January 14, 2014

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings with Sweet Asian Hot Wing Sauce

Me:  OHMUHGAH, I read THE most amazing, life-changing article on BAKING chicken wings in the oven that are actually CRISPY!

Beth:  Me too!

Me:  Can you believe the secret is to… Wait. You’re making fun of me aren't you?

Beth:  Yep!

Jessica:  I knew something was up because when does Beth read??

Me:  I know, right?!

Beth:  Hey! Don’t make fun of me, Mandy’s the only dork who would get that excited reading about chicken wings.

Me:  This is true.

So, I came across this article months ago and it just blew my mind! I love chicken wings but I hate cooking them because frying them is a major time-consuming, expensive, messy undertaking and baking them has always yielded gummy, sticky, fatty wings. Wings have to be crispy! But ain't nobody got time to fry them!

And yes, I am a total dork when it comes to food. If I found a marathon of Alton Brown’s Good Eats on TV I wouldn't be able to leave the couch. Learning the whys of cooking is just fascinating to me. And the scientific approach that chefs like Alton Brown and websites like Serious Eats take have taught me how to create better recipes.

So, anyway, this article from Serious Eats goes into all the technical reasons why, but ultimately, to get crispy wings from the oven, you have to desiccate them or dry them out first. You do this by coating them in baking soda or baking powder (both natural desiccants) and leaving them in the refrigerator, uncovered for several hours (refrigerators dehydrate). In the article the wings doused in the baking soda browned much more than the baking powder so I decided to used baking soda. The Serious Eats recipe also calls for salt but I found my first batch to be waaaaay too salty (and I only used half of the amount they call for). Since baking soda is already salty and the salt was only a minor player in the drying out process, I omitted it in my second batch. The second batch was still perfectly crispy and not too salty. Yay!

I know many of you will feel weird about leaving chicken out in the open in your refrigerator. Just remember to have everything else sealed up so no smells or germs are floating around and I think you’ll be good.

I bought this 3-tier cooling rack at Wal-Mart for less than $10 to dry my wings. I needed one anyway and using a stackable rack made it much easier to find room in the fridge for all these wings.

Now, about the sauce! Remember that little honky tonk I worked in waaaaay back in college? Well, we had ah maze ing wings! And I've never had anything like them anywhere else. The story goes that the recipe came from one of the bigwig wing places that hit the scene during the Buffalo Wing explosion in the early 90’s. Our hot wing sauce wasn't the typical, cloying, orangey-red chili pepper based sauce, but more of a glaze that was a little sweet. I've always thought of it as sort of a sweet Asian hot wing sauce so that’s what I’m going to call it!

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings
4 pounds chicken wing sections
1 tablespoon new baking soda*
Black pepper
Equipment: cooling racks

Carefully dry chicken wings with clean kitchen towels or paper towels (really do a good job at this – there can’t be any moisture left on the wings). Arrange wings on cooling racks in a single layer. Sprinkle wings with half of the baking soda (I added mine to an old spice jar to make easy work of the sprinkling). Flip wings and sprinkle the other side with the remainder of the baking soda. UPDATE: Do NOT use more than one tablespoon of baking soda (see below).

Place wings, on racks, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours.

Season wings with black pepper (do not add salt – the baking soda is plenty salty) then arrange in a single layer on one extra-large or two normal baking pans sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake wings at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip wings then continue baking for 15-20 minutes longer or until crispy and golden brown.

Toss wings with wing sauce and serve immediately.

*Baking soda picks up odors once opened so I think it’s a good idea to play it safe and buy a new box. New baking soda is also much easier to sprinkle.

UPDATE: Someone contacted me a while back saying the wings put off a terrible ammonia odor when they were cooking so they were afraid to eat them (I would have been too!). After talking with her I was convinced she just had a bad batch of chicken wings. But then a good friend of mine told me the exact same thing happened to her. So I started doing some investigating and found out she'd a) used a ton of baking soda (waaay more than 1 tablespoon) and b) didn't dry her wings. I did some research and learned that too much baking soda can give off an ammonia-like smell and soapy taste. So don't use more than one tablespoon. It really will coat four pounds of wings. I've made these several times now and they've turned out perfect every time! I don't know if the fact that she didn't dry her wings factored into this or not but it might be possible the water intensified or "activated" whatever's in baking soda that causes this.

Sweet Asian Hot Wing Sauce
makes enough for about 30 wings
2/3 cup hot sauce (such as Texas Pete or Frank’s)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Discard garlic when ready to serve.

I like to add fresh ginger and red pepper flakes also.

This recipe was featured at the Weekend Potluck!


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  1. Never thought I'd say a chicken wing was pretty, but oh my goodness - they are gorgeous! (Great picture!) I bet they were yummy too! I would have never thought of this technique. Can't wait to try it!

    1. Using baking soda just seasons the chicken right? You won't taste it?

    2. It doesn't season it, it just helps dry out the skin.

  2. I'm so excited about this recipe I can hardly contain myself. :) BUT I'm trying to figure out how only 1 Tablespoon of baking soda is going to cover 4 pounds of wings, front and back? I know I get heavy handed a lot of the time (Kind of like my lead foot) but even as sparingly as I think I could get. I'm still sure I can't make 1Tbsp go that far. HELP :) Thanks Mandy, You are Awesome! Oh and these look so good I think I can lick the screen and taste them!

    1. I thought the SAME thing when I first saw this recipe! But 4 pounds is really not that much. I had about 30 medium-sized wings. And you really just need a light dusting of the baking soda.

      I think it's important to A) buy a new box so the baking soda is nice and "fluffy" and not hard, B) try to find an old spice container with shaker lid to help ensure you get nice, even coverage, C) place the wings close together when you start shaking so no baking powder gets wasted.

      I actually had a tad left over when I did mine :)

      And if you don't have enough to go around, the world won't come to an end if you use more. Just remember that baking soda is salty and that you don't want a coating so thick that it gets clumpy on the wings.

    2. What about shaking them in a ziplock? Do you think that might work?

    3. Since you are my cooking Guru I put my trust in you. I knew I shouldn't question it but I thought for sure it had to be a typo. lol
      I'm really good at repurposing things so I'm sure I can find an almost empty spice container that I can use.
      On my shopping list besides Chicken wings is Baking soda :) I'm so excited to have some "Shut your mouth. These can't be baked wings" THANK YOU!

    4. That's what I should have called them!!

      To Anonymous' point, the original recipe said to toss the wings with baking soda so I image the zip-top bag might work. My fear about that method was that it wouldn't get evenly distributed.

    5. Hi Mandy, Just wanted to update you on these AWESOME WINGS! :) Valentines Day is my daughter's birthday. We had a BIG surprise party for her and I made these wings. HUGE HIT!!!! I was worried they would be a little too spicy but it was the perfect amount of spice, and I added the Red Pepper Flakes too. ALSO the amount of baking soda was just fine... I shouldn't have questioned YOU!!! Geez! Anyway..... THANK YOU SO MUCH for such a great recipe... one of many!

    6. YAY!!! I am so happy to hear this and THANK YOU for taking the time to let me know! Happy birthday to Sheri Junior!

  3. I love baked wings! These look so delicious. Definitely going to give these a try.

  4. Oh, I am so glad I found your website! Somehow, through Pinterest. LOVE IT. I am trying this pronto. And the Suck It Betty Crocker Cake! Thank you sister, for sharin' your food smarts with the world. Cook on, cook on.

    Leah from Indy

  5. I am not a fan of sweet, so I will likely try one of those typical orangey-red buffalo sauces, but I will use your method to prep and bake the wings. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Oh this process is a little tooo long and unrealistic. While I love this picture and the wing sauce I could never wait a day to eat my wings. There are other low fat techniques to get a wing crispy while baking. Thanks but I'll pass.... oh hiiii :-)

    1. Honey, where I'm from, we start cooking the good stuff yesterday!

  7. Hi if I didn't want to let sit til tomorrow in the fridge would the recipe still be okay? Want to do this tonight!

    1. I don't think the baking soda would have had time to do its thing. Maybe skip the baking soda and just cook longer? I'd really try to wait until tomorrow :o)

    2. Thanks for the reply. I've just put in the oven and let is sit for an hour. If it works I'll let you know. If not I will be patient next time. Thanks for the great recipe.

  8. I'm fixing to South my Mouth so hard on these!

  9. Thanks for the recipe! I was looking for an easier way to make Asian chicken ( the list of ingredients for the sauce was rather long and expensive), so I really LOVE this one!

  10. spectacular... the sauce was so good we were even dipping our fries in it!!! also I bypassed the baking soda (i didnt have any) and replaced it with salt and corn starch and I think i had the same crisping effect. I also used Sriracha instead of regular hot sauce because its what i had. Im not sure if it changed the spice level but it was hot and still perfect... best easy recipe ive ever made

  11. This looks delicious! You mentioned you like to add ginger. Do you use fresh or ground ginger (Im thinking fresh)? How much ginger & red pepper flakes???

    1. Oh, I'd say about 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Start there and taste to see if you want more :)

  12. If you really want a crispy and delicious wing, bake the sauce with the wings rather than tossing the wings into the sauce after baking. That just makes them messy to eat.

  13. Please excuse me if this has already been answered. After I finish the 18-24 hr baking soda method could I flash freeze the wings to bake a few days later? Great website!

  14. Great recipe! I made these yesterday for our first football game of the season! Wow they were so great! Hubby said to print the recipe out and make them more and more.!!

  15. I learned the reasom for bad taste is most recipes use backing powder. It has to be without aluminum, though My first batch of wings was with baking powder with aluminum and I had to dump them. Later I read a recipe that stated that the baking powder needs to be aluminum free. I also thing the added ingredients in BP takes away the bad taste. My next bunch of wings came out terrific! Check out "Crispy Honey Srirachi chicken Wings" on Allrecipes

  16. This recipe for how to make Crispy Oven Baked Wings is a discovery by the genius folk over at Cook’s Illustrated. Baking powder is the key not baking soda, and your right about the aluminum.


Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy

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