This recipe is astonishingly easy. It’s basically, salt, pepper, and chicken wings in an oven. There are some optional frills, but that’s pretty much it. The tricky thing with wings is simply knowing the right temperature to cook them and how to add sauce without making them soggy. I learned a trick for adding light, evenly coated sauce to wings by watching the staff of a popular local pizza and wings place that I’m passing on to you!
Before getting to the recipe, let me dispel some common baked wing misconceptions. The first is that oven baked wings are “so much healthier” than fried wings. They are minimally healthier at best. According to a Redditor citing Alton Brown and Modernist Cuisine, the difference is about 3 to 5 calories per wing of unsaturated, cholesterol free fat from the frying oil (assuming the wings are laid on a cooling rack or paper towels to absorb excess oil after frying). Seriously. That’s it.
If the vegetable/canola oil is kept at the right temperature of between 350 – 400 degrees F and the wings aren’t breaded, they really don’t absorb that much oil while the surface water in the wings steams out during cooking. If the wings are breaded, then that’s another matter entirely as they would then absorb more oil. Second, fried wings really do taste better. That’s not to say that baked wings aren’t delicious, but come on, fried is fried! I’m pointing this obvious point out simply so that no one expects them to have exactly the same flavor.
With that said, one of the key benefits to baking wings instead of frying is that you can bake far more wings than you can fry at one time (unless you have a restaurant sized fryer), which is great when you need to feed a lot of people. Another benefit is that there is far less mess than dealing with the post-frying oil cleanup. Lastly, yes, I guess they are minimally healthier.
No matter what, I’m sure you’ll love these wings as much as I do and you may even be surprised by how easy it is to make them!
Makes roughly 22 – 24 crispy chicken wings at ~86 calories each.
Crispy Chicken Wings Baked in the Oven
Crispy, tender, chicken wings.
Roughly 3 pounds of pre-cut chicken wings of mixed drumettes and flats/wingettes (basically enough wings to fill a half sheet baking tray without touching).
Coarse black pepper
- Optional: 2 teaspoons of aluminum free Baking Powder
Note: This is not to be confused with Baking Soda – they are very different things! The Baking Powder helps to crisp up the skin by affecting the skin’s pH. It’s not completely necessary for crispy wings even if some people swear by it, so don’t stress if you don’t have any. It just helps to crisp up the skin slightly faster, which allows for a juicier wing. The reason aluminum free is preferred is because some people are sensitive to the aluminum and it tastes bitter to them.
- Large baking sheet/tray
- Wire rack that fits the baking sheet
- Paper towels
- Large bowl
- Optional: Glass or Plastic food storage container with lid
- Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F
- Line a half baking sheet (~26″x18″) with foil.
- Fit a wire rack inside the baking sheet to keep the wings off the bottom of the tray.
Note: If you don’t have a wire rack, you can lay the wings right on the foil, but you’ll have to flip them more often so they don’t get stuck too much. I would also recommend using a little cooking spray on the foil before placing the wings on them to help keep them from sticking to the foil.
- Remove the wings from the package and pat them dry with paper towels. If the wings have been sitting in juices that have pooled in the package, you can give them a quick rinse under cold water and then pat them dry with paper towels.
Note: If the wings are whole and uncut, be sure to separate the flat of the wing from the drumette and to discard the small tip piece of the wing (or save them to make broth). Breaking down the wing into its two main parts ensures that they cook faster and get crispier. Plus they’re easier to eat.
- Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Don’t go overboard with the salt as the optional baking powder can taste a little salty as well and if you opt to use a sauce later, there may be salt there too. A few pinches between your fingers should be enough of both.
- Add one teaspoon of baking powder by sprinkling it over the wings. Then mix the wings using your hands, large spoon, or tongs. Add the second teaspoon to the wings and mix again. The wings should all be well coated, but shouldn’t look especially white or breaded.
- Lay the wings out on the wire rack in the baking sheet without touching. For the flats, the broad skin side should be facing up to start.
Note: At this point, if you aren’t ready to bake the wings immediately, you can leave them uncovered in the fridge for an hour so until then. The cool air of the fridge can dry out the skin even more and will help with the crispiness.
- When ready, place the wings in the oven on middle rack and bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, take the wings out and carefully flip them over to the other side. If you don’t have a wire rack, they may stick a bit to the foil, so flip them carefully.
- After 20 minutes, flip the chicken wings over. They are almost done!
- Bake the wings for another 10-20 minutes depending on how well done you like your wings. Check them after 10 minutes if the skin is crispy enough for you, the meat has just started to pull away from the bones, and the liquids from the chicken are running clear. It comes down a bit to your oven (a convection oven will cook faster than a regular oven) and wing preferences.
- Take the wings out and let them cool 10 minutes.
- Place a few wings in a plastic or glass food storage container with a good lid. Drizzle a very little bit of sauce over the wings. Do not coat the wings completely or soak them in sauce because that will make them soggy. Cover with the lid and shake the container until the little bit of sauce covers the wings. Check the wings. If they need more sauce, add a bit more and shake again. This is the key to keeping the wings crispy even after adding sauce. This method of shaking the wing allows them to get coated with much less sauce than if you tried to just pour the sauce over them and mix.
- Repeat with the rest of the chicken wings and change up the sauces if you like.
- Serve immediately with a side of bleu cheese, ranch, or serve them plain with a side of your favorite dipping sauce.
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