Buffalo wings without frying: how to cook a crispy and tender chicken in the oven

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Diet versions of game day foods may seem unappetizing. But with a little technique and insights from some of our favorite food experts, you can make fan-favorite dishes healthier without losing flavor.

In this piece, we’ll cover Baked Buffalo Wings.

Already naturally high in protein, they have what it takes going for them, and most sauces and dips are not total but things start to go bad when we bread and fry the suckers, so baking wings is a natural remedy.

A air fryer is also a great option, but most models aren’t big enough to make enough wings for a crowd – unless you want to cook multiple batches. Unlike frying, baking requires more strategy and attention to detail to achieve those fluffy-on-the-inside, crispy-outside Buffalo Wings we all covet. How long do you cook wings? What if they are frozen?


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Here are some tips for making delicious Baked Buffalo Wings and some recipes to get you started. Cooking your wings doesn’t require mountains of technical skill, but it’s important to follow a few basic rules. (For more information, see the best smart ovens and best toaster ovens of the year).

Read also: Best way to reheat leftovers? Not a microwave

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An extra-large baking sheet fits a whole flock of wings, and the rack rises above dripping fat – or can be used for cooling.

Porter Road

Start with high quality chicken wings. Jolly Barnyard’s pasture-raised birds have room to move, get fresh air, and eat a varied diet without added hormones or antibiotics.

How to cook chicken wings in the oven

1. Decide how many wings you need. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to have six to eight wings per person, depending on what’s being served. A variety of sauces and dips will keep things interesting.

2. Make sure the wings are washed and completely dried. Preparing the wings ahead of time is as important as anything for crispy results, so don’t skip the drying step.

3. To lock in moisture and help the skin become crispy, most chefs encourage a light coating of baking powder and/or white flour. If you’re trying to avoid those two ingredients, trusted food nerd Alton Brown suggests lightly steaming the wings for 10 minutes to render the fat, which naturally helps crisp the skin during cooking.

4. If you are making a dry mix like Cajun seasoning or jerk spice, apply it to the wings before cooking. Otherwise, the wings are tossed in a wet sauce afterwards (but never before).

5. Place the wings in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Feel free to line it with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, and place the wings on a wire rack inside the pan to let the grease drip off (optional).

6. Bake wings at 350 degrees for 1 hour, flipping halfway through. This helps crisp the skin relatively quickly without drying out the inside. Optional: A great, albeit slightly higher-calorie, tip comes from Mark Bittman who suggests a little extra fat for basting the wings while cooking, flipping them halfway through. Not only do they stay moist, according to Bittman, but they also turn beautifully golden.

7. For really crispy skin, turn the oven to 425-450 degrees for the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. Or grill the wings for 2-3 minutes on each side. If you baste according to Mark Bittman or if the wings cook in their own juices in a tray, you can cook them longer without risking them drying out. Just look for a crispy skin to develop and do not exceed 90 minutes total cooking time.

8. You can also follow these same basic rules and processes to make frozen chicken wings crispy in the oven. Just be sure to dry them well before cooking, as ice may have formed on the skin.

9. Once cooked, it’s sauce time. There are a million and one recipes for sauces (and dips) to try, from classic blue cheese buffalo to international flavors like soy, garlic, teriyaki, ginger and even curry.

Here are some favorite wing recipes to get you started:

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

This clip of RecipeTin Eats’ Nagi Maehashi teases using a rack to drain juices for less fat and more crispiness. Get Maehashi’s recipe for really crispy Baked Buffalo Wings.

Molasses-Rubbed Smoked Wings

Ready-to-eat molasses-rubbed smoked wings

Quentin Bacon

Beauty & Essex chef Chris Santos’ recipe uses molasses, honey and bourbon. A blend of smoky spices and a doctored barbecue sauce make his cooked-then-grilled wings irresistible.

Soy Glazed Wings

Soy chicken wings on a platter

Chowhound

These sweet wings are great on their own, but add fresh chives, sesame, crushed red pepper or diced garlic for a multi-layered sauce. Tasting Table’s recipe uses rice flour to dredge the chicken, which gives it the added benefit of being airy, crispy, and gluten-free.

Maple-Mustard BBQ Wings

Maple-mustard barbecue wings in a plastic basket

Chowhound

Christine Gallary’s recipe easily adapts to the oven method. Just brush the wings with sauce in the last minutes of cooking so that they caramelize a little but do not burn.

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