Are buffalo wings usually gluten free?

Buffalo wings, also known as hot wings, are a popular appetizer and party food consisting of deep-fried chicken wings that are coated in a spicy sauce made from butter and hot sauce. They were invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, which is how they got their name. Many people love buffalo wings for their spicy, tangy flavor. But an important question for those with dietary restrictions is: are buffalo wings gluten free?

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue and headache. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may also need to avoid gluten to prevent symptoms.

Gluten in traditional buffalo wings

Traditional buffalo wings are typically made by deep frying chicken wings, then tossing them in a butter sauce made with hot sauce like Frank’s RedHot. The wings themselves do not contain gluten, since chicken does not naturally contain gluten. However, there are a few areas where gluten could be introduced:


Some restaurants bread or batter their wings before frying, which adds a crispy coating. Breadcrumbs or batters made with wheat flour would contain gluten. Naked, unbreaded wings would be gluten-free.

Flour dusting

Some chefs dust wings with wheat flour before frying to help make them extra crispy. This flour dusting would add gluten. Unglazed wings would be gluten-free.

Sauce thickener

The traditional buffalo wing sauce contains hot sauce and butter. However, some restaurants use a small amount of wheat flour in the sauce as a thickening agent. Wings tossed in a sauce made with wheat flour would contain gluten.

Shared fryer

Even if the wings themselves don’t contain gluten, they could be cross-contaminated if the restaurant uses the same deep fryer to cook other breaded, batter items that do contain gluten. Wings fried in a dedicated gluten-free fryer would have lower risk of cross-contact.

So in summary, traditionally prepared buffalo wings may contain sources of gluten like breading, flour dusting or sauce thickeners. But naked, unbreaded wings that are tossed in a gluten-free sauce and fried in a dedicated gluten-free fryer would be gluten-free.

How to order gluten-free buffalo wings

If you need to follow a gluten-free diet, you can request buffalo wings without gluten by following these tips:

– Ask if they have designated gluten-free fryers. Request wings fried in the gluten-free oil.

– Confirm the wings are not breaded, battered or floured. Order naked or unglazed wings.

– Ask if the buffalo sauce contains any wheat flour or gluten ingredients. Request wings tossed in gluten-free sauce.

– Verify other ingredients like blue cheese dressing are gluten-free.

– Check that the kitchen follows precautions to prevent cross-contact with gluten.

– Look for menu items marked as gluten-free. These options are more likely to be prepared safely.

– For very sensitive celiac disease, request fresh oil to reduce risk of trace gluten.

By customizing your order, you can enjoy delicious buffalo wings while still sticking to your gluten-free diet when eating out.

Gluten-free substitutions for buffalo wings

If the restaurant isn’t able to accommodate a gluten-free request, some substitutions to consider include:

Grilled wings

Get wings that are grilled instead of fried, then toss in GF buffalo sauce. Grilling avoids any issues with batter, flour or fryer oil.

Chicken tenders

Chicken tenders are strips of breast meat that are too large to be battered or breaded. Order them grilled or fried in fresh oil and toss in gluten-free sauce.

Popcorn chicken

Popcorn chicken is bite-sized chicken that gets its name from being small like popcorn. The pieces are too small to coat, so they’re less likely to contain gluten.

Boneless wings

Boneless wings are essentially chicken nuggets. Confirm they have no breading and are fried in fresh, gluten-free oil. Then toss in GF sauce.

Celery and carrots

If you really just want the tangy buffalo flavor, ask for celery and carrot sticks with buffalo sauce for dipping. The fresh veggie sticks avoid any gluten issues.

With some menu customizations or substitutions, people who are gluten-free can still enjoy the fun and delicious experience of buffalo wings. Being aware of potential sources of gluten and asking the right questions when ordering makes it possible to eat out safely with food allergies or intolerances.

Are most buffalo wing sauces gluten-free?

The good news is that most standard bottled buffalo wing sauces are gluten-free. Here are some popular brands that do not contain wheat, barley or rye:

– Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper (and all Frank’s hot sauces)

– Crystal Hot Sauce

– Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce

– Cholula Original Hot Sauce

– Tabasco Sauce (all varieties)

– Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

– Louisiana Hot Sauce

So you can feel comfortable using these buffalo wing sauces to make gluten-free wings at home. Just be sure to check the ingredients list and look for a “gluten-free” label when purchasing, in case formulations change.

Some restaurant wing sauces may differ. Restaurants often add thickeners like wheat flour or make their own unique blends. So always ask about the ingredients if eating buffalo wings at a restaurant while following a gluten-free diet. Most will be happy to check for you.

How to make gluten-free buffalo wings at home

Making buffalo wings at home enables you to control all the ingredients so you can enjoy them gluten-free:


– Chicken wings, drums, drumettes or flats

– Gluten-free hot sauce like Frank’s RedHot

– Butter or margarine

– Baking powder (optional for crispy wings)

– Salt, pepper, garlic powder

– Celery and carrot sticks

– Ranch or blue cheese dressing


1. Rinse chicken wings and pat dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

2. Bake wings at 400°F for 30 minutes to render out some fat (optional).

3. Toss wings with a little baking powder and return to oven for 15 more minutes until crispy (optional for extra crunch).

4. Melt a few tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add hot sauce and stir to combine.

5. Add cooked wings and toss thoroughly in the sauce until coated.

6. Serve wings immediately with celery, carrots and dipping sauce on the side.

Baking instead of frying helps keep the wings gluten-free and lighter. Be sure to use certified gluten-free hot sauce and butter or margarine to prevent cross-contact. Now you can enjoy restaurant-quality buffalo wings at home!

Nutrition facts for buffalo wings

Here are the basic nutrition facts for 3-4 traditional bone-in buffalo wings without breading or batter:

Calories 180
Fat 12g
Carbohydrates 1g
Protein 15g

Buffalo wings are high in protein and relatively low in carbs when not breaded, making them a good gluten-free, high protein option. They contain a moderate amount of fat coming from the chicken skin and butter-based sauce.

Some tips to lighten them up:

– Use all white meat chicken or drums which have less skin.

– Bake or grill instead of deep frying.

– Choose hot sauces with lower fat and sodium.

– Use light butter or margarine in the sauce.

– Eat with veggies and dip instead of blue cheese dressing.

So you can still enjoy the full buffalo wing experience while following a gluten-free diet. Just be mindful of prep methods and portions for a lighter take on this classic appetizer.

Are buffalo wings low carb?

Buffalo wings can be a good low carb option when eating gluten-free. Here are some tips:

– Avoid breaded or battered wings, which add unnecessary carbs from flour. Stick to naked wings.

– Choose bone-in wings over boneless wings, which often have breading fillers.

– Verify the buffalo sauce is low sugar. Most hot sauces don’t have many carbs.

– Skip high carb dipping sauces like honey mustard or sweet BBQ. Enjoy wings with ranch or blue cheese instead.

– Eat wings with low carb veggies like celery or jicama sticks instead of high carb fries or chips.

– Watch portion size, as wings are high in calories. Stick to 3-6 wings as an appetizer.

Most plain buffalo wing recipes only have around 1 gram of carbs per 3-4 wings. The protein and fat will keep you satisfied. So buffalo wings can definitely be incorporated into a low carb, keto or gluten-free diet when prepared properly without high carb add-ons. Give your wings a spicy kick without the added carbs.

Should you eat the chicken skin on buffalo wings?

The skin on buffalo wings is often the crispiest, most flavorful part. But it also contains the most fat and calories. There are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to eat the chicken skin:

Pros of eating the skin:

– Provides texture and crunch

– Most of the flavor from seasonings and sauce is on the skin

– Skin contains some healthy fats

– Leaving it on helps keep the meat moist and juicy

Cons of eating the skin:

– More than twice the amount of fat and calories than the meat

– Could lead to weight gain if overeaten

– Contributes significant cholesterol and sodium

– Can trigger digestive issues in some people

In terms of nutrition, the chicken meat is a leaner choice. But the skin does provide added flavor. Here are some suggestions if you want to balance enjoyment and health:

– Eat a couple wings with skin, then switch to meat only

– Remove skin from half the wings before eating

– Choose smaller drumettes which have less skin

– Squeeze fresh lemon on meat-only wings to add moisture

Enjoying a few crispy chicken skins among a larger portion of meat-only wings lets you satisfy that craving while still keeping calories and fat in check. But there’s no harm in eating the skin in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

Healthier buffalo wing options

While traditional bone-in buffalo wings are delicious, they are also high in fat and calories. Here are some healthier preparations you can request or make at home:

Baked wings

Baking wings in the oven rather than frying cuts down on fat, calories and carbs from batter or flour. Bake on a wire rack at 400°F for 45 minutes, flipping halfway.

Grilled wings

Grilling imparts great flavor with less added fat. Grill wings over medium heat 15-20 minutes, turning frequently and basting with sauce.

Air fried wings

Air frying gives wings a deliciously crispy texture with minimal oil. Air fry at 400°F for 22 minutes, shaking basket halfway.

Cauliflower buffalo “wings”

For a veggie option, roast cauliflower florets, then toss in buffalo sauce. Pairs great with blue cheese dip.

Buffalo chicken pops

Mix shredded chicken with hot sauce and stuff into mini sweet peppers. Bake 20 minutes for a lighter poppable option.

Buffalo chicken salad

Top a salad with diced grilled chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese crumbles and chopped celery for a nutritious take.

So you can still get the classic flavors of buffalo wings in healthier recipes by utilizing methods like baking, grilling or substituting with veggies. Be creative to lighten up this game day favorite.


Buffalo wings make for a delicious appetizer or game day snack, and you can enjoy them on a gluten-free diet. Traditional bone-in wings are typically gluten-free, but can pick up traces of gluten through breading, flour dusting or sauce thickeners. Be sure to ask about preparation when ordering so you know you’re starting with a gluten-free base. Then toss the naked wings in certified GF hot sauce for the perfect spicy and tangy buffalo flavor. With proper precautions, these wings can be a delicious gluten-free option. Just don’t forget the celery, carrots and ranch dip to help cool your taste buds!

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