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Better Than Buffalo Wings

Better Than Buffalo Wings


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Better Than Buffalo Wings

If you like wings, you're going to love these! This interesting combination of ingredients can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a couple of days until ready to use. Don't forget to include blue cheese or sour cream dip and lots of celery sticks.

Click here to see Beyond Sriracha: Sambal Oelek.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 Cup vinegar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3/4 Cups olive oil
  • 3/4 Cups Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 Cup sambal oelek
  • 1/4 Cup chopped garlic
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 48 chicken wings

Baked vs. Fried Buffalo Wings | Taste Test

Buffalo wings are serious business, and Buffalonians are even more so. They seem to troll the internet in packs looking for posts about hot wings, and if the recipe does not meet authentic standards, it is deemed a "CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY" (the commenters tend to favor capital letters). One has even suggested that anyone who deviates from the strict rules of Buffalo wing authenticity ought to "sharpen a pencil and stab yourself in the eye."

Maybe they have a right to be so uppity. There doesn't seem to be much objection to the fact that the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, invented Buffalo wings, which have since become a staple American food.

As Calvin Trillin noted in his 1980 New Yorker article on what was then an emerging local specialty, there is "no serious quarrel with the basic story of how the Buffalo chicken wing was invented," though there are a couple variations about the exact circumstances.

Suffice it to say that the wings were a one-off accident, put together with a mistaken order or the odds-and-ends left over in the kitchen. The accident, however, was so delicious that everyone started asking for wings and soon every bar in Buffalo was serving them. The rest is history.

What It Takes to Be a Real Buffalo Wing

There are two essential aspects of authentic Buffalo wings: they must be deep-fried and cooked without any kind of breading. In Buffalo, the wings are put directly in the oil until cooked through and golden, then tossed in a sauce made of half butter and half hot sauce, with perhaps a few other secret seasonings thrown in there.

The wings should be infused with "Buffalo flavor" in every bite: vinegary, buttery, spicy. The purpose of deep-frying is to achieve a tender interior and crisp exterior, which remains crisp even as it soaks up the tangy sauce.

But chicken wings have plenty of interior fat already (delicious, delicious chicken fat). They baste themselves quite effectively as they bake. In fact, it's rather hard to dry them out, which in theory makes extraneous frying fat seem superfluous.

The Million-Dollar Buffalo Wing Question

Could Buffalo wings, a Super Bowl finger food staple, be baked instead of fried and still retain all their finger lickin' flavor? Would they still crisp up in the oven and be as delicious as Buffalo's original fried version?

The Baked vs. Fried Wings Project

The baking method, besides just the healthier (well, slightly) perk, is also far more appealing when serving to guests. Who wants to man a dangerous pot of bubbling oil—sweating and inhaling vaporized fat—while everyone else is nursing a beer on the couch? Wouldn't it be better to put the wings in the oven, know they're cooking at the perfect temperature, and relax?

To get to the bottom of the issue, I prepared four batches of wings (with slightly variations in procedure) then cooked them side-by-side in the same oven to ensure consistent temperatures and cooking times.

The results were surprising.

The Batches

Batch 1: The Anchor Bar's Original Frying Method. My first batch was drawn directly from the Anchor Bar's website itself. They suggest frying in oil, but offer the alternative directions: "Bake at 425°F for 45 minutes until completely cooked and crispy. Put in bowl, add sauce and toss." Done.

Batch 2: Frying then Sauce-Painting. My second batch was almost the same as the first but with one change: with ten minutes remaining in the cooking time, I painted the wings with sauce in hopes that the flavor would bake into the meat and form a glaze.

Batch 3: Marinating then Baking. For the third batch, I tossed the uncooked chicken in Buffalo sauce and let it marinate for an hour or so, then baked them, hoping the sauce would not only form a delicious glaze, as in batch 2, but also flavor the interior of the meat.

Batch 4: Flour-Coating then Baking. Maybe just because I'm spiteful of "authenticity" claims, I did a final batch tossed with flour before baking. Spitefulness aside, many recipes call for flour and I liked the idea of creating an even crisper exterior to soak up the sauce.

The Results

Batch 1: The Most Disappointing. The wings prepared according to the official Anchor Bar recipe were the most disappointing. They crisped up well but when I tossed them after cooking, the sauce didn't penetrate the meat enough. They tasted great (because chicken wings tossed in a tangy buttery sauce always will) but I found myself dipping half-eaten wings into the puddle of sauce because I wanted more flavor.

Batch 2: Also Very Disappointing. The batch where I painted sauce on for the last ten minutes tasted practically the same as the first. Originally I thought this step would infuse them with spicy flavor, but the sauce is butter-based and melted away in the high heat of the oven, carrying with it most of the flavor. It was also a hassle to interrupt the cooking, pull out a hot baking sheet, and mess with sauce-painting.

Batch 3: Flavor-Packed Meat. This batch got a one-hour bath in the tangy Buffalo sauce before cooking. In reality, I don't think this really did much to penetrate the meat. Since the marinade was butter-based, it actually began to solidify as I tossed it with the cold, raw chicken wings and probably didn't seep much flavor into the meat during the hour. But in the oven, this method proved its worth and more. As the wings cooked, the sauce melted slowly into the meat, penetrating it with flavor all the way to the bone. Then it created a glaze that turned crisp, encasing a tender interior infused with flavor.

Batch 4: Wonderful Crust. Though not true Buffalo wings to anyone from Buffalo, tossing baked wings with flour is a common technique. (If you simply call them "hot wings" and skip the "Buffalo" part, no one will come chasing you. So you're welcome to do so.) I used 1/3 cup of flour per pound of wings and tossed them thoroughly to coat. As the wings baked they developed a wonderful crust. After they were through cooking and tossed with the sauce, the thin outer layer absorbed loads of sauce without getting soggy.

The Verdict

By a good margin, Batches 3 and 4 were clear winners. I'd give the edge, though, to Batch 3 for the penetrating, tangy flavor the wings possessed. Most important, this method is perfectly suited to the oven and actually has a distinct advantage over the original deep-frying method.

The buttery sauce melted into the wings, which would never work in a pot of bubbling oil—the marinade would simply dissipate and disappear. So I like that this one-ups the deep-fry-only authenticity-mongers.

However, those looking for a wonderful crisp exterior—and who aren't concerned as religiously with authenticity—might prefer the floured version. It was delicious, too, and in a different way.


Recipe Summary

  • 3 pounds chicken wings, separated at joints, tips discarded
  • 1 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle cola-flavored carbonated beverage
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

In a large pot, mix together the hot sauce, cola, cayenne pepper, black pepper and soy sauce. Add the wings to the sauce - frozen is okay. Place the pot to one side of the grill, so the sauce comes to a simmer.

Use tongs to fish wings out of the sauce, and place them on the grill for 8 to 10 minutes. Then return to the sauce to simmer. Repeat this process for about 50 minutes. The sauce will thicken. When the chicken is tender and pulls easily off of the bone, you have two options. You can dip one last time and serve for sloppy style wings, or serve right off the grill for dryer wings.


Preheat oven to 220°C and line an oven tray with foil. Put flour, paprika, cumin, thyme and garlic powder in a large zip lock bag. Season generously with salt and pepper and shake well to combine. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut each wing into 3 pieces, discarding tips. Add chicken to bag, seal, then shake well to coat. Arrange chicken on prepared tray and set aside for 10 minutes to marinate.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Put tomato sauce and butter in a small bowl and stir until combined. Using a pastry brush, baste chicken with tomato sauce mixture. Bake for a further 15 minutes, basting every 3 minutes or until chicken is glossy and sticky.

Serve chicken with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing on the side.


Crispy Buffalo Broccoli Wings

Vegan wings made of cauliflower are a dime a dozen these days, so where’s the love for our greener vegetable friend? These crispy garlic buffalo broccoli wings are going to become your new favorite finger food!

When you think about hors d’oeuvres to serve at the Super Bowl, a broccoli appetizer may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but lightly battering and breading broccoli, and then baking it until perfectly crisp, actually makes for a wonderful crunchy starter that’s full of flavor.

One of the worst ways to eat broccoli is to overcook it, and this method of battered broccoli protects you from that fate because the broccoli wings will be crisp-tender around the same time the breadcrumb coating starts to brown. (Just like with my Thai Peanut Cauliflower Wings). Texture, texture, texture!

As someone who is still a vegan butter skeptic, despite being a solid 8-9 years into my vegan lifestyle, in creating this recipe I had to finally figure out what to do about buffalo sauce.

In the past I’ve tried substituting vegan butter with straight up coconut oil and wasn’t happy with the greasy results. Eventually I realized that in order to make up for the roundness of flavor provided by butter, a blend of oils and a bit of ketchup did the trick, plus some cornstarch to hold it all together.

I love spicy food but feel free to use a milder hot sauce or adjust the hot sauce to ketchup ratio to suit your tastes. And be sure to cool off by dipping these buffalo broccoli wings into a bowl of vegan ranch :).


The Epicurious Blog

In honor of the Super Bowl this coming weekend--it might as well be nicknamed the Buffalo Wingathon--I figured it was my duty to Epicurious readers to test which method of cooking makes the best Buffalo wings. To be fair, I purposely did the test in my own home kitchen to get the full effect of each technique. I&aposm not blessed with miles of counter space, good ventilation, nor a human dishwasher manning the sink--home cooking conditions don&apost get more realistic than this.

The original Buffalo wings, as we all know by now, were fried without any coating or batter and then tossed in a mixture of melted butter and Frank&aposs RedHot Original Red Hot Sauce. On the Frank&aposs RedHot website, their current recipe calls for baking the wings at high heat. "Alternate Cooking Directions" list deep-frying, broiling, or grilling. I&aposm grill-challenged in my apartment, so I fried, baked, and broiled the chicken wings to arrive at the pros and cons of each method.

BAKING: Frank&aposs recommends baking the wings at 500ଏ. for 20 to 25 minutes on a foiled-lined rimmed baking sheet, turning them once.

Pro: The skin gets pretty crisp.

-I hate to crank up my oven to 500ଏ. It makes the whole kitchen too hot and I feel like I&aposll singe my eyebrows when I open the oven door.

-The skin sticks easily to the foil--even if you toss the wings with some oil first--which means you have to peel the wings from the foil very carefully.

-You risk overcooking the wings to get them golden (I did).

BETTER BAKING: I remembered that Kelly Senyei, a former colleague at Epicurious, is a fan of baked wings, and on her website, Justataste, she advocates baking them on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet at 400ଏ. I split the difference between Frank&aposs and Kelly&aposs and set the oven at 450ଏ. Tossing your wings with a little oil and some salt first is essential. I used 2 tablespoons oil for 3 pounds of wings.

-Once the oven door closes, the wings cooked in 25 minutes. It&aposs hassle free! I was able to shift my focus in the kitchen to something else for a while.

-The skin turned out crisp and pale golden all around.

-Baking brings out a succulence in the wings that you don&apost get when either frying or broiling.

Cons: The skin stuck a tiny bit to the rack, but only with a few wings. I&aposd oil the rack in the future.

FRIED: I heated 1 3/4-inches of vegetable oil (one 1 1/2-quart bottle) in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart pot to 375ଏ. It took about 7 to 10 minutes to fry each batch.

Pro: The skin is crisp all the way around.

-I had to fry the wings in small batches. A lot of wings means a lot of batches.

-I couldn&apost take my eyes away from the wings for a second. It&aposs way too stressful for a Super Bowl party.

-My whole apartment smelled like KFC afterwards.

BROILING: I set the broiler on high and put the rack about 5 inches from the heat. Frank&aposs says 6 inches but my oven rack settings wouldn&apost cooperate. It took about 15 to 20 minutes, turning them once.

Pro: Nothing

-You can&apost relax because you have to constantly check to see that they aren&apost burning.

-The skin burned in spots anyway and looked grossly pale in other spots.

-There was no advantage to broiling.

THE WINNER: Baked Wings! I&aposd rather call them Roasted Buffalo Wings--sounds better, right? The ease of cooking and the moist meaty results make this method ideal. Although frying does produce the crispiest skin, there are too many downsides to frying at home.

THE TAKEAWAY: However you cook your wings, don&apost focus on the color. As long as the skin is crisp, you&aposre fine. The sauce covers the skin beautifully, so don&apost make my mistake of overcooking the wings to get to that golden brown color. The butter/Frank&aposs RedHot proportion I like is 1 to 1: so 1/2 cup each of butter and Frank&aposs RedHot worked well for 3 pounds of wings. Melt the butter slowly and whisk in the sauce. Don&apost overheat it: You want a smooth sauce, not one in which the butter separates out (I made that mistake, too).


What Is the Difference Between Hot Wings and Buffalo Wings?

If you didn’t have the blue cheese and celery there as a giveaway, could you tell the difference between hot wings and buffalo wings at a glance? They’re both red, saucy, spicy, and deliciously messy, but they are decidedly not the same thing.

It’s hard to say when hot wings became A Thing, but we do know that buffalo wings were first invented in Buffalo, New York, in 1964.

Wing Nut? Foolproof Ways to Get Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings Traditionally deep-fried but not breaded, buffalo wings are then tossed in sauce and usually served with celery and blue cheese dressing as dip. Wings were originally considered an unsavory part of the chicken, as Smithsonian magazine details, but all that changed after Teressa Bellissimo served them for dinner at the Anchor Bar in downtown Buffalo. (As our full history of buffalo wings explains, John Young likely also had a hand in making wings more desirable in general, but he didn’t invent what we know as buffalo wings in particular.)

Buffalo sauce is traditionally made of a cayenne pepper-based hot sauce, butter, vinegar, and seasonings to taste (like garlic powder, salt, sometimes a splash of Worcestershire sauce, etc). The key difference between buffalo wings and hot wings is often the spiciness factor: buffalo wings pack a zesty punch, but hot wings are the ones that will really set your mouth on fire.

Hot wings often have chile peppers included in the sauce, and you can easily vary the level of heat by including more or less pepper. Buffalo wings are also rarely served without their traditional celery and blue cheese dip hot wings can be served with a cooling sauce or dip but blue cheese isn’t always the flavor of choice (ranch dressing is pretty popular).

Although buffalo wings and hot wings differ in spiciness, the designations are often used interchangeably on menus across America. But the buffalo chicken flavor has taken on a life of its own: buffalo flavored chips, buffalo chicken-topped pizza, and buffalo chicken flavored dip have become available options. But nobody’s ever ordered a hot wing chicken pizza in that market, buffalo chicken pizza takes precedence. No matter what you call it, these wings are delicious. Check out these variations on buffalo and hot wings for the perfect afternoon snack or game day meal.

Buffalo Wing Recipes

Here, a few variations on the classic buffalo recipe:

Easy Baked Buffalo Wings

While traditional buffalo wings emerge from the deep fryer, we broil ours for a healthier and no less delicious result. See our tips and tricks for crispy baked wings (like tossing them in a little baking powder), then get our Easy Baked Buffalo Wings recipe.

Anchor Bar Buffalo Wings, 50 for $129 on Goldbelly

The original buffalo wings can be ordered online, and they come with extra sauce, celery, and Anchor Bar Bleu Cheese.

Grilled Buffalo Wings

Our simple recipe for grilled buffalo wings involves marinating the chicken in buttermilk so it stays tender on the grill. Use your favorite brand of hot sauce and make sure to put out some extra buffalo sauce for dipping. Get our Easy Grilled Buffalo Wings recipe.

Vegan Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

Even vegans can get a taste of the buffalo sauce, which is the best part anyway—and these cauliflower bites are super crunchy thanks to their corn flake cereal coating. We even whipped up a vegan blue cheese sauce for dipping. Get our Vegan Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings recipe.

Hot Wing Recipes

Moving beyond buffalo, here are some of our favorite spicy hot wing preparations:

Slow Cooker Hot Wings

These hot wings are a great way to prep ahead of a group gathering—four full hours in the slow cooker makes them tender and moist, and you can finish them in the oven to crisp them up before serving. Get our Slow Cooker Hot Wings recipe.


Baked Chicken Wings That Are Actually Crispy? Just Add Baking Soda

Is there anything better than crispy, saucy, fall-off-the-bone chicken wings? The kind that get deep fried and served up by the dozen at your favorite sports bar? I sure didn't think so. Which is why, when I was asked to develop a recipe for Basically Buffalo Wings, I truly never imagined being able to recreate anything nearly as delicious at home. I thought the deck was stacked against me.

They were going to be baked chicken wings for sureI am the kind of person who would rather chop 1,000 tear-jerking onions than deep fry anything at home. The grease splattering around on your favorite shirt and/or cat, the smell that doesn’t go away for days, and after all of that you have to figure out how to properly dispose of a vat of hot oil. No. Thanks.

But after consulting a ton of recipes for baked chicken wings and lots and lots of testing, I proved myself wrong. With a little technique, I was able to make a version of Buffalo wings that required no frying but were every bit as satisfying as the restaurant wings I know and love. Baking the chicken on a wire rack set in a sheet pan helped a lot—it helped to keep hot air circulating around the wings, which crisped them more evenly without having to flip them halfway through. And starting the wings at a low temperature—which allowed fat in the chicken skin to render out and surface moisture to evaporate—before blasting them at a higher temperature was the one-two punch they needed to really get cracklin'. But it was the addition of one very unusual ingredient that really made the difference: baking soda. Regular old baking soda! Incorporating just a half teaspoon of the stuff into the mixture of kosher salt, garlic powder, and onion powder that I tossed the wings with before baking pushed them over the edge, yielding chicken skin that was uniformly browned and crunchy. Weird, right?

A little baking soda goes a looooong way.

Here's why it works. Baking soda is alkaline, so it raises the pH level of chicken skin, breaking down the peptide bonds and jumpstarting the browning process, meaning the wings got browner and crispier faster than they would on their own. (If it makes you feel better, we don't really get what that means either, but it works!) The only challenge is that baking soda can have a intense and unpleasant flavor when used in large quantities, so you can only get away with using a very small amount. That meant that I had to figure out how to distribute that half of a teaspoon evenly over three pounds of chicken wings. The solve? Incorporating it into a larger quantity of a simple dry rub, which made dispersing it a breeze.

Science is cool! And so are Buffalo wings! And so is making them at home with a minimum of fuss, maximum crispiness, and no splattering fry oil. Go forth and bake those wings!


24 chicken wings, drummies and flappers
1/2 cup melted butter
6 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the wings in a single layer in a baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the melted butter, hot sauce, cayenne, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic. Mix well.

Brush the wings with the sauce and place the dish in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, basting frequently with the sauce.

When the wings are cooked, turn the oven to broil. Toss the wings in the remaining sauce and return to the baking dish. Place under the broil and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the skin has crisped and the sauce begins to caramelize.

Serve immediately with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping, if desired.


Baked Chicken Wings That Are Actually Crispy? Just Add Baking Soda

Is there anything better than crispy, saucy, fall-off-the-bone chicken wings? The kind that get deep fried and served up by the dozen at your favorite sports bar? I sure didn't think so. Which is why, when I was asked to develop a recipe for Basically Buffalo Wings, I truly never imagined being able to recreate anything nearly as delicious at home. I thought the deck was stacked against me.

They were going to be baked chicken wings for sure&mdashI am the kind of person who would rather chop 1,000 tear-jerking onions than deep fry anything at home. The grease splattering around on your favorite shirt and/or cat, the smell that doesn&rsquot go away for days, and after all of that you have to figure out how to properly dispose of a vat of hot oil. No. Thanks.

But after consulting a ton of recipes for baked chicken wings and lots and lots of testing, I proved myself wrong. With a little technique, I was able to make a version of Buffalo wings that required no frying but were every bit as satisfying as the restaurant wings I know and love. Baking the chicken on a wire rack set in a sheet pan helped a lot&mdashit helped to keep hot air circulating around the wings, which crisped them more evenly without having to flip them halfway through. And starting the wings at a low temperature&mdashwhich allowed fat in the chicken skin to render out and surface moisture to evaporate&mdashbefore blasting them at a higher temperature was the one-two punch they needed to really get cracklin'. But it was the addition of one very unusual ingredient that really made the difference: baking soda. Regular old baking soda! Incorporating just a half teaspoon of the stuff into the mixture of kosher salt, garlic powder, and onion powder that I tossed the wings with before baking pushed them over the edge, yielding chicken skin that was uniformly browned and crunchy. Weird, right?

Here's why it works. Baking soda is alkaline, so it raises the pH level of chicken skin, breaking down the peptide bonds and jumpstarting the browning process, meaning the wings got browner and crispier faster than they would on their own. (If it makes you feel better, we don't really get what that means either, but it works!) The only challenge is that baking soda can have a intense and unpleasant flavor when used in large quantities, so you can only get away with using a very small amount. That meant that I had to figure out how to distribute that half of a teaspoon evenly over three pounds of chicken wings. The solve? Incorporating it into a larger quantity of a simple dry rub, which made dispersing it a breeze.

Science is cool! And so are Buffalo wings! And so is making them at home with a minimum of fuss, maximum crispiness, and no splattering fry oil. Go forth and bake those wings!


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