If you ask anyone about the best part of eating Buffalo wings, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t instantly answer “the sauce.” It is the magical combination of sweet, spicy, and tangy that makes Buffalo wings the quintessential game day or barbecue food. You might think that if you decide to stop eating meat, it means giving up the wonderfulness of Buffalo wings, but this is hardly the case.
There are many plant-based foods that can be used to make “wings” including tofu, tempeh, seitan, and vegetables. Check out How to Make Epic Vegan BBQ Tofu Wings and try my Buffalo Tofu Fries. Make wings with cauliflower like these Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites or avocado like these Buffalo Avocado Wings. There are so many ways to enjoy the spicy, fiery taste of Buffalo sauce – put it on veggie meatballs, on sandwiches, in burgers, on pizza – just look at these 14 Amazing Recipes Using Buffalo Sauce. Once you pick your new “wing” of choice, the real secret is nailing the sauce to get the same delicious flavor you know and love.
Besides finding other foods to coat in Buffalo sauce, it’s also fun to change up the type of sauce. We can make sauces that are spicy, sweet, sticky, tangy or a combination of all those qualities. We can use the flavor profiles of different international cuisines to make a global smorgasbord of vegan wings. By all means, don’t give up Buffalo sauce but the next time you make veggie wings, try some of these amazing sauces too!
1. Classic BBQ Sauce
Sometimes you want a sauce that is packed with flavor but not as hot as Buffalo sauce. There are so many different recipes for BBQ sauce and they are all incredible. Check out How to Make Amazing BBQ Sauces With 7 Ingredients or Less for lots of recipes. My Basic BBQ Sauce recipe is a bit more sweet than spicy, and sometimes I add some orange juice for a bright fruity note. This will make more than you need but believe me, you will want extra! In a saucepan, combine 2 cups ketchup, 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 cup maple syrup, the zest and juice of half an orange, 3 minced garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Stir and heat over medium heat until it comes to a bubble. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes until it thickens. For other recipes, try The World’s Healthiest Barbecue Sauce and this Triple Threat Barbeque Sauce. You can also have the best of both worlds with my Buffalo BBQ Sauce which is a combination of both.
2. Spicy Balsamic BBQ Sauce
When I want a BBQ sauce that has a lot more kick and richer, deeper flavors, I go for this one that gets extra heat from red onions and chiles. Using balsamic vinegar in addition to apple cider vinegar adds a rich, syrupy flavor that is just incredible. In a small saucepan, combine 1½ cups ketchup, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 minced red onion, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 Serrano chile that has been seeded (if you want less heat) and minced. Stir and let simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens. This is the sauce I use on my Balsamic BBQ Seitan and Tempeh Ribs.
3. Chinese BBQ Sauce
For Asian barbecue dishes, you can quickly whip up this sauce, which is sweet, salty, thick, and tangy. Combine 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 1/2 cup mirin or sherry, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons minced ginger, 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, 2 teaspoons Sriracha (or more to your liking), 1 minced garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon of five-spice powder. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally. I used this sauce in my Hoisin Vegan Black Bean Burger with Spicy Sesame Sauce.
4. Korean Sauce
Korean flavors are hot and trendy. One way to enjoy these sweet and spicy flavors is to make a Korean-style barbecue sauce. Combine fresh grated ginger with garlic, white vinegar or rice vinegar, sherry, sesame oil, agave nectar, soy sauce and chili sauce in a saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Then toss your cauliflower or tofu wings in the sauce. Try the barbecue sauce used in these Simple Korean Kimchi BBQ Burgers which combines chili sauce and ginger paste into the sauce. Another way to go Korean is to toss the wings in chopped kimchi including the brine of the pickled veggies. Allow this to marinate and save some of the sauce to pour over the top when your wings are done cooking.
5. Jerk Sauce
I love Jamaican food! I could eat it every single day. Learn How to Make Your Own Jamaican (Ital) Food at Home and then try my Jerk Sauce for wings. Combine 1/4 cup tamari, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons. hot sauce, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 minced chile pepper, 1-inch grated fresh ginger, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground allspice, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low until the sauce thickens. Then use it to coat your veggie wings.
6. Mexican Sauces
Try your veggie wings with bright and spicy Mexican flavors like cumin, coriander, chipotle and lime. To make Chipotle Sauce for wings: blend 2 tablespoons of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup agave nectar until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander. Toss with the veggie wings after you have cooked them. Another way to enjoy Mexican flavors is to marinate the veggie wings in tequila, olive oil, agave nectar and lime juice before cooking. Try it by making this Simple Roasted Cauliflower with Chipotle and Lime or using the same ingredients on your veggie wings.
7. Sticky Sauces
Sometimes you want a sauce that’s not only flavorful but sticky and decadent. Sauces can be made sticky with maple syrup or agave nectar. To make Sticky Wings, combine soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lemon juice and cilantro and marinate your veggie wings in this combination. Then pat them dry and cook your veggie wings. Towards the end of cooking, add the agave or maple syrup and continue to cook until it forms a thick, sticky glaze.
Sticky recipes you’ll want to try include my Orange Soy Maple Sticky Tenders which has a spicy, sweet and sticky glaze and these Sticky Peanut Cauliflower Wings which go Thai with peanut butter and lime.
Buffalo sauce is amazing, but it’s also easy to fall into a rut with the same old sauce. Try switching up your veggie wings with different sauces and you’ll see that variety is truly the spice of life.
Lead image source: Orange Soy Maple Sticky Tenders