Hands-Down Best Chicken Wings 9.000

Dayna Smith for The Washington Post

Smackdown III Jan 28, 2009

This recipe is taught in a monthly class by its author, Elizabeth Karmel, at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. The trick is to allow hot air to circulate around the wings so they crisp all over. They can be cooked on a grill, where that would occur naturally. Or they can be oven-baked as we have done here, on a rack fitted into a rimmed baking sheet.

The Louisiana brand hot sauce called for here is milder than Tabasco; we bought it at Safeway. But if you can't find it, substitute a mixture of 1 small bottle of Tabasco, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 3 cups water (or more to taste.) Oven-safe wire racks also are called for, but the wings could be roasted on aluminum-foil-lined baking sheets instead.

Serve with a blue-cheese dip and celery sticks.

Make Ahead: The wings need to marinate for at least 2 hours and as long as 12 hours. They taste best right after they are cooked, but the roasted wings can be made a day in advance up to the point where they are cooked through. Broil to crisp them up a few minutes before serving.

Servings: 9 - 12
  • 4 pounds chicken wings and/or drumettes
  • 2 6-ounce bottles hot pepper sauce, preferably Louisiana or Trappey's brand (see headnote)
  • Fine sea salt, for garnish (optional)


Divide the chicken wings and/or drumettes equally between 2 gallon-size resealable plastic food storage bags, then pour a bottle of the hot pepper sauce into each bag. Seal and massage through the bags until the sauce is well distributed. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready 2 oven-safe wire racks; fit each over or inside a rimmed baking sheet (preferably with a little bit of room in between).

Divide the wings/drumettes between the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and use tongs to turn over the wings. Return to the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove from the oven; position the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiling element and preheat the broiler.

Broil one sheet of wings/drumettes at a time for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until they are nice and crisp. Watch closely to avoid burning them. Repeat with the second sheet. Sprinkle with salt, if desired; serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Wings," by Debbie Moose (Wiley, 2009).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.