...I didn't wind up eating the celery.

Emergency D.I.Y. Buffalo Chicken Thighs

I didn’t like Buffalo wings the first time I tried them. I just got a mouthful of spicy, acidic chemicals, and they seemed to be designed entirely to make you want to drink gallons of cheap beer, which I was fairly happy about doing anyway. I didn’t get it. Long story short, I get the appeal now, big time — I love them. Weirdly, I’d never thought to make them myself until tonight. I do enjoy cooking things which are generally accepted to be fast food, and praise be — another experiment paid off. These were great, and I’ll be making them again.

As thrown-together as these were (we’re desperately in need of groceries), there was some method to my madness — I didn’t have wings, I had thighs because chicken thighs rule. So, I knew I wasn’t gonna be deep-frying, and I figured that I’d get the best results from dredging them in flour, crisping them in a pan and then finishing them in the oven before tossing them in the hot sauce. Minimum grease, maximum texture. My one question was how to season the coating – most recipes call for a fairly uninspiring mix of salt, pepper and garlic powder. I went a bit further and added turmeric, chili powder (homemade a few weeks ago, a smoky-hot combo of guajillo and arbol pepper inspired by this) as well as smoked paprika for good measure. The result was a punchy, earthy extra layer of flavor beneath the tang of the hot sauce. Hot sauces, rather — I used three, because why the hell not?*

Finally, out of sheer barrel-scraping desperation, I discovered an amazing alternative to the standard bleu cheese dressing, if you can believe that: Parmesan peppercorn dressing. Buy it, make it, whatever. Trust me, it’s miles better with hot chicken than it is on a salad.

Makes 8 pieces.


  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2.5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1.5 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • Canola oil or peanut oil as needed


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and oil a baking sheet.
  2. Place flour, salt, baking powder and all dry seasonings in a large freezer bag/lidded container/mason jar etc and shake well to combine.
  3. Put the chicken thighs in whatever you’ve got the dry ingredients in, and shake until completely coated. It may be easier to do this in stages, 2-3 thighs at a time. Shake off the excess and set the chicken aside. Discard the leftover coating.
  4. In a large skillet over a medium heat, heat 2 tbsp of oil until shimmering. Working in stages, 3-4 thighs at a time, sear the chicken thighs for about a minute and a half on each side, until golden brown and crisp, then transfer them to the baking sheet.
  5. Bake the thighs for 7-8 minutes, or until juices run clear and the internal temp reads 165° F.
  6. While the thighs are baking, microwave the butter and the hot sauces for about a minute on full power. Whisk them together until completely combined.
  7. When the chicken is done, serve immediately — either toss it in the sauce to coat, or serve as is with the sauce on the side along with parmesan peppercorn dressing and (optionally) celery. Beer would be nice too.

* These are probably medium-hot, I guess. They’re not overwhelming, but you can always add more or less hot sauce if you want.

4 thoughts on “Emergency D.I.Y. Buffalo Chicken Thighs”

  1. It may seem like quite a lot of hot sauce, but it’s the perfect amount to dress eight pieces of chicken, and I’d say the end result was probably a five or a six out of ten in terms of hotness. The seasoning here means there’s a lot more going on than just heat though – they’d be great without any of the hot sauce dressing at all.

  2. I love hot sauce. If you like tangy and vinegary, check out Cajun Chef Louisiana hot sauce. It’s a bit thin but great by itself or as a base for doctoring.

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