Our Ultimate Guide to Preparing Chicken Wings for the Super Bowl
From choosing the right size chicken wings to keeping them warm during the party, here's what you need to know.
The Super Bowl is just around the corner, which means that chicken wing consumption will be at an all-time high. According to the National Chicken Council, Americans will eat nearly one-and-a-half billion chicken wings during Super Bowl weekend. Rather than ordering from a restaurant, try making your own chicken wings at home with these tips from Lauryn Tyrell, our senior food editor, and Chef Erik Wichert of J. Timothy's Taverne—known for their award-winning wings—in Plainville, Connecticut.
Choosing the Meat
When purchasing chicken wings, Tyrell recommends choosing free-range organic chicken that is free of hormones or antibiotics. Wichert likes using wings that are already cut to save prep time. "Look for a good-size wing with a good amount of meat on them. Chicken wings are graded by size; if you choose five to seven count wings, that means you get five to seven wings per pound," he explains.
Fried or Baked Chicken Wings
Frying is the most popular method for cooking chicken wings. To make fried chicken wings, "Blot your wings dry and fry them for about 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of the wing. The longer you have them down, the crispier the skin is going to get but at the same time, the more the meat is going to cook," says Wichert.
If you don't own a fryer or are looking for a lighter method, our food editors are fans of baking chicken wings as well. To bake chicken wings, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pour ¼ cup oil onto a rimmed baking sheet; heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss wings in a mixture of ¼ cup cornstarch, two teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and arrange wings in a single layer. Bake, flipping halfway through, until crisp and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.
Keeping Wings Warm
If you're hosting a large party, one of the trickiest aspects of serving wings is keeping them warm. If you want to prepare the wings and sauce in advance, Wichert recommends keeping the wings in a 160 degree oven until party time. Then, toss the wings in the sauce just before serving to prevent them from getting soggy.
Do not, however, store the crispy wings in a container with a plastic or aluminum cover, he advises. "The heat from the chicken causes steam inside the container, which creates moisture and causes the chicken to lose their crispiness."
All in the Accoutrements
Wings are delicious on their own, but they're so much more satisfying when paired with the proper garnishes. Carrots, celery, and blue cheese or ranch dressing are essentials. "The cool, crisp celery, creamy and fatty dip, and spicy wings are the ultimate trifecta," says Tyrell. She recommends serving a light, refreshing beer with wings, such as a pilsner, which doesn't have a super strong flavor that will take away from the wings.
How to Avoid Double-Dipping
Both Tyrell and Wichert agree that double-dipping is a big no. So, how do you ensure that everyone has enough sauce for their wings? Wichert suggests filling individual ramekins with blue cheese or ranch dressing so that guests can easily refill as needed.