For far too many of us, chicken wings bring to mind soggy, shriveled lumps served in white cardboard containers at your local dive bar. You deserve better, my friend. We all do. The good news is, homemade chicken wings are ridiculously easy to make and even easier to perfect. Whether you’re tailgating, entertaining, or just enjoying at home with a cold beer, these simple tips will help you take your wings to the next level.
1. Don’t Run Out
Ever wondered how many wings you’re really taking down during all-you-can-eat wing night? It really depends on what else is on the menu. If you’re just chowing down on chicken wings and nothing else, you’ll need about 4 pounds for every 10 people. If heavier sides or other meats are served, you can cut it down to 2 pounds.
2. Go for the Good Stuff
Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Yes, wings at your local big box or warehouse store are incredibly affordable. But will they be as good as the ones from your local meat market or butcher? Probably not. And chances are, if you ask nicely, they may pre-trim them for you.
3. Trim Them
Ever notice the wings you get at a restaurant don’t have the tips attached to them? Most packages come with the full wing. You can grill them whole, but they’re much easier to eat when broken down. To trim, lay each wing flat on a cutting board, then slice through the two knobby joints with a chef’s knife or cleaver (save the tips for stock). If you want to get real fancy, you can turn the drums into easy-to-hold lollipops by scraping the meat down half the bone into a ball at the opposite end.
4. Dry Brine
Save the breading and frying for other parts of the chicken, wings are best when the skin is on and crispy. To obtain the perfect level of crispness, you can either blot the skin before seasoning or toss in baking powder and a generous amount of salt or a seasoned rub, and let rest overnight in the refrigerator. Make sure to add seasoning at every stage of the process, these suckers can take it. Choose a rub that has a good blend of spice and salt to ensure the skin is crisp and flavorful. Stick to a standard poultry rub or switch it up with our favorites:
5. Cook a Little Longer
Most cuts of chicken are considered done when the internal temp reaches 165°. But wings need a little extra heat for the meat. Due to the high fat and skin ratio of wings, they are the one kind of meat that tastes better at a ‘well done’ level with crispy skin and drier meat, which may be in the 175-180° degree range.
6. Get Saucy
If you want to add a sauce or glaze to your wings, apply it during the last 15-30 minutes of cooking. Brush on your sauce or glaze, and put the lid back on or return to the oven and let the sauce caramelize on the wings. If you're using a sweet sauce like a glaze or BBQ, just keep a close eye on them to make sure the sauce does not char.
We like to douse our wings in:
7. Don't Wing It