After many experiments I finally was able to make baked chicken wings that are extra crispy on the outside and tender and most on the inside. They taste just like deep-fried wings, only without the oily mess and added calories. Actually, they taste better than deep-fried. Try them, you’ll know what I am talking about.
Extra crisp skin and moist, tender interior is the holy grail of chicken wings. That’s the reason why deep-fried Buffalo chicken wings are so widely popular. No other chicken wing recipe is as cloned and copied as the original Buffalo wing recipe.
I am big fan of Buffalo chicken wings and visit Duff’s Famous Wings or Anchor Bar a couple of times a year when I visit Buffalo. In an effort to replicate the famous wings at home I deep-fried chicken wings and used the original sauce. They came out perfect, just like at the restaurant, but the pain of dealing with hot oil was a big turn off. My kitchen smelled like burnt oil, the stove and the surrounding area were covered with oil droplets. The cleaning was a pain in the neck. Then I had to find a container to store strained oil. I was too cheap to throw it out after one cooking session. A deep-fryer would help with some of these issues but I refuse to buy one as that would encourage unhealthy eating.
I knew the solution would be baked chicken wings. What I needed to find was a way to bake them such that they would come out just as crispy as deep-fried. I figured out how to bake amazingly flavorful and crispy enough chicken wings, I posted about it in my How to Bake Chicken Wings post, but they are not like deep-fried.
I experimented with different temperatures, convection, with and without oil, but couldn’t get what I wanted. The solution was prompted by Serious Eat’s The Food Lab: In Search of the Best Oven-Fried Buffalo Wings article. Similar approach is used in the Cook’s Country Oven-Fried Chicken Wings recipe.
What the recipes in the above links suggest is tossing wings in baking powder to help with browning and crisping up the skin. Then baking for 30 minutes at 250F, followed by 40 minutes at 400F. Using baking powder was genius. It really does help. While I generally liked the results I had a couple of issues. One issue was that the wings would come out a tad too dry inside. Another issue was the crispness – the wings weren’t quite as crispy as deep-fried. Finally, I could not stand the length of baking. Seriously, over an hour to bake a couple of dozen wings?
What worked to get extra crispy chicken wings
To make a long story short, after a few experiments, I did the following:
- Baking powder stayed. It helps a lot with getting a nicely browned, crispy skin.
- Dry chicken wings with a paper towel before tossing in baking powder.
- Stopped salting the wings before baking. Salt draws out moisture and prevents crisping and browning.
- Bumped the baking temperature to 425F convection. High temperature significantly helped reduce baking time. Convection did it’s magic with crisping up the skin and quickly removing moisture from the skin.
After tossing chicken wings in baking powder (1 tablespoon per 2 pounds of wings) and baking for only 30 minutes at 425F convection I got these beautifully crisp chicken wings:
Another time I baked them for 40 minutes. I liked the result better. These baked chicken wings had a thicker crust and more crispness. Here is a picture of a wing baked at 425F convection for 40 minutes:
The interior of the wings was still tender and really moist and juicy.
Serving the wings
To serve, toss the wings in your favorite Buffalo wing sauce. In the picture below I am using the famous 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce and a couple of minced garlic cloves. I also add 2 teaspoons of salt as I do not salt before baking. While I like wings with this sauce, they do taste a bit too rich for my taste.
My favorite sauce is the Duff’s Hot Sauce with a little bit of melted butter. About 1 tablespoon of melted butter per 1/3 cup of Duff’s wing sauce, plus 1 teaspoon of salt. That’s enough for 2 dozen wings.
Or like this, where I tossed the wings in a little bit of plain Duff’s sauce and some salt.
After tossing baked chicken wings in sauce or sauce and butter mix they will become less crispy. If you want optimal crispiness serve them with a wing sauce on the side.
Update on March 9, 2017
I stopped using a cooling rack as it’s a major pain in the back to clean it afterwars. I now bake directly on the baking sheet line with foil and parchment paper. The difference is barely noticeable. The bottoms come out a little greasier, but also crispier due to contact with the hot baking sheet.
- 2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, separated into wingettes and drumettes
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1-2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
- Favorite Buffalo wing sauce for tossing or serving on the side
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Dry chicken with a paper towel really well. Place the wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle baking powder over the wings. Toss until all wings are evenly covered in baking powder.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack (see note) on top and spray with Pam or rub with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
- Lay the chicken wings on the rack, leaving space between the wings.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven. Turn the heat down to 425F and set the mode to convection.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the wings are nicely browned and crisp.
- Serve hot, tossed in Buffalo sauce or with the sauce on the side.