen guide confirms the mango habanero sauce is free from all listed allergens (eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, wheat, and gluten), so butter was out. We also took a peek at the ingredients list on the bottled sauce, and cayenne peppers (a main ingredient in Frank's Red Hot) isn't listed. So we started from scratch.
The main ingredients (minus the preservatives like potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate) were corn syrup, mango juice concentrate, habanero peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, and cornstarch. We weren't able to find mango juice concentrate at our local store, so we swapped in whole frozen mango chunks instead. The whole mango made the sauce naturally thick, so we didn't need to add cornstarch, either.
Buffalo Wild Wings also includes caramel color on the ingredients list, giving the sauce its characteristic brown color. Our sauce turned out bright orange--the color of mangos and habaneros--but it tasted the same as the original, so we didn't worry too much about the color match.
How Hot are Mango Habanero Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings?
The best way to describe Buffalo Wild Wings Mango Habanero Wings is "fiery but balanced." Habanero peppers are rated 100,000 to 350,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, a measurement of the heat or spiciness in each pepper. By comparison, cayenne peppers rank 30,000 to 50,000 SHU, and jalapenos are 2,500 to 8,000. So habaneros solidly land in the very hot zone of the scale.
That said, the mango habanero wings aren't scary spicy because the rest of the ingredients work really hard to balance out all that heat. The sugar and the mango are both sweet ingredients, as is the corn syrup (which also helps thicken the sauce to give it the perfect level of viscosity). The end result is a very spicy wing, but one that's not so spicy you wouldn't be able to dig back in for another.
Does Buffalo Wild Wings Fry Their Wings?
Buffalo Wild Wings' allergen guide confirms that they fry all their wings in beef shortening, also known as tallow. Traditionally, tallow was used at most fast-food restaurants because it has a high smoke point, so it remains stable after multiple batches. It also imparts a light flavor to the fried food, making it an ideal choice for neutral-tasting food like french fries.
Tallow isn't very easy to find for the home cook, so you can use any neutral oil with a high smoke point, like canola or vegetable oil. If you don't want to bother with frying wings, we've had great success baking them in a 400 degree oven or at the same temperature outside on a pellet grill like Traeger. The high temperature crisps up the skin in a similar fashion to fried wings, and the dry heat makes the wings a little bit healthier than wings fried in oil.
Buffalo Wild Wings Mango Habanero Wings Substitutions
This wing sauce is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, so it's perfect for serving to a crowd with dietary restrictions. If you want to customize the level of spice, feel free to use more or fewer habanero peppers. We used two, and it was very spicy but also nicely balanced. An extra pepper would have made it way too spicy for me, but heat lovers would be able to handle it. You can also use a different pepper, like serrano or jalapeno, if habanero is just way too spicy for you.
Copcyat Buffalo Wild Wings Mango Habanero Wings Recipe
- 1 cup chopped frozen mango chunks (or 1 whole mango, chopped)
- 2-3 habanero peppers seeded
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 dozen chicken wings
- Neutral oil for frying like avocado oil or canola oil
- Combine the mango, seeded habanero peppers, sugar, corn syrup, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a high-powered blender. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce is smooth.
- Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven. If you're using an electric tabletop fryer, fill the unit to its MAX line.
- Preheat the oil to 350°F over medium-high heat, using a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature. When the oil reaches 350°F, reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Gently drop the wings into the oil and fry until they become golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes and are cooked all the way through to an internal temperature of 165°F. Depending on the size of your fryer, you may not be able to fry all the wings at once. When the wings are finished cooking, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess grease and allow the oil to recover to 350°F before adding additional wings.
- Place the drained wings in a large bowl. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the mango habanero sauce and toss the wings with a pair of tongs until they're well coated. If you have leftover sauce, store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a week.
- Serve immediately with ranch or blue cheese and a side of celery sticks or carrot sticks, if desired.