Chicken Wings Hacks That Will Change Your Life

With their crispy skin, juicy meat, a sticky sauce, and a deliciously creamy dip, chicken wings rock as a snack ... if you get them right that is. They are perfect to munch on while watching the ball game, at a chilled-out party, or during a Netflix binge. Get them wrong though, and the outside can become flabby and oily, while the chicken tastes stringy and dried-out. Meanwhile, your perfectly seasoned sauce can slide off or become slimy if the skin isn't crisp and crunchy. 

In other words, chicken wings range from sublimely moreish to downright disgusting. Aside from perfecting the cooking process, chicken wings are a great way to experiment with different flavors and seasonings. From assorted chicken wing recipes to discovering where to get the best wings in every state, we've got you covered. If you want to serve this poultry favorite at home, then read on for the chicken wing hacks that will change your life.

Pour boiling water over them before cooking

Sometimes a hack is so brilliant that it becomes a go-to technique, such as making chicken wing skins crispier by pouring boiling water over top. It's simple, quick, and requires no special equipment or ingredients. As soon as the hot water makes contact with the skin, the fat starts to cook and this rendering causes the skin to shrink.  

When it's time to cook the chicken wings, the skin is thinner and less fatty which ultimately allows it to become super crispy. You also won't be limited by the cooking method — choose your favorite. A great way to infuse flavor is to dry the wings after they have been doused in water before seasoning them. You can also add different spices and a little oil before cooking too. If you are frying the wings, let them cool down and dry off first before cooking.

You can also parboil chicken wings in salted water. Let them bubble away for several minutes before drying them off on a kitchen towel, seasoning, and baking them in the oven. Once they are nice and crispy, add a sticky sauce or serve it as a dip on the side. Or you can toss them in a hot sauce and serve them with a creamy dip like Ranch or blue cheese. 

Make them with soda

Love a cola with a basket of chicken wings? Ever thought about cooking the wings with soda? It's not as weird as it sounds. Fry chicken wings in oil and butter then mix them with honey, soy, mustard, and ketchup. Coat the wings and heat them in a pan, then pour cola on top and cook them covered. Reduce the soda until it's sticky and coats the wings. You can also bake the wings and coat them with a zesty-sweet sauce afterward. For example, add hot sauce, garlic, and honey to orange soda with butter and reduce to thicken. 

Another idea is mixing honey barbecue sauce with root beer or Dr Pepper to marinate the wings before cooking them in a Crockpot. You can finish them off under the broiler with extra marinade drizzled on top so that the skin crisps up. For an Asian-inspired soda and chicken wing concept, fry the wings in a wok with fresh ginger before adding cola. Add soy sauce, cinnamon sticks, and dried orange peel, and reduce the sauce. When there's hardly any left, turn up the heat and coat the wings in the sticky mixture. 

Douse in vinegar

There are few foods more delicious than fish and chips with a good sprinkling of salt and a splash of malt vinegar. In fact, salt and vinegar liven up so many fried foods. But while seasoning meat is the norm, you might not ordinarily associate vinegar with chicken wings. If not, you're missing out. Adding vinegar is a hack that is going to change your chicken-wing cooking life — you won't even need to fry those bad boys. 

You won't be able to get enough of these salty, yet subtly sweet chicken wings, which promise tantalizing tartness too. Grab a bottle of malt vinegar and some distilled white vinegar, and mix them with sugar, garlic powder, sea salt, and dry Ranch seasoning. Marinate the raw wings first, then dry and bake them in the oven. Save some of the vinegary sauce to toss with the baked wings once they are cooked. Serve the tangy wings with whatever dip you like — Sriracha mayo complements the flavors well. 

Coat in baking powder

A chicken wing hack that will change your life — or at least the way you cook wings — is to start by coating them in baking powder and drying them out in the fridge overnight. The reaction between the wings and the alkaline powder turns the skin crispy and a gorgeous golden brown. Be sure to use an aluminum-free baking powder to avoid a metallic taste. You can also use a bit of baking soda to brown and crisp the wings, although it will affect the flavor. Only use a small amount and combine it well in a dry rub with the other ingredients. Together, baking powder and baking soda create an iconic bubbly texture that guarantees crunchiness. 

There are various ways to cook the chicken, such as at high heat for a blistered look. Alternatively, you could start them low and crank up the heat during the second half of the time to make baked chicken wings. Mix baking powder with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper before seasoning the wings and baking them on a wire rack so that the heat circulates. Another easy way to cook wings and avoid deep-frying them is to use an air fryer. Finally, serve them with homemade Buffalo sauce and a creamy dip for plenty of flavor.

Eat in a less messy way

When you're home alone and chomping on some chicken wings, who cares if you get a bit messy? Wings are difficult to eat and one off-putting factor against making them is that sauce is sure to get everywhere. If only there was a trick to change all that. When eating chicken wing flats, remove the small bit of cartilage at the wide end, then pull the larger bone out the other end, followed by the smaller one. You end up with a boneless piece of meat that's easier and less messy to enjoy, especially if you're chowing down on some sticky firehouse chicken wings.

Another method is to take a chicken wing flat and twist both ends in different directions. This loosens the bones so you can pull them out, leaving you with a boneless wing. This is a great technique for chicken that is coated in breadcrumbs since it allows the shell to stay intact. An even quicker option is to stand your wings on one end and push the meat down so that it comes away from the bone in one piece. 

Double-fry the wings

There are all sorts of ways to cook chicken wings, but let's face it, frying gives them a moreish taste. However, it doesn't always guarantee the crispiest skin — not unless you double-fry them that is. This is a great tip, but there's a little more to it than just throwing the wings in hot oil twice. The key factor is temperature. Fry the wings briefly at a lower temperature to dry out the skin, then remove them and let them cool. 

When they go back in the oil the second time, the temperature needs to be a lot higher — say 375 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the wings in batches to keep the temperature from dropping. If you're working with battered wings, a good tip is to hold them still in the oil for a moment before releasing them. This allows the outside to crisp up a bit first, minimizing the chance that they stick to the other wings. 

Coat in cornstarch

You can cook chicken wings in so many different ways, from roasting to deep-frying, grilling, or air-frying. But a trick you will always want to use is to coat them in cornstarch. You don't need to add too much to transform the skin into divine crispiness and stop the chicken from drying out. To add some heat without compromising the texture, dust the exterior with a combination of herbs and spices, such as cayenne pepper, after you've sprinkled on the cornstarch. If you're adding a hot sauce afterward, then you might want to keep it simple with cornstarch, salt, and pepper.

Follow an easy Korean fried chicken recipe by first dipping the wings in rice wine vinegar, ginger, salt, and pepper. Then coat them in cornstarch and fry. For the sauce, combine gochujang paste with garlic, soy sauce, ginger, ketchup, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Garnish the crunchy wings with sesame seeds and chopped green onions. Meanwhile, on her YouTube channel, celebrity Hailey Rhode Bieber combines flour with cornstarch and seasoning. Then, she coats buttermilk-brined wings with a beaten egg and tosses them in the cornstarch mix before cooking them in an air fryer. 

Marinate in milk or buttermilk

Aside from crispy skin, the pinnacle of success as far as chicken wings go is ensuring the meat is succulent. Dried-up, tough, and chewy chicken ruins the juicy potential of these moreish snacks. A must-know hack for tenderizing wings is to soak them in milk beforehand. You can also use buttermilk to make the meat even more pleasant. The latter will give the chicken a tangy taste, so if you prefer a neutral flavor then opt for milk instead. Either way, marinate the wings for several hours in the refrigerator.

You can also season the milk with salt and pepper or whatever other flavorings you like. Use herbs, spices, or add a citrus blast. When you come to cook the wings, discard most of the milk or buttermilk. The milk breaks down the chicken proteins, so covering the wings while you cook them will lock in some of the juiciness too.

Toss in sticky sauce after grilling

Chicken wings are extra yummy with sticky sauce and crispy skin. But how do you achieve both? Marinating raw chicken wings infuses them with flavor but it can act as a barrier to crispy skin. The solution is super simple: Toss the wings in sticky sauce after grilling, not before. Stretch out the wings to expose more of the skin for grilling, and secure them in this position with a skewer if desired. Get the skin crispy and ensure the chicken is almost cooked before tossing the wings in a sticky sauce. Then, throw them back on the grill for a few minutes so the sauce caramelizes. 

Try an exclusive from The Grill Dads for a "Better than Buffalo" wings recipe taken from "The Best Grilling Cookbook Ever Written By Two Idiots." Grill the wings for an hour on low heat to dry them out before blasting them at a higher temperature to char. Take them off the grill and toss them in a wok with avocado oil so that the skin sizzles and crisps up. Add a homemade sticky sauce made from honey, hot sauce, garlic, and butter, and watch it thicken up as it coats the wings. 

Make a rice flour batter for Korean-style chicken wings

If you're used to cooking, then you probably know that coating meat in flour before searing it gives the outside a caramelized crisp. However, if you've ever tried Korean-style fried chicken, then you'll know that there's no comparison. The skin is so delicate and brittle that it bubbles and crackles as you bite into it. It's pretty much the ultimate chicken wing, so you'll want to familiarize yourself with the preparation. 

After brining and coating the wings in cornstarch, the big game-changer is to use a batter made with rice flour and water. After they fry in hot oil for a few minutes, brush the wings with whatever sauce you like. Often, once-crispy wings start to lose their texture after they've been tossed in a sticky sauce. Thankfully, the rice flour batter can withstand the sauce without becoming soggy. For an Asian-style coating, make a sauce with honey, soy sauce, Sriracha, butter, garlic, sugar, red pepper flakes, and a dash of fish sauce. 

Add some booze

When you're thinking about boosting flavor, adding a little booze is a no-brainer. Maybe you've made a chicken francese recipe with white wine or a coq au vin with red wine. But what about chicken wings with a beer brine or a bourbon glaze? Pour some beer into a bowl with sugar, salt, and chicken wings and leave the ingredients to work their magic. You can keep the wings in the fridge overnight, but make sure they're soaking for at least 30 minutes to heighten the flavor and juiciness. Remove the wings from the marinade and bake them on a rack. While they are still hot, toss them in wing sauce and serve with Ranch or a blue cheese dip. 

If you like a bolder-tasting glazed chicken wing, then heat bourbon whiskey with maple syrup, Tabasco, rosemary, and tomato paste. Use this to glaze your wings or as a marinade. Either way, save some of the glaze to toss the hot wings at the end for a spectacularly sticky result. 

Brine chicken wings

Brining chicken wings is the best way to increase their tenderness. Get those snackaroos soaking in something briny and your wings will cook up a treat. Add pickle juice to uncooked chicken wings and refrigerate them for a few hours. Be sure not to leave them for too long or they will cure rather than marinate in the brine. Dry off the wings before adding a little oil and seasonings.

You can make your own brine with water, white wine vinegar, salt, and sugar. The brine is absorbed into the wings, making them way juicier while the salt tenderizes the meat. Meanwhile, sugar balances the flavors and also boosts caramelization as the wings cook. The advantage of a wet brine is that you can easily add other ingredients such as brown sugar, garlic, hot sauce, soy sauce, and fresh herbs. Even if you just add salt, be sure to heat up the brine so that the salt dissolves, then cool it down completely before adding the wings. 

Debone and stuff them

If you've never stuffed a chicken wing before, you'll realize you've been missing out big time — and it's not as fiddly as it sounds either. The beauty is that you get all the flavors you want while leaving the chicken skin to turn cracklingly crispy. You might have come across chicken wings stuffed with goodies in Asian cuisine. They are sometimes filled with glass noodles, meat, and cabbage and served with a dipping sauce and sticky rice. At one time, SONA, a fine-dining Indian restaurant in NYC owned by celebrity Priyanka Chopra Jonas, served breadcrumb masala-stuffed chicken wings. 

Try deboning and stuffing a chicken wing yourself. Cut the drumstick part away from the flat part of the wing with a paring knife. Cut the inside around the bone, stand the wing on its end, and push the meat down. Snap off the revealed bone and cover the meat back over with the skin. Stuff it with whatever you like — if you want to stick to good old American fare, then try filling it with mac and cheese.

Dye them for a themed party

Do you love a themed party and the opportunity to have fun when you're cooking in the kitchen? Matching dishes with a specific concept can really make an occasion come together spectacularly, or, if it's a Halloween bash, spooktacularly. You don't have to be super-creative or fiddle around with complex recipes to make a strong impression. Black Halloween bat wings are a fun way to boost the spirit in the fall, and you can adapt the colors to fit with the theme.

Bake seasoned wings in the oven with a homemade black sauce made with barbecue sauce, pineapple juice, ginger paste, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. The key ingredient is black food coloring, or whichever color you desire. After 30 minutes of baking at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, take the wings out and glaze them. Brush on a mix of honey, apple cider vinegar, and black food dye and pop them back in the oven for 10 minutes. This will make the color glisten and also add more tangy-sweet flavors.