If you’re looking for the secret technique to cooking the perfect chicken wings, you’ve come to the right place. All you’ll need is some baking powder.
Chicken wings are often a near-mandatory menu item for social gatherings, but they’re finicky — never quite right from the oven, with disappointingly soggy skin. One methodical foodie has found the perfect home-cooked solution — an overnight soaking of baking powder.
Food writer and chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt went on a search for a homemade wing that delivered the same kind of taste experience as the deep-fried wings and drumettes from a favourite corner bar or pizza stop. The key, he writes, is “well-rendered, blistered, bubbly, crackly skin”, which sauce can cling to and prevents the whole affair from becoming soggy.
A standard oven-baked wing is more slick, doesn’t hold as much sauce and loses its crisp quickly.
After trying a few methods, including a failed tip from food hacker Alton Brown, the wing hunter tried a trick gleaned from lazy Sunday mornings:
Adding a bit of extra baking soda to pancake batter – thereby making the batter more alkaline – improves its browning capabilities. Would the same trick work on my chicken wings? I baked five batches of wings on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
Be sure to read the full post for the how-to on homemade wings, because there’s more to it than just tossing your wings in a tablespoon of baking powder. Overnight open-air refrigeration is required, and the whole process requires day-ahead planning.
Still, from what the author tells us, it’s worth the effort, and you and your guests may not have to surrender quite so much cash, or ingest quite so much oil, to get a great wing.
While you’re boning up (see what I did there?) on preparations, check out a video guide to eating a wing with less mess.
The Food Lab: In Search of the Best Oven-Fried Buffalo Wings [Serious Eats]
This article has been updated since its original publication.