The Secret To The Best Chicken Wings

Mmm, that crispy skin.

Dry-Rubbed Smoked Chicken Wings

Jennifer Causey

Chicken wings bring us together. Perhaps it's the silent understanding that we're all going to momentarily abandon any social grace and etiquette at the first bite. Still, there's nothing quite as American as grabbing a sauced-up, perfectly crisped chicken wing, and diving into the messy, soul-pleasing experience of eating it hot and fresh, preferably while watching a football game.

Southerners love their wings, sharing that love between classic buffalo, barbecue, and even teriyaki variations of the delicacy. Whether preparing for Super Bowl Sunday or any gathering, it's time to prepare for the main event. (And we aren't talking about a football game.) We mean the longstanding rivalry between the drums and flats of the chicken wing.

To us, it's no contest—but we aren't trying to ruffle any feathers. However, no matter which side of this divisive debate you're on, we can all agree that a flavorless, rubbery chicken wing has no place as a snack on our Super Bowl or entertaining table. Here's the secret to preparing perfect chicken wings.

What Is Double Frying?

Seasoning raw chicken wings and throwing them in a pan of hot oil is not the path to perfectly crispy wings, friends. It's more like a one-way ticket to slick, rubberized wings that let the sauce slide right off. Furthermore, condemning yourself and your loved ones to oven-baked wings at your Super Bowl party is not the can-do attitude we like to see. To cook the best chicken wings you've ever made, there's a simple process we like to call double frying. (Frying once is for the complacent, frying twice is for the winners.)

How To Double Fry Wings

It involves frying the wings first in lower temperature oil, around 250˚F, to get juicy, tender meat on the inside. Then, you have two options. You can pull them out and let them cool before the second frying, or, as some chefs swear by, you can freeze these wings overnight before frying them again the following day.

It's a technique to dry out the skin, which helps get the crispest skin. Worry not: Letting the wings cool in between fryings will not make a huge difference.

Next, the second instance of frying occurs at a higher temperature, around 350-375˚F, to get that perfectly crispy skin on the outside. Don't crowd the pan, as you'll risk lowering the temperature of the oil. Finish by tossing in the sauce of your choice.

We're partial to our Alabama White Sauce.

WATCH: Beer-Battered Fried Chicken Wings

Expert Tips

We asked our favorite Southern barbecue expert and author of South's Best Butts, Matt Moore, to lay out his technique for getting the best chicken wings. He also followed the double-cooking strategy but in his own barbecue-loving way. If you like a smokier flavor, this is the tip you need.

"I typically smoke mine low and slow at 200˚F for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches about 120˚F. This allows me to gently cook the meat and render off some of the fat to promote a crispy skin when frying while keeping it moist and imparting a great smoky flavor," Moore said. "From there, I like to fry in 350˚F oil until the skin is extra crispy and the internal temperature is 165˚F."

There you have it. Switch up a few of the details, but respect the process. Beginning with low heat, taking a breather, and finishing with high heat makes all the difference.

Don't just wing it when it comes to getting those perfect chicken wings, whether for the Super Bowl, tailgating, or any other gathering. This double-frying technique will save you from setting out slippery, rubbery, or subpar chicken wings ever again.

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