Whether it be roasted, grilled, or pan-fried, chicken is one of the most widely consumed and tasty meats available. Its flexibility in recipes is a huge draw, making it a popular choice of protein. That being said, there’s really only one way to get the best flavor out of your chicken. From wings at your local sports bar, to red-wine stewed at a five-star French bistro, I still think that fried chicken is the single most delicious option on the market today.
How not to fry wings
Throughout my time cooking, I’ve learned that the first time I make something it’s bound to come out wrong. It’s that whole trial and error thing. Luckily I’ve found a way to mitigate my beginner screw-ups. And that’s by knowing what not to do on my first try. Hopefully, this helps you as much as it helped me.
Fry wet chicken
The very first thing you need to do is pat your chicken dry with a paper towel. Make sure you don’t use the cheap ones that won’t hold up to the moisture, the last thing we want is paper towels stuck to our chicken. Sprinkle some coarse salt on the wings to draw out moisture trapped inside of the chicken.
It’s best to dry your chicken because it allows for a crispier, juicier wing once they’ve finished.
Too much flour and cornstarch
Putting flour and cornstarch on wings when prepping is a common technique. I personally like to fry my wings naked (more on that later) but using a flour base is very popular.
However, you should only lightly dust your flour and cornstarch base. Having too much not only creates a soggy NOT-crispy wing, but it also going to rob the wings of flavor. Why? Because flour and cornstarch taste like flour and cornstarch. We’re looking for hot wings, not flour/cornstarch wings here.
This is a big fat duh!! Overcooked wings are brittle, dry, and rubbery, none of which are desirable characteristics. And undercooked wings are just dangerous.
A major factor in not overcooking your wings is the preparation of your wings. Wings that are too cold when you start cooking take longer to fry, meaning you’re burning the outside of the wing before it is fully cooked. Wet wings take longer to crisp meaning you have to keep the wings in the oil too long.
Prep your wings perfectly for a perfect finish.
Cross-contamination is a real thing. And it’s something you want to stay far away from when frying wings. Let me explain.
My brother stayed with me for a few weeks during the holiday season. This brother of mine is an avid fish fryer, and I must say, his fried fish is pretty damn delicious. But he had a nasty habit of using my chicken oil for his fish fry’s and I do mean nasty.
When it was time for me to pull out my stockpot and cook up some wings for my Sunday gatherings my oil reeked of three-day-old tilapia oil (nonfiltered). Needless to say, this is unacceptable.
The point is, keep your chicken oil with chicken. Yes, even if you’ve cleaned and filtered your oil.
Frying chicken wings
Chicken wings are a fun, easy addition to any party menu. Fried chicken wings are extremely easy to make, and there are many ways they can be prepared. There are a few basic rules to follow, otherwise, the only limitation is that of your own imagination.
Fried chicken can be sweet, salty, rich, peppery… the options are endless. Try out a few recipes and add in your own favorite spices to mix things up! No one gets tired of fried chicken.
First things first
The chicken, duh. No matter what type of wings you want to make, the first place to start is with quality chicken. Your local supermarket will probably have some good wings, but it may be worth a stop at the butcher shop to score the freshest cuts of poultry. If you buy a chicken whole, use a set of kitchen shears to separate the wings from the rest of the bird.
When you get home, let the wings air dry for a while. If you’re on a time crunch, pat them down with a clean paper towel, dust them with a little salt and toss the wings in a bit of flour to remove all excess moisture.
Keep the skin on the wings to add to the rich flavor – it’s usually the crunchiest and best part of chicken wings. Keeping the skin on also protects the tender meat underneath.
The wings you purchase are just as important to the taste as the way you season your wings or the type of sauce you toss them in.
When you get your wings, I recommend staying away from the pre-frozen wings. Not that there is anything wrong with them necessarily, but the ice glaze on each wing is somewhat of a nuisance for me. Instead, opt for the fresh wings.
Remember, every time the butcher makes a cut the price goes up. Get a pack of the full wings, it is so much more cost-effective and you can cut them however you like. Some like to keep their wings intact. I like to separate the flats and the drums. It gives the illusion of having a fuller plate, and it’s just an all-around better wing experience.
Flats are by far my favorite part of the wing, albeit much more of a task to eat. True, the flats have less meat on them but the meat to sauce ratio is absolute perfection. You see when eating chicken wings, you are more worried about flavor and texture than you are about how much chicken is on the bone. This is why even the smallest chicken wings still taste amazing.
By no means are drums bad. Sure the sauce to chicken ratio may not be at its most delicious. And yeah they aren’t messy enough. That’s right, the mess is part of the lure of the chicken wing and thus very important. It’s where the phrase “finger-lickin’ good” makes its money.
But the drums are where you get your first taste of how your meal is gonna be. Think about it, you’ve got a plate full of wings but you’re not entirely sure how they fair. Take a drum with one hand, have a bite, and then judge. If the sauce is right, and the texture is proper, then you know it’s time to dig in and make your mess.
The best oil to fry chicken is definitely peanut oil, but if you’re trying to use a healthier option (or you just don’t want your kitchen to smell like a fast food place), you can use sunflower or even canola oil.
Place about 4 cups of oil in a large frying pan, or a deep fryer if you have one, and heat at 350℉. Let the oil heat up while you marinate the chicken, so it’s already hot when you’re ready to cook.
You can also try some sesame oil to switch up the flavor profile of the wing a bit. It pairs great with your hotter versions of hot sauce.
What are we cooking the wings in?
There are a few different ways to fry your wings. You’ve got the deep fryer, of course, this isn’t my favorite option but there is no denying the convenience of it. You’ve also got cast iron pans. I like to use a hefty stockpot.
See when I make wings, I’m typically making a huge batch. A large stockpot allows me to make a Super Bowl party’s worth of wings without having to do too many batches.
Before you start, check out my guide to the best pan for deep frying.
This is something many people too often seem to overlook. Obviously, most of us at least put sauce on the wings, but you might try and take it a step further. Mix up some sauces, just make sure you choose sauces that compliment each other well.
If you are cooking for a group of people, make a batch that isn’t too hot. This can easily be done by adding butter to your hot sauce. This makes the sauce milder but keeps the flavor of the sauce.
Ways to fry
When you think of fried chicken, you most likely envision tossing the chicken in flour and egg before putting in the oil. You can definitely do this, just make sure you don’t have too much flour on it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with soggy wings, the complete opposite texture you’re supposed to have.
While a lot of people use flour, maybe even most people, it isn’t a necessity. In fact, I would argue throwing the wings in naked (still seasoned of course) yields the best results. This is purely subjective of course, but people seem to genuinely enjoy my wings. Give it a shot at least once in your life.
Double fried wings are exactly what it sounds like it is – wings that are fried two times. This is a great way to get that crispy outer surface while keeping that tender melt off the bone interior we all know and love.
So how is it done?
Once you’ve got your wings seasoned and marinated you’ll want to heat your oil between 275° to 300° Fahrenheit. This is a beautiful process known as blanching. What it does is cook the wing to a near finish, giving way to the next phase, crisping (not an actual term).
Next, heat your oil up to the proper frying temperature, and let the wings cook for a few minutes until you’ve got a beautiful golden, unbelievably crispy outer shell.
Toss in your favorite sauce and serve.
This is by far my favorite method. All it needs is regular ole chicken wings. No flour, no corn starch, just oil and seasoning. Frying your wings naked keeps them perfectly moist and juicy while letting the outside of the wing harden, creating a crispier surface – it is very similar to the result of searing and braising meats.
Start with buttermilk and two eggs. If you want a sweeter flavor, add a little honey to this batter! (Don’t tell anyone I told you, that’s an old southern fried chicken secret.) Whisk together, then add your chicken wings. Let it marinate for about 30-45 minutes in the fridge and make your flour-based, flavorful mixture in the meantime.
Check out McCormick Original Buffalo Wing Seasoning Mix (12 Pack) at Amazon
In a medium bowl, add flour, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Mix together until all ingredients are combined well. When the chicken is done marinating, take each wing out one by one, let the excess liquid drip off, then cover generously with this dry mixture.
When the wings get spicy, cool it down with a margarita. Here are the best margarita machines for your home.
Drop it like it’s hot
Actually, *place* it like it’s hot. The oil will be extremely hot at this point, so be very careful not to get burned. Fry your wings in batches of 5-10, depending on how big your pan is.
It usually takes about 10 minutes to cook chicken all the way through and get the desired golden-brown color. If you want super crunchy skin, keep it in a little longer, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn! To protect everything you own from becoming covered in grease, get a splatter screen.
Using a pair of tongs, take the wings out of the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil or grease.
What about a chili seasoning for your next batch of chicken wings? Learn how to dry whole chilis to store in your spice cupboard.
Wait a little while for the chicken to cool and season with salt before digging in! Dip your wings in hot sauce, ranch, or enjoy the fried, crunchy goodness plain. You really can’t go wrong! Remember, wings are not just made for flying… they are also made for frying.
Check out McIlhenny’s Tabasco Brand Buffalo Style Hot Sauce (2 Pack) at Amazon
You may not realize it, but the clean-up is a huge deal when it comes to making your next batch of wings. And the reason for this is simple. Dirty oil makes nasty wings with a bitter burnt taste.
Of course, you could buy a new bottle of oil each time you make wings, but this is a cost-ineffective way of cooking. And here at thekitchenprofessor.com, we are all about cost-efficiency. Instead, filter the oil you use after each use.
You’ll need some tools for this of course. You should get a filter and a funnel. They also sell filter stands but I find a regular ole funnel does the trick just as well. Replace your filter after every couple of uses or so, preferably after every use.
The process is simple, put the filter in a funnel and pour the dirty oil back into an empty bottle. I like to go through this process a couple of times to be sure I’ve got everything.
Oh, and make sure you let your oil cool all the way down before doing this.
As amazingly simple as frying wings is, it’s also easy to deep-fry the whole chicken.