Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Buffalo Wings

Buffalo wings ready for serving

Buffalo hot wings were invented to use up an otherwise hard to sell chicken part. Despite these humble beginnings... hot wings, when prepared correctly, are a divine experience on a par with tandoori chicken, oysters on the half shell, and fried calamari. This recipe provides a clear path to buffalo wing divinity.

Buffalo wings would be nothing without their accompaniments: blue cheese dip plus celery and carrot sticks. This recipe details a tasty from-scratch blue cheese dip. If you need help with celery and carrot sticks... then perhaps ordering takeout from your local pub is a better idea.

WTF? "natural butter type flavor"?
When I made this recipe, I was in a pinch on ingredients because it was Super Bowl Sunday. I used Frank's RedHot Wings Sauce because that's what we had. I'm not actually a fan of how they describe one of their ingredients: "natural butter type flavor". In the future, I would recommend a simpler hot sauce like Tapatio or Cholula. After all, we're adding butter... we don't need whatever chemicals comprise "natural butter type flavor."

This recipe makes a dozen wings, and serves 2-4 as an appetizer. It takes about 40 minutes to make. It can be doubled, tripled, or sextupled... you'll just need a large enough skillet and/or multiple skillets to avoid over-crowding in the oven.

Similar to when I barbecue... I find that the best way to get a flavorful glaze on the meat is to constantly re-baste it during cooking. Timing on that is provided below.

I've also left the degree of spiciness up to you. This recipe produces buffalo wings of a spiciness you'd expect if you ordered "regular" buffalo wings at your local pub. Add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper per dozen wings for each degree of "hot", "super hot", "on fire", and "nuclear" spiciness that you wish to inflict on yourself or your guests.


  • 6 whole chicken wings (these will be cut into 12 pieces)
  • 7 ounces hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (gorgonzola, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Celery Sticks:
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into sticks
  • 2 carrots, cut into sticks


Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees F.

While the oven is warming, cut the joints of your wings so you end up with three sections: 1) a meaty single-boned section... the part closest to the breast on a whole chicken, 2) a smaller two-boned section... the "middle section" one joint farther from the breast on a whole bird, and then 3) the tip. Discard the tips.

While the oven continues to heat, make the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients. If you're starting with a block of blue cheese or things seem too chunky, feel free to pulse the sauce in a food processor for 10-15 seconds to smooth it out. Taste your sauce. Each brand and style of cheese comes with different salt content. Make sure you adjust seasonings as necessary to develop an outstanding dipping sauce. Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and refrigerate (covered) until serving time.

Wash and cut the celery and carrots into sticks, and refrigerate (covered) until serving time.

Constant turning over and re-basting of the wings with
hot sauce as they cook is the key to a flavorful glaze
Once the oven is almost at 500 degrees F, place oil and butter in a medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and begins to bubble, toss in your raw wings, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir things around for a minute or two, and then add enough hot sauce to coat all the wings thoroughly (2 ounces).

Put the skillet in the 500 degree oven, and let the wings cook for 2-3 minutes. Pull them out, turn each wing over with tongs, and baste the top of each wing with more hot sauce. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Continue the cycle of cooking, turning over, and re-basting the tops for about 20 minutes. At this point the wings should be fully-cooked.

Prepare your serving plate with celery and carrot sticks, blue cheese dip, and a spot for the wings.

Cast iron buffalo wings plated, garnished, and ready!
Pull the wings from the oven, add another plentiful splash of hot sauce (2-3 ounces, enough to thoroughly coat all of the wings), stir things around, and then place the wings on the serving plate for immediate consumption.

If you really want to pro it up, garnish the dipping sauce with a sprig of celery leaves, or parsley.


  1. I usually grill my wings, but when I don't have access to a grill I just toss them on a sheet pan in the oven. I don't know why I never thought of doing them in cast iron this way, they look great. Look forward to trying it.

    1. Hey Brewella,

      Thanks for stopping by... and let me know if the cast iron tops the cookie sheet!


  2. Just made these tonight. The flavour was awesome but I couldn't get them to brown until I put them under the broiler.

    1. Hi Jan,

      I have observed a lot of variation from oven to oven in terms of how much heat they put out, and how easily things brown. I have a gas oven, which tends to be a wetter environment than an electric oven (water is one of the principal byproducts of natural gas combustion). That said, when I have a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack near the flames, the food browns easily on the underside (the side touching the skillet). Sounds like you did the right thing in trusting your gut and finishing them under the broiler!

      Glad you liked the flavor.


  3. Derek, Great recipe for the Bleu Cheese dipping sauce. I need to have that on hand at all times and it should be interesting to switch up the kind of cheese you put in there. I like it.

    I have some Frank's on hand too, pretty much at all times. It's a staple even though it isn't as tasty as something more natural or even homemade. When you point out the "natural butter type flavor," I can only shake my head at myself. :) It still tastes darn good and reminds me of my early tastes of wings. Maybe my homemade hot sauce needs some of that-there butter-type flavor.

    1. Hey Billy,

      Thanks for stopping by! I figure you can't go wrong with just about any cheesy dipping sauce... but this one is essential for proper buffalo wings. Frank's is a darn fine wings sauce... but yeah, I try to keep it to ingredients that can be found in nature, if possible. Cholula hot sauce plus actual butter works really well.


  4. I'm really excited to eat this. I am getting a house full of smoke though. My guess is the culprit is the olive oil I mixed in with the the butter. No idea though. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Hey Adam,

      Funny, I'm making these wings right now as we speak!

      Yeah, Olive oil has a much lower smoke point than most others. You could also try putting the skillet on the top oven rack, and/or turning down the heat to something more like 325 degrees F (it'll just take longer).

      Hope that helps!

      Good luck.


  5. Frank's "Hot Sauce" is just vinegar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and water. Any manufactured "buffalo wing" sauce will have all that other crap in it. Frank's Hot Sauce and butter is the way to go for wings. :)

    1. I haven't bought any recently... has Frank changed his recipe? That would be great.


    2. Hi Derek,
      There are 2 kinds of Frank's Red Hot: the original hot sauce and "wing sauce." Only the wing sauce has the fake butter. Personally, I like the particular flavor and heat level of Frank's Red Hot original for hot wings so much more than other hot sauces.

      The recipe looks delicious. I'm going to see if I can make it work with a covered skillet instead of using the oven.

    3. Got it! I'll try the original.



  6. Great recipe. Not as good as deep fried, but what is. That being said, these are the best wings I've had in a long time, and I am a professionally trained chef.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! And well... yes... it's hard to top deep fried!



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