Chicken wings are probably the single most iconic sports food there is, but a lot of people don't eat them outside of sports bars. I get it—anything deep-fried can intimidate home cooks. But if you're willing to face the hot oil, it's really not hard to make chicken wings at home. And if you don't want to deal with frying, you can also make awesome wings in the oven or on the grill. Here are 18 recipes to check out for Super Bowl, from classic Buffalo wings to baked Xi'an-style chicken wings.
There's really only one way to start a chicken wing roundup: the perfect Buffalo wing. That means moist, tender meat and crispy skin, which we achieve with a two-stage cooking process—we fry the wings at a low temperature to break down the collagen and then finish them in hotter oil to crisp the skin. As for the sauce, you can't improve on the classic Frank's and butter.
Looking for a slightly simpler approach to Buffalo wings? We all know sous vide is the most foolproof way to cook chicken breast, guaranteeing juicy, tender meat every time. So why not apply the same principle to your chicken wings? After a short two-hour bath, we let the wings dry out in the fridge overnight. When it's time to eat, just fry them for a few minutes until the skin turns golden-brown and crisp; tossed with Frank's RedHot and butter, they make for perfect Buffalo wings that literally can't dry out.
If you're going to use a single-fry technique, 375°F (190°C) oil is the way to go. That's how we cook these wings, which get tossed in a sweet and spicy chili sauce flavored with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. We also add tahini, which adds a sesame flavor and works perfectly with the other ingredients in the sauce.
Chicken wings don't need a coating to be crispy, but there's nothing wrong with battering your wings if you want extra crunch. Here we go with a double dredging in a flour, cornstarch, and baking powder batter. After the wings come out of the oil, we dress them in a spicy vinegar-based sauce.
Buffalo doesn't have a monopoly on chicken wings. Korean fried chicken is less traditional for game day but just as delicious. What sets it apart is an eggshell-thin crust, which comes from a batter made with flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and vodka (which inhibits gluten formation).
If you're still not sure about deep-frying, you can make baked wings that are less messy and taste almost indistinguishable from fried ones. All you need to do is let the wings air-dry overnight after tossing them with baking powder and salt, which lets the skin get crispy fast enough that the meat doesn't dry out.
Of course, you can toss oven-fried wings with traditional Buffalo sauce, but that's far from your only option. For something more unusual, try this sweet and tangy sauce made with strawberries, chipotles, and balsamic vinegar. As if that's not flavorful enough, we serve the wings with a creamy blend of avocado, blue cheese, and sour cream.
Standard Buffalo not spicy enough for you? If you want your wings to have a serious kick, ditch the sauce altogether and toss them in this mouth-numbing mix of Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, fennel seed, and dried red chilies. It's a little more work than using ground spices, but starting with whole spices that you toast and grind yourself gives the wings a much better flavor.
These wings also get tossed with baking soda and salt and spend a little time in the fridge drying out, but they also get a flavor boost from elements you'd find in a barbecue rub: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, brown sugar, mustard powder, and a little bit of zest and smoked paprika. As if that's not enough, we also whip up an Alabama-style white barbecue sauce to serve alongside.
A combination of Kashmiri red chilies, tamarind, and palm sugar gives these wings a balanced sweet, tart, and lightly spicy flavor. The wings come out of the oven tender and crisp, with a sticky, sweet glaze.
If the weather's not too cold come Super Bowl Sunday, you have a third option for preparing your wings: grilling. The key is to start them over indirect heat, and then move them to direct heat when you apply the glaze—in this case, a combination of hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, and five-spice powder.
We use a special grill set-up to cook these wings, allowing for more even cooking and fire-kissed flavor. The marinade of hot Turkish pepper paste, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and spices gets a touch of sweetness from pomegranate molasses—and does double duty as a dipping sauce.
No, there's not a mistake in this recipe—it really does use three chipotles and a tablespoon of adobo sauce for half a cup of honey. While it'll taste brutally spicy before cooking, the honey's sweetness intensifies and the heat mellows slightly as the glaze caramelizes on the grill
Grilling allows for the opportunity to give wings even more flavor by coating them with a spice rub before cooking. In this recipe, we use a Cajun-style blend of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, cayenne, and cumin. We keep the Cajun theme going with the sauce, made with Louisiana-style pepper sauce, butter, and Worcestershire.
These grilled wings are coated in a Sriracha-based sauce made with soy sauce and vinegar and sweetened with honey. We also add butter to replicate that Buffalo sauce richness. We apply the sauce twice, using some as a glaze and the rest after the wings come off the grill.
New York City's Xi'an Famous Foods is, well, famous for its spicy cumin lamb noodles. The combination of cumin and what many people consider are more typical Chinese flavors works incredibly well, so we borrow it for these wings. We rub them with cumin, Sichuan peppercorns, salt, and baking powder, and then glaze them with soy sauce, sherry, rice vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes as they cook.
Sticky, sweet, smoky, and tangy—you can't ask for much else from a chicken wing. The wings spend a little time in a flavor-packed sauce made up of pineapple juice, soy sauce, light brown sugar, chicken stock, ginger, and garlic, with a little bit of sriracha added for good, spicy measure. Once they're done marinating, we throw them on the cool side of the grill and baste them every once in a while with some of the reserved sauce. You may think the grilled pineapple is optional (and, sure, that's what the recipe says), but it really is the perfect accompaniment.
Marinating wings before grilling lets you add flavor and makes them extra juicy. This spicy Chinese-style marinade is made with Shaoxing wine, black pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, granulated garlic, and chili peppers. The recipe calls for a formidable 15 chilies, but you can use as few as five if you don't want quite so much heat.
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