Is any Buffalo sauce really vegan?

Is pretty safe to say that many hot sauces are vegan but anyone who supports and practices a vegan diet may argue that. It is kind of an oxymoron to call a chicken wing sauce vegan considering the intent on a vegan diet is to use the sauce on plant-based foods and not chicken. It is such a distinct and unique flavor but efforts to find a vegan-friendly Buffalo wing sauce may be easier than you think.

A vegan Buffalo wing sauce will contain the same red cayenne peppers as a regular wing sauce but will also contain alternative ingredients that replace butter or butter flavorings used in traditional Buffalo wings sauces. No Buffalo sauces carry a certified vegan label and only a few indicate vegan on the label.

What is vegan?

According to the definition of vegan living is a plant-based diet with the avoidance of all animal-based foods to include dairy, eggs, and honey as well as products tested on animals. This definition applies to many brands and varieties of hot sauces but when it comes to specialty hot sauces like a Buffalo wing sauce, the choices may be narrowed.

Certified vegan

To some purist’s foods fit for consumption on a vegan diet need to adhere to being vegan certified. A certification from will have strict compliance to be certified and labeled vegan but it will be the most accurate representation of a Buffalo sauce following vegan standards.  Licensing fees are required and needed to be renewed annually to use the certified logo which is why many companies do not use it.

There are two things work against a Buffalo wing sauce being vegan and that is that it was originally and most often eaten on a chicken wing and also that most recipes will often include butter, a non-vegan food. If you are searching for a vegan Buffalo wing sauce, it is for the flavor and pungency of the sauce and not because you intend to cover it over chicken wings. Many wing sauces will contain plant-based hot peppers and spices, but others will contain butter, a non-vegan-friendly food.

What makes a buffalo sauce vegan?

The great thing about a Buffalo wing sauce being produced to adhere to vegan principles is that there are only one or two ingredients that may need to be replaced. Common hot sauce ingredients like hot peppers, vinegar, and spices are plant-based. However, an authentic Buffalo wing sauce will include the addition of butter.

The original Buffalo wing sauce from The Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY, and many imitators since then used butter as one of the main ingredients in their wing sauces. This most likely includes any sauces from established restaurants, but if you are on a vegan diet, you would not be eating the wings there anyway. Bottled Buffalo sauces sold on store shelves like Franks RedHot Buffalo will include natural or artificial butter flavorings and it can be difficult to determine if they are vegan or not.

According to Franks RedHot Wing Sauce is considered vegan, but it does not have a certified vegan label on the package. And nowhere on the label is it stated that it is a vegan product. However, the natural butter type flavor on the ingredient label is nondairy and therefore conforms to vegan standards.

Another Buffalo sauce considered to be vegan by many consumers is Tabasco Brand Buffalo Style Hot Sauce. This is another example of a Buffalo-style sauce considered to be vegan without a certified vegan label and with the word vegan anywhere on the packaging. However, the ingredient label only states five (5) ingredients: red cayenne pepper, distilled vinegar, water, salt, and garlic. None of these ingredients are made from animal products and there isn’t any butter or butter flavoring in the sauce either. I’ll be honest Tabasco has always been a favorite of mine but I miss the butter flavor in this sauce, real, natural, or artificial.

Noble Made By The New Primal also has a Buffalo wing sauce that is under the heading of vegan on their website. The ingredient label does not indicate animal products or butter flavorings like many wing sauces but it also does not include vegan on the packaging.

Explore these Buffalo sauces made without animal products, butter or other dairy products

Primal Kitchen Buffalo SauceTexas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce
Todd Bosley World Famous Wing SauceMoore’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
Tessamae’s Buffalo SauceMaritime Madness Wicked Buffalo
Cookie’s Wings N’ ThingsMarzetti Mild Buffalo Wing Sauce
*Sauces not labeled as being vegan, certified vegan or vegan friendly

Is natural butter flavoring vegan?

Butter flavoring is derived from diacetyl and is the byproduct of sugar fermentation and is not derived from butter or dairy products. The Spice House makes a vegan-friendly natural butter flavor. Some of these product types are not subject to FDA regulations and do not have to provide the ingredients on their labels.

Many brands of hot sauce are now realizing that their product has been vegan all along and others go out of their way to ensure they are providing vegan hot sauces. Some Buffalo sauces may only use the word “vegan” as part of their marketing campaign. It is not misleading because they probably do not have any animal products in them but read the ingredient label and decide for yourself.

Other forms of butter

Some forms of Buffalo sauce will use plant-based kind of kinds of butter in their sauce recipes instead of dairy-based. Primal Kitchen makes a Buffalo sauce that uses cashew butter. Others such as Noble Made Mild Buffalo use tapioca starch. However, it is not so much the consistency that makes a difference in a Buffalo sauce as it is flavor.

Are all hot sauces vegan?

It is not uncommon for a hot sauce to be considered vegan, even if it is not labeled vegan. For years hot sauces were made with only hot peppers, vinegar, and spices, all of which do not contain animal products. It is very likely some well-known brands of hot sauce are vegan friendly so consider that when making a homemade Buffalo sauce.

Making a homemade vegan Buffalo sauce

A traditional Buffalo wing sauce is made with a red cayenne pepper sauce, butter, garlic powder, and salt. Of these ingredients, butter is the only one that is most likely not vegan depending on the source the manufacturer uses. It is not difficult to find a vegan certified butter if you plan on making a homemade Buffalo sauce.

A vegan-friendly Buffalo wing sauce can be enjoyed in dips and dressings. Battered and deep-fried cauliflower is delicious as well but don’t skip out on this wonderfully flavored sauce because you are on a vegan diet…enjoy!

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