Raise your hand if you like chicken wings. Good. Now keep them up if you enjoy spending time in front of a deep-fryer while oil splatters all over the kitchen. Did I see a few hands go down? Mine sure did.
It’s been branded into our heads that chicken wings need to be deep fried to be crispy. However, after some research (and yummy taste-tests), we are proud to share our findings on how to bake chicken wings that are sooo crispy.
The secret: Baking powder. Unusual right? Stick with me as I go into the details.
Baking powder, not to be mistaken with baking soda, is a leavening agent usually used in baked goods such as cookies and cakes. It’s a mixture of sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar and cornstarch. When mixed with salt and coated on chicken it dries out the skin, leaving it crisp and crunchy. Why does this happen? Get ready, sciency stuff ahead! It happens because the addition of the baking powder raises the pH level in the chicken, allowing the peptide bonds in the skin to break down, thus letting the skin get more crisp and brown.
Note that while most of the comments below this post are very positive (people seriously love this method of baking crispy wings) a couple of commenters noted a bitter taste on their wings. I at first thought that they were using baking soda instead of baking powder. Doing so would definitely lead to a terrible taste. However, they claimed that they were really using baking powder for sure. I was stymied until another helpful commenter posted this link showing that some people are sensitive to a flavor that is found in some brands of baking powder. Baking powder that contains “sodium aluminum sulfate” has a bitter taste to some people. If you notice this flavor, you’ll want to try a different brand of baking powder. The Rumford brand is aluminum-free, so do try that one. I haven’t yet done a taste test comparison using the two different types of baking powder but I will soon and then I will report back with my results here.
O.K., enough chatter. Let’s get cooking!
Cut up 10 whole chicken wings. Once they’re all prepped, get them into a big bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of baking powder (NOT baking soda!). It doesn’t seem like much but you’re not trying to make a coating for the wings here. You’re trying to change their ph level so that they will crisp up better.
Mix it up. Don’t be afraid to use your hands. It’s way easier and one less thing to wash. It’s gobs of fun too! (Hey look! My nails match the bowl! This was unplanned but I like it).
Place the wings on a cooking rack in a sheet pan. This lets air circulate all around the chicken pieces so that they get evenly crisp. It also lets the fat drip away from the chicken, leading to crispy, crispy, crispy skin.
Place the chicken in a 250°F oven for 30 minutes. This gets some of the fat rendered from under the skin and starts that drying out process. Here’s how they look after 30 minutes. These are not cooked. Do not eat them. Yet.
Leave them in the oven and crank the heat up to 425°F and cook 40-50 minutes more, until golden brown and so crispy.
Toss them in a super-amazing sauce. We’ve got one for you…
Wasn’t that easy? And no pot full of hot oil to dispose of either. So awesome. Scroll down to find the printable version of the above instructions.
Yield: 20 wings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes