Chicken wings are the quintessential game-day finger food. This spicy bar staple originates from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. In 1964 Teressa Bellissimo gathered some chicken wings typically used for stock and deep-fried them for a group of her son Dominic’s friends who were at the bar. She flavored the crispy wings with a secret sauce, they were an instant hit and have been a regular menu item ever since. We made wings two ways and the core secret to great wings is—you guessed it—temperature!
Method #1: Traditional Deep-Fried Tossed with Buffalo Sauce
Traditional chicken wings are deep-fried. Bone-in chicken wings can take a bit of time to cook because the bones provide a bit of insulation in the beginning of the cook. A standard deep-frying oil temperature for a crisp exterior is 375°F (191°C); but at that temperature the skin would be overcooked by the time the meat has come to its doneness temperature of 165°F (74°C). The temperature needs to be turned down a bit to allow the meat to cook without overcooking the skin. 350°F (177°C) is the perfect temperature.
The oil and Thermometer: We used peanut oil for this project. It’s most often our go-to deep-frying oil of choice for its neutral flavor and smoke point of 446°F (230°C). The best way to monitor oil temperature when deep frying is with a leave-in probe thermometer like the ChefAlarm®. It attaches securely with a pot clip—the probe won’t be flopping around with the food, and its static location will give you a reading you can rely on.
Pro Tip: How Much Oil?
Fill the pot no more than half full in order to avoid spillovers. That being said, make sure you also use enough oil that the wings float and do not touch the sides of the pan. A large, deep pan is best. –Modernist Cuisine
The Vessel: Our go-to deep-frying vessel is an enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven. As mentioned in our Grill-Worthy Burgers Indoors blog post, cast iron’s poor heat conductivity properties translate to fantastic heat retention properties. When deep frying the oil temperature drops when food is added to the heated oil. The hot cast iron helps to maintain heat while cooking for less dramatic temperature dips.
With the right tools and equipment, it’s time to get cooking!
4 lbs. chicken wings
Peanut oil, as needed for frying
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce
1/2 cup butter
Chunky bleu cheese dressing, as desired for dipping
Step 1: Heat peanut oil in dutch oven (no more than half-full to avoid bubbling over) over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F (177°C), per the reading on your ChefAlarm.
Step 2: Pat chicken wings completely dry with paper towels.
Step 3: Using a slotted spoon or spider, drop the chicken wings into hot oil and fry for 7-10 minutes (Use the timer on your ChefAlarm!). Be sure not to crowd the pan. Adding too many wings at once will dramatically drop the temperature of your oil. You’ll need to fry in 2-3 batches.
Step 4: While the wings are cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add hot sauce and stir to incorporate completely. Set aside.
Step 5: When your 7 minute timer goes off, quickly spot-check the internal temperature of a chicken wing with an instant-read digital thermometer like the RT600C® to make sure it has reached 165°F (74°C). Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or spider and transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. The wings will be crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside.
Step 6: After all of the wings are cooked and drained, place them in a large bowl, add hot sauce, and toss to coat. Grab plenty of napkins, serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks, and enjoy!
Method #2: Jamaican Jerk Marinated, then Grilled
If you’ve had plenty of hot wings in your time and are ready for a twist on the original, this flavor-packed grilled version is for you!
3 lbs. chicken wings
1 jalapeño pepper (seeded and minced)
1 habanero pepper (seeded and minced)
3 cloves fresh garlic (chopped)
6 green onions (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
Step 1: In a food processor combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Step 2: Place chicken wings into a large disposable zipper lock bag and pour the marinade over the wings. Zip the bag shut and work the sauce over all the surfaces of the chicken wings by massaging the bag with your hands. Marinate from 4 hours to overnight.
Step 3: Heat your grill to 450-515°F (232-268°C). Use your ThermoWorks ChefAlarm or DOT® with a Grate Clip to measure your grill’s surface temperature. Once the grill has preheated, place the wings on the grill and turn as needed. Using a Super-Fast® RT600C, spot check the internal temperature of your wings. The wings will be safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C)—approximately 20-30 minutes.
These wings are so full of flavor, they don’t need a dipping sauce, but if you love to dip your wings, we would suggest a cool ranch dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Whether deep-fried or grilled, don’t bypass adding wings to your finger food menu. Game On!