Make chicken wings so crispy you’ll forget they’re not fried

Looking for a way to lighten up your beloved chicken wings without losing the golden crispiness? You won't miss the fryer with this recipe.

We love our chicken wings.

Chicken wings happen to be America’s favorite appetizer, according to at least one poll. Some prefer drumettes over the flat wing, but most people don’t care what they get—as long as they get a wing.

Chicken wings

We’re also not judgemental about etiquette when we eat our wings. We expect people to lick their fingers because we do it too. I know I do.  

And even in today’s health-conscious world, the same poll shows more than half of the respondents prefer their wings fried. Can you blame them? If you’re going wing-hunting, the end result needs to be golden and crispy, with skin that can adequately hold your favorite (high calorie) dipping sauce.

But I’m here to shock the chicken wing world. You can still have delicious, crunchy wings by making them in the oven.

I can hear the doubters. What? And next, I suppose you’re going to tell us we can have a cookout without mac and cheese, playing spades, and the special bottle from the trunk of the car.

Folks, I am not a radical. But when it comes to my ever-expanding waistline, I’m always looking for ways to cut down, even slightly, on calories. Me giving up wings is as likely as me giving up Luther Vandross records, and that ain’t gonna happen since he’s never too much, never too much, never too much. So I’ve come up with the following recipe that works great every time.

And I don’t miss the fryer.

You’ll need:

  • 16 wings, enough for four appetizers or two meals (some will see that as a lot, but don’t judge me on my wing consumption)
  • Two tablespoons of honey
  • Two tablespoons of mustard (You can use yellow, though I prefer stoneground)
  • Two tablespoons of your favorite rub (I make my own, but that’s for another story. Buy your favorite, and that will do)
  • Two tablespoons of cornstarch
  • One 9 x 13 pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Footed cooking grates (these have little “feet” that raise up the grates, like these)
  • Nonstick spray

Here you go:

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

STEP ONE: Preheat a standard, non-convection oven to 425 degrees

STEP TWO: Make your dry mix. Stir together rub and cornstarch until well combined. (See the alternate method below.)

STEP THREE: Add foil to the bottom of the pan. Add the grates over the pan and coat with nonstick spray. Note: The grate allows the fat from the wings to drip below. If you don’t use a grate, you’ll still get great wings, just not as crunchy.

STEP FOUR: Add the wings to a large bowl. Then add the honey and mustard and stir to coat. (I use gloves, but a rubber spatula or fork will do. Add more honey or mustard if needed.)

STEP FIVE: Add the dry mix and toss until lightly coated. Shake off excess.

STEP SIX: Place the wings on the rack above the pan and bake for about 35 minutes. Check them. Depending on your oven you may need a few more minutes for them to get nice and crispy. When they’re done, turn the wings and cook for about 10 minutes until the underside is crispy.

I like to eat them just as they are because the honey, mustard, and rub provide a delicious flavor. The last time I made these wings, I sprinkled sesame seeds and diced jalapenos on them. You can also lightly toss in your favorite sauce.

ALTERNATE METHOD: If you want even crispier wings, toss in just the corn starch. When the wings are done, then toss in the rub and sauce.

That’s it. Your friends will gobble (no pun intended) these up and wonder how in the world you made wings this crispy without a fryer in sight.

And if you ask if they want more, be prepared for Luther because when I eat them, it’s never too much, never too much, never too much.

Ray Marcano

Ray Marcano is a longtime, award-winning journalist who has written and edited for some of the country’s most prominent media brands. He’s a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror, and a Fulbright Fellow.

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