We were on the lookout for a great chicken wing recipe, and came across this great one from the blog RecipeTin Eats for Truly Crispy Chicken Wings. This is a baked chicken wing recipe which truly does result in perfectly crispy chicken wings without deep-frying them. This was a great recipe to make at home, and the results were really excellent!
Chicken wings are one of those restaurant treats that we have been craving during these quarantine times, and this recipe produced wings that were absolutely delightful and totally customizable with adding your own sauce or dry seasoning (dry seasoning is my preference – it keeps your crispy wings crispy!). It is based on a recipe from the team at Cooks Illustrated, and it involves four key steps to achieving super crispy wings:
- Patting the wings dry before baking: Moisture is the enemy of crispy wings! Get as much of it off as possible from the beginning. Wet wings will create steam in the oven while baking, which will also make it harder for the skin to get truly crispy while cooking – keep everything as dry as possible!
- Coating the wings with salt and baking powder: Baking soda is an alkaline (basic) ingredient, and therefore increases the pH of the surface of the chicken wings. Raising the pH in proteins (chicken is mostly protein) weakens the peptide bonds in the proteins, allowing them to break down more easily – thus, more browning, and more crispiness! Also, there are some theories that the baking powder creates carbon dioxide during the cooking process, as it does when it’s used as an ingredient in your favorite cookie recipe. This extra carbon dioxide creates more bubbles on the chicken skin during baking, creating more surface area on the chicken skin, resulting in more of that “fried” texture.
- Baking on a wire baking rack instead of directly on a baking tray: More hot air circulation around the entire chicken wing while baking means more even heat distribution, and thorough browning of the entire wing. In addition, full exposure to hot air allows any juices to drip down to the pan below, leaving a good amount of separation between soggy juices and crispy skin! Direct pan contact could lead to the wing swimming in it’s own soggy juices, which would mean the bottom of the wings would never get crispy.
- A two step baking process: This process has you starting the wings in a low temperature oven (300F for 30 minutes) to essentially melt the chicken fat underneath the skin, and then blast the oven heat to 425F to allow the wings to essentially fry in their own fat for an additional 45 minutes. Ah, the power of shmaltz!
I hope this little science lesson helped inspire you to make some extra crispy oven chicken wings! The recipe that I used is linked here, and the photo of our beautiful wings are up top (you’ll notice that my plate is only the flats – because I love those and Chris loves the drumettes – which really works out for our relationship). I’ll link some extra crispy wing resources below as well if you want to learn more about the science of crispy wings!
Extra Crispy, Extra Learning: