7 Mistakes To Avoid When Making Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are the ultimate game-day food. Sidestep these common cooking mistakes for the most finger-licking results.

Chicken wings make the perfect party food, game-day snack, or even a meal. What's not to love about a saucy, hand-held food that can be cooked in so many ways? There are restaurants devoted to wings. While you may have a favorite restaurant version, wings are easy to make at home. Whether you prefer spicy, sweet, barbecue, lemon-pepper, baked, fried, or grilled, you can perfect cooking chicken wings with a few pointers. Whichever cooking method you choose, here are seven common mistakes and tips for making awesome wings for your next gathering or craving.

grilled chicken wings
Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Prevent Sticking

Grilled wings are the perfect tailgate food whether you're cooking them in a parking lot or your backyard. Toss the wings in a few tablespoons of neutral cooking oil (like canola or vegetable oil), then season with salt and pepper before adding them to the grill. The oil will prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill.

Avoid Burnt Wings

Chicken wings can go from raw to burnt in minutes if your grill is too hot. Our favorite way to grill wings is to have "cool" and "hot" sides of the grill. Light one side of the grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat; leave other side unlit. Place the chicken over the unlit side of grill, and grill, covered with grill lid, 15 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to lit side of grill, and grill, without grill lid, 10 to 12 minutes or until skin is crispy and lightly charred, turning every two to three minutes.

Crisp the Skin

Most oven-baked chicken wings are tossed in sauce after they have been cooked, which means that the skin needs to be perfectly crisp to soak up all the sauce. Thoroughly pat the wings dry with paper towels before seasoning them with salt and placing them on a baking sheet. Bake at 375˚ until the wings are crisp and brown, about one hour. If you have sauce to put on your wings, do so just before serving to keep them from getting soggy.

Season Fried Wings

Fried wings get their flavor from the breading, not sauce. To prevent bland wings, we like to soak our wings in buttermilk, then dredge them in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, dried oregano, paprika, and chili powder.

Keep Fried Wings Warm

If you're frying multiple batches of wings—which is a good idea because you don't want to overcrowd the frying pan—the wings from the first batch may get cold before the last wings are done. To keep all of the wings warm, place the cooked wings on a wire rack in a jelly-roll pan, and keep them warm in a 200˚ oven while you finish frying.

Brown Slow-Cooked Wings

Saucy slow-cooked wings are tender and full of flavor but can also fall apart if overcooked. Unlike large cuts of meat, they don't need to simmer all day long. Cook wings on HIGH for two to three hours, or on LOW for four to five hours. Chicken wings, like any protein, also benefit from a little browning before they go into the slow cooker. Pre-broil the wings in the oven before adding them to the slow cooker to give them crisp skin and nice color.

Get the Right Temperature

For any cooking method you choose, the temperature is important. If you fry the wings in oil that's too hot, the outside may be dark and crispy while the inside is undercooked. Chicken should be cooked to 165˚, so use a thermometer to check for doneness. If you find the wings are undercooked, place them in a pan with broth or sauce, covered with foil, and bake at 400˚ until done.

Reheat Your Wings

If you have any leftovers, let them sit out while the oven preheats. Then reheat the cooked chicken wings on a sheet pan in a 375˚ oven for six minutes per side. Wings can also be warmed in a skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil on high heat. Fry for two to three minutes, turning halfway, until golden.

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