So my timing on this post is probably horrible because if you’re like me (and I’m betting many of your are, at least in this respect!), you’ve probably eaten too much over the last few months and you’re still regretting that cake/chocolate/mousse you had on Valentine’s Day . . . so chicken wings are probably at the way bottom of your must-make-soon list.
Fortunately, these buffalo wings are significantly less fatening than the typical wings because these are baked! And really, really good. Trust me, if you’re willing to spend the time to make them, you may never go back to deep-frying wings (and let’s be honest, who wants to deep fry at home anyway!?!?).
I first learned of this possibility while watching one of my favorite food shows, Alton Brown’s Good Eats. When he broke out a steaming basked to steam the wings before baking them, I thought he was nuts, but then I read the reviews on the recipe page on the Food Network website and realized he must be onto something. So for Super Bowl Sunday, I made these for us and our skeptical friend who came over to watch the game with Adam (no, I did not watch), and even he had to admit these were good.
After steaming the chicken, you lay out the pieces on the rack on top of paper and set the chicken to rest in teh fridge for an HOUR. This is a huge part of why this recipe takes forever to make! This step is definitely crucial in order to get crispy skin, which is the best part of wings in my opinion, so it’s entirely worth the wait. I mean, how horrible would soggy-skinned wings be?? Truly horrible. Look how unappetizing they look on this rack, straight out of the steamer!
After fridge resting and then 40 minutes in the oven (making sure to swap out the paper towels for parchment paper!), they look much more appetizing. The skin crisped up very nicely and they got a gorgeous brown color, but more importantly for the health angle, LOOK AT ALL THE FAT THAT’S ON THE TRAY! All that fat, plus more, is in deep-fried wings. I’m guessing these lost a significant amount of fat based on the sheer volume that accumulated on the baking sheet. Which, by the way, is easily the grossest part of oven-baked wings . . . cleaning this up was not fun!
Much discussion ensued at our Super Bowl “party” about the best hot sauce to use and what ratio of butter to hot sauce was ideal. The one thing that baked wings lack is the rough outside texture you get from deep-frying, so getting the sauce to stick to the wings proved to be a challenge. Alton’s recipe calls for way too much butter in my opinion, which was annoying because of the added fat BUT ALSO because it made the sauce stick even less.
In my adapted recipe below I’ve halved the amount of butter and increased the amount of hot sauce (and doubled the garlic, but that’s because I’m married to a garlic-crazed man!). I also whisked together the butter and sauce to get it to combine better, I found that simply stiring as called for in the recipe produced a very runny sauce that didn’t at all resemble real buffalo wings. When I make this next time I may up the hot sauce even more!
And no, there were no leftovers. 24 wings between 3 people isn’t half-bad, and certainly proves just how good baked buffalo wings are!
Baked Buffalo Wings
Total time start-to-finish: At least 2 hours, plus more if you have to break down the chicken. Be warned!
Related link: How to break down chicken wings step-by-step
- 12 whole chicken wings, cut into 2 pieces, with the tip discarded
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place steamer basket over 1″ of water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Place wings into steamer basket & cover, reduce heat to medium and let steam for 10 minutes. If doubling recipe, do two batches to ensure proper steaming.
Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry with paper towels. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
During the last 10 minutes of resting time (or longer depending on your oven), preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Throw out the paper towels and replace them with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, turning pan once half-way through. Wings are done when meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.
While the chicken is roasting, put the butter and garlic in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with cling wrap, poking a few holes in to let out steam. Microwave butter in 30-second increments until butter is completely melted. Add hot sauce and salt to butter and whip until well combined.
Remove the wings from the oven and add them to the bowl, toss with the sauce.
Serve while hot, with sides of carrot and celery sticks, blue cheese dressing, and a roll of paper towels.