Chicken wings in the oven: It sounds like a great idea, right? Compared to frying, there are no bottles of oil to deal with and definitely less cleanup. But in practice, the results are often lackluster, with flabby wings that make you wish you had nuked a plate of dino nuggets instead. What if we told you there’s a way to make chicken wings in the oven that are just as crispy and delicious as if you deep-fried them? There is, and it’s as easy as adding a single ingredient: baking powder.
How to Make Chicken Wings in the Oven (That Taste Like They’re Fried)
How Does Baking Powder Make Crispy Chicken Wings in the Oven?
It sounds too simple to be true, but adding baking powder to chicken wings can increase their crunch as they cook in the oven, and the reason is all science. According to chef and food writer J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the slight alkalinity of baking powder increases the pH of the wings, improving the level of browning you can get in the oven. It also soaks up some of the chicken juices, and as the wings heat up in the oven, the juices bubble up as the skin hardens. More bubbles equals lighter, crispier skin. (Just don’t try to substitute with baking soda, which has a noticeably metallic taste when used in larger quantities.)
Now that you can understand the why, here’s how to make chicken wings in the oven in six simple steps.
What You’ll Need:
How to Make Chicken Wings in the Oven
Step 1: Pat the Chicken Wings Dry and Preheat the Oven
To help the chicken wings get as brown as possibly in the oven, you’ll want to start by removing as much moisture as you can. Spread the chicken wings out on a few layers of paper towels, and thoroughly pat them dry with more paper towels. Set the wings aside, then ready the broiler of your oven. If the broiler mechanism is at the top of the oven, move the rack to the top and preheat on high. If the broiler is in a compartment below the oven, simply preheat it on high.
Step 2: Combine the Dredging Ingredients
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the baking powder and kosher salt until combined. How much should you use? As a general rule, we use 1 teaspoon of baking powder and one teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of wings. So if you’re making 3 pounds of chicken wings, use 1 tablespoon each of baking powder and salt.
Step 3: Dredge the Chicken Wings
Add the chicken wings to the bowl of baking powder and salt. Using tongs, toss the wings in the mixture until they’re all evenly coated. Set the wings aside to sit in the baking powder mixture for 5 to 10 minutes. This gives the baking powder time to soak up some of the moisture in the skin.
Step 4: Prep the Chicken Wings for the Oven
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Using tongs, arrange the chicken wings in a single layer on the baking sheet. (If you need to, use more than one baking sheet. Overcrowding the chicken wings will cause them to steam instead of brown.)
Step 5: Bake the Chicken Wings
Transfer the chicken wings to the oven and cook under the broiler until the wings are crisp and well browned, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through so both sides achieve adequate browning. You can confirm that the chicken wings are fully cooked by checking the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer—it should read 165°F.
Step 6: Toss the Chicken Wings in Sauce
At this point, your wings are ready for saucing and serving, and we think the easiest method is to transfer the wings to a large, clean bowl before tossing in a sauce. Aside from that, it’s up to you on how to dress them. Buffalo sauce is a classic and a crowd-pleaser, and we’ll never say no to barbecue sauce, but if you’re looking for something new, might we suggest our recipe for baked chicken wings in chipotle hot honey? Now pass the ranch, please.
Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.