This Elevated Buffalo Wing Recipe Is Better and Spicier Than Ever

Tunisian harissa paste kicks everything up several notches

Plated buffalo wings
These harissa buffalo wings with tahini ranch have the perfect amount of spice
Broken Shaker

Buffalo wings take a trip to Tunis at Broken Shaker, where Jimmy Lebron, national corporate executive chef for Freehand and Generator Hotels, spikes the more traditional cayenne pepper sauce with Tunisian harissa. This paste of sweet red peppers and hot Baklouti peppers seasoned with spices and herbs is typically enjoyed with stews and soups across North Africa, but works just as wonderfully when paired with Frank’s Red Hot in this flavorful play on a bar food staple.

“I’m always looking to be creative and come up with something I’ve never seen,” says Lebron of his inspiration. Given his love of Middle Eastern ingredients, he says, this dish was a no-brainer. “It just came to me.”

To make these wings, Chef Lebron starts with a fairly classic Buffalo sauce recipe, made with Frank’s and clarified butter. Emulsified with the harissa paste, it forms a thick, spicy sauce that goes perfectly with the wings. These, he says, can either be grilled or fried: Grilling infuses the chicken with a slight smokiness and also keeps them slightly lighter (and gluten-free, if that’s your jam). A more traditional fried wing, meanwhile, has a crispy flour coating seasoned with paprika, garlic and onion.

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Alongside the wings, Lebron opts not for blue cheese dressing but rather ranch, granting him the perfect opportunity to invite yet another North African staple to the table. Tahini is blended with equal parts mayo and sour cream and seasoned with garlic, Worcestershire sauce and dill for a tweak on the classic dressing with more richness and nuttiness than most. Crack open a refreshing Kolsch or a pilsner, which Lebron loves to cut the wings’ heat, and it’s time to dig in.

Harissa Buffalo Wings

Servings: 10-12

  • ¼ pound (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) clarified butter
  • 2 cups your favorite hot sauce (Chef prefers Frank’s Red Hot)
  • ¼ cup store-bought harissa paste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 4 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • If frying:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
    1. Make the Buffalo sauce. Combine the hot sauce and harissa in a blender. Turn on medium speed, and slowly drizzle the room temperature clarified butter in, little by little until emulsified. 

    2. Make the tahini ranch. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth.

    3. If grilling the wings, first season them with salt, and then place on a preheated grill over indirect heat. Close the lid and cook for 15 minutes to allow the wings to render and fully cook without burning the outside. Flip wings and cook for another 10 minutes.

    4. Once cooked, move to direct heat to get the desired char. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Move wings to mixing bowl and toss with harissa Buffalo sauce.

    5. If frying, first pat the wings dry, and season them with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper. Toss wings in flour mixture, dusting off any excess.

    6. Fry the wings at 350º F for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and internal temperature is 165º F.


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