No false promises here – these crispy oven baked wings are SERIOUSLY crispy! You will be gob smacked how easy they are to make. They honestly taste like they’ve been deep fried, with a thin shatteringly crisp golden skin. You can see how easy these are to make and hear how crispy they really are in this cooking video.
These are so good they can be eaten plain. Or toss them in your favourite sauce, or serve it on the side. I’ve provided a selection of sauces for these crispy baked wings in the recipe below!
This recipe for how to make Crispy Oven Baked Wings is a discovery by the genius folk over at Cook’s Illustrated. Being the food nerd I am, I really enjoy how Cook’s Illustrated explains the science behind why they do things in a particular way. And I honestly believe this to be one of their most all time most epic recipes, especially because it’s so insanely EASY!!! And today, I’m sharing the secret with you. Are you ready? 🙂
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY OVEN BAKED WINGS
Crispy oven baked wings in 3 easy steps:
- Pat wings dry with paper towels;
- Toss wings in baking powder and salt;
- Bake at 250F/120C for 30 minutes, then at 425F/220C for 40 – 50 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Yes, that’s it. That’s all there is to it. 🙂
The Secret to Truly Crispy Oven Baked Wings
In those 3 simple steps are 2 very important things to make these truly crispy oven baked wings:
1. Coat in baking powder – yes, you read that right, baking powder! I won’t go into all the technicalities, but in a nutshell, the baking powder draws moisture to the surface of the skin so it can evaporate, thereby making the skin crispier; and
2. Bake for 30 minutes on low to melt the fat before blasting in a very hot oven to crisp up the skin. There’s a lot of scientific explanations around this and I’ll skip it because I’ll bore you! But basically, the wings are first baked on the lowest shelf in the oven at a very low temperature for 30 minutes which causes the fat under the skin to “melt”, then you move the wings up to the top shelf and crank up the heat which crisps up the skin.
The other tip is ensuring that the wings are dry. If you are organised enough, put the wings on the rack and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. However, I neither have the fridge space nor am I organised enough, so I just dry them using paper towels (see photo below for how I do this).
When these come out of the oven and you tap the skin with your nail, you can instantly “hear” how crispy the skin is. They even look like they’ve been fried! And in case you are concerned, you don’t taste baking powder at all.
These crispy baked wings really are simple to make – you will be absolutely amazed! I’ve made a little video for you so can see for yourself how easy they are and exactly how I make them. 🙂 OH – and you can hear how crispy they really are!
You will notice that the wings are smaller than you are used to. That’s because so much of the fat under the skin melts off the wings – you’ll see it all pooled on the tray. So these have the added benefit of reduced calories too!
You can toss the wings in your sauce of choice or serve the sauce on the side. I’ve also shared classic Buffalo Wings using this same method for crispy oven baked wings. For this recipe, I’ve included a few simple sauces that I like to serve wings with: Honey Garlic Sauce, Honey Mustard Sauce, Ranch Dipping Sauce.
Let’s get stuck into these wings! – Nagi
- 4 lb / 2 kg chicken wings, cut into wingettes and drumettes (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp baking powder (NOT BAKING SODA / BI-CARB SODA!!)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Oil spray
If you are organised enough, uncover the chicken wings and leave them in the fridge for a few hours to dry out. Otherwise, use a paper towel to pat the wings dry.
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
Preheat oven to 250F/120C (all oven types - standard/convection/fan).
Line a baking tray with foil, then place a rack (like a cooling rack) on the foil. Spray the rack with oil spray.
Place wings in a large bowl or in a ziplock bag. Add the baking powder and salt, then toss to coat evenly.
Place the wings on the baking tray in a single layer with the skin side up. They should just fit snugly. They will shrink when they cook because the fat renders out so don't worry if they look too snug.
Place wings on the lower middle oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
Move wings up to the upper middle rack and increase the oven temperature to 425F/220C. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through.
Remove baking tray from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Toss wings in sauce of choice or serve it on the side to dip / drizzle on the wings, then serve.
**IMPORTANT** A number of readers have been devastated by accidentally using baking soda / bi-carb soda instead of baking powder! Puh-lease be careful to use baking powder (the stuff you use in muffins and pancakes to make them rise!) - if you use baking soda / bi-carb soda, it will be INEDIBLE!! It is really, really yuck!
Also refer to the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS below the recipe.
1. Wings MUST BE THAWED!!! See below for step by step photos for how to cut chicken wings.
2. You will notice once the wings come out of the oven that they are smaller than usual. This is because the fat under the skin melts off (renders out) while baking in the low oven.
3. The wings will not bake to a dark golden brown unless you leave them in for 1 hr+. They bake to a golden brown. You will know they are done because the skin will be lovely and crispy.
4. The recipe for the wings is from Cook's Illustrated "Meats Book" cookbook. The sauce recipes are my own.
5. To reheat (see FAQ below for more details): Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate. The skin will wrinkle and soften. Preheat oven to 200C/390F. Spread wings out on tray, skin side up, and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until the skin puffs up so the wrinkles smooth out and becomes crisp again.
* Honey Garlic Sauce: Mix together 4 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp white vinegar (or sub with any other vinegar except balsamic), 2-3 garlic cloves, minced. Use for dipping OR tossing.
* Honey Mustard Sauce: 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup honey
* Ranch Dipping Sauce: Mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp milk, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp EACH dried dill, parsley, chives, onion and garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste.
* Spicy Creamy Dipping Sauce: 3/4 cup mayo, 1/2 tso garlic powder, 1/8 tsp paprika, 3-4 tbsp sriracha, salt & pepper
* Pink Sauce: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, 2 tbsp ketchup, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp sriracha (or other hot sauce)
7. Nutrition: The nutrition is per serving, assuming 8 servings. Note that the calories is HIGHER than it actually is because so much fat is rendered out (melted) and discarded which is not reflected in the nutrition below. I measured the discarded fat once and calculated that it should be 60 calories LESS per serving (around 1/4 cup fat in total was discarded).
Originally published in November 2014, updated with fresh new photos and step by step photos!
PS I’ve now published the Buffalo Wings version! Here it is: Truly Crispy Oven Baked BUFFALO Wings.
HOW TO CUT CHICKEN WINGS
Here in Australia, chicken wings are usually sold whole rather than cut into drumettes and wingettes. While this recipe can be used for whole chicken wings, I prefer to cut them to make them easier to eat.
Here is how I cut chicken wings. The knife just glides through the joints – you won’t need to use any force or bang the knife with your hand to cut it through. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really fast. It takes me around 2 minutes to cut up 2 kg / 4 lb of wings.
- Pick up the drumette end of the wing and hold the wing to form a “V”. Holding the wing this way stretches the joint open, making it easier for the knife to glide through the joint;
- Cut vertically through the joint. Don’t use too much force, you knife will find the path of least resistance because the joint is stretched open;
- Now repeat for the wing tip – hold it in a “V” and cut straight down through the base of the “V”; and
- You’re done! Discard the wing tip – save them to make stock!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I don’t have a rack. Does this cause a problem? Because of the way these wings are cooked, a LOT of fat is rendered out – you will be shocked. Almost the entire tray will be covered with a thin layer of oil. This is why having a rack is good – it elevates the wings out of the oil. However, if you don’t have a rack, don’t stress! It still comes out super crispy all over, it is just that the bottom that is in contact with the tray (and it’s not the entire bottom because of the shape of the wings) will be oily.
One way to get around this is to take the wings out after around 35 minutes during the high temp cooking. Drain the oil out of the tray then return to the oven to finish crisping/browning. And you can drain the excess oil from the wings on paper towels before serving.
Can I make ahead? These stay crispy for as long as the wings are warm, so around 20 – 30 minutes. After that, the skin starts to wrinkle and soften. However, I was shocked how well they reheat! I discovered this when I was making my Chicken Wings cookbook. Just allow the wings to cool (uncovered), then cover and refrigerate. Spread wings out on tray, skin side up, and bake for 5 to 8 minutes at 200C/390F. The skin smooths out and puffs up, just like when they were baked fresh. Other than to you (if you’ve made as many wings as me!) and true hard core Wings experts, the difference in juiciness and crispiness is barely noticeable – my friends never notice when I reheat!
The skin stays crispy for around 10 – 15 minutes after tossing in the sauce, then after that they start to soften but not go soggy, up to around 30 minutes. If you reheat after tossing in sauce, they go soggy.
Please do not toss in baking powder then refrigerate or freeze, this won’t work (makes the wings sweat too much to become crispy).
Can I add seasonings? You sure can! It does marginally reduce the actual skin crispiness but a crust forms from the extra seasonings/spices and adds more crunch. I did a lot of testing around this for my Chicken Wings cookbook because I have a chapter devoted to these crispy baked wings tossed in seasonings so I can assure you it works really well!
There was a lot of smoke! Help! A few readers have had this problem and I don’t think it’s from the chicken wings because I’ve made a ridiculous amount of these wings (in my kitchen and others) and never had the problem. The problem may be: a) spillage of chicken fat onto the oven burners when transferring from the lower to the upper shelf or b) there already was fat on the oven burners. I can’t think of anything else. While the smoke point of chicken fat is below that of the high oven temperature used in this recipe, the fat is not in direct contact with the heat because it’s shielded by all the wings and diluted by chicken juices dripping into the fat.
You really don’t need to flip? Really! Even if you don’t use a rack, the underside will get crispy.
Can I make this with other cuts of chicken? Yes BUT the crispiness will only work on the skin. So it works best on wings because they are almost fully enclosed by skin. With drumsticks, thighs and skin on breast, they are not fully encased with skin when raw and the skin shrinks while cooking. But the actual technique works super well! For 1 kg / 2 lb drumsticks or other cut of chicken, using 2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt – less than the recipe for wings because there is less skin surface area.