A big platter stacked with crispy, saucy chicken wings is one of the easiest, most sure-fire ways to bring people together. If you’re hosting a game-day watch party—or any kind of watch party, if you ask us—you’ll maximize your fun if you have plenty of chicken wings on hand.
A must-have at every Game Day watch party, a perfect plate of wings—whether you call ’em hot, buffalo, or chicken—is more doable than it seems. All any home cook needs is a bit of preparation, plus some tips and tricks from expert BBQer and Head Country Brand Ambassador Doug Scheiding of Rogue Cookers, and gone are the days of dry meat, soggy skin, and flavorless party food.
First things first: Start by grabbing a batch of whole-wing sections from your local grocer. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, separate the wing tips from the rest of the wing, and then divide the drummette from the flat part of the wing. From here, you’re ready to rock all the tips and tricks below.
And here’s a bonus: with the right ingredients, a spread of low-carb wings can be the start of a whole new relationship with game-day finger foods.
How to Make Crispy Buffalo Wings
While a stack of hot, crispy wings will bring all your friends and family to the table, there is nothing quite as disappointing as wings that turn out soggy. A bite into a wing with skin that has crunch and bite is as sublime as chewing on cold, wet chicken skin is sad.
One of the best ways to guard against soggy wings? According to Scheiding, crispy wings start with air drying them before cooking. Air dry wings in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours—even overnight, Scheiding said.
Another of Doug’s hot tips: brine chicken wings in pickle juice. Not only does an overnight bath in this zesty solution add some flavor, but it’s a second-to-none technique to ensure moist, tender meat.
If marinated chicken wings are the order of the day, Scheiding advises to skip soy sauce and opt for Head Country All-Purpose Marinade. Give the bottle of marinade a good shake before using—it will change your wing game forever (and your entire grill game, too, if you let it).
So, what should home cooks NOT do if crispy wings is the goal? Skip the dredge in cornstarch before cooking, Scheiding said. It’s a common piece of advice, and while the immediate result is a crispy skin, it doesn’t hold up as the chicken cools on the plate.
Should You Bake, Grill, or Fry Chicken Wings?
The debate rages on: should buffalo wings be baked, grilled, or fried? The truth is, there is no correct answer. The important thing, as always, is juicy, flavorful meat and crispy skin.
For fried wings, Scheiding recommends using a deep Dutch Oven heated on your stovetop or grill.
If you bake, bake the wings without sauce. Toss the wings in sauce after they have cooled a bit. Be sure to not overcrowd the baking sheet with wings. Each wing needs some breathing room so that the skin crisps, rather than steams.
If grilling, don’t cook hotter than 325 degrees with high-sugar sauces and rubs, or you will have a batch of burnt wings, Scheiding said. Dipping wings in sauce is both fun and delicious, but don’t add them back to the grill after a dunk—that is, unless you want a mess. Smoke the wings on low, then reverse sear for crispier skin. When turning wings on the grill, use a pigtail flip tool, not tongs—no one likes the idea of squeezing the delicious juices out of a perfectly good chicken wing. Use grapeseed oil for your binder before adding seasonings.
If saucy wings are the local crowd favorite, whether the wings are baked, grilled, or fried, just make sure the sauce is warmed before dipping the wings, Scheiding said. The result will be an even, shiny coat of sauce, and the perfect sweet-and-spicy foil for crispy chicken skin.
How to Make the Best Sauce Ever for Buffalo Wings
Of course we’re biased when it comes to deciding which sauce goes best on chicken wings.
Our competition BBQ teams love our Apple Habanero sauce right out of the bottle as a glaze for chicken wings. Our Chipotle sauce is the star in Scheiding’s own Chipotle Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Glaze. We love our Hot & Spicy sauce with this recipe for Sweet & Spicy wings. Our Original sauce really shines on these Beer Brined & Barbecued Chicken Wings. Our Sweet & Sticky sauce is the star of the show on these Sweet & Sticky Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken Wings.
Scheiding has a favorite buffalo sauce recipe: 1/2 Head Country Original BBQ sauce, 1/2 Franks RedHot Original Hot Sauce. We have even more +1 sauce and glaze recipes perfect for chicken wings over on our Facebook treasure trove of recipe videos and how-tos.
How to Make Low-Carb Buffalo Wings
For BBQ fans watching sugar intake, there is no reason to avoid the snack table at the next game-day watch party when there are plenty of wings at the ready.
The keys to making chicken wings low-carb is to skip any rubs, seasonings, or marinades with a high amount of sugar, and to go with a sugar-free sauce.
We love Head Country Sugar Free right out of the bottle on wings, and it’s terrific mixed with hot sauce, too. For fans of a sweeter taste with notes of fruit, it’s easy to set up a small sauce pan and gently heat together some Head Country Sugar Free and sugar-free preserves.
And Finally, the Religious Wing Questions
There are no right or wrong answers to these quintessential wing questions, Scheiding said. Ask them at your next game-day watch party, though, and get a free show at half time (or at least a rousing conversation):
Which is the best part of the chicken wing: the drums, or the flats?
What’s the best way to cook chicken wings: fried, grilled, or baked?
Should chicken wings be sauced, or naked?
What’s the best dipping sauce for buffalo wings: blue cheese dressing, Ranch dressing, or no dipping sauce at all?
Should you serve vegetables with a plate of buffalo wings? Yes or no?
All Our Favorite Chicken Wings Recipes
We wing it whenever we can here at Head Country, and over the years we have collected some of wings recipes that beat all else. The full list of our favorite chicken wings recipes is right here at HeadCountry.com.