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How to Make Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings in the Oven

Step away from the deep fryer and try these healthier buffalo wings on for size.

Buffalo wings on a plate
Buffalo wings don't have to be deep-fried to be delicious.
CNET

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Air fryers still reign supreme for making chicken wings without much fuss and without any oil. If you don't have one, peep our list of the best air fryers for 2022. In the meantime, you can make excellent Buffalo wings in the oven with this technique that'll make you forget all about the oily, heavy, deep-fried wings you're used to.

Baked Buffalo wings are naturally high in protein and have fewer calories than their fried counterparts. But with the right method, you can get baked chicken wings just as crispy as any other way. Unlike deep frying, though, baking requires a bit more strategy and some attention to detail to turn out wings that are juicy inside and crispy on the outside. 

In this chicken wing tutorial we'll answer your burning questions like how long do you bake chicken wings? And what if the wings are frozen? Also, which is superior, drumsticks or flats? (Just kidding, you'll have to answer that one on your own.)

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For perfectly crispy baked chicken wings, just follow the below tips. We've even included the essential tools needed for making wings along with a few baked chicken wing recipes to get you started. Baking your wings doesn't require mountains of technical skill, but following basic rules is important. (For more, check out the best smart ovens and best toaster ovens we've tested). 

Read also: The Best Way to Reheat Leftovers? Not a Microwave

Amazon

An extra-large baking sheet fits a whole flock of wings and the rack elevates above the dripping fat -- or can be used for cooling.

Porter Road

Start with high-quality chicken wings. Jolly Barnyard's pasture-raised birds have room to move, get fresh air and eat a varied diet free of added hormones and antibiotics. The shipment of 2 to 2.5 pounds of wings arrives frozen.

How to bake chicken wings in the oven

1. Decide how many wings you need. Generally speaking, budgeting six to eight wings per person is wise, depending on what else is being served. A variety of sauces and dips will keep things interesting.

2. Make sure the wings are washed and patted completely dry. Preparing the wings beforehand is as important as anything to achieve crispy results, so don't skip the drying step.

3. To lock in moisture and also help the skin develop crispiness, most chefs encourage a light coating of baking powder and/or white flour. If you're trying to avoid those two ingredients, trusted food nerd Alton Brown suggests lightly steaming the wings for 10 minutes to render the fat, which naturally helps to crisp skin during cooking.

4. If you're doing a dry rub like Cajun seasoning or jerk spices, apply to the wings before cooking. Otherwise, wings are tossed in a wet sauce afterward (but never before).

5. Place the wings in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Feel free to line it with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, and place the wings on a wire rack set within the pan so the fat drips down (optional).

6. Bake the wings at 350 degrees for 1 hour, turning them over halfway through. This helps the skin crisp relatively quickly without drying out the inside. Optional: A good, if slightly more caloric tip comes from Mark Bittman who suggests a little extra fat to baste the wings while they cook, still flipping them partway through. Not only do they stay moist, according to Bittman, but they get beautifully browned, too.

7. For truly crispy skin, turn the oven up to 425-450 degrees during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. Or, broil the wings for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. If you're basting per Mark Bittman or the wings are baking in some of their own juices in a tray, you may cook them for longer without the risk of them drying out. Just look for a crispy skin to develop and don't exceed 90 minutes of total cooking time.

8. You can follow these same basic rules and processes to make frozen chicken wings crispy in the oven, too. Just make sure to pat them dry especially well before cooking, as ice may have formed on the skin.

9. Once cooked, it's saucin' time. There are a million and one sauce (and dip) recipes to try, from classic Buffalo with blue cheese to international flavors like soy, garlic, teriyaki, ginger and even curry.

Here are some favorite wing recipes to get you started:

Crispy oven-baked Buffalo wings

This clip from RecipeTin Eats' Nagi Maehashi teases the use of a rack to drain juices for less fat and more crispiness. Get Maehashi's recipe for truly crispy oven-baked Buffalo wings.

Smoky rubbed wings with molasses

Smoky rubbed wings with molasses ready to be eaten
Quentin Bacon

Beauty & Essex chef Chris Santos' recipe uses molasses, honey and bourbon. A smoky spice rub and a doctored barbecue sauce make his baked-then-broiled wings irresistible.

Soy-glazed wings

Soy chicken wings on a platter
Chowhound

These sweet wings are great as is, but add some fresh chives, sesame, crushed red pepper or diced garlic for a multilayered sauce. Tasting Table's recipe uses rice flour to dredge the chicken, giving it the added bonus of being airy, crispy and gluten-free.

Maple-mustard barbecue wings

Maple-mustard barbecue wings in a plastic basket
Chowhound

Christine Gallary's recipe is easily adapted to the oven-baked method. Just brush the wings with the sauce in the last few minutes of cooking so it caramelizes a bit but doesn't burn.  

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