Updated: Oct 30, 2022
Most people enjoy them deep-fried with a whole host of sauces from sweet and savory to hot and spicy! Cool dips, cheesy bits, and other favorites add to their deliciousness. But must we always deep-fry them? Wouldn’t you, like me, want a healthier alternative?
The most common chicken wings are Buffalo wings, said to have been invented in 1964 in Buffalo NY. A woman named Teressa Bellissimo owned the Anchor Bar in Buffalo and mistakenly ordered a case of chicken wings instead of a case of chicken necks. Prior to this, chicken wings were often discarded after a chicken was cut up, but Ms. Bellissimo decided to make a new dish out of the wings. She cut wings into a flat part and a drum part, and deep fried them. Then, she added the signature hot sauce and arranged the wings on a plate with blue cheese dressing and some celery. The rest is history!
Curious as to how I could replicate the fried wing, I searched the Internet for baked versions with a crispy outcome. After doing a little research, I came across many recipes using “aluminum free baking powder.” You read that right! It appears that tossing the wings in baking powder before baking helps them get very crispy, rivaling the texture of a fried chicken wing. Why? Baking powder is alkaline and breaks down peptide bonds, allowing the chicken skin to get brown and crisp. Note: Some baking powders are made with aluminum and some people react negatively to the taste; it is better to just avoid using aluminum baking powder altogether.
Off to perform my own experiment, I baked wings using the baking powder and topped with Gruyere cheese and dried thyme. The result, after two attempts, though not browned as nicely as I would have liked, they were crispy and juicy. The added cheese and herbs made them salty and savory. My recipe is below:
2 - 2 ½ lbs of chicken wings
1 tbsp baking powder (aluminum free)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Gruyere cheese, make thin slices, one for each wing
1 tsp dried thyme
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment (trust me it makes for an easy clean up). Place a rack on top of baking sheet and spray rack with cooking oil.
Dry wings completely with paper towels.
In a small fine mesh strainer place and press through the baking powder, salt and pepper and sprinkle over wings and toss.*
Spread out on rack and bake for 40 minutes. Then, decrease oven to 170F and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
During the last five minutes add cheese and thyme onto wings.
*This method worked best for getting the baking powder to adhere evenly to wings ensuring their crispiness.
A second attempt to crisp the wings without frying was to bathe them in butter. No one said chicken wings were healthy, even if not fried!
The result was a delicious buttery crispy skin. I preferred this method over the baking powder as these wings were crispier and had a wonderful buttery flavor. It pared well with a store bought roasted red pepper tapenade, though you could use any dip you prefer.
1 ½ lbs chicken wings
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sweet paprika
Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy clean up. Place rack over baking sheet and spray with cooking oil. PHOTO
Dry wings and place in medium mixing bowl.
Pour melted butter over wings, mix to coat and move to rack. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and paprika.
Cook for 40 minutes, then lower temperature to 170F and cook an additional 20 minutes.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Lastly, I ventured away from the above two recipes and baked wings in an Asian sauce that was spicy, juicy and finger-lickin’ good! It also had a wonderful mild fragrance thanks to the Five Spice Powder.
Ingredients 2 – 2 ½ lbs of chicken wings Marinade 1 tsp sesame oil 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp soy sauce 3 tbsp honey 2 tbsp hoisin sauce 2 tbsp ketchup 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp Five Spice powder Toppings ½ tbsp sesame seeds 1 tbsp chopped chives Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment (for easy clean up)
and place rack on top. Spray rack with cooking oil. 2. Prepare marinade and set aside. 3. Dry wings with paper towels and place in large bowl. Add half of the marinade (it will
adhere to the wings better if they are dried first). Mix well. 4. Place wings on rack and bake for 40-45 minutes, turning once at the halfway point. Use the
other half of the marinade to occasionally baste during the cooking process. 5. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds and chives.