Everything You Need to Know About Cooking Chicken Wings
Wings, glorious wings! Saucy, breaded or crispy. There are lots of different terminology, cooking methods and opinions about the beloved chicken wing. Here we are breaking down the difference between flats and drums (and how to separate them), the three best ways to cook chicken wings, ideas for what to serve with them, what temperature chicken wings should reach for optimum juiciness and how best to reheat them if desired. Read on to go from wing novice to wing professional.
Flats vs Drums
Flat chicken wings are the smaller, flatter part of the chicken wing, which contain two bones. The drums are the larger part of the wing, which contain only one bone and resemble a mini drumstick.
Some people prefer the drums because they contain more meat and there's only one bone to work around, whereas others enjoy flats more because the skin tends to be crispier while holding sauce better.
Usually, the two parts are separated before purchase, but sometimes they are still intact and you may need to cut them apart. To do this, place the wing bony-side up on a chopping board. Find the ridge between the two joints and slice through using a solid knife or some kitchen shears.
The flat might also have a wing tip attached to it: a small, thin bone which is usually cut off and discarded or used for stock.
Three best ways to cook chicken wings
1. Dry-rub wings
Dry-rub wings are a simple, easy and flavourful way of making wings. As the name suggests, they're coated in dry seasoning like brown sugar, smoked paprika and garlic powder before being grilled or baked. Some people prefer a dry rub because it tends to stick to the meat better, which yields a stronger flavour.
Combine the rub with your wings the night before cooking to give the flavours more time to absorb into the wings.
2. Saucy wings
Saucy wings are where you cook your wings dry, then toss in a sauce at the end. A popular choice (because who doesn't love juicy meat slathered in sauce?), classic sauces for wings include American recipes like Buffalo and BBQ, or Asian sauces like Korean or teriyaki.
Cooking your wings in baking powder can help the skin to crisp up and prepare to be coated in sauce.
3. Breaded wings
Breaded wings are coated in breadcrumbs or a flour mixture. They can be baked, but the best and most typical way to make breaded wings is deep frying. Serve with a thick, creamy gravy for a KFC-style fakeaway or a selection of dipping sauces like buffalo and blue cheese.
To deep fry your wings without a deep fat fryer, monitor the oil temperature using a meat thermometer to ensure they don't end up soggy or burnt.
What to serve with chicken wings
Wings aren't just for starters. Our favourite sides for chicken wings that will turn them into a meal include classic American BBQ dishes like fries and corn or Asian-style sides such as fried rice and greens.
Cooked chicken wings temperature
Chicken should always be cooked to 74 °C to be safe to consume, whether this is chicken wings, breast or thigh.
Unlike breast meat, wings taste better when cooked to a slightly higher temperature. This is because the meat is made up of more connective tissue and fat, and taking it up to a higher temperature enables this to break down more for a juicier and more flavoursome result.
Everyone has their own preference for their perfect wing temperature, so we asked our Instagram followers (who we know to be weekly celebrators of Wing Wednesday) what they like to cook theirs to. The results came in with around 85 - 90 °C being the most popular temperature for chicken wings.
Reheating chicken wings
Taste-wise, the best way to reheat wings is in the oven. But it's possible to reheat them in the microwave, or any way you like, as long as you take them up to a safe temperature of 74 °C.
Tips for reheating chicken wings:
We also asked our wing-fanatic Instagram audience for their must-know tips for cooking wings. Here are some of our favourites:
Tips for cooking chicken wings:
Experiment with cooking drums and flats to find your favourite, or simply enjoy a combination of both to appreciate the different benefits they have to offer. Make easy dry rub wings to enhance the natural meaty flavours of the chicken, or slather in different sauces for a much-loved messy affair. And for a Friday night fakeaway treat, why not try making your own KFC-style deep-fried wings?