Crispy, fiery, and unapologetically messy, these mouthwatering game-day starters score big every time. We’ve got the play-by-play, plus an easy oven method and a tangy, less tingly sauce for chickens who can’t handle the heat.
For the dip:
- Sour cream
- 1 lemon
- 3 ounces Danish blue cheese
For the wings:
- Corn or other vegetable oil
- 3 pounds whole chicken wings *Pro tip: There’s a good reason we buy whole wings instead of split. Those pointy tips burst with flavor and extra crunch.
- Unsalted butter
- 1 head garlic
- Cayenne pepper
- Frank’s RedHot Sauce
- Carrots and celery sticks, for serving
This gadget clips to the side of a pot to help you monitor the temperature throughout the frying process.
Its wide metal basket scoops out several wings at once, and allows excess oil to drain quickly back into the pot.
1. Mix dip, prep oil, and coat wings
Start with the dipping sauce, which can be refrigerated for up to 1 day: In a bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup mayo, and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Fold in 3 ounces crumbled blue cheese; season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour 2 inches oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high until a deep-fry thermometer reads 320 degrees. Reduce heat to medium. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup cornstarch (it beats flour for making the skin extra-crunchy), 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large resealable plastic or brown paper bag. Pat chicken dry, place in bag, and shake vigorously to evenly coat.
2. Fry and make sauce
Using a low temperature ensures juicy, evenly cooked meat. With a Japanese spider, add one-third of wings to oil, stirring a few times, until cooked through and oil returns to 320 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Fry remaining wings in two batches. Let cool completely, 15 minutes. (If they’re still warm in step 3, the skin won’t get as crispy.) Meanwhile, combine 6 tablespoons butter, 2 smashed and peeled garlic cloves, and a pinch of cayenne in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until butter melts; simmer 1 minute more. Remove from heat; discard garlic. Stir in 3/4 cup hot sauce.
3. Raise heat and repeat
A final fry is key to forming a deep-golden, crunchy crust. Increase heat to medium-high and bring oil in pot to 380 degrees. Return one-third of wings to oil, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Return to rack-lined baking sheet; let excess oil drain to prevent sogginess, 30 seconds. In a large bowl, toss with one-third of hot-sauce mixture; serve immediately with dip and vegetable sticks. Fry remaining wings in two batches, returning oil to 380 degrees in between. To serve all batches at once, keep wings warm on rack in a 225-degree oven, and toss in sauce all together at end.
Baked Buffalo Wings
This lighter version is a worthy stand-in for fried wings (and requires less cleanup). Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with a rack in upper third. Pour 1/4 cup oil onto a rimmed baking sheet; heat in oven 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss wings in cornstarch mixture. Carefully remove sheet from oven and arrange wings in a single layer. Bake, flipping halfway through, until crisp and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Immediately toss with sauce.
Korean Fried Chicken Wings
Serve a batch with sweet-spicy flavors borrowed from Korean fried chicken. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce; 2 tablespoons each Sriracha, minced garlic, and minced ginger; 1/4 cup each packed light-brown sugar and cider vinegar; and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss with fried wings, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and serve with radish kimchi.