Truly crispy baked chicken wings slathered in Buffalo sauce can be yours in under an hour, with virtually no mess. If anything, they're even better than the original — and better for ya, too.
Why we love this recipe
Buffalo wings need no introduction. They're the favorite party appetizer that brings nearly everyone together. But the fried version is undeniably not so great for ya. These baked wings:
- Are shatteringly crisp due to the combination of baking soda and cornstarch in the coating
- Have layers of savory, tangy, amped-up flavor, from the coating to the sauce
- Couldn't be easier to make
- In all the best ways, are indistinguishable from the original — if not a little bit better
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe. It's not much!
- Use really good-quality chicken wings — it makes a big difference in terms of both taste and ethics. It's easiest to buy wings that have already been separated into drumettes and wingettes, with the wing tips removed. These are sometimes sold as "party wings." If you have whole wings, you can separate them yourself at the joints and reserve the wing tips for another use, like stock-making.
- Baking soda is highly alkaline. It raises the pH of the skin on the wings, which causes the peptide bonds to break and the skin to crisp. See the note in the FAQ section about baking soda vs. baking powder, and don't substitute one for the other.
- Cornstarch serves two roles in this recipe. It helps dry out the chicken skin, leading to more crispness, and it also acts as a vehicle to distribute the tiny amount of baking soda over the large surface area of the chicken.
- Use Frank's RedHot original cayenne pepper sauce, not the buffalo sauce. We'll make our own sauce by combining the original with a little bit of butter.
- Serve them with our 5-minute homemade ranch dip or purchased blue cheese or ranch.
Our favorite sources for meat
For years, I've been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.
More recently, we've also become big fans of Cooks Venture for chicken.
How to make them
Here's what you'll do to make a great batch of shatteringly crispy baked chicken wings. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Prep a sheet pan for easy cleanup by wrapping it in foil. (This is optional but kinda brilliant.) Place a baking rack on top. Then, in a bowl that's large enough to accommodate the wings, mix together the ingredients for the coating. Mix them well, like you've never mixed before, to make sure the baking soda is well-distributed.
- Dry the wings very well with paper towels, then add them to the bowl and toss until evenly coated.
- Arrange the wings skin side up on the prepared pan, with space between them so the air can circulate. Bake at 425°F for 25 minutes, then flip and bake 20 minutes more.
- While the wings bake, melt the butter and stir in the hot sauce. When the wings are done, place them in a clean bowl, drizzle with the sauce, and toss to coat. Wings are ready to serve!
Expert tips and FAQs
The mad-brilliant trick of using an alkaline agent to crisp up chicken skin is not my own idea. It's prominent on the internet, and at this point I've totally lost track of whose idea it was. You'll see that many recipes call for baking powder rather than baking soda.
Here's the deal.
Baking powder is just baking soda with a couple of other ingredients added — usually cornstarch and cream of tartar or another acidic ingredient. It's the baking soda's alkalinity that breaks the peptide bonds in the chicken skin and allows it to crisp up. Cornstarch also helps to dry the skin and crisp it more. The acidic part of baking powder is, if anything, a hindrance to crispness.
The reason some recipes use baking powder instead is that it's much less concentrated. You use a larger amount, which makes it easier to distribute across the large surface area of the chicken wings. And neither baking soda nor baking powder tastes good, so you want to use a very small amount and distribute it very evenly.
Our recipe using baking soda and cornstarch, mixed together very well with powdered seasonings, so it's easy to distribute and only contains exactly what you need to make this technique work.
The addition of a little bit of paprika serves two purposes. It's great for flavor, but its bright red color also helps you see whether the coating is distributed evenly. If you ever had a dental hygiene assembly in school as a kid and got one of those red tablets that shows where there's plaque on your teeth, you know what I'm talking about. 🙂
I really try to say yes to this question, but in this case, it's a no. If you must, you can prep the wings earlier in the day and keep them on the baking sheet, uncovered, in the fridge. Bake them and toss with the sauce right before serving. You'll be glad.
Truth be told, I have never had any leftovers from this recipe. If you do, you can keep them tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week and recrisp them in the oven or toaster oven before serving.
More favorite baked appetizers
- Mozzarella sticks
- Classic (or vegetarian) potato skins
- French onion soup potato skins
- Jalapeño poppers
- Crispy chicken tenders
- Turkey meatballs (& subs)
- Asian-inspired pork meatballs
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- ¼ cup Fank’s Red Hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center.
- Line a half-sheet pan with foil. Place a baking rack onto the foil-lined baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, stir together cornstarch, baking soda, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Mix until very well combined.
- Dry chicken wings very well with paper towels.
- Add wings to bowl and toss to coat evenly.
- Arrange wings skin side up on baking rack with some space between so the air can circulate.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then flip and bake 20 minutes more.
- In a clean bowl, stir together the Frank's Red Hot and the butter. Add cooked chicken and toss with the sauce.
- Serve with carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dip, drizzling the sauce left in the mixing bowl over the wings on the serving plate.
- It's not strictly necessary to line the pan with foil, but it makes cleanup extremely easy. If you've done it well, you won't even have to wash the pan.
- The baking soda and cornstarch are the magic ingredients that help the skin get shatteringly crisp. Probably the most important part of the whole cooking process is to make sure the baking soda is well-distributed in the cornstarch and seasoning mixture. You won't detect well-mixed baking soda in this recipe at all, but it has an extremely unpleasant taste in large quantities, so you won't want anyone to get a lump of it.
- Wings are best baked right before serving time.
- Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to a week and recrisp in the oven or toaster oven before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 81Total Fat: 6.3gNet Carbohydrates: 5.6gProtein: 5g